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Bills vs. Colts: EJ Manuel to start first preseason game

It's not clear how much he'll play, but EJ Manuel's preseason NFL debut will be as the starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Following a Friday evening training camp practice at St. John Fisher College, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone confirmed the expected: rookie quarterback EJ Manuel will start the team's preseason opener on Sunday afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts.

Kevin Kolb, Manuel's chief competitor for the starting job, will be dressed for the game but will be the third quarterback, per Marrone. That development comes after Kolb spent nearly a week off of the practice field, mostly via an excused absence for a death in the family. There's a chance that only Manuel and Jeff Tuel see live snaps on Sunday afternoon, which is precisely what happened in full-team work during Friday night's practice.

Manuel, the Bills' first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, had by most accounts taken an early lead in his competition with Kolb - and that was before Kolb's absence, which afforded Manuel plenty of reps with the first-team offense (and against the first-team defense). It's still far too early to call this race, but a strong (or even acceptable) showing in Indy could create even more separation in this race.

Then again, if Manuel struggles, Kolb could close the gap pretty quickly as he gets back into the flow of things. For now, we can expect to see a good chunk of Manuel and a heaping helping of Tuel on Sunday afternoon.