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Buffalo Bills' Doug Marrone on Thaddeus Lewis leapfrogging Jeff Tuel

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Why did the Bills turn to their practice squad quarterback (Thaddeus Lewis) over backup Jeff Tuel? And why wasn't Lewis the backup all along? Doug Marrone explains.

Jason Miller

In the wake of this morning's announcement that the Buffalo Bills would start Thaddeus Lewis ahead of Jeff Tuel at quarterback this coming Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, one question that has been asked frequently is why, if Lewis is considered the better plug-in for injured starter EJ Manuel, he wasn't serving as the backup quarterback all along.

Doug Marrone addressed that question in an appearance on WGR 550's The Howard Simon Show this morning, noting that the decision came down to not wanting to lose Tuel to another team.

"We had a situation where he played very well in the preseason, and we didn't want to put him on the practice squad and lose a good, young developing quarterback," Marrone said Monday. "Jeff, we're excited about. He's still developing."

That comment doesn't account for the Bills not simply keeping all three quarterbacks on the active roster throughout the season, but anyone that has been paying close attention to Marrone's commentary since as far back as the winter months will tell you that the Bills have been intent on keeping just two quarterbacks all along. For now, they'll stick with three, with Lewis joining Manuel and Tuel on the 53-man squad.

Tuel, an undrafted free agent out of Washington State, likely would have begun his pro career on the practice squad had veteran Kevin Kolb not sustained a career-threatening concussion during the preseason. He may also have wound up there had he not come out firing on all cylinders early in the preseason; in his first pro performance in Indianapolis, Tuel completed 19-of-23 passes for 212 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 134.1.

He was decidedly less impressive in the second half of Thursday's loss to Cleveland after being pressed into action with very little practice time this season. He completed just 8-of-20 passes for 80 yards, taking two sacks and throwing a pick-six as the Bills lost 37-24, allowing Cleveland to score 20 straight points to close the game. Marrone believes that Lewis, who has one career start to his name, gives the Bills a better chance to win with Tuel clearly not ready for game action.