Thad Lewis went to training camp with the Detroit Lions last summer as an underdog in a battle for the No. 3 quarterback job.
On Sunday he will make his fifth start of the season for the Buffalo Bills when they visit the New England Patriots in their season finale.
The Bills confirmed after Friday’s practice that Lewis would start over EJ Manuel, whose sprained knee did not heal quickly enough to allow him to play.
How does Lewis feel?
“Very fortunate just to be able to start one game in the NFL, but for it to be my fifth game here with the Bills and a great organization, I feel very fortunate. I’m excited about the challenge.”
The challenge will be Lewis’ biggest yet. Buffalo is 0-11 at Gillette Stadium and has lost 24 of its last 27 games against New England.
Lewis, acquired by Buffalo in a trade with Detroit two weeks before the regular season began, is 2-2 with three touchdowns and two interceptions and a passer rating of 80.2.
“It’s just an opportunity to go out and play and do something you love,” Lewis said. “It’s a challenge to go up there, so you can get over a hump as a team. You have to be a team that can win on the road as well as at home.”
Lewis took all of the snaps with the starters in Friday’s practice. Manuel, who sprained the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee two weeks ago, is listed as doubtful for the game and is not expected to be active.
“The decision with EJ is very simple,” said Bills coach Doug Marrone. “It did not progress the way that I wanted it to. I give him credit. He’s disappointed. He did everything he could when he was out there. At the end of the day, the decision process was injury related, meaning that he was not able to do the things at 100 percent that in my opinion we need to do to win this game.”
Marrone said Manuel’s injury would not require surgery after the season.
Manuel suffered three knee injuries in four months and missed a total of eight games (two in preseason, six in regular season).
“Out of the three injuries, one we all could see in Cleveland,” Marrone said, referring to a hit in Week Five. “The other two you look back and say, ‘Gosh, that’s an unusual circumstance,’ kind of like the-odds-are-against-me-type thing.
“When we look at it and we see that, we have a plan during the offseason to obviously strengthen both of those knees, to build the muscles around the LCLs. … An LCL injury is one of the lowest risk injuries in football.”
Manuel has completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He ran for two touchdowns.
Safety Aaron Williams was ruled out due to his ribs injury and was placed on the injured reserve list. Receiver Stevie Johnson also is out. His mother’s funeral was held Friday in California.
Filling the roster spot vacated by Williams was rookie receiver Cordell Roberson, promoted from the practice squad. Roberson, 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, caught 221 passes for 39 touchdowns at Stephen F. Austin University.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty (concussion) did not practice Friday and is listed as doutbtful for the game.