It remains a mystery who will be under center when the Buffalo Bills open the regular season Sept. 9 at Baltimore.
Heck, we don’t even know who’s going to play in Thursday’s meaningless preseason finale against Chicago.
Coach Sean McDermott was tight-lipped on both of those subjects Monday.
“No further quarterback developments from last night at this point,” McDermott said. “We’re still coming off the game and processing all that information.”
The Bills held a very light workout on the grass field outside the ADPRO Sports Training Center a day after their 26-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at New Era Field. The team has a quick turnaround, with just four days to prepare for the Bears.
“That's what's on the schedule, that's what we've got to do,” McDermott said. “Hopefully we can be smart with the guys that are going to play in the game. With respect to practice today, just take it at a very 'teaching' type of pace and tempo. You'll see us out there just in baseball caps. Slow it down, teach and allow them to recover.”
The team will take Tuesday off, then hold a walk-through Wednesday before departing for Chicago. That means there will be very little on-field work before facing the Bears.
“It's not unique, like we're the only team that's ever gone through it,” McDermott said. “There are four teams that have to do a similar turnaround. No. 1 is player safety. No. 2 is handling distractions as a football team. This is good practice for us in that regard. We've got to make sure we're organized and we're ready to go. It's a great opportunity for some players to put their best foot forward and show what they can do.”
It remains to be seen if that includes any or all of the three quarterbacks on the roster.
“I think the ultimate goal is that you know who your starting quarterback is when you come into the spring and into the fall camp. That’s the ideal,” McDermott said when asked if hoped to have his decision on the quarterback made by now. “We’re still working through that with our situation, which is to be expected a little bit with drafting Josh Allen this year and having a young player in Nate Peterman and then AJ McCarron coming in through free agency. There’s been good competition there and all three have played at a high level.”
McDermott said McCarron’s shoulder injury – suffered in the second preseason game against Cleveland – has “improved dramatically.”
“You saw him out there, I believe, in the warmups yesterday and the last couple of days,” he said. “He looks good to go.”
McCarron was held out of Sunday’s game because “he wasn’t where he needed to be,” McDermott said.
“He was sore and wasn’t out there practicing at full strength,” the coach said. He “put in about a good day and a half before the game and felt like he needed more exposure to practice time before we put him out there.”
So will McCarron be 100 percent by Thursday?
“That’s a question for AJ,” McDermott said. “Look, he’s been going through some treatment and coming off the injury still, guys, but he’s sore. That’s what happens in the game; you get sore. Is sore 100 percent? That’s, I guess, in the eyes of the beholder at that point. He was coming off of an injury there, so who is 100 percent, right, at this point in camp?”
If McCarron can’t play, the Bills would be forced to go with Allen and Peterman unless they sign a quarterback before Thursday. The team surely would like to avoid having to play those two as much as possible, since they stand to have the best chance at being the opening day starter.
Of course, there is another school of thought that says the Bills might want to run their starters out against the Bears to get the nasty taste out of their mouths from Sunday.
“I could see why you’d say that, and I agree in some ways,” McDermott said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure we’re healthy going into this season as well, so there’s a delicate balance there.”
Allen in particular had a rough outing against the Bengals, finishing with 6 of 12 for 34 yards and being sacked five times for a loss of 39 yards.
“Everything from the week leading up to the game and then his experience in the game, all of that he can draw from at some point in his career as we move ahead here,” McDermott said. It was “very valuable, I would hope. There are some things he learned and plays that he would like back and some things he did well also.
“Overall, I know the numbers didn’t really show a great performance necessarily, but … there are a lot of things that go into that as well. I did like his poise in the pocket to an extent. I thought he got us in and out of the huddle for the most part and managed some highs and lows of the game, most of which didn’t go our way early in the game, and that’s all part of playing that quarterback position and leading a football team.”
The only two players who did not appear to be doing any work during Monday's practice were linebacker Julian Stanford (nose) and running back LeSean McCoy (groin). Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (knee) and defensive end Trent Murphy (groin) participated in individual drills.
Stanford is week to week after being hurt against the Bengals.
"We’re still gathering information right now, so we’re a little bit early on that," McDermott said. "Other than that, no real changes in the other injuries that you knew going into the game."