Members of the Buffalo Bills' coaching staff wasted little time last week in shooting down a report that quarterback EJ Manuel's roster spot was in jeopardy unless he showed significant improvement entering his third NFL season.
On Wednesday, Manuel addressed that report for the first time.
"I don't really buy into all the extra stuff being said," Manuel said. "I just focus on what I need to focus on. I feel like nobody knows the work I put in when people aren't around and stuff like that, so to me, that's what gives me my confidence. When I say I'm doing better out there on the field, that's all that matters to me."
Manuel is in a four-way competition to be the Bills' starting quarterback, with Tyrod Taylor, Matt Cassel and Jeff Tuel. It would be a shock if the Bills kept all four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, and there's a chance they may only keep two if they decide to keep a different player at another position. So the idea that Manuel could be in jeopardy if the team views him as the third- or fourth-best quarterback on the roster has merit.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman and coach Rex Ryan, however, took turns trying to extinguish that smoke before it turned into a full-blown fire.
"Speculation’s the key word there,” Roman said. “I don’t remember ever saying that and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I mean, he’s busting his hump every day and doing a very good job.
There’s a lot of clay to mold there ... so whatever people are talking about, I don’t know where that’s coming from. But the answer is, no, he’s doing a good job.”
Manuel said having that support "is great."
"You always appreciate it when guys on the team and your coach have your back when things like that are being said," he said, "but at the end of the day, I think my biggest focus is just continue to get better in these practices and show coach what I can do."
Manuel was stumped as to who could be the source of such a story.
"I don't know, to be honest," he said. "I think from the outside looking in, people will have an opinion, but like I said, people don't know the work that we put in, and the things that we've been doing these past couple of weeks. I guess they can only judge from what they've seen, and that's fine. Every day is a new day, and I'm really excited, the position I'm in right now."