A weekly analysis of the Bills' quarterback play.
Rewind: In his fifth NFL start, EJ Manuel suffered a knee injury in the third quarter of a 37-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns. To that point in the game, he was 11-for-20 for 129 yards, a bounce-back performance after completing 45 percent of his passes in Weeks 3 and 4. But it was Manuel's legs, not his arm, that proved most costly for the Bills. He sprained his lateral collateral ligament on a scramble for a first down and will miss the next several weeks.
Fast-forward: Instead of signing a veteran or riding backup Jeff Tuel, who replaced Manuel on Thursday and went 8-for-20 passing, the Bills decided to promote Thad Lewis from the practice squad. The Bills worked out Pat White and Dennis Dixon, but neither was signed, at least initially. Buffalo also acknowledged contact with quarterback Josh Freeman but wasn't able to persuade him to join the Bills; Freeman instead opted for what could be a better long-term fit for him in Minnesota. Lewis, whom the Bills acquired in late August, went 7-of-16 passing in his only preseason appearance with the team.
Lewis' lone outing: Lewis has bounced around the NFL since signing with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He made his first career appearance when he started the Browns' finale last season. Head coach Doug Marrone, acknowledging "it's just one game," pointed out Monday that Lewis completed 69 percent of his passes in that game. Lewis, in a 24-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, completed 22 of 32 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Prediction: Lewis' second NFL start will come against the Cincinnati Bengals, who held Tom Brady and the Patriots to 4.37 net passing yards per attempt, the fewest of any team in Week 5. Every week, though, is different in the NFL. Who would have thought, against the Browns' stout run defense and with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson banged up, the Bills would run for 155 yards last week? With limited film for the Bengals to study and some pieces around him on offense that are getting healthier, perhaps Lewis will surprise on Sunday.