The Buffalo Bills appear ready to start a rookie quarterbaack when they open the regular season in a little over a week, it just isn’t the one you thought it would be. After injuries to highly touted rookie quarterback EJ Manuel and backup Kevin Kolb left the Bills seemingly out of options at the game’s most important position, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel has emerged as a likely week one starter.
The 6-3 221 lbs rookie out of Washington State would be the first undrafted quarterback to start his team’s season opener since the modern draft era started in 1967.
The Bills recently acquired the services of Matt Leinart and John Beck to help the team get through the rash of passer injuries, however neither would be ready to start a game so soon after joining a new team. It takes time to learn an NFL offense no matter how long you have been in the league.
Head Coach Doug Marrone is “hoping” that the Bills will have their future franchise quarterback EJ Manuel ready for the season opener, however after undergoing knee surgery after week two of the preseason whether or not that actually will be the case is anyone’s guess. For now the team has to prepare as if Tuel will be the guy.
The injury to Kevin Kolb was more serious, he suffered a concussion in a loss against the Washington Redskins last weekend. Given his history of concussions, there is a chance that this was a career ending blow for a man once anticipated to be a longtime starter in the league. The Cardinals paid a steep price to acquire him from the Eagles, yet he never panned out and eventually wound up in Buffalo after Arizona traded for Carson Palmer this past offseason.
“Right now, we have to prepare. He’s the quarterback that’s out there. We’ve got to prepare for him to be that guy until the situation changes and we get EJ back,” Marrone said in a press conference Monday.
On paper this situation almost looks worse than what is going on elsewhere in New York with the Jets.
Tuel could never have imagined starting a game so quickly in his NFL career, experts certainly have to be shocked that this is even possible. In the pinaccle of football video games, Madden 25 which comes out Tuesday, has Tuel rated as only a.
Nonetheless there are some positives that have been seen in his play so far this preseason. He has found success at times, such as going 19-23 passing for 212 yards and two scores in the Bills preseason opener against the Colts. Tuel also has shown a willingness to take shots deep downfield, although the accuracy and timing isn’t quite operating at a level where you would expect an NFL quarterback to be, he drew pass interference calls deep downfield against Washington while trying to his receiver TJ Graham.
The Bills can’t be expecting perfection from Tuel, but apparently they see enough in him to allow Manuel the time needed to fully recover from his knee injury. The undrafted Tuel is currently in line to make a historic start for aspiring rookies everywhere. We all love underdogs, lets root for this kid should he start against the Patriots September 1.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express