A knee injury is not the way anyone hoped that Manuel's career would begin. If he's just going to miss 2-3 weeks then I suppose these are the weeks to miss. Sure, he could have cemented his starter status but the next two games will be against vanilla defenses with the Lions game featuring very little starter time for anyone. It will make more of a difference in week 1. If Manuel isn't healthy I would be surprised if the Patriots don't try to batter Kolb into a bloody mess, even if it means giving up some long completions. Tuel may have had a good week in Indy but that was against scrubs. Unless Kolb plays ridiculously well I don't think Marrone is the sort to sit Manuel when his knee is good to go. It's more likely that Kolb has a Fitzpatrick-ian next few weeks and Manuel is back in the starting lineup as soon as he's healthy. "I was looking for a spark," or some such logic can always be applied should Kolb be physically capable of playing but less than effective.
With Manuel's injury, Jeff Tuel just became a lock for the 53 man roster. My guess is that the team will have 3 specialists, 26 defensive guys (to run Pettine's hybrid defense) and 24 offensive players. 3 QBs means the Bills have only 21 slots left. There figure to be at least 3 RB and likely 9 OL. That leaves only 9 slots for WR (6) and TE (3). If the team decides to keep a FB the Bills have to choose between going with 5 WR or 2 TE. If it comes to it I'd rather see the team drop the TE than the WR.
Da'Rick Rogers hasn't gotten the reps the other WRs have, either on offense or special teams. If he's hurt we haven't heard about it. The most rational explanation is that Marrone knows he's going to be cut and is giving the reps to the guys that have a chance. But this is Buffalo we're talking about. Another possible explanation is that Rogers already has a roster slot so the reps are being meted out to the guys who are fighting for the last WR opening. Given the fox in the henhouse type grins we saw after Rogers was signed the front office clearly saw getting him as a coup. It can be hard to puff up after that kind of signing and then just let the guy walk a few months later. I have a feeling that Rogers sticks when the final cuts are made, due to a combination of pride (front office) and potential (Rogers').
People have been getting very excited about the defense, particularly the amount of pressure the team is getting on opposing quarterbacks. I had three thoughts. First, Pettine has the luxury of not caring what the score is during preseason games. He can blitz almost every down if he feels like it and it doesn't matter if the defense gets burned for a long TD. The same won't be true in the regular season. Second, a lot of the pass rush success has come against mixed units-guys who haven't played together and whose communication is suspect. I won't be surprised if the rush has a harder time getting home when the games count. Third, this is basically the New Jersey defense. New England, Miami and especially New Jersey are very familiar with the defense, its strengths and weaknesses. I anticipate the defense struggling generally (new scheme + young players = blown assignments) but against division foes it might be as bad as the 2012 defense.
With that being said, I think that Buddy Nix got the better end of the Hughes trade. Sheppard wasn't setting the world on fire when he was in the 3-4 or in the 4-3. He wasn't the fastest guy around and looked like one of those ‘on the bubble types'. In his place the Bills snagged a guy who seems to be at home in Pettine's defense. As noted above, we'll see how it pans out when he's playing against offensive line units as opposed to just 5 random offensive linemen. The initial signs are promising.