It’s shaping up to be a big year for Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel.
Injuries kept him from practicing fully leading up to his rookie season and then cost him six games during the season, leaving the Bills unsure whether their 2013 first-round pick could be the long-term starter that they have been looking for in Buffalo. With a new owner coming soon, there’s a chance that the front office and coaching staff could be shaken up so Manuel will have to offer more convincing evidence that he can be that guy during his second season or run the risk that the franchise will start looking in other directions.
Manuel says that he has more confidence in himself as he moves toward the 2014 season and that he’s learned some things about staying healthy that leave him feeling like a stronger player than he was a year ago.
“I think that’s one thing I had to learn to be smart when I take off with the football. Instead of trying to get an extra three yards, either step out-of-bounds or slide. Those are all of the nuisances I had to learn,” Manuel said, via the Bills website. “Obviously, I didn’t want to go down with an injury because I’m a competitive player. I go hard each and every time I step on the field. It just so happened that I had to come down with an injury. I moved past it. Thankfully, I am 100 percent healthy right now. I feel like I’m stronger than I was last year, so I’m looking forward to moving on.”
There were some shaky reports about Manuel’s play during the spring, particularly when it came to accuracy, and Manuel says he’s been working on developing chemistry with new wideouts Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams. The hope is that increased familiarity will help Manuel’s passes find their target more frequently because anything less will leave the Bills with bigger questions to answer next offseason.