EJ Manuel fully cleared, could play Sunday


The ultimate decision will rest with Bills head coach Doug Marrone, but knowing that EJ Manuel has been fully cleared in his return from a knee injury the odds seem good that the team's starting quarterback will be back in the starting lineup Sunday in Pittsburgh.

"It's feeling a lot better," said Manuel Monday morning. "Been working out on it the past week and had a good workout (Sunday) before the game. It felt really good. It was good to get out there in the cold too to move around in that to see how it felt and reacted after, so it's doing good."

When asked if he thinks he'll play Sunday against the Steelers, Manuel deferred to his head coach.

"That's up to coach," he said. "I know I'm going to be out there ready to go to practice and get back to work with the guys."

Marrone is scheduled to address the media at 2 pm.

The coach's decision will likely rest on how Manuel performs through the course of the practice week. The Bills starting quarterback did return to the practice setting last week, but was limited.

"He just threw to us routes versus air," said Johnson of passes he and his fellow receivers caught from Manuel in practice last week. "He didn't throw in practice. We've got to take as much pressure off his legs because of the injury, but he said he'll be ready Sunday and after that there are no excuses."

"He's looked good the past few weeks rehabbing," said Eric Wood. "He's got a great attitude. He's stayed involved the whole time. So if he does come back we'll be excited. But EJ's got to do what's best for him and the trainers will advise him."

Manuel has been out of the lineup since he sprained the LCL in his right knee in the Week 5 loss at Cleveland. He was hurt on a scramble out to the left sideline. Manuel got the first down, but chose to stay in bounds and gain a few extra yards. Browns DB Tashaun Gipson closed on him quickly and drove his shoulder pad into right knee sending Manuel head over heels over the sideline.

The Bills top draft choice instantly grabbed his knee and has subsequently missed the last four games. Buffalo has posted a 1-3 record in those contests without Manuel.

Knowing he could not play, Manuel has spent time during games in both the coaches' booth and on the sidelines to make as much progress as possible with his understanding and execution of the Bills offense.

"Whether I was up in the box watching it from up top or on the sideline watching my teammates play I still took a lot away from it, the good and the bad," he said. "From Thad's (Lewis) success, from Jeff (Tuel) (Sunday) watching the game. Just trying to learn from everything."

Manuel said if he does play Sunday he won't be thinking about his knee injury at all.

"If you're going to be out there trying to play thinking about the injury then you can't play. So I don't really think about it," said Manuel. "Just continue to move on it and I haven't felt anything bad."

Manuel realizes the lift his potential reinsertion into the lineup could provide Buffalo's offense with seven games left in the season.

"I would hope so," said Manuel of his presence on the field for the offense. "To be able to come back and get in the flow with the rest of the guys and the O-line has done a great job since I've been out. Thad (Lewis) did a great job when I was out as well and Jeff (Tuel) did good too. Hopefully I can get back into it and just pick back up."

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