The quarterback carousel continued to spin Monday at One Bills Drive, with veteran Matt Flynn the latest to hop on for a ride.
The Bills agreed to a deal with Flynn a day after quarterback Thad Lewis was injured during a 27-24 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Fortunately for the team, Lewis escaped serious injury. Coach Doug Marrone said X-rays and an MRI on his right foot both came back negative, and that he expects Lewis to be able to play in Week Seven when the Bills visit Miami.
“We’ll list him day to day,” Marrone said. “I think he’ll be out there Wednesday and I feel good about him being able to play on Sunday.”
That leaves Flynn to compete for the backup quarterback job with rookie undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel. Flynn took part in a workout with the team in the morning before signing early in the afternoon.
“I’m excited and ready to start digging into the playbook,” Flynn said.
How quickly he is able to absorb the Bills’ offensive scheme will determine who backs up Lewis on Sunday. Marrone said that Flynn looked comfortable and in a good rhythm during his workout, and that the team liked his experience.
“Coming in, he did a nice job,” the coach said.
The Bills have in some way, shape or form employed an astounding nine quarterbacks in 2013 alone – Aaron Corp, Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Leinart, EJ Manuel, Kevin Kolb, Dennis Dixon, Tuel, Lewis and Flynn.
“What we’re doing is just trying to make sure on our roster we have enough players with the amount of injuries that we’ve had,” Marrone said. “That we’re backed up with people that can go out there and be able to do it. The tough part is getting them ready to go, seeing how fast you can get somebody ready.”
Flynn’s workout with the Bills on Monday was scheduled last week after he was released by the Oakland Raiders.
“It’s been a fast week, for sure,” he said.
The Bills are the 28-year-old Flynn’s fourth team since the 2011 season. He finished that year with the Green Bay Packers – the team that drafted him out of LSU in the seventh round in 2008.
Flynn set single-game franchise records for the Packers in the 2011 regular-season finale, throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns in a 45-41 victory over the Detroit Lions. He parlayed that performance into a three-year free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks worth nearly $20 million, but Flynn was beat out by rookie Russell Wilson for the starting job in 2012.
He was traded to Oakland for a fifth-round draft pick in the offseason, but again lost a quarterback competition – this time to Terrelle Pryor.
“Obviously leaving Green Bay, I was extremely confident and I don’t think that’s shaken any,” he said. “You always have to have inner confidence; I’ve always been hard-headed like that. Always think I can get the job done.”
Flynn has made only one start since leaving Green Bay. That came in place of an injured Pryor for the Raiders on Sept. 29. He went 21 of 32 for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 24-14 loss to Washington.
Flynn eventually was demoted to No. 3 on the Raiders’ quarterback depth chart behind rookie undrafted free agent Matt McGloin. Flynn has been paid $14.5 million by the Seahawks and Raiders over the past two seasons, despite making only one start.
“Obviously hasn’t turned out the way I wanted to in either of the last two spots, but just learning two different offenses the last two years has really expanded my knowledge of the game,” he said. “So I feel well equipped to come in and learn a new offense and try to pick it up quick.”
Flynn said he had a good feeling after his first meeting with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
“I think we’re going to hit if off well. I like what they’re doing offensively,” he said. “I didn’t know a whole lot about it coming in, but as soon as I knew I was coming in for a workout I tried to do as much research as I could. I feel like I fit into this offense.”
Flynn’s signing left Tuel wondering where he stood with the Bills.
“Actually, Jeff came in to see me,” Marrone said. “I told him it hasn’t really changed. I said, ‘Here was our plan in the beginning. This is what we wanted to do. This is how we see you. We see you as a young quarterback that’s developing.’ “
Marrone reiterated to Tuel that in a perfect world, he probably would have been placed on the practice squad, but injuries to Kolb and Manuel – along with Tuel’s strong performance in the preseason – prevented that.
The Bills needed him because he was the only quarterback with a knowledge of the offense prior to the start of the regular season, and were worried another team would claim him if he they tried to sneak him onto the practice squad.
Marrone said he could understand if Tuel is upset, but that the player is the one who can change it.
“Do I expect you to be happy with that? No, I don’t want you to be. I want you to be like, ‘I’m going to show him and I’m going to get better and work my butt off,’ ” the coach said. “At least it’s communicated straight forward between he and I. I have no problem with that and I told him if you’re upset with it, that’s fine. You don’t have to agree with what your role is. You have to do it, but you don’t have to agree with it. You’re the one who can change it by getting better.”
As for Manuel, the Bills’ coach said the rookie first-round draft pick is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right knee suffered in Week Five at Cleveland.
Manuel is expected to begin on-field rehab activities as soon as today, but Marrone tap-danced around putting a timetable on his return to game action.
“I still haven’t gotten a timeline yet from the doctor and as soon as he does I’ll give it to you,” Marrone said. “I was encouraged talking to him today and seeing him walking and going around. I think by the middle or the end of this week, just to see how he is I think we’ll have a timeline for him.”