The only quarterback to not take snaps for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday made his full return to practice Monday afternoon.
Veteran Kevin Kolb missed five practices because of a knee injury and then the death of his grandmother before returning on Friday. Kolb was limited on Friday and opened the door for rookie EJ Manuel to start Sunday’s preseason opener.
“He’s just coming back so we’re working him into it,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “I just wanted to see that and then I think it will just get better and better as we go through because really, he hasn’t practiced in quite a long time. Today we were just working him back in there.”
Kolb was a full participant on Monday at St. John Fisher, but neither he nor Marrone would commit to the quarterback playing Friday’s preseason home opener against Minnesota.
“I think we’re taking it slowly and carefully,” said Kolb. “I’m trying to push the envelope. I’m trying to get out there and be a little part of this fun.”
Kolb reported no setbacks on Monday, and shed the wrap on his knee in the middle of practice. The veteran QB slipped on a mat 10 days ago while running onto the field at St. John Fisher before practice. Kolb injured his knee, then left the team for a few days for his grandmother’s funeral.
“For something goofy like that to happen was very frustrating,” said Kolb. “With the family situation, having to leave the team for a while, it wasn’t a good time, but you fight through those struggles and have to move on.”
Kolb said he suffered some knee cap damage and admitted he did not want to push himself to the point of creating bad habits by overcompensating from the injury.
“There’s a fine line there,” said Kolb. “I’m trying to weigh that out and make sure I am playing without any pain. If I am playing with some pain, then don’t let it affect me when I’m fully healthy.”
Kolb is hopeful he can play Friday, but would not put a percentage on his chances.
“A lot of it depends on how I feel (today) coming back from a full practice,” said Kolb. “I would love to tell you right now that I’m playing for sure, but that’s not necessarily correct.”
Wide receiver T.J. Graham and linebacker Kourtnei Brown both left practice early with groin pulls. Marrone said both players are day-to-day. Graham had a large wrap on his left leg towards the end of practice.
Marquise Goodwin highlighted the Bills’ victory in the preseason opener with a 107-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Goodwin also had a 53-yard return, displaying that Olympic speed and athleticism that made him so attractive to the Bills.
Page 2 of 2 - Goodwin continued to impress Monday with a long touchdown catch in which he burst past three defenders down the field.
“I got the easiest job on the field,” Goodwin said after Sunday’s game. “Just to catch it and to run fast, and do what I do best. They blocked it really well.
“You know, a lot of people say that I wouldn’t be up here today, let alone in here being interviewed for running a kick return for my first preseason NFL game. To all the people who said I wouldn’t, I appreciate it because without them saying that I couldn’t, I feel like I wouldn’t have the same drive to prove people wrong.”
After a strong showing on Sunday, Crezdon Butler received first-team reps at cornerback opposite Stephon Gilmore as Leodis McKelvin sat out another practice with a groin injury. Butler had an interception and a team-high three passes defended in the 44-20 win at Indianapolis.
“We’re rotating guys through,” said Marrone. “Obviously with (Ron) Brooks, he’s our starting nickel right now. We want to make sure that, just because Leodis is down, and he had been running, and we’ll see how he goes. But we don’t want to lose sight of Ron’s position as playing nickel and being maybe that third corner and just working people through there. It’s really nothing more than that.”
Others sitting out Monday’s practice for the Bills included WR Stevie Johnson, WR Brad Smith, CB Justin Rogers, DT Aaron Tipoti, G Keith Williams, TE Mike Caussin, and TE Dorin Dickerson. WR Kevin Elliott (shoulder) and LB Keith Pough (illness) returned to practice Monday. Marrone said he does not expect Rogers back this week, but perhaps in time for the Bills’ third preseason game in Washington on Aug. 24.
Marrone also said OT Chris Hairston (ankle surgery) is getting closer to returning from the physically unable to perform list.
“I’m really just waiting for the doctors to say, ‘Hey, put him on that field,’” said Marrone.