This year’s NFL preseason has been an exciting one for the incoming rookies, with many of them having shining moments and big breaks. The latest in this litany of rookies is Jeff Tuel, who will likely be starting under center for the Buffalo Bills in Week One.
Tuel will get his big break if his teammate and fellow rookie EJ Manuel isn’t able to play when they host the New England Patriots Sept. 8.
Starting Tuel in the team’s first regular season isn’t so much a ringing endorsement of Tuel’s skills and performance as much as it is a reason of not having many options left. Kevin Kolb is sidelined indefinitely after leaving the Redskins game with concussion-like symptoms. The pedigrees of the other two quarterbacks on the Bills’ roster make Tuel seem like the only realistic choice to go with in the home opener.
Tuel is no slouch, though, and he has seen some NFL action in the preseason. He had a pretty solid performance against the 30-7 loss against the Redskins, throwing for a little over 60 yards. Even though the defense kept him and his receivers out of the end zone, the fact remains that he had a solid completion percentage, 58 percent, and wasn’t picked off at all.
During his last year in college his overall average was a bit higher and he was able to throw for just over two thousand yards while putting in eight touchdowns. If Tuel gets his chance it will be interesting to see if he can keep the completions up and put some points on the board.
For the Bills, though this situation developed out of injuries, there are positives to be gained from this scenario. First, if Tuel starts, he will be the first undrafted rookie QB to start a season opener since 1967; and that’s a good bit or press the Bills surely won’t mind. Second, the Bills recently acquired two other options in Thad Lewis and Matt Leinart.
While not the best quarterbacks in the world, they have one thing Tuel doesn’t have: experience, and that experience could be the key to topping the Patriots. Finally, and most importantly, the Bills have time.
The Bills play the Lions on Aug. 29, 2013 and have a few days after that before the home opener. That leaves a lot of time to figure out who will land where in the roster and sort out the starters for good.