It seemed like little more than a formality, but on Friday morning Bills head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that EJ Manuel will start on Sunday against the Steelers.
Making his weekly radio appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Marrone was asked to confirm that Manuel would in fact be starting Sunday after he put an official decision on hold earlier in the week wanting to see how the rookie signal caller came through the practice week. When asked 'Will EJ start?' by morning show host Howard Simon, Marrone had a one word answer.
"Correct," said Marrone.
Manuel has missed a lot of practice and game reps over the past month, but has worked to keep up with the weekly changes that an NFL offense experiences as it evolves through the course of a season. He has sat in all the meetings and observed games from the coaches' booth alongside offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
"He's done a very good job," Marrone told Buffalobills.com. "It was a challenge for him not being out there for four weeks. So we worked very hard on the mental aspect and the preparation aspect. He did a great job of that. He came out there this week and had a good week of practice. So we're excited about putting him back out there on the field."
Manuel hasn't played since suffering an LCL injury in his right knee back in Week 5. He practiced on a limited basis last week before working full time with the first team offense this week.
Marrone indicated that Manuel will be wearing a support device on his knee, even though earlier in the week the quarterback left that decision up in the air.
Facing a Pittsburgh defense that is known for using creative pressures on third down, Marrone knows coming off a four-week layoff, Manuel is likely to see plenty of blitzes Sunday.
"It all depends on what you're doing and the down and distances," said Marrone. "I think we'll get our fair share of pressure. It's always a great challenge to go against coach LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They're coming off a tough loss against the New England Patriots. We know we're going to get the best effort from the Pittsburgh Steelers."
Goodwin 'good to go'Marrone additionally confirmed that Marquise Goodwin will be able to play on Sunday despite suffering a strained hamstring in last week's game.
"He's good to go," said Marrone.