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Matt Cassel likely to start preseason opener for Bills at QB

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PITTSFORD, New York — Even though veteran Matt Cassel will likely start for the Buffalo Bills in their first preseason game, Buffalo's quarterback competition appears to be far from over.

Bills coach Rex Ryan made the announcement after a team scrimmage Saturday night, saying that Cassel will "probably" start Buffalo's preseason opener against Carolina on Aug. 14. Ryan added that Buffalo will rotate starters at QB in the preseason.

"We'll probably start Cassel in the first game against Carolina and let's go from there," Ryan said.

Cassel is part of a three-way quarterback competition that includes EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor.

Saturday night's scrimmage — which Ryan had considered a critical part of the competition — didn't answer all the questions.

All three quarterbacks have had mixed results to begin training camp, and Saturday was no exception. They largely struggled to move the ball down the field, with occasional moments of production.

Ryan acknowledged that he is still waiting for a quarterback to separate himself from the group.

"I was hoping to see something else pop through there but it didn't," Ryan said.

In 17 possessions, Buffalo's offense scored 13 points.

Unofficially, Manuel had the best evening out of the trio. Manuel completed 5 of 11 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Taylor completed 8 of 13 passes for 77 yards, and Cassel completed 2 of 6 passes for 27 yards.

"I really thought EJ did a nice job," Ryan said. "I was impressed by EJ. ... You could tell he was excited to get the first call and he was ready to go. And that was good to see."

Manuel's best moments came at the beginning and the end of the session. He began the scrimmage with Buffalo's starting offense and connected with wide receiver Percy Harvin for a 25-yard gain.

Later, he tossed the only touchdown of the evening with an 18-yard pass to running back Bryce Brown. Manuel displayed sound improvisational skills on the play by maneuvering in the pocket before turning to his right.

"There's some things I still want to clean up, but I had fun, that was the biggest thing," Manuel said. "I think as an offense and for myself I just told myself to come out here, cut it loose and have a good time. If something bad happens, oh well, it's a scrimmage. I'd rather do it now, than do it next week in a game. But overall, it was a pretty good night."

Cassel had the lightest workload of the evening. He was pleased to learn about his status for Buffalo's preseason opener.

"Great. I hope I play the whole game, to be honest with you," Cassel said. "I honestly would embrace the chance to start and go out there and play a little bit and get into a rhythm."

After stringing together several productive performances during the week, Taylor had the most disappointing evening. The former Baltimore backup displayed his quickness and agility as a runner out of the pocket, but missed a handful of throws to open receivers.

"I was a little bit disappointed in him because I've seen him make those throws for a touchdown before," Ryan said. "I think he'd like to have a couple throws back. He did some nice things, but I know he wishes he had a couple throws back."

Ryan is in no rush to determine a starting quarterback. He said Friday that he may keep it a secret until the Bills play the Indianapolis Colts in their season opener.

"Indianapolis might not know who the quarterback is until we play 'em," Ryan said. "We may know, but they might not know."

He's generally pleased, however, with how the competition has gone so far.

"I think all the guys, they've been great," Ryan said. "They all compete, they're all pulling for each other but at the end of the day they want to win the job. So let's see what happens."


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