PITTSFORD, NY - (WKBW) Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel had a procedure done on his left knee on Sunday morning in Buffalo. Head coach Doug Marrone thinks of Manuel's injury as "very, very minor". The team website reported the quarterback returning to Bills training camp at Saint John Fisher College around 3:00pm.
Manuel is set to miss the remainder of the preseason after getting hurt during Friday's 20-16 win over the Vikings. It is not clear when he injured the knee, but the QB told Marrone it may have happened on the sixth play of his first drive (in the third quarter). That play was a five-yard scramble by Manuel in which he jumped over a defender.
Marrone feels Manuel has a good chance to return by week one of the regular season and the team will not sign another quarterback while he is out.
Below are transcripts (provided by the Buffalo Bills) from Marrone, QB Kevin Kolb and QB Jeff Tuel following practice:
Head Coach Doug Marrone
Training Camp – August 18, 2013
We made some roster moves this morning. We released WR Terrell Sinkfield, OT Tony Hills, DB Mark LeGree and DB Don Unamba for our numbers as we go. During the course of the game, Kevin Elliot, (had) a non-contact injury. He’ll be out for the year. I don’t know what the right term is – probably be placed on IR. (Crezdon) Butler is day-to-day. T.J. Graham was out there today, which is good. He was day-to-day this morning, went out there and felt well. (Thomas) Welch is day-to-day. We should have him back.
I think that that everybody knows that the quarterback is going to be the one thing that we’re focused on right here and I’m going to try and give everyone a background and a timeline of what happened. During the course of the game, we did not get anything communicated from him or anyone else as far as what might have occurred. After the game was over, he felt a little bump. We checked his stability and it was good that night. That’s all we were going on. The next day, I think is the most important thing to focus on. A little bit of swelling. Then you get a concern. Our staff checked him out with an MRI, saw something and went through a minor procedure. I talked to EJ (Manuel) and asked him what play it was. He wasn’t sure. He thought it was the sixth play of his first drive. I went back again and looked at it, tried to see something and it was hard to tell. He didn’t even know if that was the play that he was hurt on. That’s what happens.
The next day, just so everybody understands, you go in, and as a coach, one of the things you look at is competition, looking at separation in what’s going on. As I was coming in, and you’re getting ready to really look at it, study it, and seeing what decisions are going to be made to go forward. And again, to keep the competition going in the third preseason game or whether you say to yourself that you have enough information to make a decision. What happened to me, so everyone understands my thought process, when I come in and hear that that’s going to be the case, and we should be able to judge better of when he’s coming back in two weeks, the decision comes to me as should we bring someone else in to take that spot. We’re not going to pursue that right now and bring someone else in, which I think says a lot. We’re going to evaluate it after the preseason and take it day-by-day after that. The other thing is that once, how my mind works, if I didn’t have to make a decision at that time to figure out which way I was going to go, I’ve already moved on knowing that Kevin (Kolb) is going to start and play in the next game with Jeff (Tuel) and I move forward from there. So I really don’t put a lot into ‘Did he do enough to be this?’ What would you have done with this? Where were you going with the third preseason game?’ The reason why is because that’s a decision I didn’t have to make. It was made for me before that.
Q: Was he scheduled to play beyond the third quarter versus the Vikings?
A: No. We took him out. Now if it would have been communicated that something did happen earlier, I would have taken him out. But there was no real communication foreseeing a problem until the next day. It really caught me off guard. Anyone who has ever had minor things in this game would feel that way. So I didn’t really know until the next day, nor did our doctors or training staff because a lot of times people come in after games and say that they bumped themselves--bumped this or bumped that. They ask how you feel, you feel good. They check it. It’s stable. And then all of a sudden the next day, there’s swelling. And then all of a sudden it gets heightened now we have to make sure and go from there. That’s how everything occurred and that’s why I thought it was important that I gave everyone the timeline.
Q: Did he have the operation done this morning?
