ORCHARD PARK - The Buffalo Bills (3-5) may have yet another starting quarterback today when they take the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium to face the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs (8-0).
Thad Lewis, who has made the last three starts at quarterback in place of rookie E.J. Manuel, is doubtful this afternoon after suffering a rib injury in last week's game against the New Orleans Saints.
"I don't know if it was a hit, it was a couple," Bills' head coach Doug Marrone said earlier in the week. "I'm being honest because the x-rays came back negative so it's just more the doctors call. It's a contusion and I think in layman's terms, I call it sore."
As of Saturday, Lewis was listed as doubtful, leaving the quarterbacking duties to either rookie Jeff Tuel or veteran Matt Flynn, who was signed last month after he was released by the Oakland Raiders.
"One of the things, when you have the ribs and the contusion is that you really can't start your anti-inflammatories as early as you'd like to like with other injuries," Marrone said. "Really he got started on the anti-inflammatories later in the week.
"When you get the ribs and stuff," Marrone continued. "You worry about internal bleeding which goes so you have to really wait and make sure that's all out before you start the anti-inflammatories."
The Bills have had both Tuel and Flynn taking reps with the first team this week, trying to get them as prepared as they can if Lewis can't play.
"I don't see it that way," Flynn said Wednesday when asked if he thought he was in a competition withy Tuel for the starting job. "To me, I am in a competition with myself to learn the playbook and get myself as ready as I can. That's the nature of the beast of the NFL, especially at the quarterback position. If you're not that starting guy, you have to be ready no matter what. I have been in that situation plenty of times before in the past. It doesn't matter if you are the first guy or the fourth guy, you have to prepare yourself like you are up there playing."
Tuel, an undrafted rookie out of Washington State, nearly got the start opening day when Manuel's status was up in the air as he was recovering from a knee operation.
"I feel ready," Tuel said. "I've been getting reps in practice, even number two reps. I learned a lot from (playing against) Cleveland and I feel like I've been getting better. If I get a chance, I'll be excited."
It may not matter who the Bills have behind center this afternoon, as the Chiefs boast one of the best defenses in the National Football League.
"I think it's a great challenge," Marrone said. "I do, I really do. I think it's a thing where we've got to put our players in good positions. The things that we feel that we can do well during the game, we have to do well. You're not going to be able to go to a lot of different things. You're going to have to have one heck of a game plan and you're going to have to execute really well. You're going to have to do that even with those other guys there. I think it puts more of a burden on all of us."
Through eight games, the Chiefs have given up the fifth fewest yards per game (309), the fourth fewest passing yards per game (205.8) and the 10th fewest rushing yards per game (103.3). They also allow the fewest points per game (12.3) and are ninth in the league in sacks with 24.
"We have to win," wide receiver Stevie Johnson said. "That's all it is. We have to win and have to win fast. We watched film from last week, and I don't like seeing our quarterback get hit like that so I feel like I have to put pressure on myself to get open a little faster and do more film work with this defense, knowing the linebackers and D-line they have. They pretty much play man-to-man, so we have an opportunity to win, but we have to win fast, because I don't want to see our quarterback get hit like (Lewis did against the Saints)."