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Bills QB room close-knit in wake of competition


As Matt Cassel said himself it was a crazy weekend for Buffalo's quarterback depth chart behind starter Tyrod Taylor. In the end the veteran Cassel is the backup and EJ Manuel is the number three quarterback. And though neither Cassel nor Manuel are happy with where they sit on that depth chart, head coach Rex Ryan is confident the quarterback room will continue to operate effectively in the regular season.

"What was important to me is the entire room," said Ryan. "Those three guys, I mean they work in concert with each other. That is important. They push each other, yet they are there for each other. They watch tape together. It is really a unique deal because sometimes when you get competition, especially three guys going, sometimes it is not always like that. But here it is kind of a unique deal."

Unique because Buffalo brought in two quarterbacks this offseason in Cassel and Taylor, who have strong reputations as team players. Taylor's is evident having worked dutifully as Joe Flacco's backup for four seasons. Cassel has come out on top and on the short end of quarterback competitions in his 10-year career, but he's never been divisive and that won't happen now that he's back on Buffalo's roster.

"The end result is I am where I'm supposed to be," said Cassel. "When you look at this situation and the hard work that went into the entire offseason, I thought it was the best place for me. I'm happy to still be a Bill. I'm happy to start the season and getting ready to go."

Where Cassel will be most helpful to Taylor is with his experience. Knowing when Taylor takes the field on Sunday that it will be his first NFL start, leaning on the backup QB who has 71 starts of his own could prove valuable.

"Matt does a great job of mastering the mental part of what Greg Roman's offense demands of a quarterback," said Bills quarterbacks coach David Lee in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. "He knows defenses so well and that experience is tremendous."

Even EJ Manuel, who exuded nothing but class in thinking he was the backup over the weekend only to find out he's been moved down another peg to the number three quarterback job, admits that Cassel is one of the more supportive veterans he's been around.

"He doesn't hold back any information," said Manuel. "If it's something he's gone through himself he's more than willing to share with the younger guys and you don't really get that a lot from a veteran quarterback."

A veteran who is willing to dispense knowledge and a young quarterback determined to improve will only serve to push and advance Tyrod Taylor's game all the more in his first season as a starter.

"I think you've got three character guys," said Manuel. "At the end of the day we all want to play. Coach made the decision and went with Tyrod and I'm happy for him and I'm sure Matt is too. So for me, my focus is continue to get better with the reps I get whether it's against our defense or whether it's a few of the reps for the offense, just keep getting better and keep doing what I've already started."

"We've got a good room," said Cassel. "People don't really understand how much time we spend together throughout the course of the year.  When somebody else is playing the position, there's only one guy who can do it.   Hopefully you support that guy because the job is hard enough on Sundays. To have people working against you within your own building, that's a bad environment—I've been around that before.  This is a great situation to be a quarterback in. I think we've got a great room with guys that have great character and a great attitude toward it."

Heading into the first week of the 2015 season, here's a look at every player on the Bills roster.

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