Marrone: Planning on Jeff Tuel to start Week 1


He hasn't ruled out the possibility of top draft choice EJ Manuel being ready for the season opener on Sept. 8, but head coach Doug Marrone stated plainly that their plan for their Week 1 game against the New England Patriots is to go with undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel as their starting quarterback.

"Right now we're planning on Jeff Tuel playing the first game and we're working with EJ to get back as quickly as possible," said Marrone Monday. "Meaning New England. Right now that's how we're going about planning on doing it until we know more about where EJ is."

Manuel worked out with trainers on Sunday and is coming along well, but it's too early for the trainers and coaches to ascertain whether or not Manuel will be cleared for practice next week.

"He's working back so he's actually starting to move around now which is a good sign," said Marrone of Manuel. "Then it's just a matter of how he heals and then when he's back he'll be our quarterback."

Knowing Manuel has been on the shelf for the past week it would be a challenge for him to start against the Patriots without a full week of practice leading up to the game.

For Tuel he could become an NFL first as according to the Elias Sports Bureau an undrafted rookie has never started a season opener at quarterback in the modern era. The last time it happened was 1967.

"That's cool," said Tuel. "It would definitely be an honor if that's the case. I'm surprised that I'm the first, but if that's the case it's a cool thing."

Jeff Tuel: "I'm the veteran now all of a sudden" — Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) August 26, 2013

Tuel, who has completed better than 72 percent of his passes with a 106.6 passer rating in the preseason ran the first team offense in practice Monday and will do so right up until the opener so long as Manuel isn't healthy enough to return to practice.

It was the most extensive work he's had with the starting unit, and there are things he'll have to tighten up with respect to execution before the season opener.

"I haven't thrown many balls to Stevie Johnson or T.J. Graham or guys like that," said Tuel. "Even in (practice) it's scripted so Kevin (Kolb) and EJ (Manuel) were throwing with those guys and I was throwing with the twos and the threes.

"So just getting used to how they run routes and certain timing routes I think is going to be the biggest challenge I think to be able to put the ball where I have to put it. Just today a couple of times I found myself a little late to Stevie because he does things a little differently and quicker so I think that's going to be the biggest challenge for me is just getting to know my guys and just getting on the same page with them."

Having arrived here just four months ago as an undrafted rookie it was abnormal giving pointers to the likes of the two new Bills' signal callers in Matt Leinart and Thad Lewis.

"It was a little strange, odd, it's just a completely different scenario," said Tuel. "It's two new guys and I'm the veteran now all of a sudden and I've got to tell these guys the footwork the progressions and stuff like that.

"I was just telling Matt it's funny how things circle around because the last time I saw Matt I was watching him at the Rose Bowl in the national championship game against Texas and I was sitting in the stands and in the eighth grade or something. Now we're here on the same squad. It's just crazy how things work out. It's neat. I'm just enjoying every second of it."

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