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Leinart struggles in debut as Bills lose to Lions

The Canadian Press

8/29/2013 11:36:01 PM

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Matt Leinart's debut in Buffalo lasted a little more than a quarter. And that left the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner worried whether his future with the quarterback-needy Bills will last past this weekend.

"It's disappointing. You have an opportunity, and you go out there and you don't play as well as you want to," Leinart said after struggling in a 35-13 preseason-ending loss to the Detroit Lions on Thursday night. "I was thankful to be here, and we'll see what happens. Obviously, after that performance it can't be anything good I would think. But we'll see."

Coach Doug Marrone saw enough of Leinart to yank him after five possessions, and after the 2006 first-round draft pick threw his second interception. Leinart completed 3 of 10 passes for 11 yards, and looked very much like someone who had the benefit of just three practices since signing Sunday.

Leinart's performance doesn't make it easy on Marrone when it comes to making his final cuts by Saturday.

"We'd love to say, 'Hey, we'd love to have had him for a couple of more days,' sure, but that's not how everything played out," Marrone said. "It's not a great situation, but it is an opportunity."

Bills general manager Doug Whaley told The Associated Press he'll evaluate the game film on Leinart before making a decision. He then added: "I'm sure (Leinart) is more disappointed than anybody."

The Bills signed Leinart and acquired Thaddeus Lewis in a trade with Detroit on Sunday after losing their top two quarterbacks to injuries.

First-round selection EJ Manuel is recovering from a left knee injury, and hasn't been ruled out to play in Buffalo's opener against New England on Sept. 8. Veteran Kevin Kolb is out indefinitely with a concussion.

And the news got worse for Buffalo (2-2).

Marrone announced safety Jairus Byrd has a foot injury, and has travelled to North Carolina to be evaluated by specialist Robert Anderson. Byrd is a two-time Pro Bowl safety who missed the entire off-season before signing his one-year, $6.9 million franchise tender last week. And Buffalo lost veteran reserve guard Doug Legursky to what is feared to be a significant left knee injury.

The mood was much better in the visitor's locker room, where the Lions (3-1) made quick work of another AFC East opponent a week after a 40-9 rout of New England.

The only complaint coach Jim Schwartz had was how difficult it became to evaluate players with the Lions ahead 35-3 at the half.

"We really needed to see some of those wide receivers," Schwartz said. "It was difficult because you're still throwing the ball when you're up by 32 points."

With receivers Calvin Johnson and Ryan Broyles sitting out, Nate Burleson and Patrick Edwards had inconsistent outings.

Burleson had a Drew Stafford pass go off his hands that led to an interception on the Lions' first possession. Edwards dropped two passes from Stafford before scoring on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill.

"If we were getting stopped, guys weren't getting open or Matt couldn't get the ball off, that's when problems need to be addressed," Burleson said. "But from a physical standpoint, all we need to do as receivers is catch the ball."

Hill and third-string quarterback Kellen Moore had two touchdown passes apiece. Hill also hit Kris Durham for a 6-yard touchdown.

Both of Moore's touchdown passes were to running back Theo Riddick. Joique Bell also scored on a 23-yard run.

The only bright sign for Buffalo came about 90 minutes before the game. That's when Manuel took the field and threw a number of passes.

Marrone continued to leave the door open for Manuel to be ready for the opener. However, Marrone cautioned that the rookie out of Florida State will need to be practicing by Wednesday.

The Bills are off until returning to practice Sunday.

If Manuel's not ready, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel is in line to start. Since the NFL merger in 1970, no undrafted rookie has ever opened a season as the starter directly out of college. Tuel was given the night off because the Bills were wary of losing another quarterback to injury.

Lewis fared slightly better than Leinart. He finished 7 of 16 for 132 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Easley in the fourth quarter.

Leinart blamed himself.

"I expect more out of myself," he said. "I have expectations for myself. Whether I was here for three days or three years, you can't do that."

NOTES: Marrone said rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin is fine after he did not return after being poked in the eye in the first quarter. ... Marrone said veteran receiver Brad Smith is still being evaluated after hurting his ribs. ... Lions LB Jon Morgan did not return after hurting his shoulder in the second half.