With Tyrod Taylor still in concussion protocol, the Buffalo Bills could very well be turning to rookie backup Nathan Peterman as their starting quarterback for Sunday's regular-season opener against the New York Jets.
If they do, Peterman fully expects to be ready.
"Obviously, any time you're on the team, you want to be ready to play," he said after Monday's practice. "I always prepare like I'm the starter and try to get ready like I am going to play, because you do never know, and we'll just see."
Taylor, who has been in concussion protocol since landing hard on the back of his head at the end of the second series of the Bills' Aug. 26 preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, took part in Monday's practice. Under NFL rules, a player can be in concussion protocol and still practice. He isn't, however, allowed to speak with the media until he's cleared for action.
"I think he's getting better," McDermott said. "But he's still in concussion protocol.
Peterman had a solid summer, capped off by a strong showing in the Bills' preseason-ending, 27-17 victory against the Detroit Lions. Making his first exhibition start for the Bills, Peterman completed nine of 11 passes for 81 yards and a had a passer rating of 97.3. He led two scoring drives through the first quarter before giving way to Keith Wenning, who was released on Saturday.
McDermott made it clear he has full faith in going with Peterman as his starter if necessary.
"He is ready," the coach said. "I mean, when you look at what he's done throughout the preseason, I'm confident, we're extremely confident in Nathan. I expect that he's only going to continue to get better, just like all of our young players, all of our players as a matter of fact.
"That's what this is about. This is about development in terms of a young player, and we're looking for all of our players to continue to improve, all of our coaches, myself, that's what we do."
Peterman's teammates shared the coach's faith in the rookie. Veteran center Eric Wood, for one, was impressed with what he has seen of Peterman from the first offseason practice with the entire squad.
"I thought Nathan looked great in spring," Wood said. "The ball was coming out on time and was accurate, and he kind of continued that and kept getting better. I thought he put out some really good film, helped his cause, moved up to the No. 2 quarterback pretty quick and then when given the opportunity, he showed he's capable of running an NFL offense even though he's just a rookie."
Peterman saw a noticeable difference in Monday's practice compared with all of the sessions in which he participated since the offseason.
"I think the tempo is definitely higher out there," he said. "You can feel that from camp and preseason and things. And I thought it was good. Guys were flying around.
"For me, that being my first regular-season NFL practice, I thought, 'I can get used to this,' because it's high competition out there and it's fun."
Asked if there was a deadline, such as Wednesday or Thursday, for Taylor to be cleared in order for McDermott to feel comfortable about starting him Sunday, the coach said, "With any starter, it gets to the point in the week where you've got to say, 'Hey, we're going to have to go one or the other.' We'll cross that road when we come to it at this point."
Third-string quarterback T.J. Yates, who also suffered a concussion late in the Baltimore game, remains in concussion protocol as well, McDermott said. Yates, too, took part in Monday's workout.
In a development that seems to underscore their tenuous situation at quarterback, the Bills Monday signed versatile veteran QB Joe Webb, who spent the past three seasons with the Carolina Panthers. McDermott said he was "very confident" Webb would have enough time to prepare to be the Bills' No. 2 quarterback, if necessary, Sunday.
McDermott, the Panthers' former defensive coordinator, and General Manager Brandon Beane, the Panthers' former assistant GM, are familiar with Webb's skills.
"I like Joe Webb," McDermott said. "Just my history, Brandon's history with Joe, he plays a lot of different positions. He brings a lot to the table, just starting with the person he is. He's a high-energy guy, a positive person, good for our culture, good for our locker room. He plays special teams, he plays quarterback, he plays wide receiver, he played DB."