Rookie minicamps are all about first impressions, and for Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone and quarterback EJ Manuel the result of the first workout Friday was that of mutual admiration. That means they both said all the right things at this early stage.
Manuel also was impressed with another fellow rookie, wide receiver Marquis Goodwin, who made his first day on the job a little easier.
Manuel was the first quarterback taken in the draft, No. 16 overall out of Florida State. And the selection was not without controversy as some predraft evaluations were critical to the point of cruelty regarding Manuel's potential.
Marrone was asked his first impression.
"I thought EJ (Manuel) did well, and I thought Jeff (Tuel) threw well, " he said, adding the name of the free-agent rookie quarterback from Washington State.
"I thought both quarterbacks did a nice job coming in here. I thought what we gave them, not a large package, but we got them off and they looked like ... both the quarterbacks got off to a good start. Again, the offensive line really blocked well today because it was mostly seven-on-seven. But no, I was happy with both quarterbacks today."
Manuel made it clear he was just happy to be on the field after enduring so much predraft scrutiny.
"First off, it felt great to be back with a team," Manuel said. "Through the predraft process, you get so used to doing things on your own or with guys who are training and things like that. But today, it was a real practice. Strap it up with cleats and a helmet back on. It was a great feeling."
Among the criticisms about Manuel is his footwork, which has been a work in progress.
"I think that was one of the biggest things we worked on today," he said. "I'm sure we'll continue to work on the footwork up into the pocket and things like that. And do it how Coach Hackett wants me to do it."
Nathaniel Hackett is the team's offensive coordinator.
"When you're doing something different at school for five years and then you come here and do something different, it's a little different, but at the same time, it is still football," he said. "So overall I thought we had a great practice today."
It was noted that Manuel threw a lot of deep balls. He responded by showing he already knows the abilities of at least one of his rookie teammates.
"Oh yeah, the fact that I have Marquise Goodwin on my team now, I have to get used to that; just letting it go because sometimes you want to just be perfect, Manuel said. "But with that guy you can just throw it out there. All the receivers can run, but definitely Marquise."
Although it has not been widely publicized, Goodwin, a 5-foot-9, 179-pound third round pick out of Texas, arrives in Buffalo as perhaps the fastest player in the NFL.
Goodwin ran three of the fastest 40-yard times in NFL Combine history in February. He had two times of 4.21 seconds, tying the fastest time since 2000 set by returner/wide receiver Trindon Holliday (LSU, 2010). Goodwin also had times of 4.23 and 4.25 seconds at the combine.
Wide receiver/returner Jacoby Ford had a 4.22 (Clemson, 2010) and running back Chris Johnson (East Carolina, 2008) had a 4.24 clocking at the combine.
Goodwin's athleticism was not a surprise. He was the NCAA long jump champion who competed at the 2012 London Olympic Games and showed his speed often during four years at Texas.
Goodwin gave Manuel a boost in confidence, allowing him to let loose without fear of overthrowing.
"No, I'm not worried," Manuel said. "With Marquise, I don't think you can really ever overthrow the guy, so you would rather be long than short."
The Bills announced earlier Friday that they signed four more of their picks from the NFL Draft.
Goodwin, fourth-round defensive back Duke Williams, fifth-round defensive back Jonathan Meeks and sixth-round kicker Dustin Hopkins signed deals with the team.