BY NICK ST. DENIS
Picture this: former Arizona Cardinals first-round bust Matt Leinart taking meaningful snaps for the Buffalo Bills Week 1 against the New England Patriots.
Sorry for that image. But it could happen.
The Bills signed the ex-USC Trojan Sunday in response to Kevin Kolb's reported career-threatening concussion and the uncertainty regarding rookie E.J. Manuel's opening day status. Buffalo also traded for former Detroit Lions backup quarterback Thaddeus Lewis.
Kolb was battling Manuel, and to no avail, for the Bills' starting job, but both Kolb and Manuel have found themselves on the injury report with their respective windows for recovery unclear. Manuel had knee surgery last week and won't be able to take the field until just before Week 1 at the earliest.
That leaves Leinart and undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel to split reps for the team's remaining preseason practices and final exhibition game. Throw Lewis into that mix.
Leinart, who won the Heisman in 2004, was drafted by the Cardinals 10th overall in 2006 but never materialized into a franchise signal-caller -- or really even just a serviceable one. He spent a couple seasons backing up Matt Schaub with the Houston Texans before a stint as a second-stringer with the Oakland Raiders.
Leinart could, however, be the Bills' best option if Manuel isn't ready to go. While Manuel's surgery was of the "minor" variety, it still was surgery, and a Week 1 nod is probably best-case scenario -- especially if he can't practice until just before the opener.
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