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EJ Manuel looks like odd man out in Bills' QB battle

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Is EJ Manuel the odd man out in Buffalo's tangled pecking order of quarterbacks?

Coach Rex Ryan made it sound that way after the third-year passer spent Sunday's practice with the third-team offense.

Every game, all season

While Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor split snaps with the ones, Manuel never worked with the starters. Ryan refused to promise that Manuel would see first-team reps again before September.

"I'm not going to paint myself into a corner," Ryan said, per Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News. "I've learned through six years of experience you never say that."

Manuel threw a beautiful 51-yard touchdown bomb to Deonte Thompson in Thursday's preseason loss to the Panthers, but the former first-rounder completed just four of his eight passes against Carolina after looking shaky in camp.

With the intriguing Taylor set to start against the Browns this week, Ryan confirmed that Cassel would play next, leaving Manuel to bring up the rear for the second game in a row.

"He's going to get the majority of the game running with that group this second preseason game, so that's the reasoning behind it," Ryan said of Manuel's practice snaps. "Does that mean he won't get the two reps? No. It doesn't mean that at all, but (it's what) we wanted to do. We're going to put Tyrod in and mix in Matt. As the week goes on, don't be surprised if (Manuel) does get some two's."

Ryan warned reporters not to "look into anything" too deeply, saying "it's been the same type of rotation for probably three weeks."

Manuel's draft pedigree has Ryan treating this situation with care. In action, though, the Bills are treating Manuel differently than Cassel -- and especially Taylor, who was energetic against Carolina and faces a prime opportunity on Thursday to pull ahead in Buffalo's low-octane quarterback tussle.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast features the gang breaking down Jimmy Garoppolo's preseason debut and Ameer Abdullah's breakout game.

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