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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bills Injury Update: E.J. Manuel now '100 percent' healthy, looks to play better this season

By on 7/12/2014 11:30:00 AM

Looking to improve on their 6-10 AFC East division record in the 2013 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills have turned to their quarterback, E.J. Manuel for better playing and a healthy 2014 NFL season.'s Dan Hanzus reports that Manuel has vowed to play smarter for this upcoming season. Manuel lost four weeks last year by taking an unnecessary shot to the leg at the end of a long scramble against the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.

Unknown by many, the Buffalo Bills trotted out an upper-echelon defense last season. Led by coordinator Mike Pettine, the unit ranked tenth in yards allowed, fourth against the pass, and finished second in sacks.  The Bills defense in 2013 featured one standout sensation, Kiko Alonso, who unfortunately tore his anterior cruciate ligament during this year's minincamp.  A huge blow to Buffalo's defense, making their offense even more determined to shine this year.

Not only did he make plays on his side of the ball, Alonso’s limelight took the attention away from fellow rookie, Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel. Unlike Alonso, Manuel had a roundly disappointing first year, marred by injuries and inconsistencies, as the club finished with a 6-10 record.

Rod Pearcy via Wikimedia Commons
Manuel told NFL Total Access on Friday that he’s 100 percent healthy and has learned an important lesson following a trying rookie season:
That was one thing I had to learn: to be smart when I take off with the football.  Instead of trying to get an extra three yards, either step out of bounds or slide. Those are all the nuances I had to learn.  Obviously I didn’t want to go down with an injury, because I’m a competitive player. I go hard each and every time I step out on the field, but it just so happen I had to come down with an injury. But I moved past it, thankfully I’m 100 percent healthy now and I feel like I’m stronger than I was last year so I’m looking forward to moving on.
Manuel was chosen by the Bills in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft out of Florida State University.  Last year he threw for 1,972 yards for 11 touchdowns in ten games for Buffalo.  As a Seminole, Manuel boasted 7,736 with 28 touchdowns at Florida State.  In other words, the potential is there, as long as he can stay healthy on the field.

If the Bills are to compete in the AFC East, they cannot get see-saw outings from Manuel. Missing open receivers, especially in the end zone, are qualities you tend to excuse in rookie years. That honeymoon is long over, though. Manuel has to find a way to correct his flaws.

Some fans will no doubt say it’s unfair to heap all responsibility upon the shoulders of Manuel, yet quarterbacks are expected to lead. Good quarterbacks overcome their team’s flaws. Great quarterbacks mask them. It is regarded as the most important position in sports, and Manuel understands this.

In the face of pressure, both on and off the field, Manuel has to show he can rise above it. He's not the first young quarterback to struggle finding that balance, yet somehow, Manuel seems to be one of the few that will find it.  Buffalo fans need to be patient, and let their 24 year-old quarterback find his way, slowly but surely.

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