Buffalo Bills receiver Peerless Price will have one person silently cheering for him Sunday as he starts his NFL career: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
Price and Manning played three seasons together at the University of Tennessee and connected for six touchdown passes in 1997. Manning, of course, was the No. 1 pick overall in the 1998 draft and led the AFC with 3,739 yards passing last season.
Price remained for one more season and helped the Vols win the national championship. The Bills took him in the second round, 53rd overall, in the April draft.
"He's an outstanding receiver," Manning said. "I knew as a young player that he was going to be something special. He's got great speed, which is something you can't teach. The more he got more comfortable running routes, the better he got. I think he'll be a good receiver in the pros."
Price will open the season as the Bills' third receiver after leading the Bills with 13 catches for 163 yards in four preseason games. Price said Manning was the most prepared quarterback he had ever been around before coming to Buffalo.
"It's going to be hard for us because I know what type of guy he is," Price said. "He's probably been studying for this game since January or February. I'll have to tell my guys to be ready, because he's going to be ready. The longer he has to prepare, the better he is."
The game Sunday marks the first time outside linebacker Cornelius Bennett will play against the Bills in his career, and the matchup will come 13 seasons after he was drafted by the Colts.
Bennett was selected by Indy in the 1987 draft but never signed with the Colts because of a contract dispute. He was subsequently traded to Buffalo in a three-team deal that also included the Los Angeles Rams.
Bennett was with the Bills for nine seasons, including all four Super Bowl appearances, before he signed as a free agent with the Falcons in 1996. He played three seasons for the Falcons and signed with the Colts this season.
"It will be a little weird going against Biscuit," said running back Thurman Thomas, one of Bennett's good friends. "But this is not the preseason. I'm going to do whatever I have to do to help this team win. I'm sure he's going to do the same."
All nine defensive backs on the Bills' roster posed for a poster Thursday promoting Intercept Hunger, a campaign organized by safety Kurt Schulz as part of Meals on Wheels.
The defensive backfield will donate $1,000 as a group for every pass they intercept this season. The money will be sent to Meals on Wheels of Buffalo and Erie County, which delivers food to people who are unable to leave their homes.
Schulz last season donated $3,600, or $200 for each of the Bills' 18 interceptions. Schulz is on the board of directors for Meals on Wheels. He and his wife, Susan, delivered meals each Thursday during the offseason.