EJ Manuel and Geno Smith have already made a bit of history in the first two weeks of their NFL careers.
The Bills’ Manuel is just the fifth rookie quarterback to lead his team to a fourth-quarter comeback win in either the first or second game of his career.
The fourth to do it was Smith, who led the Jets to a come-from-behind victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener.
The two rookies – who were the first two quarterbacks chosen in April’s NFL draft – will oppose each other Sunday when the Bills visit the Meadowlands to take on New York.
Manuel and Smith have a relationship that dates back to well before the draft. They have been friends since high school and throughout their college careers – Manuel at Florida State and Smith at West Virginia.
“I always supported him in college,” Smith said this week. “When he got drafted by the Bills, I gave him a handshake and a hug and congratulated him. It was a great night for us both and our families.”
Smith had to wait a while longer to hear his name called at the draft. The Bills chose Manuel 16th overall in the first round, in the process passing on Smith – who wasn’t selected until the next day in the second round (39th overall) by New York.
Despite the snub by the quarterback-needy Bills, Smith said Sunday’s game carries no added motivation.
“It’s not about revenge. That’s definitely not going to be on my mind this week or in the game because I feel that’s a distraction and it can only be hurtful. I think it would be selfish to go out and play for those reasons,” Smith said. “I want to go out there and get a win for this organization and my teammates. It’s never about me or any personal issues or anything I have from my heart. It’s about us as a team.”
Smith and Manuel communicate via text message every few weeks or so, but haven’t talked this week leading up to Sunday.
“We both have a lot on our minds and we have to prepare for the week, so if it happens it happens, but it’s not going to be any trash talking,” Smith said. “We have to get ready for a big game on Sunday.”
The Bills’ injury report remained unchanged following Thursday’s practice.
Safety Jairus Byrd (feet) and guard Doug Legursky (knee) participated in a limited basis on the team’s grass field outside next to the field house, while kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin), cornerback Ron Brooks (foot), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand) were held out.
For the Jets, receiver Santonio Holmes did not practice Thursday because of a foot injury. Holmes participated on a limited basis Wednesday. Running back Bilal Powell was a full participant in practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday, while offensive lineman Oday Aboushi was a new addition to the report Thursday because of a knee injury.
The Bills altered their practice schedule to a 3 p.m. start in part so that coach Doug Marrone could attend a memorial service for Rob Edson, a close friend of the coach and long-time Syracuse University official who passed away from an apparent heart attack Saturday.
Marrone served as a pall bearer at the service, which was held at the Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse campus.