by Cesar Tordesillas
Rookie EJ Manuel gained the starting quarterback role with the Buffalo Bills for Sunday's opener against the New England Patriots.
It will be an acid test for Manuel having to go up against Tom Brady and a team that has beaten the Bills 18 times in their last 19 contests.
The 16th overall pick and first quarterback chosen in April's draft, Manuel underwent a minor procedure on his left knee Aug. 18 and missed the team's final two preseason games.
He returned to practice Sunday wearing a brace on his left knee.
Manuel was a combined 26-of-33 passing for 199 yards and two touchdowns without an interception in his two preseason appearances. He also rushed four times for 29 yards.
He also had an excellent senior season for Florida State in 2012, throwing for 3,397 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 310 yards and four more touchdowns.
Coach Doug Marrone said undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel, the only other quarterback on Buffalo's active roster, would start if Manuel was unable to play.
Manuel was competing with veteran free-agent addition Kevin Kolb for the starting job until the latter suffered a season-ending concussion in a 30-7 preseason loss at Washington on Aug. 24. Kolb has since been placed on injured reserve.