Thad Lewis will start at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills in their season finale at New England on Sunday, Bills coach Doug Marrone said on Friday.
Marrone said rookie starter EJ Manuel, who is listed as doubtful for the game, has not made the progress he had hoped in his recovery and the team will go with Lewis. Marrone said "The decision with EJ is very simple. Did not progress in the way that I wanted it to. 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 added that Manuel tried hard to get him to change his mind. "Oh absolutely. You have a player, 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.' 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."
Marrone said Manuel will not need surgery. "We know it's an LCL, it's a non-surgical procedure. It's one that when people have asked me before do you worry about when they talk about injury prone and what do you do, really from a doctors standpoint out of the three injuries, one of them we all can see in Cleveland. The other two you look back and go, 'Gosh that's an unusual circumstance.' Kind of like the odds are against me type of thing. When we look at it and we see that we have a plan for after the season to obviously strengthen both of those knees, to build the muscles around the LCL which will obviously the risk factor will become low. Even though an LCL injury is one of the lowest risk injuries in football."
Lewis will make his fifth start this season. He was asked how big it would be personally for him to quarterback the Bills to their first ever win at Gillette Stadium. "It would be awesome, it would be great, it would be something you can add to your legacy and something to add to your resume. I constantly remind people if that was the case I wouldn't have done it by myself. There's 10 more guys out there and 11 more guys on defense, so we would've had a team victory."
Wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who has been dealing with the death of his mother, and defensive back Aaron Williams (rib injury) have also been ruled out.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 Sunday.