The Buffalo Bills could be giving Jeff Tuel the ball Week 1, making him the first undrafted rookie quarterback to start in a season opener in the modern era of the NFL.
The team got to this point after injuries to the two quarterbacks brought in to compete for the starting job. In the team’s loss to the Washington Redskins on Saturday, quarterback Kevin Kolb took a knee to the back of his head after an 8-yard scramble, sending him to the sidelines a few plays later.
On Sunday sources close to the team said his injury could be career-ending. Though Kolb had been outplayed by the rookie EJ Manuel throughout the preseason, the team was counting on Kolb to bring veteran leadership and a steady hand should Manuel struggle or get injured.
EJ Manuel is injured as well. The rookie from Florida State had swelling in his knee after the team’s second preseason game, enough to need a small surgical procedure to alleviate it. The Bills staff said he would be out through the rest of the preseason, but sources close to the team said he could be back by Week 1.
It appears now that won’t be the case. On Monday the Buffalo Bills announced plans to proceed with Jeff Tuel as the starter for the season opener September 8 against the New England Patriots. Tuel came in as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Washington State, showing a strong arm and good accuracy through two preseason games.
Bills head coach Doug Marrone said the team still hopes Manuel will be ready to play Week 1, but is preparing to go forward with Tuel if he’s not.
After Kolb went out with a concussion, Jeff Tuel went 10-for-17 for 63 yards in the loss to the Redskins. To provide more depth to the position the Buffalo Bills signed free-agent quarterback Matt Leinart and traded with the Detroit Lions for quarterback Thad Lewis, though he is likely only being brought in to give the team three quarterbacks for its final preseason game and could be cut before the season begins.