Buffalo, NY (AP) - Every undrafted rookie lucky enough to get an opportunity to play in the NFL dreams of a scenario in which they are thrust into the starting role.
Jeff Tuel may find himself in this situation as Buffalo Bills' head coach Doug Marrone told reporters Monday that the former Washington State Cougar - and not newly added veterans Thaddeus Lewis and Matt Leinart - will be his starting QB September 1 against the New England Patriots should first round pick E.J. Manuel's knee not yet be sound.
Manuel was named the Bills' starter but Marrone isn't sure if the former Florida State star will be available after undergoing "minor" knee August 18. Worse, it is being reported that Kolb's concussion could be a career-threatening injury.
Reviewing Tuel's performance against the Redskins only makes the dark clouds more menacing.
The rookie completed 10 of 17 passes but for just 63 yards in over three quarters of action of the 30-7 blowout loss. The Bills didn't convert a single third down in their final seven series and only converted twice the entire game via the pass. By comparison, the Redskins' hardly imposing duo of Rex Grossman and Pat White threw for 16 first downs.
Tuel often resorted to check-down passes over the middle that resulted in small gains. He throws the ball with a bit of a windup, which isn't helped by average arm strength. He throws the ball with functional accuracy but doesn't often enough put the ball in position to allow Buffalo's receivers to gain yardage after the catch.
On a positive note, the 6-3, 221-pound Tuel did show a willingness to take shots down the field. Twice he attempted to hit wideout T.J. Graham deep down the left sideline when Washington challenged him with man to man coverage. Both throws hung in the air slightly and resulted in pass interference calls, the first going against Graham and the second against Redskins' cornerback David Amerson.
He's also intelligent. Tuel threw for 5,936 yards and 33 scores with one of the least-talented FBS teams in the country over his time in the Palouse, operating effectively out of spread attacks coached by Paul Wulff and Mike Leach. I listed him as one of five quarterbacks in my Diamonds in the Rough preview for the 2013 NFL draft. He's been studying the Bills' playbook since May and it shows in the way he scans the field. He's a surprisingly good athlete, as well.