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Manuel to start Bills' opener

The SportsXchange

First-round draft pick EJ Manuel is sufficiently recovered from minor knee surgery and was named the Buffalo Bills' starting quarterback for Sunday's season opener against the New England Patriots.

The Bills were informed of the decision Wednesday morning at a team meeting.

"Each day my injury has gotten better, and I've been doing two or three treatments a day. That's helped me a lot," Manuel said. "I'm not really surprised. I try to work hard at everything. I can control whatever I can control, and I can control trying to get my knee better, and that's what I've done."

Only days before, it appeared undrafted free-agent rookie Jeff Tuel would be the Bills' starting quarterback in Week 1. First-year coach Doug Marrone said last week that Tuel would be prepared as if he'd be the starter.

Manuel, who missed the final two preseason games after having surgery two weeks ago, is healthy and ready to go for Week 1 after participating in practice to show the coaching staff his knee is up to the test. He'll be the 13th first-round quarterback to start the regular-season opener since 2000.

The trend of playing roookie quarterbacks peaked last season, when Andrew Luck (Colts), Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins), Brandon Weeden (Browns) and Russell Wilson (Seahawks) earned the starting quarterback job.

Manuel was on his way to beating out Kevin Kolb for the starting job before Kolb suffered another concussion.

He was the first quarterback drafted in 2013, 16th overall, to the surprise of some who projected Geno Smith or Ryan Nassib, who played for Marrone at Syracuse, to be chosen before the Florida State product.

Manuel impressed in the offseason with a strong throwing arm and good mobility. Marrone praised his ability to assimilate a vast offense that includes some familiar spread-option looks that mesh with the system Manuel operated at Buffalo.

But the knee injury put Manuel's status in question.

Manuel returned to practice on Sunday, and he and Tuel shared reps.

"It's tough," Tuel said Monday. "Because it's the coach's decision and a lot of it is on EJ and how he's feeling as well. It's not so much in my hands; I'm just doing what I can control and doing the best to my abilities."

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