A: That’s correct. At 8 a.m. today, I have not spoken to any of the doctors to know how the procedure went, but again, I’m sure when we find that out and I get that information – we were on the practice field at that time. The procedure was done in Buffalo.
Q: Will the quarterback competition resume when EJ Manuel returns?
A: I don’t know. Again, that’s something I was trying to give you a frame of reference to how I think. There are a lot of variables that go into that: how Kevin (Kolb) is doing, how he is playing, how EJ comes back from the time off, a lot of speculation on that. I think I’ll be able to answer that question once we get to the day-to-day and he’s out here practicing.
Q: Would it be a tough call for you with him missing a couple weeks to go with him Week One?
A: No, because I look at every position as, again, it’s the same thing. I know that position gets a lot of attention, but it’s the same thing whether it’s the guard position, the tackle position, a defensive position--we’re going to put the best players out there. I would disagree a little bit with some of the injuries. With a minor injury, I really view this procedure as minor. I don’t view it as something that hey we’re not sure. This is a very, very minor procedure, so I’m not really concerned about it.
Q: Did they tell you it was a draining? Is that why it’s minor?
A: Again I'm going to be honest alright. Obviously I have the information of exactly what it is, but at this time the consensus of what we’ve talked about was to just say that it’s been a minor procedure. I just want to tell everyone the truth there.
Q: Before the procedure how much confidence did the doctors give you that Manuel could be back for week one?
A: I feel like obviously (Manuel) could. There is a good chance of that. The problem I have in that is again a lot of it is how he comes back and again there goes the variable thing, when he comes back, did he miss time? No one ever really starts where they left off. We saw that with Kevin (Kolb) and we saw that with EJ. The meaning of what I see so you can get a better insight from myself is, so the first game EJ goes in there and you see early on a little of the footwork, a little of the jitters or whatever we want to explain to it. Then all of a sudden he gets in to a rhythm and goes ahead and starts throwing very well and becomes very accurate. Kevin goes in to the next game and I think we kind of forget and take for granted that someone has been there for seven years or played X amount of years, started some games, but there was still a long window from when he played the last time, which was against Buffalo, until he gets on the field. I think you saw the same type of play early on, those jitters doing that and then all of the sudden he settles down. You look at the last 12 passes, I believe it’s 10 for 12, but it’s a very high percentage, but then he settles down. I think you see the play of whoever it is, EJ coming in, the relief pitcher comes in and he’s ready to go. He’s seen the game he’s more relaxed, I think that happens quite a bit. In the same sense both of those guys, you see the same two things. Those are the variables I was looking at when I was looking at those two.
Q: Is he going to be back with the team today or tomorrow?
A: When I hear from the doctors I’ll know more of that. Obviously he’s in Buffalo right now and as soon as he can, he’ll be back with the team.
Q: Any timetable?
A: Yeah, I think what we’re going to do is say ‘Ok let’s look at it.’ Let’s not talk about timetable until we get through this preseason. I understand he’s not going to be here for the preseason, but any time after that right now my expectation is to be day to day after that.
Q: Was the surgery done by team doctors?
Q: Is it disappointing and difficult to see that happen at this point?
A: Yeah. I just want to make sure to clarify what disappointed means. I’ve said this before with injuries, you’re always disappointed for the player and the reason why I become disappointed is because the player has put so much in to it and it’s really out of his control. Just like poor Kevin Elliott goes out there and it’s a non-contact injury and you’re disappointed for him. Again your concentration is more on the team, so you’re disappointed for him from the standpoint of the work he’s put in and everything that’s gone in to him in developing him. No matter who it is. Then you move on from that and your concentration goes back to the team. I think for myself that’s how I view disappointed in that situation.
Q: Leodis McKelvin got some team work in today, are you trying to gear him up to be ready to go against Washington?
A: Yes. Exactly right. That’s true, that’s a true statement.
