Players inside the Buffalo Bills' locker room were just as surprised as everyone else Wednesday when they learned the team was making a quarterback change.
As such, they were still processing coach Sean McDermott's decision to bench Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman after practice.
"Guys really didn't voice their opinions about it," running back LeSean McCoy said. "It happened so fast, you know? We've got to prepare for our next opponent, which is a must-win type situation for us, sitting at 5-4. So guys haven't really shown too much, I guess, reaction about it. It really just happened."
Because of that, McCoy said it's hard to know whether Peterman is ready to make the jump to starter.
"I mean, he's a guy that has never played in the NFL, in a real game. So you never know," McCoy said. "It could be good or bad, you just never know. That's why I really can't give you an honest answer. ... Like, he's going to go out there, he's going to dominate, he's going to throw for four or five touchdowns, or go for five picks, I don't know. We'll see how it works. We're going to support him. We want him to do well. We'll see if the switch was right."
Peterman is certainly not being put into the easiest of situations. The Bills are in the thick of a playoff race, and both sides of the ball have sputtered badly during a two-game losing streak that has dropped the team to 5-4. Peterman will be expected to provide an immediate boost to the offense.
"If he does good, it's like, 'oh, he's the answer.' But if he doesn't do good, it's like 'ah ... what happens with the Bills' offense now?' " McCoy said. "You know, so, we'll just wait and see. We'll see how he does. But a lot of the veteran guys on offense got to help him out."
McCoy's advice to Peterman was simple.
"Go out there and just try to be confident," he said. "Know what everybody has to do on the offense. Study hard, prepare. Because at the end of the day, people are going to write what they want to write or view you how they want to view you."
McCoy and Taylor both came to the Bills in 2015, and have been in the backfield together since.
"It's tough," McCoy said of the switch. "We're good friends, for sure. I think he's a heck of a player. Any time one of your teammates gets benched, you know, it's tough. I'm sure if I got benched he would say the same for me. But at the end of the day man, it's next guy up. Myself and Tyrod will support Nate and get him ready to play. Same with the coaches, and guys on offense."
Center Eric Wood said the Bills can't spend time lamenting the move.
"Nothing like this is ever easy," he said. "Fortunately, and unfortunately, there’s no time to really reflect on it, or spend too much time thinking about it right now. You have to get comfortable with Nate moving forward."
General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott have shown in their time in Buffalo that they're not afraid of making decisions that might be unpopular both inside the Bills' locker room and out.
"I’m not sure that that hadn’t been received already with a lot of different things that we’ve seen and moves that we’ve seen," defensive tackle and team captain Kyle Williams said when asked if the move showed McDermott "wasn't messing around. "Obviously, surprised like everybody else."
Fellow team captain Lorenzo Alexander, however, said he "really wasn't surprised."
"It’s something that’s always been talked about, always kind of been in back of people’s minds because whether it’s the media, whether we play a bad game or not, it’s kind of been brought up," he said. "I think coach did a great job as far as letting guys know, the leadership group, and not allowing us to kind of find out being interviewed after practice or looking on ESPN. It happens in this league. I mean, guys have been benched before.
"Like with anything, you have to worry about our job as a defense first. We have to get better, because what we’ve put out the last two weeks haven’t been good enough, and put Nate in the best advantageous spots as far as being able to win games for us by giving him short fields, and that includes special teams as well. We wanted to do that for Tyrod, too. Just got to rally around Nate."
Safety Micah Hyde shared the same view.
"Nothing surprises me in this league," Hyde said. "The defense needs to step up. It doesn't matter who the quarterback is."
Hyde, a former Green Bay Packer, even has a nickname for Peterman that is a nod to a legend on his former team.
"I call him 'Nate Favre,' " Hyde said. "He has that gunslinger-type mentality. He's a confident guy, which is good. When you're a smart guy, you should be confident."