Tyrod Taylor practiced fully Wednesday, a good sign that the Buffalo Bills' starting quarterback should be able to return to the lineup Sunday for a must-win game against the Miami Dolphins.
"He’s made some progress," Bills coach Sean McDermott said before the team took the practice field. "He’ll get most of the work today in practice. Not quite all the work though."
Between the time the coach spoke to the media in the morning and when practice started, something changed, though, because Taylor was able to take a full workload.
“I’m feeling healthy,” he said after the team’s practice.
Rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman, who started in Taylor’s place against the Colts, remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was a limited practice participant Wednesday. McDermott has maintained that Taylor is the team’s starter when healthy, although he sidestepped a question about whether that was “encouraging.”
“I don’t necessarily think about that. My focus each and every week is preparing myself and getting the guys ready to go out there and play winning football on Sundays,” he said. “These next three games, starting with this one, are very important for us as a team and for our offense. Two very good teams on the defensive side of the ball. We have to go out there and execute better than we’ve done and the time is now for us to take that step.”
The Bills find themselves in a bit of an awkward position with Taylor. After benching him in Week 11, the team appeared to be moving on from him as the starter. Peterman, though, fell on his face against the Chargers, and McDermott had little choice but to go back to Taylor. Now, with Peterman getting hurt and possibly missing Sunday’s game, the Bills need Taylor to play against Miami. In fact, their playoff hopes might depend on it.
“Some of that stuff is really out of my control. Like I said, day to day, thankful for the opportunity and I take the opportunity seriously to prepare myself, as well as this team, mentally and physically to the point where we can go out and play winning football, Taylor said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. The stuff that I’ve been through in my life, in my career, has only made me who I am today. I take it in stride, learn from it, and continue to keep moving forward.
“There’s always something to prove to myself and to others.”
Taylor has played some of the best football of his career against Miami. In his last meeting with the Dolphins on Christmas Eve 2016, he threw 329 yards and three touchdowns, while also running for 60 yards. It remains his only career 300-yard passing game.
"We know they have talented players across the board and it’s been like that for a while," Taylor said. "We look forward to this matchup. Our offensive line looks forward to this matchup, as skill players, we look forward to this matchup. It’s going to be a very good game."
The Dolphins are coming off their best game of the season — a 27-20 upset victory over New England on Monday Night Football.
"Week in and week out, there should be no surprises in the league," Taylor said. "Every team is capable, so we have to bring our A-game each Sunday."
The last image of Taylor on the turf inside New Era Field looked like it might have been his final time in a Buffalo uniform. After suffering a knee injury on the first play of the game, adrenaline allowed him to gut through three quarters before he got hurt again on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Taylor was carted off the field, with a towel over his head.
"You never want to go off on a cart," he said. "As a competitor, you never want to come off the field. I didn’t know what was going on. I knew it hurt like crazy. It hurt like crazy the first time it happened, but for it to happen two times, I didn’t understand what was going on. I agreed with the trainers at the time. We needed to see what it was."
The diagnosis was a contusion of the patellar tendon in his left knee. He practiced on a limited basis last week, but the team held him out against Indianapolis.
"He looks good. I can tell last week, he was banged up, he was hurt," running back LeSean McCoy said. "He’s so tough, that sometimes he plays banged up. I think he’s close to 100 percent. We’ll see. I can’t speak for him, but he looked good today."