The Buffalo Bills drafted EJ Manuel in April with the hopes that he will become their quarterback of the future, but after a devastating injury to Kevin Kolb the team will need to count on him to be the quarterback of the present.
Kolb, signed in the offseason to compete with Manuel for the starting job, suffered a head injury in the team’s loss to the Washington Redskins on Saturday. Though the play looked harmless and Kolb returned for a few more plays, he was later taken to the locker room and did not return.
Reports on Sunday revealed the situation to be dire. Kolb is believed to have a concussion, and the Buffalo Bills are treating the injury as if it were career ending.
It seemed unlikely that Kolb would have been the Bills starting quarterback even if he were healthy. First-round pick EJ Manuel has outshined Kolb in the preseason, showing poise in the pocket and a strong arm.
But Manuel is already out for the remainder of the preseason after undergoing a minor surgical procedure to alleviate swelling in his knee. He is expected to be back for the team’s season opener against the New England Patriots, but if he hadn’t been healthy Kolb was counted on as a solid veteran to serve in his place.
In the meantime the Buffalo Bills only have one healthy quarterback on the roster, undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel. Though Tuel looked impressive in his preseason appearances this year, the Bills acquired two more quarterbacks on Sunday as an insurance policy. The team signed 30-year-old free agent Matt Leinart and traded linebacker Chris White to the Detroit Lions for third-stringer Thad Lewis.
It’s likely that Lewis could be cut before the season starts, but the Bills needed a third-string quarterback for their final preseason game to avoid using emergency quarterback Brad Smith.
The Buffalo Bills haven’t officially announced when EJ Manuel will return or who will start Week 1, but the injury to Kevin Kolb had made it clear — the future is now, whether the Bills are ready or not.