When Jeff Tuel first joined the Buffalo Bills, his chances of making the opening day 53-man roster didn't look great. As an undrafted free agent, he was the fourth quarterback with two veterans (Tarvaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb, acquired via free agency) and a newly minted first round pick (E.J. Manuel) in front of him.
Since then, Jackson was released and Kolb hurt himself slipping on a bathroom mat. Which leads us to today, where Tuel is expected to get up to a half's worth of action against the Indianapolis Colts in a game to be televised by NFL Network at 10:30 a.m. PT.
Manuel will start the game before giving way to Tuel, who has been practicing with the second unit. He's generated a little bit of buzz in his short time. Via Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com:
"I feel really good," said Tuel. "The receivers have done a phenomenal job. The offensive line has too. Like I said, I want to get better every day. I definitely feel a lot more comfortable from this week. I feel good."
And Tuel has looked good, particularly on deep passes to his receiving corps. He appears to have a knack for timing his long passes so they drop right over the shoulder of the intended receiver. Tuel attributes all the extra reps he's gotten in practice for getting the timing down with the wideouts.
I assume that you, like me, are rooting like crazy for Tuel to get that third QB spot with Buffalo. NFL teams don't always carry three quarterbacks anymore, so this is Tuel's chance to force the Bills' hand a little bit -- if he performs well in this game, he could very well catch the eye of another franchise to which the Bills could lose him if they try to stash Tuel on their practice squad. Again, here's Brown, in a Q&A post on Friday:
They'll be asking that very question, ‘What do we sacrifice if we keep a third quarterback on the active roster?'
Most coaching staffs take the approach of keeping the 53 best players, within reason knowing they need a certain number of players at particular positions.
Coach Marrone said the other day that he's liked Tuel ever since he was in college at Washington State and he has an uncanny knack for connecting on the deep ball with his receivers. We'll see if that continues in the preseason games, but I believe Tuel is a player that Marrone covets, so I think he'll get strong consideration for the 53-man roster.
This is a tremendous opportunity for Tuel, who hasn't had a lot of good luck in his career. Feel free to use this as an open thread to talk about Tuel's performance today.