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Doug Marrone hedges his bet on EJ Manuel starting season finale

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Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone this afternoon didn't put a percentage on the chances of rookie quarterback EJ Manuel starting Sunday's season finale against the New England Patriots, but it sounded decidedly less than the "110 percent" it was last week.

"EJ came in today. Obviously he was with the trainers," Marrone said, "and looking forward to seeing him out there tomorrow and how he feels."

When asked if he was still "110 percent" confident Manuel would play -- as he was last week -- Marrone replied: "Well, I mean I'm the coach. When people ask me, that's how I usually go about it with players. You know, I think it's a process and, you know, we'll get him out there tomorrow and take a peek at him."

Marrone was subsequently asked whether Manuel had suffered a setback to the left knee injury he suffered in Week 15 against Jacksonville.

"When you say setback as far as everything that we've been doing, no. It's just a part of a process and we'll get him out there on the field," the coach said. "We decided to rest him, you know, for the things that we wanted to do on the field ... to get the maximum amount of time and we'll put him out there tomorrow."

The Bills are 2-3 without Manuel in the lineup this season. Backup Thad Lewis has directed both victories -- each of which came against the Miami Dolphins and included Sunday's 19-0 win in the home finale at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Marrone was asked if there was a chance Manuel could miss the game against New England.

"I think there's always a chance," he said. " There's a chance that someone could come in here tomorrow and say, you know, 'I don't feel well.' So I think it's very difficult. ... I'm one of those guys. I really don't know a lot when it comes down to the specifics of injuries, I've been that way since training camp. But I'm always pushing, trying to get them out there and trying to get them to play. And I'm optimistic."

  • Big Frank

    Marrone, you know, just loves, you know, to hear himself, you know, speak.

    • jim

      Why do you suppose the Bills pick these characters for head coaches?

  • JoeL

    He's not playing. Thad Lewis gives us a a better chance to win, you know? That's right I said it coach. You don't need to.

    • Dan R

      yep, i agree. Thad takes a few more risks downfield but when he decides to escape the pocket he moves, quickly! EJ should learn to do that. Throw or get out of there and create something.

      • jim

        That's not something that can be learned. You either have the knack at the NFL level, or you don't.

    • jbridges32

      Lewis makes better pre-snap reads, faster decisions, and the offense just seems more organized when he's in the game.

  • jim

    This article proves Marrone is a moron who will do anything to save his tedious three-year tenure with the Bills. I don't believe for a second that EJ has a legitimate injury keeping him out of the starting lineup; the timing was far too suspicious. Lewis is the best of a stinker QB corps and the team is forced to pretend to close on as high a note as it can (like it matters).

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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.