With Kevin Kolb missing time this week due to a minor injury and to attend to a personal matter, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone announced that first-round pick E.J. Manuel will start at quarterback in the preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
"I think we all know, Kevin has been gone for a couple of days and coming off an injury," said Marrone. "We’re just working him back in. We’re going to dress him for the game, but E.J. will start the game. He’ll get in there, play and we’ll probably put Jeff (Tuel) in there too."
Last Saturday, Kolb slipped on a rubber mat on his way out to practice and hurt his knee. Kolb was excused from the last few days of training camp to attend to a family funeral, but returned to St. Fisher College on Friday and was dressed for practice on Friday night.
While Manuel will make his NFL debut, Marrone was non-committal about how much playing time his rookie quarterback would actually see against the Colts on Sunday. Marrone wants Manuel, and everyone on the team, to be ready to play the whole game, even though that is unheard of in the preseason.
"Well one of the things, and I’m big on this and that’s why I’ve always felt when I talk to the team, which I did already, if you’re healthy, you have to be ready to play the whole game," Marrone said. "And the reason why I say that is because I’ve been through this quite a bit. Sometimes you have injuries during the game and if you told a player you’re only playing this amount of time and you put him back in there, his mindset is a little bit different. He’d have a chance to get injured if he’s not mentally prepared to go in there.
"I talked to the team today and I said ‘Listen, here’s what we’re going to do. If you’re healthy, in your mind, you’re prepared to play the whole game.’ And that’s how you have to look at it until I take you out. I think the injured players, the guys that are coming back that have been limited, we’ll go ahead and just work them in and just see how they feel before, and then we’ll try to put them on what I call a pitch count."