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EJ Manuel dreads being labeled 'soft'

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If my Twitter feedback is any indication, then EJ Manuel doesn't have to wonder about be labeled injury-prone.

It already has happened.

The Buffalo Bills' rookie quarterback has made a disconcerting first impression with his third knee injury in four months.

Manuel hurt his left knee in the preseason, his right knee in Week Five. He sprained his left knee again three days ago and will miss his seventh game (two preseason, five regular season) and counting Sunday versus the Miami Dolphins.

"As a football player, you're tough," a deflated Manuel said today at One Bills Drive. "I mean, I've been playing this game 20-however-many years and never really had recurring injuries, especially with my knees and things like that.

"So you obviously don't want to get the tag of being injury prone, or the worst word, 'soft.' I know I'm not that, but you still have to be smart with your body if you want to have a nice, long career."

Manuel has had an up-and-down debut season. He has completed 59 percent of his throws for 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He owns a decent 77.7 passer rating.

He is coming off his first professional road victory, completing 71 percent of his passes for 193 yards and two TDs after an early interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also ran for a touchdown.

But a week earlier, he threw four interceptions and got sacked seven times in a putrid loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Manuel apparently will have the chance to finish strong, however. Bills coach Doug Marrone announced Manuel will start the season finale Dec. 29 at the New England Patriots.

Manuel will be forced to watch Sunday.

"It is tough," Manuel said. "Like I said, it's just something you have to deal with.

"I can't control the injuries and things like that. Obviously, I don't want to get hurt. I don't put myself in harm's way to get hurt. But it happens. Everybody rolls different. So I just combat it, continue to get better and be ready for next week."

  • mattcarlucci

    I'm just impressed that he's been playing football since he was 3.

  • kevin kresse

    can you imagine if this performance was carried out by a QB named Fitz??

    I like EJ. but this season hardly inspires confidence.

    Draft lots of defense. This offense will remain mediocre going forward.

  • Big Frank

    He's not soft, he's stupid.

  • excelsiorrog

    Soft. You have yet to determine ant play which caused his "injuriws"." When normal players get injured you can rewind the tape and see where it happened. Never the case with EJ. A loud fart would likely sideline him for a couple weeks.

  • Patriotpatrol

    IM SORRY TO SAY....BUT YES...he is soft. He cannot even put together a string of 5 games in a row on the field. How is he gonna make 5 years if he cannot make a few games in a row. I am doubtful he will be in a bills uniform 3 yrs from now, let alone the NFL in 3 years from now. I see him selling insurance 3 yrs from now with very painful ricketty knees.

  • Ken Connolly

    If he's not injury prone or soft I guess we'll need to label him a wussy.

  • Moonfeet

    One doesn't play football at the highest level for 18 years...and then get drafted into the NFL by being "soft". I doubt any of you who are saying these ridiculous things could survive a hit by one of the Buffalo Jills...much less an unblocked 250 lb NFL linebacker running at full speed. You bunch of crybabies....Get Real.

  • Dennis

    Sorry folks but I have news for you. You have a pocket passer with a line that can't block. The Bills have only 2 linemen that belong in the NFL (Woods & Glen). Until they get some quality offensive linemen to block Manuel is going to stay hurt.

    • Moonfeet

      Exactly right...!! Even our greatest QB...Jim Kelly, who has been described more than once as a QB with a LB's mentality....one of the toughest QB's ever....even he missed many games due to injuries. He eventually retired early because of getting beat up and injured due to a poor offensive line. EJ is a pocket passer who has the size and athletic ability to run when he has to. The most successful QB's in the NFL have been pocket passers....but they need a good offensive line.

  • Dennis

    EJ came to Buffalo with the potential to be very good QB. But he is a rookie! I have seen many great QB's come in the league and they all had their growing pains. IF they are fortunate enough to have good coaching and a good team around them that process can be expedited. When that line get solidified, the receivers mature & they get an offensive coordinator that knows what he is doing all the other pieces are in place for the Bills to have a very good team. PS A middle LB that can plug a hole wouldn't hurt!

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.