Q: Kiko Alonso got right back in there as well. Was he upset that you sat him down and didn’t let him practice recently?
A: Well the trainers said he can go, the coaches want him to go and that was definitely my decision. I spoke with him this morning, asked him how he felt, he said I feel great, I said that was probably a bad question because you would lie to me anyways and he laughed. He felt he was ready to go, Chuck Driesbach, his position coach, came in to see me and he said Kiko is good right to go all the way and I said yes. Just watch him because I really think once the player goes out there after the doctors and trainers have cleared him, we can see an individual in different drills if he’s favoring something or doing something. Then once you see that, I think it becomes limited on a pitch count and we’ve done that with a lot of our players.
Q: Where does Jeff Tuel stand in this quarterback competition? Is he competing with Kevin and EJ to play in week one?
A: I think at first what happens, it was interesting, when you draft, what we’ve seen publicly is a lot of the emphasis on obviously EJ and Kevin. Whether I miscommunicated that or that’s what we wanted to see. I think if you go back and you look in the beginning, I said ‘Hey I really like this kid we took from Washington State who’s really done a good job.’ Everyone was like, ‘Ehh, what is he talking about?’ I think that we’ve seen that he’s gone in there and he’s really done a nice job. At the end of the day, do I really want to say he’s in competition with that? Obviously I do because I want all of our players, not just Jeff, to understand that no matter where they may stand on the depth chart, they’re fighting for the position to be a starter. I don’t want our players to think ‘Hey I’m fighting for this position, he’s the starter, maybe I could be number two or three.’ My mind says once the player has limited himself to that he’s not going to develop as far as he can. So to answer your question now, yes I want him to compete to be the starting quarterback, that’s what is going to make him the best and then we’ll evaluate if it’s good enough for us to win with and where he ranks among that position, not just at the quarterback position, but also the roster.
QB Kevin Kolb
Training Camp – August 18, 2013
Q: How does the injury to EJ Manuel change your approach?
A: It really doesn’t. Obviously I was pushing with the competition this whole time, pushed to be out there now and forever and Week One and whatever it is. From my mindset, it really doesn’t affect me much. I hate it for him because obviously he’s been doing real well, and he’s progressing. But he’ll get right back in the action.
Q: You just went through this, missing some practice time. How much did it set you back in terms of what you guys are doing?
A: I think the frustrating thing is whenever you’re progressing the way you want to progress, and then you have this setback. I feel like that happened to me a little bit. I’m sure he feels like that’s happening to him a little bit because he had two good games under his belt. I can’t put words in his mouth, but that can be a little bit frustrating. But just being around him, the little time that I have with his competitive nature and the way he approaches things, he won’t have a problem jumping back in.
Q: Is it easier for you as a veteran to come back from an injury than maybe a rookie?
A: I have no idea. I wasn’t injured as a young player and I haven’t been in this situation. So, again, I can’t put words in his mouth.
Q: As a veteran, is it your job to help tell the team that everything is going to be all right?
A: Absolutely, yeah. I’ve been in this situation before. There were times whenever I had to come in during games. There’s been times I’ve had to come in when guys who got injured after games and something like this popped up the next day and had it repaired during the week. It’s nothing new for me and I look forward to the challenge and the expectations and start with the Redskins.
Q: I’m sure you are welcoming the extra reps. I’m sure you’ll get more reps in this game than maybe you otherwise would have.
A: Yeah, that’ll be nice. It really will. It will allow you to get in a groove. It was obviously, like I told you before, there was a little bit of rust for me to knock off. So this will just help continue to do that and be prepared for everything down the road in the future.
Q: Did the news catch the team by surprise?
A: You know, what’s funny is when he got up from that one run, you can tell when you’re around a guy a lot and the way he runs and the way he acts and the way he grimaces and stuff like that. It just looked like something was a little wrong. And when he came to the sideline, he really wasn’t talking to anybody that much, so I could tell something was on his mind and I just left him alone. So it wasn’t a complete shock and I didn’t know anything about it obviously. But you could tell, I think the guys around him on the sideline could kind of tell something was bothering him just a little bit.
