Pro football

Bills' Manuel may get crash course at Indy

2013-08-10T16:00:00Z 2013-08-10T19:42:06Z Bills' Manuel may get crash course at IndyMichael Marot AP Sports Writer nwitimes.com
August 10, 2013 4:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Andrew Luck knows what EJ Manuel can expect this afternoon.

It could be a learning experience for the rookie.

"It's a fun time," Luck said. "There's a lot of learning that goes on and a lot of that learning is a bit on the fly, if you will."

Luck was a quick learner. His first NFL pass went for a 63-yard touchdown to running back Donald Brown.

Manuel will attempt to duplicate the feat when the Bills and Colts meet in the in same venue where Luck's career began last year, Lucas Oil Stadium. The feature attraction will be watching the two highest-chosen quarterbacks in the last two drafts.

Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, lived up to the hype with one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history. Manuel was a surprise choice at No. 16 overall this year and was the only quarterback taken in the first round.

Their resumes look like complete opposites.

The Colts lost enough games to win the Luck lottery, then cut Peyton Manning and once they settled on Luck, immediately installed him as the starter. No questions, no controversies.

Manuel had to fight his way into the first round and is now competing for the Bills' starting job. While he has taken more snaps in training camp than his nearest competitor, Kevin Kolb, and will start today, there's a long way to go before new Bills coach Doug Marrone declares a winner. Kolb is trying to recover from a left knee injury he sustained last Saturday when he slipped on a wet rubber mat at practice last Saturday. Marrone said Kolb will dress for the game but may not play.

He's also not putting Manuel on a play count.

"I talked to the team today, I said listen, here's what we're going to do, if you're healthy, in your mind you're prepared to play the whole game," Marrone said. "That's how you have to look at it until I take you out."

What should be expected from the rookie?

A big arm and his ability to run were the primary reasons Buffalo selected Manuel. But he's been inconsistent at training camp, especially when he's been under pressure, and he had a slow start at last weekend's scrimmage game.

"I think the biggest thing is to just go out and relax and play football," Manuel said.

The quarterbacks won't be the only big story line in this preseason opener.

New Bills linebacker Jerry Hughes and new Colts linebacker Kelvin Sheppard will have a chance to show their former teams they made a mistake by dealing them away this past offseason.

Indianapolis will finally get to put its new offense and revamped defense on the field, and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and second-year coach Chuck Pagano will be looking to see if the rebuilt offensive line can protect Luck any better than last season when he was sacked 41 times.

Luck said earlier in the week that he wanted to play a significant amount of time. Don't count on it.

"I'm sure someday he'll be calling all the shots around here," Pagano said. "But going into his second year, we still have some control over his play time so we're going to do our due diligence and be smart about guys like Andrew."

The Bills, meanwhile, look like the Colts of a year ago. They've changed coaches, general managers, coordinators and let some old stalwarts go. Receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring) and safety Jairus Byrd won't play. Byrd still hasn't signed his franchise tender.

Luck went through all this a year ago, and after today's game, hopes to trade notes with Manuel.

"I'm looking forward to hopefully getting to talk to him a little bit after the game and see how his experience is going," Luck said. "We came out of high school the same year, went to a bunch of camps together. I always was very impressed by him and his character. He seemed like a great guy every time I was around him. So I wish the best for him."

___

Online: AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org

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