EJ Manuel is back to the Buffalo Bills, and the potential quarterback crisis for Week 1 has been averted.
Manuel has been out since August 18 after having a minor surgical procedure to reduce swelling on his knee. He was slated to miss the remaining two games of the preseason and it was uncertain if he would be ready by Week 1.
After his injury, the team lost veteran Kevin Kolb to a potential career-ending concussion and was forced to tab undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Tuel to start the season opener against the New England Patriots.
On Wednesday the team announced that Manuel would be ready in time for the game, giving Western New York a collective sigh of relief.
“He’s 110 percent healthy,” said Bills head coach Doug Marrone. “He looks good out there. So that’s what we’re going to go with.”
Manuel’s rehab came along quicker than the team had expected, but still Marrone said he didn’t want to rush things.
“When he first came back, I was like ‘Wow, he looks pretty good,'” Marrone said. “Then the thing was to be smart about it. When it started to move up, I started to feel like this was the way we were going.”
Marrone added that he didn’t want EJ Manuel to come back if there was a chance the knee could be re-injured. Once team doctors determined that wasn’t a possibility, Manuel was given the green light.
But though EJ Manuel is back, the Buffalo Bills still have their work cut out in Week 1. They face a Patriots squad that they have only beaten once sine 2003, and could do so without two of their top defensive backs. Second-year player Stephon Gilmore is out for the first six weeks of the year, and safety Jairus Byrd may miss the first week with a nagging plantar faciitis.