- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Just three days after returning to practice for the first time since undergoing a procedure on his left knee, Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel is back to full speed, head coach Doug Marrone says.
"He's 110 percent healthy," Marrone said. "He looks good out there. So that's what we're going to go with."
Marrone said the original plan was to have Manuel return to practice on a limited basis Monday, but the first-round pick's rehabilitation progressed better than expected.
"When he first came back, I was like 'Wow, he looks pretty good,'" Marrone said. "Then the thing was to be smart about it. When it started to move up, I started to feel like this was the way we were going."
At this point, the Bills aren't concerned with Manuel reinjuring his knee.
"What I was trying to make sure of was, by putting him back there, was there any chance (for it) to get worse?" Marrone said. "Once that was taken out of the equation, I felt very comfortable with the situation."
After making contingency plans to start undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel, the Bills will now have their top option at quarterback ready for Sunday's opener against the Patriots.
"Being Catholic, there was a lot of prayers," Marrone joked. "Honestly, you go home and say 'I hope he's healthy, I hope he's healthy.' But you really don't know."
Manuel will be making his first NFL start on Sunday but Marrone said he won't be lowering his expectations for the rookie.
"I'd be lying if I'm standing here saying that I don't expect him to do great things," Marrone said. "That's why he's out here along with the other 11 players. We expect not just EJ, but all of our players that are out there to perform at a high level. If I lower my expectations of anybody on this team, am I doing my job as a coach?"