PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Quarterback Kevin Kolb’s chances of earning the Buffalo Bills starting job were nearly upended by a wet and slippery rubber mat.
Kolb, who is locked in a competition with rookie first-round pick EJ Manuel, avoided serious injury to his left knee when he slipped and stumbled awkwardly while switching fields between practice drills Saturday.
Coach Doug Marrone said the injury does not appear to be serious. He called it “a bump,” and listed Kolb “day by day.”
Marrone also provided an update on the status of Stevie Johnson, saying the team’s No. 1 receiver will miss at least a week with a pulled left hamstring. Johnson was hurt in practice Friday.
Kolb wasn’t available for comment, but showed frustration by angrily tossing his helmet to the ground before being examined by head trainer Bud Carpenter. After a few minutes, Kolb got up got up on his own and was escorted to the locker room.
Kolb was joining the quarterbacks and receivers in making their way through a tunnel to work out on an adjoining field. He slipped on a mat laid down over the concrete, and immediately began hobbling in pain. Kolb then put his arm around Carpenter’s shoulder for support.
It was a freak accident that happened about 50 minutes into practice at Bills training camp in suburban Rochester.
When wet, the mats provide very little traction, especially for players wearing cleats. Shortly after Kolb slipped, several camp volunteers arrived with brooms to sweep away any remaining water from the mats.
Manuel took the extra precaution the next time he went through the tunnel by walking mostly on the concrete.
This is but the latest in a series of setbacks for Kolb, who is entering his seventh NFL season and seeking a fresh start in Buffalo after signing a two-year contract in April.
Selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2007 draft, Kolb was sidelined by a concussion in losing the Eagles’ starting job to Michael Vick to open the 2009 season. Kolb then spent the past two seasons in Arizona, where he failed to secure the starting job because of an assortment of injuries.
SANCHEZ STUMBLES, SMITH OK IN SCRIMMAGE: In Cortland, N.Y., Mark Sanchez rebounded from a shaky performance by throwing a 57-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Hill on the final play of the New York Jets’ scrimmage Saturday night.
Geno Smith, competing with Sanchez for the starting quarterback job, had the better performance while working mostly with the first-team offense. The Jets have been alternating the two quarterbacks every third practice, and Smith’s chance with the starters fell on the day of the scrimmage. Smith had no touchdown throws.
Sanchez was booed by the fans after throwing an interception and also left some laughing on another play when he stumbled — untouched — and fell on his backside after getting his legs tangled while dropping back to throw.
Third-stringer Greg McElroy threw two touchdown passes, including a 70-yarder to Vidal Hazelton.
EDWARDS IMPRESSES LaFELL WITH CATCH: In Charlotte, N.C., Armanti Edwards made what teammate and former LSU standout Brandon LaFell called the best catch of training camp Saturday during Carolina Panthers’ annual FanFest at Bank of America Stadium.
The over-the-shoulder grab of a Cam Newton pass was made in between two defenders in the left corner of the end zone and was good for a 31-yard touchdown in the live scrimmage portion of the event, which was held in front of an estimated crowd of 20,134.
Afterward, coach Ron Rivera heaped praise on Edwards, the former quarterback from Appalachian State who is entering his fourth season of trying to make it as a wide receiver in the NFL.
TIGHT END POPE SIGNS: In Bourbonnais, Ill., the Chicago Bears signed tight end Leonard Pope to a one-year contract.
The 6-foot-8 Pope has 105 receptions for 982 yards and 11 touchdowns over seven seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2006-08), Kansas City Chiefs (2009-11) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2012). He appeared in 16 games last season and had three receptions for nine yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears announced the move on Saturday. They also waived tight end Brody Eldridge.