BREAKING: Transcript of EJ Manuel interview Thursday afternoon…

Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel answered questions from two Buffalo News reporters (Tim Graham and Jay Skurski), a Philadelphia Daily News reporter (Les Bowen) and yours truly on Thursday afternoon, outside the Super Bowl “Radio Row” at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in Manhattan.

Here’s the Q&A:

 

On his offseason and how season ended (Graham):

“Obviously, I didn’t play the last two games, so that was frustrating. But I felt like I finished strong with the performance we had vs. Jacksonville. The knee injuries are a lot better now. I got everything resolved and behind me. So I’m just kind of really looking forward to being back to work with my guys: Stevie, Woody (he’s still in school), Marquise is still in school, T.J. — we’ll get all those guys out to a neutral site. C.J. I’m sure, the running backs will come too. But I really want to get two weeks in with my wide receivers.”

 

Working with them now? (Graham)

“No, we will be. We will be. Probably in March … March and April.”

 

Where? (Graham)
“Well, Woody’s in school, like I said, in California. So I’m sure we’ll have a trip to California. Marquise is in Texas, so just to accommodate the school boys, we’re going to fly to them and get some work in at their place.”

 

A tour! (Graham)

“I guess. Yeah, yeah, we’ll probably give it a name in a couple of years.”

 

Did you require a procedure to your knee? (Skurski)

“Yeah, it was a minor procedure. Just like a 20-minute, in-and-out cleanup of ligaments and things like that. So I’m happy I got it done, kinda put it past me. And obviously with the rehab and things like that it will be back to full strength and I don’t think it will bother me at all.”

 

Did you do the surgery right after the season? (Skurski)

“Yes.”

 

And are you rehabbing now or are you back to 100%? (Skurski)

“No, I’m still rehabbing. Even when I am 100% I’m going to continue to work. And I think you have a long off-season, so why not take the time and continue to get it as strong as possible.”

 

Able to run on it? (me)
“I’ll be able to run on it when it’s the time to run. Right now, it’s still January, very early in the off-season, so there’s no need to run. If I had to, I could.”

 

What exactly was the first knee injury you suffered in August? (me)
“It was a meniscus tear.”

 

Any lingering issue with that? (me)
“Well that’s everything I got taken care of, so now I have a clean slate, not to worry about it. I’ll probably wear a brace from here on out. If you look around the league, a lot of quarterbacks — I know Luck wears one. Peyton wears one, on that front leg, because you have some defenders come down and you don’t want to risk getting whatever type of knee injury, so just kind of ignore it for the rest of my career. I’ll have a brace, but it won’t inhibit me from still being able to take off and run.”

 

What kind of spot do you think the Bills are in, given that in your first year in the league you’ve had three knee injuries? (Graham)
“I think the good thing is they’re not ACLs or MCLs, which are years — take a year of however long to recover from. If I’m going to have a knee injury, I would rather have the ones I’ve had, rather have them earlier, I guess, than later — to kind of get it behind me and start our legacy as a team and move forward.”

 

What’s the feedback medically regarding you, your body, why these happened… (Graham)

“The good thing is I’m 23. So I’m still young. Like I said, my body will bounce back fine. Like I said, it’s not going to slow me down. I’ll still be able to run a 4.5 or 4.6, so I’ll still be in good shape.”

 

Knee injuries just bad luck? (Graham)

“I think so. The only one that I can really say that was — you know, I could have gone out of bounds a step earlier, but I still think I was doing the right thing in trying to get more yards. The guy just got me at the wrong spot. But I do think, I don’t necessarily believe in bad or good luck, but I think that’s really how it is … I don’t think it has anything to do with my body. I think it could have happened to anybody. It’s unfortunate it happened three times, but the season’s over with now, you can look forward to a new one?”

 

What was your 40 times in the combine? (Graham)
“A 4.6. Like a 4.62.”

 

Is it going to get even better? (Graham)

“It might be, man … Pearson from the Vikings, you know he seems to get better, so maybe I can get a little juice that he had. We’ll see.”

 

What’s this experience been like for you? (Skurski)
“It’s good. I did it last year too… I’m not going to the game. But I got into town yesterday, just handling the things that I have.”

 

And you have a new quarterbacks coach (Todd Downing). Did you know him? (me)

“Yes. We worked together at the Senior Bowl last year. I was on the Detroit Lions team, the South team, and his staff was there. So we had some history, and I think that probably helped coach Hackett and coach Marrone a little easier, because I told them I love him. Great guy, great coach, has tons of knowledge. He’s a young guy, and I think when I’m done meeting with coach Hackett and can go ahead and meet with coach Downing, so I think it’s going to help me out a lot.”

 

So they consulted you before they hired him? (me)

“I’m not going to say they asked me, but they mentioned who they were talking to and things like that. I’m not making decisions for the team, but they told me that they were thinking about hiring coach Downing, and I told them he was a great coach.”

 

Anything specific with your delivery that he helped you with at the Senior Bowl? (me)

“I can remember he wanted us all to look as good as possible. I think that goes a long way when coaches are actually trying to help you have a good game in those situations, because you’re new to those receivers, your new to these plays, it’s a new environment. So when you have coaches that are kind of on your side to help you look the best, and however long the game lasts, that went a long way for me.”

 

Talk to Thad Lewis about him? (Skurski)

[no]

 

Planning on working with QBs coach Ken Mastrole again? (Skurski)

“Yeah, I’m planning on it. When I get back to South Florida. I’m actually trying to get Thad and those guys with coach Cutcliffe [of Manning family camp]. So I wouldn’t mind being part of that as well.”

 

(FINAL UPDATE:)

Does it even need to be mentioned anymore about Russell Wilson being an African-American QB in a Super Bowl? (Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News)
“I don’t know. I’m not the one to mention it, it’s usually you guys that mention that kind of stuff. So I think Russell just sees himself as a great quarterback. Obviously we have a chip on our shoulder as black quarterbacks. You know there’s not a whole lot in the league, so I’m definitely proud to be one. I’m so proud of Russell. I’ve known him for a long time.”

 

Are you concerned the team might bring in competition at your position, particularly in the draft, even in the first round? (Skurski)

“It’s not up to me. It’s up to the coaches, up to the GM.”

 

What would be your reaction if they draft a quarterback in the first round? (Graham)

“I don’t know. We’ll have to see if that happens. You guys think they should?”

 

(Graham): “I do.”

“OK.”

 

(Graham): “… But that’s the most important position.”

“Appreciate it. Thank you.”

– [end] –

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