The local media covering Buffalo Bills Training Camp has a difficult job to start with, throw in a quarterback race and it gets even tougher.

Most fans have to depend on the observations of the assembled newspaper, television and radio reporters assigned to camp at St. John Fisher. Based on those observations of said reporters, fans gauge where the quarterback race stands. Right now some of those observations may be misleading.

Two weeks ago on August 6th, Sal Capaccio from WGR radio told listeners that EJ Manuel had his best day in camp, maybe ever! Sal followed that up on Friday saying Manuel continued good form, not quite as good as Thursday, but still performed well. By all media accounts Manuel then played well in the intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday August 8th.

Anyone following these reports would feel EJ Manuel was emerging as the front runner for the starting job, but on Monday Manuel was delegated to the third unit by Rex Ryan.

On Sunday, August 16th Sal Capaccio did a live broadcast from St. John Fisher and a caller brought up the sequence I just laid out. Sal admitted he felt EJ Manuel was playing his best football, but strangely he was demoted to third string by the coaching staff. The caller followed up by questioning whether it was actually a three man race for the job to begin with?

I brought up this little sequence not to embarrass Sal, who I feel is a very enthusiastic reporter and living his dream job following the Bills, but to show how tough it is for media to know what is in the minds of the coaches at Training Camp.

Rex Ryan brought in Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel for a reason. Ryan coached against EJ Manuel and would have an opinion based on that experience. My guess is Ryan’s opinion of Manuel’s first two years in the league wouldn’t be very high, thus he brought in players he felt could do better.

While many fans and some reporters are gushing over Tyrod Taylor after his performance against Carolina, the inside skinny says Cassel will be the starter come September 13th.

Taylor could still change that opinion, but he didn’t do that Monday against the Cleveland Browns. Taylor had difficulty throwing from the pocket and that flaw in his game showed against the Panthers last week in the redzone. Taylor makes things happen with his feet, but when running is not an option his pocket presence suffers.

Only the few reporters who have relationships with coaches off the field know what they are truly thinking. Appearances can and are deceiving in a Training Camp setting. Coaches already have an opinion as to what a players strengths and weaknesses are, but that is not something they share in an interview session.

Before camp even started I was told by a Bills insider that Matt Cassel was the front runner. Forget what you’re hearing and reading, Cassel has the confidence of the coaching staff.

I have had that opinion backed up by an NFL observer with experience following these things. He too tells me it is Matt Cassel’s job to lose.

Matt Cassel starting for the Buffalo Bills against the Indianapolis Colts seems to be where this race is going. Barring an unforeseen injury, that’s where I’d place my money.


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