October 01, 2014

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) It didn't take quarterback Kyle Orton long to make a distinct impression in his first practice as the Buffalo Bills' starter on Wednesday.

''It's not so much different, because he's doing the same thing, it's just the ball's coming out a little bit quicker,'' second-year receiver Robert Woods said.

''He demands what he wants out of us,'' added receiver Sammy Watkins, the rookie first-round draft pick. ''The way he talks, the way he handles business, the way he looks at plays and breaks down defenses is kind of different than EJ.''

Watkins was referring to EJ Manuel, the second-year starter who was benched on Monday.

It's on Orton to provide a spark to what's been a sluggish offense on Sunday, when the Bills (2-2) travel to play the Detroit Lions (3-1).

''I'm happy to be here,'' Orton said. ''I'm excited for the opportunity that I have, and can't wait to play on Sunday.''

Orton has enjoyed a quick ascendance in Buffalo since agreeing a two-year, $7.9 million contract on Aug. 29.

Before that, he was spending time at home in Texas focusing on being a family man after getting cut by the Dallas Cowboys in mid-July.

''It was so long ago,'' Orton said, declining to say whether he had been contemplating retirement.

And forget asking the 10-year journeyman - now playing for his fourth team in four years - whether the game at Detroit represents yet another chance to re-establish himself.

''That's a bad way to look at it if you're looking into the future,'' Orton said. ''We've got one game to win, and we're going to do all that we can to win that one game.''

For now, Orton represents the short-term future for the Bills, who have reached an early season crossroad. They're coming off two straight losses, and switching course for the third time in five seasons at a quarterback position that's been mostly unsettled since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season.

The latest change was prompted after Manuel was hesitant and erratic in a 23-17 loss at Houston on Sunday.

The turning point came on the Bills' first possession of the second half. Facing third-and-3 at the Texans 12, Manuel's short pass was intercepted by J.J. Watt and returned 80 yards for a touchdown that put Houston ahead 14-10.

Manuel finished 21 of 44 for 225 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

''We took a step back with EJ,'' coach Doug Marrone said, Wednesday. ''At the end of the day, my responsibility is to make sure we put this team in a position to win. So I did what I thought ... in my heart and my mind was the best thing.''

Marrone placed his faith in Orton because of the quarterback's experience and how he's looked in practice. Marrone doesn't expect rust to be a factor for a quarterback who was cut by the Cowboys after he failed to attend any of the team's offseason workouts.

Orton's last start was Dec. 29, in a 24-22 loss to Philadelphia that ended the Cowboys' chances of making the playoffs. Dallas was moving into field-goal position with 1:49 remaining, when Orton threw a game-deciding interception.

Selected in the fourth round by Chicago in 2005, Orton has a 35-35 record, but has won just eight of his past 31 starts. Orton has also spent time in Denver, and appeared in four games with Kansas City before spending the past two years serving as Tony Romo's backup in Dallas.

Orton said he's comfortable with the Bills offense, and doesn't believe the playbook needs to be limited.

He is also spending time building a rapport with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The Bills stretching period wasn't yet over, when Orton got up and had a brief discussion with Hackett. The two talked again several times in between plays.

''He's trying to get a feel for me a little bit, and obviously, as a quarterback, you'd love to have a great feel for your coordinator,'' Orton said. ''Really, the last 48 hours we've been working hard together.''

He also spoke highly of Manuel.

''I've been there, and EJ's going to be a great quarterback,'' Orton said. ''He's got a long time to grow.''

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