After a week-end of preseason games wrapped up, there are a number of storylines and news not just in New England but in the AFC East in general. With the Patriots playing the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins twice each season, it is imperative to remain up-to-date on the divisional competition. With Buffalo and the Jets as the first two games of the regular season in September, and with Miami picked to be the breakout performer this season after an offseason of free agent activity, be sure that the New England scouts are watching all three teams closely.
In Buffalo, the good news/bad news from their second preseason game on Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings at Ralph Wilson Stadium was that rookie quarterback and first round draft pick E.J. Manuel looked like he was worthy of being the first quarterback drafted this year. Manuel did not start the game but came on later as young veteran Kevin Kolb, who did not play in preseason game one, got the start and threw an interception early. Manuel completed 10 of 12 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown and was electric for Buffalo.
Unfortunately, the bad news is that Kolb might win the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback job by default, at least to start the season. Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone announced yesterday that rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel will undergo “minor” knee surgery and miss the rest of the preseason. Manuel “had some swelling in his left knee” on Saturday morning, coach Doug Marrone said in a statement issued by the team, and surgery has been scheduled to relieve the swelling. In watching the replay of the game on NFL Network, it was unclear exactly when Manuel injured his knee during the game.
For Buffalo, this takes away needed snaps in practice and preseason for the young quarterback of the future. It is especially painful considering that Manuel grabbed hold of the starting job Friday night in the Bills’ 20-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Now the question is if a quarterback that lost his job to John Skelton in Arizona last season deserves to start over undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel, who has raked against second and third team defenses but is an unknown quantity.
Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone also announced yesterday that wide receiver Kevin Elliott has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the season. Elliott had not played much due to a shoulder injury earlier in training camp. Not expected to be a key cog in the offense (he was released by Jacksonville for being unable to hold onto the ball dropping five passes with only ten receptions for the season), he was competing for a final receiver spot, has good size, and had significant special teams experience that may have landed him on the final 53 prior to the injury.