The Patriots were always going to be facing a rookie. It was just a matter of which one.
One would have been the first round pick who earned the starting position from the start of camp, the one expected to usher in a new era for the Buffalo Bills.
The other would have been a true underdog story of the first undrafted free agent to start week 1.
Well, consider the underdog story as over.
Bills rookie QB E.J. Manuel is expected to start week 1 against the Patriots after a successful practice this week. Manuel was sidelined for most of the pre-season after undergoing a minor knee surgery on August 18th to reduce some looseness and swelling in his left knee.
He returned to practice this Sunday, September 1st, in order to test out his knee and to allow the Bills to determine his status for week 1. He apparently has passed the tests and will be ready to go. While Manuel isn't a rushing quarterback, his mobility certainly is a large aspect of his game and it will be limited.
Look for the Bills to compensate for the rookie's raw ability and his raw health with a heavy dose of running back C.J. Spiller- and as the Patriots linebackers struggled to cover Lions RB Reggie Bush, look for the Patriots to be scheming all week to slow Spiller down.