Bills should tell EJ Manuel to brace himself
updated 2:04 PM , December 19, 2013
The Buffalo Bills have a lot of time and money invested in EJ Manuel.
You can say they have future assets invested him, too, if you believe they will refuse to take another quarterback early in May's draft.
It's time for the Bills to force Manuel to wear braces on both knees.
Manuel suffered his third knee injury in four months and will miss his seventh game Sunday. A left knee injury required surgery and sidelined him for two preseason exhibitions. A right knee injury in Week Five knocked him out of the next four games.
Manuel has been wearing a full brace on his right knee to protect that injury, but he sprained his left knee in last Sunday's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I asked Bills coach Doug Marrone on Wednesday if the Bills would mandate braces on both knees.
"You see a lot of quarterbacks brace their left knee even though they haven't had any problems," Marrone said. "We've had tape and a brace on the left. We had the brace on the right.
"I take information from our doctors and trainers, and I go from there. That's probably better answered by them. Their recommendation is what I do. For me to say I believe in something and the data from the doctors and trainers don't prove that would be foolish on my part."
Manuel went back and forth with a light brace on his left knee in early September but said he eventually got used to it.
Both Manuel and Marrone used the adjective "freak" when describing the knee injuries, but all three of Manuel's setbacks have been football-related, the type of contact that happens all over the field every quarter in every game every week.
Manuel didn't trip over a tarp or step on a sewer grate. He was hit by players from the other team. None was dirty or drew a penalty.
A big part of Manuel's allure is the ability to scramble when the pocket breaks down or take off on designed runs. The best options to limit his chances of getting hurt are to keep him in the pocket and make him one dimensional or force him to wear braces.
Or, I suppose, the Bills simply can say to themselves, "Gee, what are the odds of three knee injuries in four months? No way that's going to happen again."