Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel struggle in downfield passing Saturday

None of the three quarterbacks competing for the Bills' starting job has stood out in the first few days of training camp. Bill Wippert/AP

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills' shaky quarterback play in practices this spring and summer reached a new low Saturday when Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel went a combined 1-for-8 in a period of 11-on-11 work in practice.

Cassel and Manuel split reps with the first-team group in the Bills' "two-spot" drill Saturday after Cassel and Tyrod Taylor split time with that group Friday. If the pattern holds, Taylor and Manuel will be the first-team pairing Sunday.

Here is the sequence of plays during the first 11-on-11 set of Saturday's practice:


  • First down: Wobbled throw to Sammy Watkins down left sideline; Watkins came back to ball but pass was broken up by cornerback Ronald Darby in the end zone.

  • Second down: Run by LeSean McCoy.

  • First down: Overthrown to Percy Harvin on out-breaking route.

  • Second down: Completed dump-off to tight end Matthew Mulligan.

  • First down: Run by McCoy.


  • Second down: Overthrown to Harvin down right sideline.

  • First down: Rollout and short pass to Harvin; pass broken up by cornerback Nickell Robey.

  • Second down: Pass thrown behind Sammy Watkins on drag route.

  • First down: Overthrown to Chris Hogan deep down the middle.

  • Second down: Underthrown to Marquise Goodwin down left sideline; near interception by the cornerback in coverage.

The results improved slightly in the second 11-on-11 period, which featured more shorter passes, including some screen passes. Taylor went 3-for-4 in that period, although he avoided a would-be sack by Kyle Williams for one completion. Cassel also completed 3 of 4 passes in that set, including an impressive catch by Robert Woods over cornerback Ross Cockrell.

As expected, Taylor has shown a greater willingness to scramble out of the pocket -- and also to tuck the ball and run -- than the other two quarterbacks. With no contact allowed by defenders against the quarterback, it has been difficult to gauge whether he would be able to get off throws in live action that he can attempt in practice.

Cassel and Manuel have been plagued by inaccuracy, even on unguarded routes and 1-on-1 drills between receivers and cornerbacks. While they've been assisted by the athleticism and ball skills of Sammy Watkins and Woods, the quarterbacks have also been hurt by several drops by Hogan, Goodwin and Marcus Easley over the first two days of training camp.

There is no indication that the Bills are close to narrowing the group competing for the starting job to two quarterbacks, nor has there been any clear separation by any of the three quarterbacks over one another to this point.