FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots learned Friday that backup Thad Lewis will start at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in the regular-season finale.
"I know he's been playing good. I know he throws that ball down the field," cornerback Aqib Talib said after word came that Lewis will make his fifth start of the season in place of injured rookie EJ Manuel. "They get a lot of explosive plays while he's in the game because he's not afraid to throw the ball down the field.
"He can run it a little bit. He's a good quarterback."
Manuel, slowed by a knee injury, has not been ruled completely out of the game, but his slow progress this week led to coach Doug Marrone announcing that Lewis will start. It isn't known if Manuel will be in uniform.
Lewis, in his third year out of Duke, is 2-2 as a starter. Last week, in Buffalo's 19-0 win over the Miami Dolphins, he was 15 for 25 for 193 yards and an interception. He has completed 60.2 percent of his passes, throwing for three touchdowns while also being picked off three times — and has a 77.7 passing rating (30th in the NFL).
"I would say he's a little more explosive — he's more of a runner," Talib said about Lewis. "EJ Manuel kind of runs around, he'll throw it when he has to. Lewis, he kind of looks to run a little bit more."
Lewis, who has 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground, will face a defense that has been hit hard by injuries and is expected to be without safety Devin McCourty. McCourty hasn't practiced all week because of a concussion suffered in last week's 41-7 win at Baltimore. Rookie Duron Harmon will start in his place.