ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills will have to play at least their next few games - and perhaps as many as five or six games - without starting quarterback EJ Manuel, who suffered a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right knee during Thursday's 37-24 loss to Cleveland.
Manuel was cut down by Browns defensive back Tashaun Gipson as he was scrambling for a first down on a third-down play. Manuel had enough yardage for the first down, but rather than step out of bounds, he kept running and that's when Gipson delivered a helmet to knee blow.
Manuel will not need surgery, but coach Doug Marrone said he'll be out "a few weeks."
"It's early on now, you know, to really give you an exact timeframe or even a window," Marrone said. "What we need right now is for it to calm down, see where he's at probably in a week, see how it's progressing ... and then get it down into a little bit more of a window."
That means the Bills are in the market for a new quarterback. Rookie Jeff Tuel stepped in and finished the game, and he was dreadful in completing 8 of 20 passes for 80 yards and a pick-six interception in the final two minutes that clinched the game for Cleveland.
Tuel is clearly not capable of being a starter in the NFL, at least not at this stage, and that was readily evident in Cleveland. Neither is Thad Lewis, who is on the Bills' practice squad. Thus, Marrone said the team will look outside the organization for a replacement.
"We will be looking to bring in another quarterback," said Marrone. "We're in the process of that right now, you know, going through the names, going through the tape."
The first name that jumps to mind is Josh Freeman, who was cut by Tampa Bay Thursday, though Marrone would not speak to that. Marrone did say, though, that whoever the Bills sign, he could be the starter as early as the next game, Oct. 13 at home against Cincinnati.
"No, that's not a stretch," Marrone said. "I think it all depends on who it is, and what we get, and what their background is in their system. I would say it's possible in what we do, only because we're going through the process right now. I think that by the end of the weekend, I'll have a lot better feel of what we're trying to accomplish, seeing who we bring in."
Marrone had said before the regular-season opener, when Manuel was still coming back from minor preseason surgery on his left knee, that Tuel would start against New England if Manuel couldn't play. Manuel was able to come back, and Tuel hadn't played a snap in the NFL until Thursday. Now, it's clear Marrone knows Tuel, an undrafted free agent out of Washington State, is not a viable option.
"You know, Jeff's working extremely hard, doing everything he possibly can do, and he's getting better and better each week," said Marrone. "We like him, we really do. But we just want to make sure that we're doing our due process making sure that, is there someone else out there that's available to help us? Is there someone out there who's better?"
-- The Bills cut punter Shawn Powell following his disastrous evening. On eight punts, Powell averaged 45.5 yards, but the problem was he hit a few line drives and a few poor directional punts, and that resulted in Cleveland's Travis Benjamin ripping off a Browns record 179 punt return yards, including a 79-yard touchdown.
Coach Doug Marrone was annoyed enough to make mention of it in his post-game press conference, and then barely 10 hours later, Powell was released. Marrone had no immediate word on who the Bills might bring in.
-- Free safety Jairus Byrd (plantar faciitis) proclaimed himself ready to play, but Marrone opted to rest him one more game.