JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Matt Leinart certainly didn’t look like the answer at the Buffalo Bills’ injury-riddled quarterback position.
Playing very much like someone who’s had three days of practice, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner completed 3 of 10 passes for 11 yards and two interceptions in a 35-13 preseason-ending loss to the Detroit Lions on Thursday night.
Both interceptions led to Lions touchdowns. Leinart lasted just five series in a bid to continue his career after signing with the Bills on Sunday. Leinart has been out of football since not being re-signed by Oakland this offseason.
The Bills (2-2) scrambled to sign the 2006 first-round draft pick after losing their top two quarterbacks to injuries in consecutive preseason games. First-round selection EJ Manuel is recovering from a left knee injury, while veteran Kevin Kolb is out indefinitely with a concussion.
Coach Doug Marrone wasn’t happy in his halftime comments, with Buffalo trailing 35-3.
“You have two quarterbacks that have been here for about two days,” Marrone said, referring to Leinart and newly acquired Thaddeus Lewis. “Again, we should be playing much better than this. And that’s a concern.”
The only bright sign for the Bills came about 90 minutes before the game. That’s when Manuel took the field and threw a number of passes. Marrone hasn’t ruled out Manuel being ready for the opener against New England on Sept. 8.
If he’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, acquired in a trade with Detroit on Sunday, fared slightly better than Leinart. He finished going 7 of 16 for 132 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Easley in the fourth quarter.
The Lions (3-1) made quick work of another AFC East opponent a week after a 40-9 rout of New England.
Second- and third-string quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore had two touchdown passes apiece. Hill hit Patrick Edwards for an 8-yarder to open the scoring on the first play after Leinart was intercepted by Bill Bentley. 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, which came on the first play after Leinart’s second interception.
Detroit starter Matthew Stafford played two series and went 1 of 6 for 12 yards and an interception, which glanced off the hands of Nate Burleson. Edwards didn’t help Stafford’s production by dropping two passes.
Under Leinart, the Bills combined for 24 yards and one first down on 17 plays. His longest pass was a 7-yard completion to tight end Lee Smith at the left sideline.
Leinart’s first interception came when he tried to force a pass over the middle to Brad Smith. The second came was when he underthrew Easley up the right sideline.
What’s worse for Buffalo is the injury-depleted secondary struggled, too. Cornerbacks Crezdon Butler and T.J. Heath, and rookie safety Duke Williams were burned several times.
All three are competing for playing time with starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore (broken left wrist) to miss between six and eight weeks, and safety Jairus Byrd still rusty. Byrd has missed the entire preseason before signing his franchise tender last week.
The Bills were also hit by injuries to several key reserves. Rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin didn’t return after being poked in the left eye, while Smith did not return after hurting his ribs. Guard Doug Legursky was carted off the field after hurting his left knee.
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