Tonawanda News — ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills’ monthlong shuffle at quarterback is coming to an end after rookie starter EJ Manuel returned to practice Wednesday.
Manuel’s presence on the field, and the expectation that he’ll be ready to step in immediately and start against the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6) on Sunday, has provided the Bills a much-needed lift.
“Yeah, we’re excited to get EJ back,” center Eric Wood said. “Hopefully, it gives us a boost, offensively.”
And don’t underestimate the importance of Manuel re-establishing stability at a position that was mostly unsettled in the four weeks since the first-round draft pick out of Florida State sprained his right knee.
“He’s the guy that we wanted to be back there, and we’ve got him back there now,” running back Fred Jackson said.
“To get some stability there, a guy that’s going to be there for the remainder of the season hopefully is something that can help this offense move in the right direction.”
The Bills (3-6) were going nowhere in losing three of four without Manuel, who was hurt in a 37-24 loss at Cleveland on Oct. 3.
The injury prompted a scramble by the team to find a capable replacement at a position where Buffalo lacked experienced depth.
Journeyman Thad Lewis was promoted from the practice squad to take over as interim starter after undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel struggled filling in for Manuel against the Browns.
Lewis went 1-2 before he was sidelined by bruised ribs, which led to Tuel making his first career start in a 23-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend.
Tuel’s inexperience was once again evident against the Chiefs. He threw two interceptions, the second one returned 100 yards for a touchdown in a game where Buffalo squandered a 10-3 halftime lead and outgained Kansas City 470-210.