EJ Manuel admitted Wednesday that was his first reaction when he felt his left knee get twisted in Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He knows that’s also the reaction of Bills’ fans to the news that he will miss Sunday’s home finale against the Miami Dolphins due to his third minor knee injury this season.
“Tell me about it,” Manuel said. “When it happened in the game I just kind of said to myself, ‘Is this really happening again?’ I just taped it up and kept playing. Obviously … after that happens it’s going to get stiff and sore on you.”
Manuel tried to practice on the knee Wednesday but Bills coach Doug Marrone and the team trainers decided there still was too much soreness to give him the mobility he would need to play Sunday.
No. 2 QB Thad Lewis will face his hometown team, the Dolphins, for the second time this year. Lewis helped lead the Bills to a 23-21 victory at Miami in October. It will be the fifth career start for the 26-year-old Lewis. He also started this year in the overtime loss to Cincinnati and the blowout defeat in New Orleans.
Marrone said Monday he was hopeful Manuel’s knee would be fine with a day of rest. Marrone made his decision after watching Manuel move around in the early part of Wednesday’s session.
“We were not able to get that swelling to respond with the treatments the way we wanted,” Marrone said. “With the swelling, he does not have the escapability or the ability to run after the fake or zone read or those type of things that we feel is important for us to win.”
“Going into today I still wanted to give it a shot and see how I felt,” Manuel said. “I guess the way I was looking, it didn’t look like I’d be able to protect myself moving laterally.”
Manuel injured the same left knee on a scramble in the second exhibition game and had a minor surgical procedure on it on Aug. 18. That kept him out of the final two exhibition games, but he was able to start the season opener against New England.
Then he was injured when he took a blow to the right knee on a scramble down the sideline in the fifth game of the regular season, at Cleveland on Oct. 3. That kept him out the next four games.
The latest injury came on the third to last play of the first half in Jacksonville, when he was knocked down while throwing a short, incomplete pass late. He ran for 8 yards on a scramble two plays later. The half ended, and he had the knee taped up in the locker room.
“I was getting taken down and just the second guy kinda jumped over somebody else and just kinda landed on my knee when it was on the way up,” Manuel said. “That’s what caused the friction. It’s freak accidents, man. It’s crazy.”
Marrone said he’s not concerned that Manuel is exposing himself too much to injury, and he’s confident Manuel will start against New England in the season finale next week. Thirteen QBs have more rushing yards than Manuel.
Said the coach: “Again when I look at it, they’re contact injuries that you look at and you say, ‘Wow, maybe freak injury is the word.’ ”
Marrone said he has talked to Manuel about the injury play in Cleveland, in which Manuel might have gotten out of bounds sooner.
“I feel that we’ve learned from that experience and he’s gotten better with how he played,” Marrone said.
Lewis, who grew up only 4 miles from Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, said he could not have imagined facing his hometown team twice in one season.
“I don’t even know what’s going to happen five minutes from now, so I definitely couldn’t envision this, but having the opportunity was great,” he said. “Being able to take advantage of that opportunity was even better, and then having another opportunity to help this ball club get another win against a division opponent is great. So that’s what I’m focusing on right now.”
Lewis had only been with the Bills six weeks before starting last time against Miami. He said he has a better handle on the Bills’ offense now.
“I can get us in the right situation now, where I couldn’t have done that the first game,” he said. “I missed a hot a couple times in that game and I took shots that I shouldn’t have taken. It’s all about protecting yourself and getting the ball out.”
Miami (8-6) enters Sunday’s game on a three-game winning streak.