Posted at: 08/30/2013 10:25 PM
By: Associated Press
The Buffalo Bills will head into the regular season short on experience at quarterback after trimming the roster on Friday.
They did, however, ensure that one key offensive player will remain in the mix.
On the same day the new-look Bills re-signed center Eric Wood to a four-year contract extension, Buffalo placed quarterback Kevin Kolb on season-ending injured reserve and released his potential replacement, Matt Leinart.
Kolb's future was in doubt after suffering a concussion in Buffalo's third preseason game. It was the third concussion of his seven-year career.
Leinart topped the list of 18 players released by the Bills. He joined Buffalo Sunday as an injury replacement. The former first-round pick struggled in his only game with the Bills on Thursday night against Detroit, completing 3 of 10 passes for 11 yards and two interceptions.
The Bills remain hopeful that first-round pick EJ Manuel will return from a left knee injury in time to start against the New England Patriots in Week 1 on Sept. 8. Manuel threw passes on the field prior to Thursday's game but has yet to return to practice. If Manuel is unable to play, the Bills will start undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel.
Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis appears set to make the opening day roster, as well, following the moves with Kolb and Leinart. Lewis, 25, has one career NFL start and outperformed Leinart in Thursday's loss. The Bills acquired Lewis in a trade with Detroit on Sunday.
Wide receiver Brad Smith was placed on injured reserve. The eight-year veteran suffered a rib injury against the Lions.
Wood signed a new deal late Friday afternoon that will keep him under contract through 2017. At 27, he is Buffalo's best offensive lineman and is one of the team's most valued leaders.
"We're thrilled to have Eric in the fold for many years to come," Bills president Russ Brandon said. "He embodies everything that we talk about. He's tough, he's aggressive, he's a competitor and he's a dynamic leader."
It was vital that the Bills lock up their top offensive lineman after one of Wood's former teammates, guard Andy Levitre, left in free agency. Levitre signed a six-year, $46.8 million contract with Tennessee in March.
"All along I knew I wanted to stay here," Wood said. "I'm comfortable here ... and I would never want to leave here, especially the direction we're going and watch them make the playoffs without me.
"That's going to be a special time and when we do it this year, if I would have missed it in years to come I would have never forgave myself."
Wood, a 2009 first-round pick, has started all 47 games played with the Bills while overcoming a pair of significant leg injuries. Ten games into his rookie season, Wood suffered a compound fracture in his left leg. His third season ended after nine games due to a torn ACL in his right knee.
That adversity made his new contract even more rewarding.
"This organization has stuck by me through some tough times, some of the toughest times of my life," Wood said. "Two major injuries and I couldn't have been more thankful for how they supported me through those times and how they're still willing to give me a long-term extension."
One other notable cut was the release of cornerback Crezdon Butler. With top corner Stephon Gilmore out 6-8 weeks due to a broken wrist, Butler had been competing for a starting job in Gilmore's absence.
The Bills will have to make additional moves to get down to the 53-man roster limit by 6 p.m. EDT Saturday; Buffalo has 55 players on its roster, plus safety Jairus Byrd. Buffalo received a two-week roster exemption for Byrd after he signed his franchise tender on Aug. 20.