PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Rookie first-round draft pick EJ Manuel has the raw potential. Veteran free-agent addition Kevin Kolb has six seasons of NFL experience.
None of that will factor into Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone's approach in determining which quarterback will win the starting job over the next six weeks.
"What I look at is it's really which players can we put on the field to win now," Marrone said, after being asked if the Manuel has the edge because he's regarded as the team's future. "A lot of people talk about the future. And really the future for us as coaches and as a team is now."
Without preconceptions, Marrone will base his decision on what happens on the field in a competition that resumed Sunday night, when the Bills opened training camp with their first practice in suburban Rochester.
Kolb got a majority of playing time with the starters, with Manuel spending most of his time with the second unit.
Manuel wowed the crowd by hitting T.J. Graham on a pair of deep passes up the right sideline. He should have had another long completion, but rookie second-round pick Robert Woods dropped the ball in the end zone.
Kolb was inconsistent hitting deep passes, but did complete a perfectly placed touch pass to tight end Scott Chandler just inside the right sideline.
Marrone plans to increase Manuel's time with the starters, and expects to have both evenly split practices. Marrone also revealed for the first time on Sunday that he intends to pick his starter about 10 days before the Bills' opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 8.
By then, Marrone expects it will be apparent to him and the entire team which one has earned the job.
"You can't succumb to speculation of down the road this person will be a better player," said Marrone, the first-time head coach who replaced Chan Gailey in January. "I'm looking for who is the best player now."
Manuel has been excited for the opportunity ever since the Bills selected him with the 16th pick, making the Florida State product the only quarterback chosen in the first round of the draft in April.
"I think it's a huge opportunity," Manuel said. "Obviously, I want to come out and make everybody happy, all the people in the front office."
At 6-foot-4 and 237 pounds, Manuel has the size and showed off his arm-strength during spring practices. And yet, the Florida State product still has much to improve after Marrone noted that Manuel lacked "polish."