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Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel is set to start another phase of his rehab for the Buffalo Bills.

Coach Doug Marrone said Monday that Manuel “will be working extremely hard this week.”

“I can’t answer the question, ‘Is he going to be practicing or not?’ You know, I don’t want to get into that and have it explode,” Marrone said, “but he’s going to be working extremely hard. … He’s going to ramp it up this week.”

Marrone conceded that meant Manuel was at least getting closer to a return to practice.

“Of course. Yes, he’s getting closer to the practice setting if we’re going to ramp him up,” he said. “I gotta watch him. I haven’t seen him out there yet. We’re getting ready to ramp him up, so we’re going to throw him out there and see how he does.”

Manuel, who was hurt in Week Five against Cleveland, has missed three games. His rehab has consisted of cardio and strength training.

Marrone said on Oct. 16 that Manuel was four-to-six weeks from a return. If that timeline remains true, Manuel would likely return either in Week 11 at home against the Jets or Week 13 against the Atlanta Falcons in Toronto (the team has a bye in Week 12).

Manuel watched Sunday’s 35-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints from the sidelines, as opposed to the coaches’ booth, where he was for the first two games he missed. Buffalo is 1-2 under quarterback Thad Lewis in Manuel’s absence.

“We’re just trying to get him in a developmental stage where we keep working him, giving him different things to do, you know, give him a different perspective. I really think we’re trying to be proactive in how we are developing our players that are injured,” Marrone said. “One of the things that’s important for us is that when we have players that are injured, that we keep working with them and keep developing, and not just cast them to the side and say ‘OK, we’re going to concentrate on the ones that are healthy, we can’t worry about you right now.’ I think that sends a poor message.”

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The Bills finally made the decision Sunday to rest running back C.J. Spiller.

A day later, it became a little more clear as to why. Spiller is suffering from a high-ankle sprain, Marrone told reporters.

“It’s like a spot that’s sore,” Marrone said. “It is a high ankle, which normally is a bit worse than the other ones.”

Spiller was injured in Week Four against Baltimore. He played sparingly the next three weeks, but Marrone indicated last week the team may need to sit Spiller in an effort to get him back to 100 percent. That happened Sunday.

Marrone said he is going to wait until practice starts later in the week before determining Spiller’s availability for Week Nine against the Kansas City Chiefs. The same is true of linebacker Manny Lawson, who sat out Sunday because of a hamstring injury. Marrone said he believed Lawson had a “good chance” to play against Kansas City, which will come to Ralph Wilson Stadium undefeated.

Marrone also provided injury updates for a pair of receivers, indicating Stevie Johnson and Marquise Goodwin are expected to be limited in practice Wednesday.

Johnson said Marrone was not scheduled for an MRI on his hip flexor injury, to the best of his knowledge, and that X-rays on Goodwin’s elbow injury came back negative.

email: jskurski@buffnews.com