Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel (3) drops back to pass against the Vikings during the second half . The Bills beat the Vikings 20-16. Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

E.J. Manuel returned to practice

Buffalo Bills first-round quarterback E.J. Manuel returned to practice yesterday, and it looks like he has the early track to being healthy enough to start on Sunday against the New England Patriots. NFL Insider Adam Caplan tweeted yesterday that the Bills announced Manuel’s return to the practice field, and Doug Marrone stated earlier last week that the Bills would start E.J. Manuel against the Patriots if he can get a full week’s worth of practice (that means starting Wednesday).

The fact that Manuel is back at practice today is excellent news for the Bills, but I’m sure they will be careful not to rush back their QB of the future from the meniscus injury. I am willing to bet, though, that Manuel will end up being healthy enough to get the start instead of UDFA Jeff Tuel, even if the Bills like Tuel enough to be willing to throw the Washington State QB into the fire come Week 1 against the Pats.

Obviously E.J. Manuel wants to play on Sunday and make his NFL debut in Week 1, and he has plenty of confidence. When asked by reporters yesterday, Manuel’s reply was, “most definitely.”

Doug Marrone stated that the Bills will decide on Wednesday whether or not Manuel is ready to play against the Patriots, and it looks like the decision is slanting towards a “yes” thanks to Manuel’s return yesterday. Marrone stated that Manuel is ahead of schedule, and this was his evaluation of Manuel’s return, “He looked good. He looked good. I say that not knowing what can happen in the next couple days. As far as today, I think he looked good and we were excited about , but I don’t want to give the wrong impression that two to three days from now I don’t want to be communicating ‘Well wait a minute, he looked good, you led us on to believe that he’s feeling alright,’ I don’t try to play any games. Again, we’ll just see how he goes during the week and Wednesday we’ll make the decision. It’s either going to be EJ or its going to be Jeff (Tuel). Both guys will be available for the game.”

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