It may not have been a trade the Bills were looking for, but Buffalo's willingness to trade veteran QB Matt Cassel to Dallas Tuesday was a clear sign of the club's faith in third-year signal caller EJ Manuel.
The Bills' former first-round pick now assumes the backup quarterback role behind Tyrod Taylor, a job that he briefly held earlier this month when Matt Cassel was moved off the roster during final cuts, only to be re-signed days later. Now Manuel's role as the number two QB behind Taylor appears permanent.
Most would agree that Manuel's performance in the preseason earned him strong consideration for the backup role behind Taylor from the beginning. He had a preseason passer rating of 146.9 and had a gaudy 11.9 yards per attempt in three appearances. He led the team in the preseason with four touchdown passes and completed more than 66 percent of his throws.
"I thought I had a pretty good preseason and played well in the games," said Manuel earlier this month. "All I can do is continue to work hard be a good teammate for this team."
Buffalo's proven and veteran offensive staff, which includes offensive coordinator Greg Roman, quarterbacks coach David Lee and senior offensive assistant Chris Palmer has done wonders for Manuel's game.
Two areas where Manuel's play clearly improved from last season was his decisiveness and his accuracy on deep passes. Evidence of both came in his touchdown throws of 51 and 37 yards in preseason games against Carolina and Pittsburgh.
"I felt like I worked extremely hard as I always do, but definitely excited with the way I was progressing and still am," said Manuel. "I'm not going to allow not being selected as the starter to stop me from continuing to work and get better."
Apparently Manuel demonstrated further progress with his personal game in practice over the first two weeks of the regular season to the point where the organization felt comfortable in moving Cassel and carrying just Taylor and Manuel on the 53-man roster.