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EJ Manuel dreads being labeled 'soft'

If my Twitter feedback is any indication, then EJ Manuel doesn't have to wonder about be labeled injury-prone.

It already has happened.

The Buffalo Bills' rookie quarterback has made a disconcerting first impression with his third knee injury in four months.

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Manuel hurt his left knee in the preseason, his right knee in Week Five. He sprained his left knee again three days ago and will miss his seventh game (two preseason, five regular season) and counting Sunday versus the Miami Dolphins.

"As a football player, you're tough," a deflated Manuel said today at One Bills Drive. "I mean, I've been playing this game 20-however-many years and never really had recurring injuries, especially with my knees and things like that.

"So you obviously don't want to get the tag of being injury prone, or the worst word, 'soft.' I know I'm not that, but you still have to be smart with your body if you want to have a nice, long career."

Manuel has had an up-and-down debut season. He has completed 59 percent of his throws for 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He owns a decent 77.7 passer rating.

He is coming off his first professional road victory, completing 71 percent of his passes for 193 yards and two TDs after an early interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also ran for a touchdown.

But a week earlier, he threw four interceptions and got sacked seven times in a putrid loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Manuel apparently will have the chance to finish strong, however. Bills coach Doug Marrone announced Manuel will start the season finale Dec. 29 at the New England Patriots.

Manuel will be forced to watch Sunday.

"It is tough," Manuel said. "Like I said, it's just something you have to deal with.

"I can't control the injuries and things like that. Obviously, I don't want to get hurt. I don't put myself in harm's way to get hurt. But it happens. Everybody rolls different. So I just combat it, continue to get better and be ready for next week."

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