ORCHARD PARK — From practice squad to NFL starter: Quarterback Thad Lewis received the surprising news of his sudden promotion upon arriving at the Buffalo Bills facility for team meetings Monday.
Shortly before 8 a.m., coach Doug Marrone pulled Lewis aside to inform him to get ready to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
"He just told me, 'You're starting,'" Lewis told The Associated Press. "He gave me the nod, so I have to go out and do my best with it."
A day after working out free agents Pat White and Dennis Dixon, and losing out to Minnesota in a bid to sign recently cut Tampa Bay starter Josh Freeman, the Bills (2-3) stayed in-house in finding an interim replacement for injured rookie starter EJ Manuel.
"We thought it was best for us to move on and play with Thaddeus," Marrone said. "With Thad, he knows the whole system inside out, so at least we can give him the things that we feel he's strong with, which gives us a better chance."
The scramble to find a starter began after Manuel sprained his right knee in a 37-24 loss to Cleveland on Thursday. The injury will not require surgery, but Manuel is expected to miss a few weeks, and potentially longer.
The Bills had only one other quarterback on their roster, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel, who struggled in replacing Manuel on Thursday. Tuel completed 8 of 20 passes for 80 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Lewis' promotion came as a surprise after Marrone indicated last week that the team intended to look outside the organization for a replacement. Those plans changed Sunday night, once Freeman announced he was signing with Minnesota.
Lewis has spent the past six weeks with the Bills. He was acquired in a trade with Detroit in late August, after Manuel was sidelined with a left knee injury and veteran Kevin Kolb sustained a concussion.