While the plan right now is to start Week 1against the Patriots, head coach Doug Marrone has not ruled out the possibility of EJ Manuel suiting up and starting against New England. The problem is there are too many variables that have yet to unfold for Marrone to definitively determine whether Manuel starting will be an option. However, Buffalo's head coach has already laid out what he'll need to see from EJ, when he'll need to see it and how much time on the field the rookie signal caller would need to be ready for Sept. 8th.
Marrone believes it won't take long for him evaluate whether Manuel is game ready physically.
"I think I'll know a lot from that right on the first day when he comes back," he said. "Meaning that when he goes out there that first day and he practices we'll see how, for lack of a better term, how rusty he may be and if he made need more (time)."
Being a young player Marrone believes Manuel will be able to bounce back well physically. The key is how sharp he is with his pre-snap reads and checks and decision making.
"That's why one of the ways we're training him right now mentally is getting him as much work as possible," said Marrone. "Now he's started the physical work, which is good so as soon as we can get out there and get him to start throwing again. That'll help in the process, but the first day he's out there doing anything I'll have a good feel for how long it may be."
At this point the Bills athletic training staff is not even ready to set a target practice date because it's only been a week.
Marrone on EJ Manuel: "He's progressing well, he's 100 miles an hour" & has been rehabbing with team trainers daily since surgery. — Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) August 27, 2013
"It hasn't been scheduled yet because we're still pushing. Truthfully we're still pushing," Marrone said. "Everyone heals a little bit differently. Right now he's telling me he's ready to go, but obviously he's not. But that's the mentality of EJ. So I'm excited about it. I've watched him do footwork drills in cones and watched him ride a bike, and just talking to him you'd think he's starting on Thursday."
Marrone appreciates his quarterback's positive mindset, but in addition to Manuel's mental acuity on the field his head coach also needs to feel that his rookie QB has had enough preparation time in practice to know the game plan inside and out.
"I think there are two things that you'd look at, A, the number of times he needs to go and play and then, B, the number of days of preparation," he said. "To give an example, if we were playing New England and we are the first week, and the doctor said, 'You're not going to get him until Thursday, but he'll be ready to go on Sunday,' I would be concerned about doing that. If they said, 'We can get him on the field Monday or Wednesday,' I would see how he played and then make a decision. That's how I feel about that situation."