Niagara Gazette

Sports

September 5, 2013

Bills to start Manuel in opener

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Manuel also spent another half-hour throwing passes following practice.

His return is the first bit of positive news for the retooled and rookie-laden Bills, who have been stung by a series of setbacks over the past week.

Starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore will miss the first month with a broken left wrist. Starting safety Jairus Byrd’s status is uncertain because of a foot injury and after he missed most of the offseason before signing his franchise tender two weeks ago.

Kicker became an issue after rookie Dustin Hopkins hurt his right groin in practice Monday. Marrone called the injury minor, but ruled Hopkins out from playing Sunday. Dan Carpenter will fill in after the fifth-year player signed Tuesday.

Quarterback has been the Bills’ most pressing need over the past two weeks.

Had Manuel not been ready, the Bills would’ve been forced to start undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel, the only other quarterback on their active roster. Buffalo was placed in this position after veteran free-agent addition Kevin Kolb sustained a season-ending concussion.

The Bills scrambled to add quarterbacks by signing free-agent veteran Matt Leinart and acquiring Thaddeus Lewis in a trade with Detroit. Leinart was cut on Friday, a day after he struggled in a preseason loss to the Lions. Lewis was also cut, but has since been signed to Buffalo’s practice squad.

Manuel now gets his opportunity to be the opening-day starter, just as the Bills had envisioned in April, when they selected him with the 16th pick in the NFL draft. The Florida State product was the first and only quarterback taken in the first round.

He arrived in Buffalo with the expectation of filling a position that’s been unsettled since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season.

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