ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It seemed like a harmless play at the time. EJ Manuel was knocked down on an incomplete pass late in the 2nd quarter. He went on to help the Bills to a win over the Jaguars.
As of Monday, head coach Doug Marrone thought he'd be fine to play this week against Miami, but that changed on Wednesday. Manuel took some reps in practice, but swelling in his knee and limited mobility will keep him out of Sunday's home finale with the Dolphins.
"He has the ability to go back there and throw it. His escapability is not where it needs to be. We were in a process, his knee swelled up, we’re not able to get it down fast enough for him to be ready," Marrone said.
"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," said Manuel.
Manuel's third knee injury dating back to the preseason brings up concerns about his durability. He's missed valuable playing time as a young quarterback trying to develop into a solid starter.
"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," Manuel said.
Thad Lewis will make his fourth start of the season for the Bills on Sunday against Miami. He went 1-2 in his previous three tries. His lone came against the Dolphins back in Week Seven.
"Just the opportunity to play is always exciting, but going against Miami, a division opponent, you obviously want to win those games, and it’s important to us to go out in the season with a snowball effect rolling of winning, having that feeling going into the offseason, so it’s a very important game," Lewis said.
Both Marrone and Manuel say they're confident Manuel will able to return to start in next week's season finale against New England.