In a bit of a surprise move, the Buffalo Bills will elevate QB Thad Lewis from the practice squad and start him on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Lewis has been with the Bills’ practice squad all season long and knows the offense, so he may have been the best option not named Jeff Tuel to start in place of the injured E.J. Manuel.
Tuel, the undrafted rookie, looked like a deer in the headlights when he was called on after Manuel’s injury last Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. He was 8-for-20 for 80 yards and didn’t complete a pass until his 12th snap on offense and didn’t convert a first down until his 14th. It was clear that Tuel was not the guy to replace Manuel in the long term, so they set out for an alternative replacement during Manuel’s recovery.
The Bills flirted with Josh Freeman and reports say things may have gotten serious late last night, but Freeman opted to sign with the Minnesota Vikings, which is a better long-term option for him. Then the rumor mill said that the Bills were bringing in Pat White, who has yet to throw a pass in the NFL but impressed in the preseason with the Washington Redskins after two years out of football.
That signing hasn’t happened, although I suppose it still may if Lewis is a disaster.
As for Lewis, he is on his third team in four years. He went from the St. Louis Rams to the Browns in his first two seasons and didn’t see any action. In a similar situation to this week, Lewis was activated off of the Browns’ practice squad last season to start a game. He went 22-of-32 for 204 yards, a TD and an INT.
The Bills will ask him to manage the game much as they did of Manuel early in the season. Expect to see a lot of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson and some short, safe routes to receivers. The Bills will also hope that their reinforcements on defense will keep the games low-scoring.