Orchard Park (WKBW) Bills Quarterback EJ Manuel will not play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Thad Lewis will get the start.
Manuel is dealing with a sprained left knee suffered against the Jacksonvile Jaguars. It's the third knee injury that the first round pick has dealt with since August.
Below are the transcripts from interviews with Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone and QB EJ Manuel on the injury.
Head Coach Doug Marrone
Did not participate in practice, Aaron Williams with the ribs, Kyle Williams Achilles, Fred Jackson ribs. Excused from practice obviously Stevie Johnson. Again, I don’t believe that he will be available for our game on Sunday and I think it’s important we realize this tragedy and our thoughts and our prayers are with Stevie and his family. I think that really sums it up because everything else, it’s a tough situation and it is personal. I appreciate everyone understanding that. Limited in practice is Brandon Smith, Marcell Dareus and EJ Manuel. The situation with EJ is this; he went out there after I spoke to you guys on Monday. We were not able to—there was swelling on the knee. We were not able to get that swelling to respond with the treatments the way we wanted. We went out there today, I think you saw, you guys that were there, you saw him where he’s able to throw the ball in the pocket, but the stability in that knee with the swelling, he does not have the escapability or the ability to run after the fake or zone read or those type of things that we feel is important for us to win. Thad Lewis will start, Jeff Tuel will be his backup and I feel very confident that EJ Manuel will start in our final game of the season versus New England.
Q: So you’ve already made that determination?
A: Yes. I think we all do understand that we would have had to miss practice time and continue the treatment to get that swelling down and I think it’s very difficult to miss practice time and go out there and give us the best opportunity to win on Sunday.
Q: The idea of EJ, this now being his third injury in his rookie season, he can get a label of injury prone. Can you speak on any concerns you may have about that?
A: From my opinion, people are going to think that and write that. I totally understand that. My personal opinion is this, he’s not injury prone. His history has shown that he has never been hurt. He’s gotten hurt here, yes. He reinjured that left knee that he hurt in training camp. When he has been injured, he has done everything he could to come back faster than what was expected, faster than what was possible. I think in this league what is difficult for any player is to be able to keep coming back, keep coming back, keep coming back and never really fully recover. Especially the younger you are. I think it’s very difficult for the younger players when you think about what they go through from a process of after they’re done playing their college season they start getting ready for the combine. They train much differently than you’re going to train going in to the following season. Now, those are my personal things. I think you can get people that obviously think differently than that. I don’t really feel that way about him.
Q: He’s been hurt running the ball now twice. Will this make you think long term about how you want to use him?
A: The three things that occurred were obviously the first one in Minnesota with the scramble. Again when I look at it they’re contact injuries that you look at and you say, ‘Wow,’ maybe freak injury is the word. You’re like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe the luck on that situation.’ The second one obviously was Cleveland, again taking off and running. I feel that we’ve learned from that experience and he’s gotten better with how he played. The third one, which we didn’t know at the time where it occurred, we went back and looked was really the second or third to last play of the half in Jacksonville. Where he’s hit in the pocket on an incomplete pass on the check down and then another player comes over the top while his left leg is up and hits it. To answer your question, I think we’ve got to keep working that, making sure he makes the right decisions, but I don’t think it’s going to hinder us to be able to do the things we need to do for us to win.
Q: To clarify, EJ won’t be available in any capacity on Sunday?
A: No because I think that would be a mixed message for people. In other words I feel 110 percent confident that he’ll be ready For New England and play in New England.
Q: Do you think you’ll have a discussion this week about if it’s worth having him ready for New England instead of shutting him down?
A: No. Absolutely not. I’m glad you asked that question. Everybody knows, I’ve already said it, every snap, every time we can get him in there, that type of experience the better and better he gets and we’ve seen that with him. We’ve seen, make no mistake about it, last game we saw him get off to a tough start and then really start to play well. We’ve seen at times him play extremely well in games and that type of experience is what we need. That’s why it’s not, I don’t even think of that.
Q: Do you think you’ve seen enough from EJ to have a definitive answer as to whether he’ll go in to next season as your starter?
A: Yeah. I think I will have enough and I’ll talk about that after the season no problem at all. I don’t think I’m going to assume it, I feel very confident about him playing in New England.
Q: What do you know about Thad Lewis playing in this weather?
A: I know when he was at Duke they came up North a couple times. We’re practicing in it which I think helps, being out there. I have all the confidence in the world in Thad going out there and playing well. I don’t think weather will be a factor. Obviously Sunday’s report there is a lot of things that we’re tracking. Rain, snow, wind, wind gusts and it is sporadic what we can get. The one thing we know is there will be elements on Sunday.
QB EJ MANUEL
Q: How do you feel?
A: A little sore today. Just a little sore.
Q: Were you hoping Monday that this might come around?
A: Definitely. Earlier, going into today, I still wanted to give it a shot, see how I felt. I guess just the way I was looking, it didn’t look like I’d be able to protect myself moving laterally and things like that.
Q: Obviously this is disappointing right?
A: Yeah it is. We just wanted to continue to build on what we did last week. Obviously I didn’t get a chance to play the Dolphins the first go-round, I wanted to play them the second time, but coach made the right decisions for the team to help us win.
Q: When you don’t have a history of injuries, at this point, are you just kind of like what the heck is going on?
A: Tell me about it. When it happened in the game, I just kind of said to myself, ‘is this really happening again?’ I just taped it up and kept playing, but obviously the onset after something like that happens it’s going to get stiff and sore on you, so that’s a part of it. Nonetheless, I get a chance to play against New England and finish the season strong.
Q: Is that the only kind of solace you can take out of this?
A: That’s it. If you can’t play that week, start preparing for the following week when you can play.
Q: Was it a scramble play?
A: No, I was getting taken down, and just the second guy kind of jumped over somebody else and just kind of landed on my knee when it was on its way up and that’s what caused the friction. It was a freak accident, it’s crazy.
Q: Doug said you were worried about being labeled as injury-prone. Does that bother you?
A: As a football player, you’re tough. I’ve been playing this game for twenty, however many years, and never really had reoccurring injuries, especially with my knees and things like that. You obviously don’t want to get tagged with being injury-prone or worse where it’s soft and things like that. I know I’m not that, but you still have to be smart with your body. You want to have a nice long career.
Q: How concerning is it to have three separate knee injuries as a rookie?
A: It just is what it is. Rehab it once it gets healthy enough and move forward.
Q: Mobility is a big part of your game…
A: I’ve seen that after those injuries I’ve still had my mobility and been able to move around, so I know it’ll heal up. It’s just not something I really want to deal with right now but I have to.
Q: Do you think this will change your offseason?
A: I’ve never had an offseason, so I honestly don’t even know how to kind of plan that, so I’m really relying on a lot of these veteran guys to kind of tell us or tell me what to do as far as letting your body relax, how much time you should take off and things like that.
Q: Is maybe the toughest thing the fact that it seems like every time you appear to be making noticeable progress, this has kind of gotten in the way?
A: Yeah, I mean, adversity and that’s all you can really say about it. I have to look it right in the eye and just combat it and be ready when I can play next week versus New England, and come out there and play well and finish the season strong.
Q: How tough is it to build consistency through all of these injuries?
A: It is tough. Like I said, it’s something I have to deal with. I can’t control the injuries and things like that. Obviously I don’t want to get hurt or put myself in harm’s way to get hurt, but it happens. Everybody’s road is different, so I just combat it, continue to get better and get ready for next week.