Kolb more than competitor to Manuel

July, 29, 2013
7/29/13
7:27
PM ET
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- After speaking to reporters following Monday's practice, Buffalo Bills quarterback Kevin Kolb handed the podium over to his competition for the starting job: rookie EJ Manuel.

Kolb
As the two walked past each other inside the basketball gym at St. John Fisher College, Kolb flipped a small black ping-pong ball to Manuel, the first-round pick tasked with becoming the Bills' franchise quarterback.

Manuel then stepped to the podium and faced the group of reporters who fired questions about his comfort level through his first two practices of an NFL training camp. As he answered, Manuel played with the ball in his hands, out of sight of the cameras focused on the 23-year old's every word.

If intentional, it was a reminder that Kolb, while he is competing with Manuel, is also there to mentor his teammate. It was a small gesture -- one that gave Manuel something to settle nerves at the podium -- but significant given the all-or-nothing nature of the position battle.

Asked by one reporter if he felt pressured by the expectations of fans, Manuel was direct in his response.

"No sir," he said.

Meanwhile, Kolb, who will turn 29 next month, has his own career to worry about, but trying to beat out a rookie for his job isn't a problem to him.

"I would say that 90 percent of quarterbacks have to do what I'm doing," he said. "I've done it a lot and I've seen it. Putting that pressure on yourself and worrying about it holds you down."

And Manuel isn't the only rookie receiving support from the veteran quarterback. Second-round pick Robert Woods, who has dropped a few passes through the first two practices of training camp, received high marks from Kolb on Monday.

"Stud," Kolb said of Woods. "Legitimately a stud. I've been with some really good rookie receivers, and I'm really impressed with his approach. He really has an open mind and wants to learn."

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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