PITTSFORD — Veteran Kevin Kolb will start at quarterback in Friday’s exhibition game against the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday night.
Kolb sat out the first exhibition in Indianapolis due to a sore knee. He practiced fully for a third straight day Wednesday at St. John Fisher College. Rookie EJ Manuel will be the second quarterback in the game.
“The one thing I hope everyone understands is not to read into this,” Marrone said. “We were very, very happy with EJ’s performance in the first game. As a matter of fact, what we were looking at, if Kevin was healthy he was probably going to start the first game and EJ would have started this game.”
“Again, they’re in a competition and we just switched it,” Marrone said.
Manuel ran 34 plays in the Indianapolis game, the most by any starting quarterback in the NFL’s first weekend of preseason games.
Meanwhile, Marrone said linebacker Kiko Alonso will be held out of Friday’s game as a precaution. He has been cleared to play by trainers but has seen a ton of plays all training camp. Receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring) returned to practice during individual drills. He was held out of 11-on-11 work. Marrone said Johnson will sit out Friday. Receiver Brad Smith (hamstring) also returned to individual drills.
The Bills released injured tight end Mike Caussin and signed former New York Jets linebacker Jamaal Westerman.
Caussin signed with the Bills in 2010 after failing to make the Jacksonville Jaguars roster as an undrafted rookie out of James Madison. Caussin had all five of his NFL catches and both career starts in 2011. He suffered a knee injury at the end of that season and missed all of 2012. He had missed two weeks of this year’s training camp with a hip injury.
Westerman played for Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine with the Jets. Westerman played 36 games over his three seasons there and recorded 5.5 sacks. He split time with the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals last year, but had just one sack in three games. Westerman, 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, should be able to pick up the Bills’ defense quickly. He went undrafted out of Rutgers in 2009.
The Bills announced a partnership with Carestream Health Inc., a Rochester-based medical imaging company. The Bills will have a Carestream digital X-ray room at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The company will work with the team on early diagnosis and accurate assessment of head injuries and the development of medical standards that indicate if an athlete can return to play.
Carestream will use feedback from the Bills as it tries to develop products for the sports medicine marketplace. It’s part of an increased league-wide effort to prevent traumatic brain injuries, which can result from a blow to the head, which can affect physical, cognitive and emotional behavior.
“The NFL supports initiatives that will help us better understand the impact of traumatic brain injuries and the effect on players’ health, with the goal of advancing sports medicine to provide better care for all athletes,” said Russ Brandon, Bills president and chief executive officer. “This collaboration is an important step that will help with this effort.”