Monday, January 6, 2014

For Hackett, half the battle is keeping Manuel healthy


E.J. Manuel didn't knock anyone's socks off in 2013. He wasn't spectacular, and he wasn't terrible.

The truth is, we don't really know, because we didn't see enough of him.

The first-round rookie quarterback played in 10 games thanks to multiple knee injuries, tossing 11 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He completed nearly 59 percent of his passes but didn't reach the 2,000-yard mark, going 4-6 in the process.

"I think right now, he’s done a nice job, he’s progressed when he’s gotten a couple of games in a row,” Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said, via The Buffalo News. "When it’s just coming off that injury, that’s when he’s kind of not been what we wanted.

"But it’s a difficult thing, especially for a rookie to come off that stuff."

A difficult thing, for sure. For both Manuel and Hackett.

The first-year offensive coordinator also serves as the team's quarterbacks coach, and he's been tasked with trying to develop a quarterback who hasn't been able to get in a full workload of practice or game action half the time.

Manuel nearly missed the season opener with a knee injury and went on to re-injure the knee five weeks later. He returned a month and a week after that, playing in five more games before being put on ice for the last two weeks to another knee injury.

Hackett said Manuel has got the "physical" aspect down, but he's still only 10-games young and has a lot of learning to do in many areas. While he can get some things done in the film room and with the playbook, nothing beats actual reps.

"He’s got to do more, obviously," Hackett said. "He’s got to work harder. But I mean, half the time, we’re just trying to get his body right."

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