All of the groundwork is being put in place.
Josh Allen is spending a full week preparing as the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.
Although the designation is for Sunday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at New Era Field, the idea is to get the rookie used to the idea of getting ready for a regular-season game. Like, perhaps, the Bills’ Sept. 9 opener at Baltimore?
Coach Sean McDermott won’t go there yet, at least not publicly. However, he did explain the strategy behind naming Allen, a backup for the previous two preseason outings, the starter for the Bengals’ game last Monday night rather than waiting until just before kickoff to do so. Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron, respectively, started the first two games.
“We really wanted for him to go through a routine of what it would be like for a normal, regular-season week, dealing with the potential distractions and all that goes with the quarterback position and learning how to balance that,” McDermott told reporters Wednesday. “AJ's been through that before, naturally. Nate has been through it as well, so this was an opportunity as well for Josh for his first time.”
How does Allen feel about possibly being on the brink of winning the QB competition?
“It’s crazy to think about, definitely,” he said. “But I’m not going out there to prove why I’m the starter or whatever the case may be. I’m going out there to play football and move the chains, put points on the board and help this offense in whatever way I can. And trust what (offensive coordinator Brian Daboll) calls, going to trust the teammates around me and just try to develop more camaraderie.
“Whether I’m with the ones, twos or threes, I’m going to go out there and consistently make the right play and make the right decision and make the best throw I can make. I also want to give our guys a chance on the football so that they can make some plays. This is an opportunity for me and I’m not going to take it lightly.”
Peterman has had a strong preseason as well, but accepts that he has “to be ready” because he’s “one snap away.”
“There’s been good things, but there’s been some things I can improve on, for sure,” Peterman said. “That’s what I take every day as. I’m not perfect and I haven’t been yet, so I’m always trying to strive for that, strive for excellence. And, again, just one day at a time and try to focus on myself.”
Peterman offered a great deal of praise for Allen.
“He’s a smart kid, both intelligence-wise and emotionally,” Peterman said. “He’s a guy that kind of gets everybody around him and I think he's fun to be around as well. He does a good job of bringing everybody together and I think he’s done a great job of picking up this offense. You know, all of us have been in there grinding, but I've been impressed with him so far and I can tell that he’s working hard at it and just going to continue to keep doing that.”
McCarron, who suffered what initially was thought to be a hairline fracture of the collarbone but what further testing revealed as a shoulder injury in last Friday night’s preseason game at Cleveland, was limited in Wednesday’s practice. He was not made available to the media. McDermott said he didn’t “know anything further at this point” regarding McCarron’s status for Sunday.
“AJ’s in good spirits,” the coach said. “He brings a lot to the table even when he’s not out there, so there’s a lot of positives with that.”
At the moment, the Bills have not added a fourth quarterback to play Sunday or in next week’s preseason finale at Chicago.
“But I know (General Manager) Brandon (Beane) is always on top of things like that and we talk daily,” McDermott said.
On the injury front, offensive tackle Dion Dawkins suffered what McDermott said was “a little bit of a hip injury the other day” and is day to day. Safety Kelcie McCray continues to be sidelined with what the coach said was an injured hamstring.
Running back LeSean McCoy (groin) and defensive end Trent Murphy (groin) are still day to day, while defensive tackle Kyle Williams (knee) remains week-to-week.