ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone announced quarterback Thad Lewis will start at the New England Patriots on Sunday with rookie EJ Manuel listed as doubtful due to the knee injury that also sidelined him last week.
Manuel had injuries to both knees this season, including a sprained left knee suffered two weeks ago. He has completed 180 of 306 passes for 1,972 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions over 10 starts this year.
"The decision with EJ is very simple. Did not progress in the way that I wanted it to," Marrone said. "I give him credit, he's disappointed. He did everything he could when he was out there. At the end of the day, the decision process was injury related and he was not able to do the things at 100 percent that in my opinion we need to do to win this game.
"At the end of the day I made a decision not to put him out there for no other reason because I thought Thad would give us the best chance to win this game with EJ's injury not progressing."
Marrone said Manuel lobbied hard to play.
"I mean he's like, 'I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go. Whatever we have to do, it's going to continually get better and better,'" Marrone said. "When you go out there - that's why I think that it's difficult to say from the field you see the little things, you see a little bit of the lateral stability not being where I'd like it to be.
"Really that's what it came down to. The ability to vertically move is there, it's the lateral stability which we know he has an LCL that didn't in my opinion, and obviously we feel our quarterback is going to have to move laterally at some point in this game."
Manuel will not require surgery on the left knee, but Marrone said an offseason focus will be to strengthen both knees and build up the muscles around the LCL.
Lewis is starting his fifth game of the year. He also started in place of Manuel last Sunday in beating the Miami Dolphins, completing 15 of 25 passes for 193 yards with an interception.
"It's just an opportunity to go out and play and do something you love," Lewis said. "It's a challenge to go up there, so you can get over a hump as a team. You have to be a team that can win on the road as well as at home. It's just another challenge and if we can win this challenge it will be a great opportunity for us."
--WR Stevie Johnson will not play at the Patriots following the Friday funeral for his mother, who passed away two weeks ago.
--SS Aaron Williams remains sidelined by sore ribs and he will not play.
--RB Fred Jackson (ribs) is probable, as is WR Marquise Goodwin (knee)
By The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: December 27, 2013 12:41:52 AM
Bills want to strengthen Manuel's knees; Lewis to start
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