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Bills vs. Giants: Hall of Fame Game opportunity for Ryan Nassib

The Bills (and Doug Marrone, and Nathaniel Hackett) passed on Ryan Nassib as their franchise quarterback. Tonight, they'll be in attendance as Nassib tries to win the Giants' backup job.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

A little over 15 months ago, with their first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel to be the new face of their franchise.

It was a surprising move for many, and especially for those that bought into the rhetoric that the Bills - who, four months earlier, had hired Syracuse's Doug Marrone as the new head coach, and had imported his offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, along with several other assistants - would continue to drill the Syracuse well by picking Orange senior quarterback Ryan Nassib.

That, obviously, is not how events unfolded. Nassib would slide all the way to the fourth round, where another former Syracuse head coach, Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants, took a chance on the quarterback.

Fast forward to present day: Manuel is entrenched as the Bills' starting quarterback, backed by full organizational support and without competition for the No. 1 job. The hopes of a playoff-starved franchise and fan base ride on his shoulders. Nassib, meanwhile, is simply fighting to stay on the Giants' roster in his second season.

"I think he ends up with the No. 2 job," says Ed Valentine of Big Blue View, "but that is definitely not a slam dunk right now."

In most seasons under Coughlin, the Giants have been content to keep two quarterbacks on the active roster. Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning is entering his tenth season as the Giants' full-time starter, and he has not missed a game due to injury in that time frame. Coughlin prefers to save a roster spot by keeping two quarterbacks thanks to Manning's durability, which means that if Nassib wants to ensure that he sticks around for a second season, he'll need to beat out Curtis Painter - who has made a nice long career out of backing up Mannings - for the No. 2 job.

As Valentine alludes to, that might be far easier said than done.

"Nassib is up and down," says Valentine. "It is obvious the Giants want him to be No. 2. He has taken the second-team reps since OTAs and mini-camp, and continues (to do so). I would actually say he's been 'wildly inconsistent.' Now, how much of that has to do with his ability, and how much has to do with the Giants installing a completely new offense, is impossible to judge."

Ben McAdoo, formerly the tight ends and quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers, is now in charge of the Giants' offense under Coughlin's watchful eye. The Giants, like the Bills, have an extra preseason game in which to install the new system, and for Nassib, it means even more opportunity to learn that scheme and do what it takes to win the backup job.

"The five preseason games are crucial for him," says Valentine. "He needs to play well enough to show the Giants they can trust him, that he can do a competent job running the offense, and that they can function with him at quarterback."

Manning is unlikely to play much in tonight's Hall of Fame Game, meaning that Nassib is undoubtedly going to see a healthy amount of field time. His former Syracuse coaches - the ones who passed on their collegiate protege for a new one at the NFL level - will be watching from the opposite sideline.