The quarterback battle in Buffalo between rookie EJ Manuel and veteran Kevin Kolb, which had been trending decisively in Manuel's direction, took an interesting hit on Saturday. In a statement released by the team, Bills head coach Doug Marrone announced that due to a minor knee procedure, Manuel will miss the final two preseason games against the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions.
“EJ Manuel had some swelling in his left knee this morning and was examined by our medical staff," the statement read. "An MRI revealed that he will need to have a minor knee procedure and that has been scheduled. He will miss the remainder of the preseason and then be re-evaluated at that time. Kevin Kolb will be our starting quarterback for this weekend’s game at Washington."
It was also announced that receiver Kevin Elliot has a torn ACL and is out for the regular season.
Selected 16th overall by the Bills in the 2013 NFL draft, Manuel completed 26 of 33 passes for 199 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions through two preseason games. Only Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints had a higher preseason passer rating than Manuel's 112.0 through Friday evening. Kolb, on the other hand, has completed 1 of 21 passes for 111 yards, no touchdowns, one interception, and a 55.9 passer rating. He did that all against the Vikings after missing time due to a knee injury caused by a slip on a rubber mat during practice.
Manuel said nothing about his knee after the 20-16 win over Minnesota -- he instead talked about his progression as a passer and how he's working into his new team.
"I think we just had a good drive," he said of the 14-play, 80-yard touchdown jaunt he ran at the start of the second half. "First and foremost the whole line did a great and fantastic job. I didn’t have any pressure pretty much the whole time I was out there. Obviously the receivers did a great job getting open so we were able to move the ball right down the field."
Now, Marrone gets a better shot at seeing what Kolb can do. "Kevin probably would have started the first game if he wasn't injured or hurt, and EJ would have come in and then EJ would have started this game," Marrone when he announced that Kolb would start the Vikings game. "But because of injury, obviously EJ started and I'm going to get Kevin his start. You can't call it a competition and then all of the sudden not have the quarterbacks getting those starts."