The status of quarterback EJ Manuel to play in Sunday’s season finale was uncertain at best after the Buffalo Bills’ practice Tuesday in the team’s field house.
Manuel shared snaps with Thad Lewis at quarterback. The Bills have today off and return to practice on Thursday.
Coach Doug Marrone suggested he wants to wait to see how Manuel’s sprained knee responds.
“He went out there and he practiced,” Marrone said. “Again, I’m going to take a look again. We’ve got a day’s rest. He went out there and he threw well. So we’re just going to rest him a little bit and come back Thursday and see how his mobility is going.”
“We just pretty much split reps, as it always goes,” said Lewis, who played in place of Manuel in Sunday’s win over Miami. “It was just a typical Wednesday practice, but we did it on Tuesday.”
The Bills normally are off on Tuesday. Marrone said the team practiced in the field house so Manuel would have surer footing. On Thursday the team plans to practice outside in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Running back Fred Jackson, resting sore ribs, did not practice but is expected to be ready to face New England Sunday. Safety Aaron Williams (ribs) also sat out. Marrone said he’d have a better idea on Williams’ status Thursday. Receiver Marquise Goodwin (knee) practiced fully.
The Bills would draft 10th overall if the season ended today.
The earliest pick the Bills could earn is ninth overall. Buffalo stands 6-9, and there are eight teams with four or fewer wins.
The New York Giants and Tennessee Titans also stand 6-9. Ties for the draft order are broken by strength of schedule. The team with the weaker schedule picks sooner. Based on the current records of all 16 opponents, the Giants’ strength of schedule is .521, Buffalo’s is .520 and Tennessee’s is .504.
If the Bills defeat New England they could potentially land in a five-way tie. There are four teams at 7-8.
Buffalo will finish last in the AFC East for a sixth straight season with a loss to New England. A Buffalo win, combined with a loss by the New York Jets (7-8), would give the Bills a third-place finish. Buffalo has a better division record than New York. The Jets close the season at Miami.
Sunday’s game has been moved to a 4:25 p.m. kickoff. New England (11-4) still has a chance to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if it wins and Denver (12-3) loses. Denver is playing a 4:25 p.m. game at Oakland. The shift of the Pats game eliminates a potential competitive advantage for Denver. If the Pats lost in a game that started at 1 p.m., Denver could rest its starters in preparation for the playoffs.
Snap counts for the game against Miami:
OFFENSE – Cordy Glenn, Eric Wood, Erik Pears, Doug Legursky and Thad Lewis 79, Kraig Urbik 76, T.J. Graham 75, Scott Chandler 59, Robert Woods 45, Chris Hogan 43, Fred Jackson 42, Lee Smith 40, C.J. Spiller 37, Marcus Easley 25, Frank Summers 24, J.J. Unga and Evan Rodriguez 3, Marquise Goodwin 2.
DEFENSE – Kiko Alonso, Stephon Gilmore, Jairus Byrd, Jim Leonhard and Mario Williams 54, Leodis McKelvin 53, Kyle Williams 48, Nickell Robey 44, Marcell Dareus 32, Jerry Hughes and Da’Norris Searcy 30, Alan Branch 25, Manny Lawson 24, Corbin Bryant 19, Nigel Bradham 10, Stefan Charles 8, Ron Brooks 1.