E.J. Manuel shines in preseason debut; Bills beat Colts 44-20

Buffalo Bills 44
Indianapolis Colts 20

We may have not gotten the luxury of having a quarterback draft class quite like the one in 2012, but with E.J. Manuel’s impressive debut Sunday afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts, many Bills fans are hoping that they have found a solid quarterback of the future in the ’13 class.

The rookie out of Florida State finished 16/21, 107 yards, and one TD, with 28 more yards on the ground. Manuel’s best moment came on a 10 play, 92-yard drive which resulted in a touchdown just before halftime. On the possession, he completed all nine of his pass attempts, including a 17-yard touchdown strike over the middle to Dorin Dickerson.

Overall, the Bills’ potential starting quarterback looked very strong on Sunday, mostly because he spread the field, completing passes to different receivers on each play. He did not stare down one receiver or force anything, and looked very comfortable in the pocket.

After Manuel’s extended playing time, fellow rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel also shined on the field, completing 19 of 23 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns.

The receiving core looked equally impressive for Buffalo, as it was highlighted by starter Marcus Easley, who caught seven balls for a total of 94 yards, and DeMarco Sampson, who had four receptions and 49 yards. Rookies Brandon Kaufman (2 rec., 34 yds, 1 TD) and Robert Woods (4 rec., 32 yds) also looked sure-handed in their pro debut.

Another rookie who may have earned himself a spot on the final roster was Marquise Goodwin out of Texas, the speedster who returned a kickoff 107 yards for a score. The Bills’ other non-offensive TD came from rookie defensive Jumal Rolle, who took an interception back 17 yards for a pick six.

Starting tailbacks Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller only totaled 39 yards on Sunday, but the main focus for Buffalo on Sunday was the passing game.

Cornerback Crezdon Butler finished with two tackles and an interception, and fellow defensive back Ron Brooks forced a fumble.

Rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins, also out of Florida State, scored eight total out of two field goals and two extra points, and Brian Stahovich, who punted three times, landing two inside the 20.

Overall, it was a great day for the Buffalo Bills franchise. They proved that their ’13 draft class was one of the top in the league, as many of their rookies shined on offense, defense, and special teams. Depending on how the Bills play their cards, they could be one of the surprise teams in the NFL.

Preseason game number two for the team will be Friday night at home versus the Minnesota Vikings, while the regular season opener will be a test against the division rival New England Patriots.


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