The Buffalo Bills announced that E.J. Manuel will indeed start the Week 1 game against the New England Patriots, as Manuel has participated in the Bills past three practice sessions and certainly seems healthy enough to make his debut. It will be interesting to see how much the Bills pass against the Patriots, and most of us expect the Bills to take their time running the football with star C.J. Spiller in order to open things up for Manuel. Running against the New England Patriots is no easy task, but Spiller is an elite running back. A lot rides on Spiller and Manuel in trying to fuel an upset, but Manuel is very raw and will have his share of “down” moments on Sunday. His upside due to his arm strength and speed could hurt the Pats if all goes well, but it’s a tall order.
Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel (3) drops back to pass against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Vikings 20-16. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Knee health shouldn’t be a major factor affecting E.J. Manuel, because head coach Doug Marrone stated, per Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News, that Manuel has had “no limitations” and is “110 percent”. Sounds like the Bills are completely confident in Manuel’s health, and there should be no doubts regarding his availability and knee. I think Manuel will have a couple of big plays to Stevie Johnson, but he should also have his fair share of rookie mistakes (I’m expecting a pick out of Devin McCourty). It’s hard not to love Manuel’s upside, but he’s likely in for a rough debut.
Dan Carpenter was signed by the Buffalo Bills a couple of days ago, and he will be the one kicking for the Bills on Sunday. According to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, Doug Marrone announced that the Bills will start Dan Carpenter over Dustin Hopkins, who has presumably been ruled out with a groin injury. Hopkins was unable to practice today, and the third AFC East team is the charm for Carpenter. He was a star for the Miami Dolphins before being cut this offseason in favor of a cheaper option in rookie Caleb Sturgis, and he couldn’t cut the mustard for the New York Jets. Now with his third AFC East team, the Buffalo Bills are granting Carpenter a start against the Patriots.