CANTON, Ohio – EJ Manuel’s 2014 preseason debut was mediocre.
He has four more exhibitions until the real games begin.
The Buffalo Bills’ sophomore quarterback played two series in Sunday night’s 17-13 preseason-opening loss to the New York Giants in Fawcett Stadium. Manuel completed two of his seven throws for 19 yards.
Three of his passes were bated by Giants linemen. More than half of his yardage came from one screen pass.
“I would’ve liked to have thrown a touchdown when I was in,” Manuel said. “But this was our first game. We got our feet wet. We’re looking forward to moving on against Carolina” on Friday.
Manuel threw into the flat for Mike Williams, who made cornerback Prince Amukamara miss for an 11-yard gain to the Giants’ 11-yard line. But then Manuel threw incomplete passes on second and third downs, forcing a 30-yard Dan Carpenter field goal.
Bills coach Doug Marrone essentially declined to evaluate all three quarterbacks, flatly stating they weren’t good enough to win.
“I thought I did a pretty good job when I was in,” Manuel said. “I thought the first unit, we did what we needed to do.
“If it was a point where Coach wanted us to continue to play and show what we needed to show, he would’ve done that. But I think he knows that this being our first game and we have another one coming up soon, I’m sure we’ll get more [chances] coming up.”
Bills General Manager Doug Whaley agreed that Manuel’s first performance, despite the stats, was solid.
“I think he looked calm back there,” Whaley said. “It looked like he was in control.
“Obviously, he missed a couple. Disappointing with the knockdowns, but when you’ve got [Giants defensive end Mathias] Kiwanuka out there with those long vines, that’s going to happen. From the naked eye it didn’t even look like he got off the line of scrimmage, but also know there’s progress to be made.”
Jeff Tuel replaced Manuel and completed 12 of his 17 throws for 74 yards. He tossed a 2-yard scoring dart to Robert Woods on a fourth-down play, but threw an0 interception in the end zone right be0fore halftime.
Thad Lewis played the entire second half and went 10 of 16 for 87 yards with an interception and a fumble.
Manuel targeted first-round draft choice Sammy Watkins three times, but they failed to connect. Two of the attempts were deflected at the line of scrimmage, and the other was a long misfire down the left sideline.
Watkins didn’t play beyond the Bills’ second offensive series.
Buffalo’s top running backs also had a short night. Fred Jackson carried twice for 6 yards. C.J. Spiller ran once for 2 yards. Neither was targeted in the passing game.
“It was up and down,” Jackson said of the running game. “We know it’s going to be like that, being the first preseason game of the year, but there was a lot of stuff we can go in and correct on film.”
With cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (hip) and Leodis McKelvin (hip) resting, Ron Brooks and newcomer Corey Graham started.
Also notable about the early defensive lineup, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s first-string nickel package deployed Brandon Spikes and Nigel Bradham at linebacker.
The second-team defensive front was, from left to right, Manny Lawson, Stefan Charles, Corbin Bryant and Jarius Wynn.
David Baker once made the mistake of underestimating Jon Bon Jovi on pretty-face value.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s president advises others not to do the same.
“He was a great owner, a great marketer, a great businessman,” Baker said in the Fawcett Stadium press box Sunday night.
Bon Jovi is trying to buy the Bills. In hopes of stemming criticism over speculation he would move the team to Toronto, the rock star submitted a letter to The Buffalo News about his intentions to be loyal to Bills fans in Western New York.
Baker was Arena Football League commissioner when Bon Jovi owned the expansion Philadelphia Soul, which entered the AFL in 2004 and won the championship in 2008.