While NFL media continues to milk as much coverage out of Buffalo Bills quarterback Jeff Tuel as possible, folks closer to home are still working to discern how quickly EJ Manuel is recovering from minor knee surgery. Doug Marrone, who has made it clear that Manuel will start in Week 1 against New England if he's healthy and has enough practice time logged, talked about Manuel's progress after practice on Tuesday.
"He's coming back and he's doing everything he can. He's progressing," Marrone said this morning. "I believe it's seven or eight days after the procedure, and he's 100 miles an hour right now."
Manuel has not yet been cleared for practice - he hasn't thrown a ball in a week - but Marrone said he has been conducting field workouts and hitting the classroom hard. The plan, according to the head coach, is to assess Manuel's Week 1 preparedness on the first day he's back on the practice field, whenever that may be.
"It hasn't been scheduled yet because we’re still pushing. I mean truthfully, we’re still pushing," Marrone said. "Right now, he's telling me he's ready to go, but obviously he's not. That's the mentality of EJ. I'm excited about it; I've watched him do footwork drills and cones. I've watched him ride a bike. You talk to the kid and you'd think he's starting on Thursday."
Marrone also made it clear that he won't simply throw Manuel back into the starting lineup as soon as he's healthy; he'll want his rookie quarterback to have a few days' worth of practice time in hand before letting him back into a live game situation.
"I think that to give an example, if we were playing New England, obviously we are the first week, and the doctor said ‘you’re not going to get him on that field until Thursday and then he’ll be ready to play on Sunday’, I would be concerned about doing that," Marrone said. "If they said ‘we can get him on that field on Monday or Wednesday’, I would see how he played and then make the decision."
Manuel still has not been ruled out for Week 1, and it's obvious that the team is hoping to have him back in time to square off against Tom Brady on September 8. If that doesn't happen, then Tuel will have that honor.