Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel will be out four to six more weeks, Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday.
“The earliest will be four and the latest will be six weeks, without any setbacks,” Marrone said. “That’s how we feel, and he’s doing well and he’s in rehab working hard.”
Manuel suffered a sprained knee in the game at Cleveland two weeks ago.
An absence of four more weeks could allow Manuel to return for the Nov. 17 game against the New York Jets at home. That’s presuming Manuel would be well enough to get up to speed on a limited amount of practice. The Bills have a bye the week after the Jets game.
The game after the bye is seven weeks away. That’s against Atlanta on Dec. 1 in Toronto. If Manuel returned for that game, he could play in the final five games of the regular season.
Marrone said he’s not about to dwell on Manuel’s absence and he’s glad the rookie will be back at some point.
“Am I disappointed? No,” Marrone said. “I want to make sure he’s healthy when he comes back. … Where he is in the rehabilitation process, I’m happy that we’re going to get him back out there.”
Just how much practice time Manuel will need before he goes back to game action is uncertain.
“I think when he returns to practice I’ll be able to tell you exactly where he’s at,” Marrone said.
The Bills turned up the thermostat in the field house for practice Wednesday, in preparation for Sunday’s game in Miami against the Dolphins. There was no word on the exact setting, but it was noticeably warmer, and all the doors were closed.
Sunday’s forecast for Miami calls for a high temperature of 88 degrees and partly cloudy skies. Chance of rain is only 20 percent. It’s 86 to 88 all this week in South Florida.
“We’re doing what we can in the Buffalo weather,” said center Eric Wood. “It was warm in there, and that still air makes it pretty miserable in there at times, but that’s good. Hopefully it will acclimate us a little bit for this weekend.”
Receiver Stevie Johnson was limited in practice due to a sore back but said he will be ready to play Sunday.
“I’ll say maybe 80 percent, 85 percent,” Johnson said when asked about his level of readiness. “That’s good enough right now. We’ll have treatments the rest of the week. I feel good about this Sunday.”
Meanwhile, running back C.J. Spiller did some individual work but was held out of practice due to the sore ankle that has hindered him the past two games. Spiller said he will play in Miami.
“I definitely feel a whole lot better,” Spiller said. “I can tell it’s definitely healing. We’re right on track. I haven’t had any regress. … It’s responding well.”
Look for Spiller to share snaps again with Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice.
Spiller got 13 snaps in Cleveland, 17 versus Cincinnati. Jackson got 50 in Cleveland and 39 last week. Choice got 14 in Cleveland and 13 last week.
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams sat out to rest his Achilles tendon. Also limited were Ron Brooks (foot), Manny Lawson (hamstring) and Mario Williams (hip).
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore played last week with a club-like cast on his left hand, which he broke in preseason. He still will have the cast on for this week’s game. Gilmore played 26 out of 86 defensive snaps. “It’s like playing with one hand out there, but I’m getting used to it,” Gilmore said. “In practice I feel more comfortable. My legs are getting back under me and I’m getting more reps.”
Is he worried about being targeted?
“I hope they throw at me. I’ll be ready if they do.”
Miami had one starter who did not practice – inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder). Edge rushers Cameron Wake (knee) and Koa Misi (shoulder, knee) were limited. So was center Mike Pouncey (ankle).
With Doug Legursky taking over as starting left guard, Marrone said it’s likely Mark Asper, the second-year man from Oregon, would be the top interior backup offensive lineman for this week.
The Bills claimed Antoine McClain off waivers from Oakland this week and added interior lineman Edawn Coughman to the practice squad.
“With Antoine just getting here, we’re still getting him going with the offense,” Marrone said. “Right now it’ll probably be Mark Asper. He’s been here longer, knows the system better. He’s done a very good job for us. Movement skill-wise and strength-wise, he’s really come along the past couple weeks. Edawn Coughman is another practice squad player who’s done a good job for us. He has potential to move up in case something happens. And McClain we like, which is why we went out to get him.”
Dolphins linebackers coach George Edwards was the Bills’ defensive coordinator under Chan Gailey in 2010 and 2011. Dolphins defensive assistant Jeff Burris was the Bills’ first-round draft pick in 1994 and played four seasons in Buffalo.