<
>

Bills QB job Manuel's to lose

Just a week remains in Buffalo Bills training camp, and the much-watched quarterback competition could be nearing an end.

With a solid performance when the Bills continue their preseason against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, rookie EJ Manuel could secure the job.

In fact, it hasn't been much of a contest to this point. Veteran Kevin Kolb, who essentially became an insurance policy when the Bills drafted Manuel 16th overall, was hit with a string of bad luck a week into training camp.

First, Kolb slipped on a rubber mat at practice, causing knee cap damage, and his recovery hit a snag when he had to leave camp for several days due to a death in the family.

The Bills seem content with keeping Manuel in competition with Kolb, but the rookie knows Kolb's misfortune has put him on the fast track to the job.

With Kolb dressed but not playing on Sunday, Manuel played the entire first half against the Colts. While he didn't make any eye-popping plays at Lucas Oil Stadium, he gave the impression that he can handle running an NFL offense.

And most importantly, Manuel continues to avoid making critical mistakes, the biggest fear any team has with a rookie signal-caller. He botched a handoff on Sunday but did not throw an interception.

Kolb could have a solid week of practice to end training camp. He could even get the starting nod on Friday against Minnesota. And if Manuel is injured or has a major breakdown, he will be right back in the mix.

But make no mistake about it: This is Manuel's job to lose.