ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel has a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right knee that will not require surgery but will sideline him at least two weeks and potentially longer, coach Doug Marrone said Friday.
Manuel was injured in the third quarter of Buffalo’s 37-24 loss at Cleveland on Thursday, when he was hit by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson at the end of a 14-yard run.
Marrone said it is too early to determine an exact timetable for Manuel’s return.
“What we need right now is for it to calm down, see where we’re at,” Marrone said, “see where he’s at in probably a week to see how it’s progressing, where he is, then get it down in to a little bit more of a window.”
Rookie Jeff Tuel came in for Manuel but was ineffective, completing 8 of 20 passes for 80 yards.
Marrone said the Bills (2-3) will look into acquiring another quarterback and did not rule out the possibility of that player starting Buffalo’s next game Oct. 13 at Cincinnati (2-2).
Manuel had already gained a first down on the play on which he was hurt, but Marrone defended the quarterback’s decision not to slide.
“This one (Thursday) night was a tough situation because I really don’t think he saw the guy coming to the inside until late,” Marrone said. “You see him get the first down and you see him trying to get as much as you can and then try to protect himself.”
After hitting Manuel, Gipson pumped his fist and stared in the direction of the quarterback on the ground. Bills center Eric Wood called some Browns players “classless” for the way they reacted to Manuel’s injury.
“The hit was fine,” Wood said. “What ticked me off was the way they acted afterwards. I hope our defense never acts like that when they injure an opposing quarterback because you’ve got to show some class in that situation.
“There’s a few guys over there that obviously didn’t.”
Wood singled out Browns safety T.J. Ward, claiming he told Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso, Ward’s former teammate at Oregon, that he should have warned Manuel that Cleveland’s defense was coming after him.
“That is completely inaccurate,” Ward said on a conference call. “I did speak to Kiko and he went to Oregon with me. But anytime a player gets hurt, you never praise or root for players to get hurt. It’s competitive sport, a violent sport, but when you see players go down, no way in any shape or form it’s a celebration.”
In the first quarter, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer suffered what ended up being a season-ending knee injury when he got his leg caught underneath him in a slide and was hit near the head by Alonso. Several Browns wanted a penalty called on the hit.
“I don’t think there was any intention there,” Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski said. “Brian was sliding. It was just an unfortunate thing. I think his cleat got caught up underneath him.”
This is the second time Manuel has been out with a knee injury. He missed the final two weeks of the preseason after hurting his left knee while scrambling in a win over Minnesota on Aug. 16.
Kevin Kolb started the following weekend at Washington, but sustained a season-ending concussion during that game. The Bills were forced to scramble to address their depth at quarterback by signing free agent Matt Leinart and acquiring Thaddeus Lewis in a trade with Detroit.
Leinart was cut a day after the Bills’ preseason finale vs. Detroit. Lewis was cut a day later before being re-signed to Buffalo’s practice squad.
The Bills are banged up at other positions, but an extra weekend of rest will help them recover.
Leading receiver Stevie Johnson has a strained back muscle that is not expected to keep him out of action, Marrone said. Johnson left Thursday’s game in the second quarter and did not return. He sat out most of spring practices with a back injury.
Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd (plantar fasciitis) and starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) will both practice this week, Marrone said, and the Bills are hopeful one or both players will be able to make his regular-season debut against Cincinnati.
Cornerback Ron Brooks (foot), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand) and kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin) are also close to returning, Marrone said.
“It’s part of the game to lose guys, lose games,” running back Fred Jackson said. “You’ve got to come back and respond. We’ve got a good, extended period before our next game so hopefully we can get some guys back from injuries and do what we’ve got to do to hit the ground running when we get to the next game.”
Buffalo released punter Shawn Powell on Friday after he finished with 23.1 yards-per-punt net against Cleveland and failed to land one inside the Browns’ 20. Powell also struggled with angling punts away from Cleveland’s Travis Benjamin, who returned seven punts for a franchise-record 179 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown return.
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