For Jeff Tuel, it's a simple plan: first make the Buffalo Bills' roster and then become the starting quarterback.
That might sound like a lot for the former Clovis West High star to accomplish in his rookie NFL season, but he's in line to get an opportunity to show what he's capable of Saturday when the Bills visit the Washington Redskins.
First-year coach Doug Marrone is eager to see what Tuel can do in the final two preseason games because he wants "him to compete to be the starting quarterback."
"That's what is going to make him the best," Marrone told reporters earlier this week, "and then we'll evaluate if it's good enough for us to win with and where he ranks among that position, not just at the quarterback position, but also the roster."
Tuel is getting another opportunity to move up the depth chart because rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel will miss the remainder of the preseason after having a "minor procedure" on his left knee. Tuel is expected to play the second half Saturday; Kevin Kolb, who signed with the Bills after he was released by Arizona, will get the start.
Tuel, who signed with Buffalo as an undrafted free agent, is 21 of 26 for 236 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 130.1 in the preseason. He welcomes the chance to show how far he has come.
"I think anybody who's playing in the NFL, or any level for that matter, should compete the best they can and be the best," Tuel said. If you're not "then you don't stand a chance."
Tuel has made the most of his opportunities already, after Kolb missed the first preseason game because of an injury then Manuel went down in the second exhibition.
Tuel came in and was 19 of 23 for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the Bills' 44-20 victory over host Indianapolis. Then he entered in the fourth quarter of a 20-16 win against Minnesota and finished 2 of 3 for 24 yards.
Tuel said he's been getting "more comfortable in the system" but added he's been working with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to keep improving.
"Coach Hackett is challenging us as quarterbacks to know the offense as good as him," Tuel said. "That's something I need to strive for. That's what I really need to improve on most. Just the offensive philosophy and protection."
After passing for 5,936 yards in 33 career games at Washington State (where he ranks first in career completion percentage at 61.3%), Tuel said he had several teams interested in signing him but chose the Bills because of the "energy they had with a young staff." He hopes to show them they made the right decision in bringing him to the team and some day lead the team.
"I just really liked the system," Tuel said. "Just taking it one day at a time. That's all I'm thinking about. Whatever the coaches decide to do, it's their decision. I've definitely dreamed about (starting). It's something I'd like to accomplish, but as of right now I'm just concentrating on making this football team and doing whatever I can to help this football team."
And that includes being ready if he's called.
"I'll be ready to step in at any time," Tuel said. "That's what I'm trying to prove to the coaches: what I can do. Earn that trust from them and earn the trust from teammates, where if something happens I can come in and run the offense and put points on the board."
Watch Tuel live
Former Clovis West QB Jeff Tuel should get plenty of action for the Bills in Saturday's preseason game against the Redskins. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m on NFL network.
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