Matt Leinart is back in the NFL after injuries forced the snakebitten Buffalo Bills to turn to the free agent pool.
The 30-year-old Leinart was a backup with the Oakland Raiders last season, appearing in one game and playing so poorly that the team opted for Terrelle Pryor for its final game.
The Bills turned to the veteran Leinart after what appears to be a career-ending injury for Kevin Kolb. He was hurt on a seemingly harmless play in the Bills preseason loss to the Washington Redskins on Saturday, taking a helmet to the back to the head after an 8-yard scramble.
Kolb remained in the game for four more plays, but did not return to the field. Though the team has made no official announcement on his status, sources close to the team say Kolb’s injury is potentially career ending and the Bills are proceeding as if he will not return.
In addition to Leinart, the Bills traded for Detroit Lions quarterback Thad Lewis, shipping off backup linebacker and special teams player Chris White.
It’s likely that Lewis could be cut before the start of the season. The Bills are down to one healthy quarterback, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel, and need some arms for their final preseason game.
Whether Leinart is ready to play or not, it appears the Bills will be turning to first-round pick EJ Manuel as the starter in Week 1. Though Manuel is out for the rest of the preseason after a minor surgical procedure to alleviate swelling in his knee, reports say he will be ready to return by the start of the season.
But the injury to Kevin Kolb has put the team in a precarious position. The team was counting on Kolb as a veteran backup capable of stepping in if Manuel struggled or was injured, and Matt Leinart doesn’t inspire the same confidence.
Matt Leinart has played in 33 NFL games, making 18 starts. In his career he’s thrown for 4,065 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions.