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Greg Roman to give Bills quarterback EJ Manuel a clean slate

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Quarterback EJ Manuel is getting a clean slate under Bills new offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

That doesn't mean Roman is ready to name his starter any time soon.

Manuel, practice squad member Jeff Tuel and however many quarterbacks the team adds this offseason will still have to prove themselves on the field, Roman said during his introductory news conference Tuesday.

''We're really going to focus on rolling the balls out on the field and getting our hands on them, working with them and going from there,'' he said. ''Everything else at this point is watercooler talk.''

Roman provided a mixed review of Manuel based on what he saw reviewing film of the second-year player.

While Manuel displayed what Roman called ''some good traits,'' inconsistency was an issue.

The Bills have a new coaching staff under Rex Ryan, who took over after Doug Marrone stepped down abruptly on Dec. 31 following a 9-7 season. And yet, the team faces a familiar concern at quarterback.

With two years left on his contract, Manuel has a 6-8 record since being selected in the first round of the 2013 draft. He went 2-2 this season before being benched in favor of journeyman Kyle Orton, who announced his intention to retire.

General manager Doug Whaley previously said he intends to add one and potentially two quarterbacks this offseason. Until that happens, Roman can only focus on the players he has.

''What they might have been asked to do or done in the past is really not relevant,'' Roman said. ''So to sit here and pontificate about this or that and the other is a little premature.''

Manuel's development was hampered in his rookie season, when he was sidelined three times by knee injuries. Overall, he has thrown 16 touchdowns versus 12 interceptions.

Roman takes over an offense that finished 26th in yards gained, and sputtered no matter who was behind center last year.

He spent the previous four seasons in the same position with the San Francisco 49ers, where Roman oversaw one of the league's best running attacks.

The 49ers finished among the top 10 in yards rushing all four times, including fourth or better in each of the past three years.

Roman envisions using a similar approach in Buffalo.

''We want to run the football to a level where people respect and fear us in our ability to do so.'' he said. ''If you can exert your will at the line of scrimmage, it's going to open a lot other things in the offense.''

Roman and Ryan share a similar run-first philosophy. The two spent 2006 and `07 working together in Baltimore, where Roman was an offensive assistant and Ryan the defensive coordinator.

Roman was one of 12 candidates the Bills interviewed for the head coaching position, before losing out to Ryan. That didn't stop Roman from accepting Ryan's offer to join him in Buffalo.

''It didn't take a lot of cajoling, because Rex is somebody I have a lot of respect for,'' Roman said. ''I think we both felt if we ever got together at some point, it would be pretty good.''

Ryan is more familiar with Buffalo's new defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, who also spoke Tuesday. Thurman held the same position the past two seasons under Ryan with the New York Jets. The two have worked together since 2002 in Baltimore.

They share an aggressive philosophy to defense, which should make for an easy transition in Buffalo. The Bills defense had an NFL-best 54 sacks, finished fourth in yards allowed and produced three Pro Bowl linemen.

''We don't want to sit back and have an offense dictate to us,'' Thurman said.

Many Bills defenders are familiar with Thurman and Ryan's defensive approach. Ryan's previous defensive coordinator Mike Pettine spent the 2013 season in Buffalo before leaving to take over the Cleveland Browns.


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