When put to the test in Saturday’s Week 3 preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, third-year quarterback E.J. Manuel finally looked like an NFL starter.
Manuel only had two pass attempts. However, he made the most of his limited work, completing both of them expertly for a total of 83 yards and one touchdown. He hit tight end Charles Clay for this beautiful 67-yard score in the first quarter.
Overall in his two drives, Manuel was responsible for the Bills gaining 13 points which included a touchdown scored by running back Fred Jackson.
For this, Manuel looked a heck of a lot more explosive than quarterback Matt Cassel who stepped in next. Cassel was efficient, completing six of seven passes but only gained 38 yards and was sacked once. He also failed to move the offense into scoring range.
Manuel looked much better than he did in his last two weeks of preseason action that saw him completing only 13 of 22 passes while sustaining two sacks. While this is significant on his end, the third-year quarterback is going to have to fight tooth and nail to prove he is a starting-quality quarterback come Week 1.
But hey, at least head coach Rex Ryan named Manuel as a team captain in Saturday’s game—along with the other three Bills quarterbacks.