Niagara Gazette

Sports

September 27, 2013

Bills' Manuel gets crash course in facing blitz

Niagara Gazette — ORCHARD PARK — Whether it’s handling opposing pass rushers on the field, and questions off it, Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel is suddenly having a hard time escaping the blitz.

Since spending much of last weekend flat on his back, Manuel was back on his feet Wednesday, feeling better prepared in facing pressure after spending the past two days working on it in practice.

The extra work became necessary in light of Manuel’s struggles in a 27-20 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. When he wasn’t being sacked eight times, Manuel was sailing desperation passes out of bounds.

“Yeah, I’m a lot more prepared,” Manuel said. “I learned a lot from that game and the mistakes I made.”

The Bills’ defense went after him in practice Wednesday. And Manuel spent part of his day off Tuesday working on his own in making quick, precise throws downfield.

The only thing missing was a 250-pound linebacker in his face.

“No, we didn’t have that,” Manuel said with a laugh. “We couldn’t simulate that one. But it was the best we could.”

Manuel is going to have to do much better with the Bills (1-2) preparing to face another attacking style defense on Sunday, when they host the Baltimore Ravens (2-1).

Against the Jets, Manuel at times looked rattled in completing 19 of 42 attempts for 243 yards and a touchdown. And he was particularly bad in third- or fourth-down situations.

Though he hit tight end Scott Chandler for a 33-yard touchdown pass on third-and-6, Manuel was otherwise dreadful. On third or fourth down, he went 3 of 14 for 55 yards passing and was sacked twice.

“I felt like I should’ve been more composed,” Manuel said. “When they’re bringing the house at you, it’s a tough thing to deal with. But nonetheless, you have to deal with it. It’s just a part of maturing in the position.”

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