ADVERTISEMENT

PITTSFORD — Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone said rookie first-round draft choice EJ Manuel will start the exhibition opener in Indianapolis Sunday and be backed up by rookie Jeff Tuel.

Veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb returned to practice Friday night after a five-day absence but was limited.

Kolb injured his left knee Saturday and then was excused from camp due to a death in the family. He took part in individual drills for the first hour of practice. But Kolb did not take any snaps in the 11-on-11 team work.

In fact, after the first portion of team drills, Kolb went into the locker room with trainers and did not return.

“Kevin has been gone for a couple days and coming off an injury, we’re just working him back in,” Marrone said. “We’re going to dress him for the game but EJ will start the game.”

Marrone indicated Kolb probably is not going to play against the Colts, unless needed as the third quarterback.

“The travel I think makes you a little sore, and not having the treatment, being away for a couple days because of the personal issue, I think that it’s a little tight,” Marrone said of Kolb’s knee.

“If we wanted to push it he could go out there and play,” Marrone added. “But that wouldn’t be in the best interest of the player’s safety. He is going to dress. He is going to be there. But knock on wood … we don’t need the third quarterback. If we do need one, we’ll put him in there and obviously he’ll just be handing the ball off and not put him in jeopardy.”

Marrone said Kolb left the practice field Friday to get more treatment on the knee.

“We’re just trying to get him as much treatment as possible because we’re going to take him,” he said. “I was a little concerned about getting him on a plane again because he just came off a plane. We just want him to get as much treatment as possible.”

Manuel and Tuel split the snaps Friday night.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Manuel said of Sunday’s game. “I think the biggest thing is just to relax, go play football, do what you’ve been coached to do.”

...

Cornerback Leodis McKelvin sat out again Friday due to a lower-body injury. Marrone said McKelvin has been checked out by doctors but will be held out Sunday. Rookie Nickell Robey started at McKelvin’s spot opposite Stephon Gilmore Friday. Ron Brooks was the slot cornerback.

Colin Brown started again at left guard. Receiver Brad Smith (hamstring) will not play Sunday. Also sitting out practice were receivers Stevie Johnson and Kevin Elliott, cornerback Justin Rogers, linebacker Keith Pough, defensive tackle Aaron Tipoti and tight end Mike Caussin. All are expected to sit out Sunday.

Defensive linemen Mario Williams (foot) and Kyle Williams (heel) have practiced most of the week. Marrone on their status for Sunday: “Right now we’re relying a lot on how they feel before the game in warm-ups. I would like to get a pitch count on them and see. If they’re not ready we’re going to be smart about what we do with our players.”

Bills Hall-of-Famer Thurman Thomas watched from the sidelines. A capacity crowd of more than 5,000 was reported.

...

Several of the rookies were sporting partially shaved heads and ugly-looking haircuts. Running back Fred Jackson pulled the helmet off back Kendall Gaskins’ head to give the fans a look at his ugly cut. The rookies who hadn’t been hazed were getting theirs Friday night.

“Some of the rookies have had it, that’s why I’m wearing a cap,” Tuel said. “I can thank Fred Jackson for that.”

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com