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EJ Manuel: "I expect greatness all the time"

Posted Sep 4, 2013

Bills quarterback EJ Manuel addressed the media Wednesday about being named the starter for the Patriots game and the respect he has for New England's team.

QB EJ Manuel

Q: They told the team today, but realistically when did you think you’d be good to go?
A: I felt like I would be good to go a few days ago as far as my knee, but other than that I knew mentally if I had the chance to go out and play I’d be ready for it.

Q: Looked like you wanted to get in some extra work with Jeff Tuel today?
A: Yeah, well we’re trying to get a schedule, a regimen of what we will do each week so we’re putting that together as the week goes on.

Q: You’re wearing a light brace. Is that just a precaution and do you have any hesitation scrambling?
A: I haven’t had any hesitations, it feels fine. It feels strong. I can do all my normal movements that I would do if I didn’t have the brace on. Just have the brace on for extra comfort.

Q: Coach Marrone said he expects greatness out of his players no matter what game it is. Is that the same way you feel?
A: Most definitely. Myself, I expect greatness all time. I know this is my first NFL game, but I’m not looking at it like that. I’m looking at it as the Buffalo Bills 2013 season, the first game of that. We’ve got to go out there, play hard and execute our offense and we know the defense will do a good job too.

Q: How much does it help your confidence seeing other rookie quarterbacks come in and have an immediate impact?
A: Yeah it does. I have a relationship with Russell Wilson and RG3, those guys; I see how they did last year as rookies when I was still in college. It gave me a lot of confidence moving forward and that was one of my goals. I want to be one of those guys who is a rookie, who gets to go there and has a success as a young guy. I don’t think it really matters the age, if you’re good enough to play you can go out there and do it.

Q: What do you think of Tom Brady?
A: He’s one of the best quarterbacks to ever play and as a young guy, obviously he’s been in the league a lot longer than I have so he’s somebody that I’ve always looked at and thought he was a great quarterback. He’s a winner, that’s what he’s known as, that’s what I want to be known as as well. He’s a competitor now. Have to go out and beat them.

Q: Does going against him in your first game add a little bit more substance?
A: I think it’s a special game because it’s the first. We want to go out there; it’s a divisional game as well, so it’s definitely a game we need to have to get to the goal that we want to get to. I don’t really look at it as far as going against Tom Brady; I’m playing against their defense not him. It’s just another game.

Q: What do you think about their defense?
A: Great defense. Veteran guys, make a lot of plays, very physical. Get to the ball very fast, so you’ve got to be ready to go out there and play.

Q: There are so many new parts now. How hard is it to look at this game as a normal game with all that change?
A: I don’t really look at it as far as everybody being new because I’m new. I haven’t really thought about us having a first year GM or a first year OC and whatever. I just look at it as we’re a football team. We prepare to go out and win. Prepared this week to go out and execute. That’s what we have to do to go out and win this game.

Q: Is it possible to just see it as anything other than your first game?
A: Definitely. I don’t know how else to handle it though. It is a game; it’s nothing more than that. It’s still football at the end of the day. You’re just going against excellent talent and in order to match that you have to play excellent yourself.

Q: Does the bad history that this franchise has had against Bill Belichick matter to you?
A: I haven’t looked at it that way. I’m just focused on going out there and playing on Sunday.

Q: A lot of rookie quarterbacks struggle with pressure. Are you expecting any exotic looks from the Patriots defense and how confident are you that you can handle it?
A: Just continue to read and react like I did in the first two preseason games. Not try to do too much. Make your play if it’s there and if it’s not there you either check it down to C.J. (Spiller) or Fred (Jackson) who can get yards just like you would if you were throwing it 40 yards down the field. Just take what they give you. Plain and simple.

Q: EJ with the lost time you had, how do you feel in your progressions? Do you feel caught up?
A: I definitely feel like I’m caught back up. I wouldn’t play the game if I didn’t feel like I was ready to go. I feel more than prepared to go.

Q: Coach mentioned that you sat in the coach’s booth during the last preseason game. Could you shed some light on what that perspective showed you?
A: Yeah I think I have a true coach’s perspective because you really have no control over what’s going on on the field, let alone not being down there. It was tough to watch especially because we weren’t playing well, we didn’t win the game. That was the hard thing about it, but I definitely have the perspective of seeing how Coach Hackett reacts to things up in the box. He stays the same way, same relaxed guy that still calls good plays. That’s the perspective that I did get.

Q: During training camp Stevie Johnson said he hadn’t yet built chemistry with the quarterbacks. Were you able to build chemistry over the time of your injury?
A: That was a while ago, I think by now we have that chemistry. I’d guess if you were to ask Stevie that question again he’d give you a different answer. I know this week in practice we’ve been good. Stevie is a very versatile receiver and he does things that you don’t expect sometimes. We hit all his routes and things he’s been open on.

Q: Do you talk regularly to the Seahawk’s Russell Wilson and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III?
A: Yeah, I’ve reached out to both of those guys. I’ve known Russell longer than I’ve known RG3. Obviously we’re all young quarterback and we root for each other. Like I said, I rooted for those guys when I was in college last year and they were in the pros. Obviously it’s great to get some knowledge from those guys and some wisdom on how to prepare as a rookie and things like that.

Q: Anything in particular about going in to your first game?
A: No, not necessarily. No sir.

Q: You mentioned the check downs to Fred and C.J. How important are those to your acclimation to the offense?
A: Yeah they’re very important. I think those guys are the strong block of our offense and you definitely want to give those guys the opportunity to make a play because they’ve done it time and time again. Having veteran guys like C.J., Fred and Tashard (Choice) as well--all those guys can make plays.

Q: Do they take some pressure off of you going against a team like the Patriots?
A: I would just say I have to do my job because you still have to lead, do what you’re supposed to do, make the right reads, make the right plays. Just go out have fun and play football.

Q: How important would it be for those guys to have a dominant game to help you in your first game?
A: Definitely. I think if we can run the ball against the Patriots, I think we will have a great day. Obviously we want to throw the ball and be balanced with every attack we have, but if we can win the match at the line of scrimmage, I think we’ll have a great day.

Q: What are your expectations going in to this game?
A: We’re going to go in to win. That’s what we’ve prepared for and that’s my expectation.

Q: For yourself is there anything that you want to show on that field?
A: Just want to win the game.

Q: You mentioned that you want to run the ball to have a good chance, but Stevie says he can’t be covered. How are you not going to throw it to a guy who is wide open all the time?
A: Yeah like I said we want to have a balanced attack. If he’s open all the time you’ve got to get him the ball. I’m sure he’ll let me know. (Laughs) I want to get him the ball, just like I want to get Robert (Woods) the ball, I want to get Marquise (Goodwin) and all those guys, give them a chance to make plays. That’s what they do.

Q: Were you planning on wearing the brace?
A: I’ll see. It depends how it feels.

Q: You 100-percent?
A: Feel good. Yes sir.

Q: How long does it take to get used to and have you ever had to wear a brace before?
A: I’ve had to wear like a neoprene sleeve before. It feels fine though. I don’t feel any different when I was running. When you play football your body takes over and you don’t worry about an injury. Doesn’t really matter what you have, so when you’ve got guys flying at you like (Vince) Wilfork and those kinds of guys, you need to get out of there. I won’t be thinking about it at all.

Q: So then why not wear it?
A: If I don’t want to wear it, I just don’t want to wear it. It’s kind of my choice. We’ll see.

Q: Coach Marrone said he prayed for you during your injury. How does that feel?
A: That’s pretty cool to have your head coach praying for you. That’s obviously saying a lot. I guess his prayers were answered, I feel good enough about playing.