For weeks, BuffaloBills.com reporter Chris Brown speculated that, based off of what he had seen from second-year quarterback Jeff Tuel in spring practices, that Tuel would challenge Thad Lewis for the Buffalo Bills' backup quarterback job behind EJ Manuel. That speculation became reality on Tuesday, when Doug Marrone announced the backup job as up for grabs after Lewis and Tuel split reps with the second-team offense.
"We have a battle for the second-team quarterback," Doug Marrone told reporters on Tuesday (via WGR 550). "We're trying to find out who it is. Jeff did a nice job in OTAs and he's earned himself some more reps.">
Both Lewis and Tuel saw playing time last season as Manuel missed six games with knee injuries. Lewis went 2-3 as a starter - both wins came over the Miami Dolphins - completing 93-of 157 passes for 1,092 yards with four touchdowns (plus an additional score on the ground), three interceptions, and quarterback rating of 81.0. He was also sacked 18 times in those five starts and fumbled a whopping seven times, losing three of those.
Tuel, meanwhile, made but one start as an undrafted rookie, completing 18-of-39 passes for 229 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in a Week 9 loss to Kansas City. He also made a relief appearance for Manuel in a Week 5 loss to Cleveland, throwing a game-deciding pick-six late in the fourth quarter of that 37-24 defeat.
Fans will undoubtedly be more comfortable with Lewis on the whole, given the team's relative competitiveness when he was in the lineup last season, but Brown (and, to a lesser extent, others) has persistently stated that Tuel looks matured and improved in his second NFL offseason. The two will likely continue to swap reps with the second-team offense over the next couple of weeks, with preseason snaps playing a vital role in the competition, as well.