Niagara Gazette

Sports

July 29, 2013

Football's Back! Bills open training camp

Niagara Gazette —

PITTSFORD — Rookie first-round draft pick EJ Manuel has the raw potential. Veteran free-agent addition Kevin Kolb has the benefit of six seasons of NFL experience.

None of that will factor into Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone’s approach in determining which quarterback will win the starting job over the next six weeks.

”What I look at is it’s really which players can we put on the field to win now,” Marrone said, after being asked if the Manuel has the edge because he’s regarded as the team’s future. “A lot of people talk about the future. And really the future for us as coaches and as a team is now.”

Without preconceptions, Marrone will base his decision on what happens on the field in an offseason-long competition that began last night with the first practice of the Bills’ training camp on the campus of St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester.

The plan is to have Manuel and Kolb evenly split practice time for the indefinite future before Marrone said it will become apparent to him and the entire team which one has earned the job.

”You can’t succumb to speculation of down the road this person will be a better player,” said Marrone, the first-time head coach who replaced Chan Gailey in January. “I’m looking for who is the best player now.”

Manuel has been excited for the opportunity ever since the Bills selected him with the 16th pick, making the Florida State product the only quarterback chosen in the first round of the draft in April.

”I think it’s a huge opportunity,” Manuel said. “Obviously, I want to come out and make everybody happy, all the people in the front office.”

At 6-foot-4 and 237 pounds, Manuel has the size and showed off his arm-strength during spring practices. And yet, the Florida State product still has much to improve after Marrone noted that Manuel lacked “polish.”

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