EJ Manuel has knee swelling that will keep him out for the rest of the preseason, but the Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback may not need any more time to prove he is the team’s starter this year.
The team announced Saturday that Manuel will have a simple procedure after an MRI revealed swelling in his knee. It is believed to be a procedure to drain fluid, one that several NFL players including Ben Roethlisberger have had in recent years. The recovery time is expected to take close to two weeks.
“He will miss the remainder of the preseason and then be re-evaluated at that time,” coach Doug Marrone said in a statement.
Manuel came into the team’s training camp in an open battle with veteran Kevin Kolb for the starting position, but it’s been the rookie standing out so far. While Kolb struggled with accuracy during the team’s 20-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night, EJ Manuel completed 10 of 12 passes for 92 yards, leading the team on an 80-yard touchdown drive.
Manuel is now 26 for 33 in the preseason, amassing 199 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball four times for 29 yards.
Kevin Kolb was not so accurate. Against Minnesota he struggled to hit open receivers, hearing boos from the Buffalo crowd as he led the team to punt several times.
Before the injury, it seemed clear to those around the Buffalo Bills camp that EJ Manuel was winning to race for starting quarterback. He represents the future of the team, and the journeyman Kolb was only brought in as a placeholder until Manuel was ready.
The severity of the knee condition will determine whether EJ Manuel starts the season on the bench or on the field. If he’s healthy, it’s still expected that head coach Doug Marrone will name him the starter for Week 1 against the New England Patriots.