Much on line for Leinart in Bills preseason finale

Much on line for Leinart in Bills preseason finale
August 28, 2013, 4:03 pm
Share This Post

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Preposterous as it might have once sounded, quarterback Matt Leinart finds himself suddenly having much in common with Jeff Tuel.

Upon arriving in Buffalo last weekend for what could be a last chance at resurrecting his career, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner offered Tuel - an undrafted rookie out of Washington State - advice on how to prepare for the possibility of being the Bills' opening-day starter.

``With football, it's crazy,'' Leinart said. ``I told him, `Hey, in this league, anything can happen. You always have to stay ready.'''

Leinart spoke from experience. It wasn't lost on the former Southern California star that he could have been referring to his own seven-year career that's gone from the promise of first-round-draft-pick potential, to spending nearly the entire offseason wondering if he still has an NFL future.

``Oh yeah, I've seen the worst in this league. And I've seen some pretty good highs,'' Leinart said. ``So I've been through a lot.''

If not for injuries sidelining the Bills' two top quarterbacks, rookie EJ Manuel (left knee) and veteran Kevin Kolb (concussion), Leinart might still have been waiting by the phone.

Instead, after signing with Buffalo on Sunday, Leinart will have what's essentially a one-time tryout to compete for a backup spot as the Bills (2-1) close the preseason against Detroit (2-1) Thursday. Tuel is expected to get limited playing time because the Bills are wary of having yet another quarterback hurt before opening against New England on Sept. 8.

That means Leinart and Thaddeus Lewis, who was acquired Sunday in a trade with Detroit, will get the majority of snaps after only two days of practice and a walkthrough.

``I'm just excited to be here, obviously, and humbled and just thankful for the opportunity,'' said Leinart, who is on his third team in as many seasons. ``For me, at this point, I don't feel like there's anything to lose. That's exciting because I've had a lot of pressure over the years.''

The pressure of expectations along with injuries, coaching changes, loss of confidence and bad timing have combined to derail Leinart's career. He was drafted 10th overall in 2006 by Arizona after a 37-2 record at USC.

Leinart started 16 games his first two seasons in Arizona before being sidelined by a broken left collarbone in 2007. He spent his final two seasons with the Cardinals backing up Kurt Warner.

Seeking a fresh start, he signed with Houston in 2010, where misfortune struck Leinart the following year. Taking over a playoff-bound Texans team that was off to a 7-3 start, Leinart broke his collarbone in the first half of his first game in place of injured starter Matt Schaub.

``Talk about lows. That was one of the toughest times of my career,'' he said. ``It was like, `Why? Like this is the opportunity I've been waiting for two, three years.' And it was just taken away from me like that.''

Leinart spent last season in Oakland, where he appeared in two games splitting backup duties with Terrelle Pryor.

In Buffalo, Leinart has no guarantees after Thursday. Tuel is penciled in to start the opener, though the Bills haven't ruled out Manuel being ready to play. Kolb is out indefinitely, which opens a spot Leinart could fill once the team makes its final cuts by Saturday.

Coach Doug Marrone said it's too early to make any determinations regarding Leinart or Lewis.

``I really don't know until I see them and evaluate them,'' Marrone said, noting he'll judge Leinart on how he performs in Buffalo without preconceptions. ``You go in there and say: `Whatever has happened in the past is in the past. Here's an opportunity - take advantage of it.'''

Marrone was with New Orleans in 2006, when the Saints evaluated Leinart as a potential draft pick. And Leinart is familiar with Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The two share common friends, and Hackett's father, former Trojans coach Paul Hackett, recruited Leinart to play at USC.

``Obviously, I know nothing is guaranteed ever,'' Leinart said. ``I know there's been times where I haven't performed well. But I'm still capable, and I still know I can do it.''

The Lions are approaching the game seeking to settle starting jobs on the right side of their offensive line. Coach Jim Schwartz has yet to say whether tackle Jason Fox and rookie guard Larry Warford have solidified the two spots.

Linebacker Chris White will make his Lions' debut after the Bills traded the reserve to Detroit to acquire Lewis.

``That's going to be pretty crazy,'' said White, Buffalo's 2011 sixth-round draft pick. ``It's definitely going to be strange playing against all my teammates. But I'm going to go out there and give it my all.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Texans - Team News
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) is listed as probable for Week 8. Johnson practiced in full Friday after being limited early in the week. He'll continue to play through his ankle injury. Johnson is a mid-range WR2 for Sunday's game...
Oct 24 5:19PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) remained limited in Thursday's practice. Johnson doesn't need full practices at this stage of his career. He's a solid WR2 for Sunday's game against the Titans.
Oct 23 4:37PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) said he'd be surprised if he doesn't play in Sunday's game... Clowney hasn't played since tearing his meniscus in Week 1. He says he plans to "push through" the soreness that's still in his knee. If the training staff lets...
Oct 23 11:41AM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Ryan Fitzpatrick admitted he "didn't get it to Andre [Johnson] nearly enough early"... Johnson finished with 5-77-0 on nine targets, but had just one catch for four yards through the first three quarters. After the game, coach Bill O'Brien said that Johnson...
Oct 23 8:03AM Read More
Brian Cushing - LB
Texans ILB Brian Cushing will miss at least one week with a knee injury. It's a blow to an already vulnerable Houston run defense, and a nice upgrade to Bishop Sankey's Week 8 matchup. Justin Tuggle and Mike Mohamed figure to start at inside...
Oct 22 8:32PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans are limiting Johnson's reps coming off Monday night's loss. He'll remain a WR2 for Week 8 against the Titans.
Oct 22 5:22PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans listed Foster as "not injury related," but he missed practice time last week with a groin issue. Foster has a matchup with the Titans' No. 22 ranked run...
Oct 22 5:15PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
According to HoustonTexans.com, there's a "decent chance" Jadeveon Clowney (knee)... "He feels good," coach Bill O'Brien said Monday. "Well see how it goes this week in practice. We'll be able to make a determination pretty soon about whether...
Oct 21 3:58PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught two passes for 24 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers. Graham was targeted three times, but dropped the other. It can be considered one of Graham's better statistical games of the season, which obviously means he's nowhere near...
Oct 20 11:31PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson caught five passes for 77 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins each saw a team-high nine targets. There was nothing special about Johnson's night. His biggest play was a 24-yard grab on a deep in route in...
Oct 20 11:25PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins caught six passes for 108 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Hopkins and Andre Johnson each saw a team-high nine targets. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw it to whichever receiver was working against embattled Steelers CB Cortez Allen. ...
Oct 20 11:16PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue rushed for 14 yards on five carries and caught an 11-yard touchdown in the Texans'... Blue was the vulture on the opening-drive 11-yard score after Arian Foster managed 59 rushing yards to get the Texans near the goal line. Foster is an every-down back,...
Oct 20 11:09PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-32 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception... Fitzpatrick played well for much of the first half, leading the Texans on three consecutive scoring drives to open the game. It was a train wreck thereafter. One play...
Oct 20 10:56PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries in the Texans' 30-23, Week 7 loss to the... Foster got off to a blazing start, rushing for 59 yards on the Texans' 94-yard opening touchdown drive, but was vultured by Alfred Blue for the 11-yard touchdown catch to...
Oct 20 10:47PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is inactive for Monday night's Week 7 game against the Steelers. Clowney's lateral agility wasn't where the Texans wanted it to be in pre-game warmups. He's been out since undergoing knee surgery after Week 1. Whitney Mercilus is...
Oct 20 6:09PM Read More

More Team Talk