Q: How much when Jeff [Tuel] and EJ [Manuel] are in the game do you talk to them on the sidelines?
A: Just for things I feel like they’re not seeing or that there’s no way that they can see it. I’m never going to be the guy, the veteran quarterback that’s in his ear all the time, trying to over coach him, trying to act like I know it all. Both those guys have done a great job. They’ve played well so far. There will be some things they haven’t seen that maybe I have, and I’ll try to help them here and there. But I’m never going to be the old vet that’s bothersome in that way that’s trying to act like he knows everything. I’ll keep the door open if they want to ask, then they know they can come to me. We have that kind of relationship. But I don’t want to press anything on them, let them be their own QB.
Q: When Stevie [Johnson] returns, do you feel like you’ll have enough time with him to get back in sync?
A: Yeah, I think so. He’s a great player and we want him out there. This offense is a little bit unique. It’s progression and it’s not all just about timing and stuff like that. It’s got some different intricacies to it. I feel like we have plenty of time to get him back in the motions and get him back to where we want him to be and get comfortable with him.
Q: Is it disappointing that other factors like injuries are coming into play with the quarterback competition instead of it being decided on the field?
A: Sure, you’d rather it be that way. But the season is a long season, 16 regular season games, four preseason games and hopefully with playoffs and a Super Bowl. I know you guys want to hint towards the individual competition and stuff like that and the position competition. But it is a full-team game. Whoever the starter is going to be, you’re going to have to rely on that other guy at all positions because you’re going to step in, make plays whenever your name is called and win a couple of those football games in the middle of the season. It happens every year with every team. We’re in it together and hopefully they can all transpire into wins and getting through different situations.
QB Jeff Tuel
Training Camp – August 18, 2013
Q: How has your progression changed with injuries that have allowed you to get more reps?
A: Like I’ve said this from the beginning of the day I got here, I’m going to prepare like I’m the No. 1, whether I’m the three, two or number one guy. I think that’s the best way to approach the game. If the time comes and the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to be prepared.
Q: How do you feel like you’ve progressed here at camp?
A: Overall, I’ve felt pretty good about my progression through the practices and stuff. There are things I need to improve on and continue to improve on, so I know Coach Hackett has been on me and we’re just going to continue to get better and work on the little things to continue to improve my game and make this a better football team.
Q: What are the things that Coach Hackett has been on you about?
A: Just quarterback-specific stuff: slowing down my feet, staying calm in the pocket, footwork, going through progressions, reading things out and then just really challenging me to know the offense as well as he does. I know guys like EJ (Manuel) and Kevin (Kolb) have said that Coach Hackett has really challenged us to know it as well as him, and when he calls a play, to see what he’s thinking on the field. That’s the biggest thing I need to improve on.
Q: How beneficial was the time when Kevin (Kolb) was injured and your workload increased?
A: Very beneficial. You hate to see a guy go down, but if you’re doing anything in life, the more you do it, the better you’re going to get at it. It’s just a fact. I was really blessed with the opportunity to run with the twos and get those extra snaps in. I think it helped my game tremendously.
Q: What made you decide to come to Buffalo?
A: They brought me on a pre-draft visit. I met with all the coaches and I really liked the energy, the feel and where they were going. I really like Coach Hackett’s style – he’s as crazy then as he is now. I knew I was going to have a good time, learn a lot from him. I felt like he was going to make me the best football player I could be. I just felt really good about the city and everything. It felt right. It was easy.
Q: Do you feel like you have a shot to be a starter?
A: Yeah. If you go into anything thinking you have no shot, you’re dooming yourself from the beginning. I just take it one rep at a time, and make the best plays I can: the best reads, the best throws, all that. Just continue to get better and see where it takes me.