Above all else, the 2018 Buffalo Bills’ season is about developing Josh Allen.
For the time being, that development will have to take place somewhere other than the field. Just how long that’s the case remains to be seen.
Coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday a second opinion on Allen’s injury confirmed the initial diagnosis of a sprained right elbow suffered in the Week 6 loss to the Houston Texans.
“We’ll list him as week to week and there is no plan at this point for surgery, but he will be out this week, ” McDermott said.
Allen wore a brace on his right elbow as he took part in stretching before practice, then headed into the team’s weight room with a trainer as positional drills started. He said after practice that he felt “relieved and happy” that the injury was not more serious. Speculation early in the week centered on the possibility Allen’s injury could require Tommy John surgery, which would have been catastrophic.
“I was very optimistic of what had happened during the game,” Allen said. “I had my dad and my brother call me saying they saw different reports and people want to make all these outside accusations and claims, but I’m trusting the doctors we’ve talked to and trust in what we’ve seen.”
Allen said he views the injury as a “blessing in disguise” because he gets to watch how veteran Derek Anderson — who was named the Week 7 starter — gets to operate in the huddle.
“I get to kind of step back and see 'DA' from a different lens, see how he controls the huddle, how he operates,” Allen said.
While the Bills certainly would prefer that Allen continue to learn with on-field reps, they believe their can be some advantage to him watching from the sidelines.
“We met yesterday on that as a staff because for however long he is out, it’s important that we handle that the right way as a staff and that Josh handles it the right way so he continues to develop,” McDermott said. “The great part about it right now is he can watch a veteran handle things the way it’s supposed to be handled. … This will give Josh a front-row seat to experience that.”
Allen said the pain from his injury, which was caused when he was hit by Texans pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, was limited to his elbow and did not cause any numbness or tingling. Mercilus appeared to lower his helmet before making contact with Allen's elbow. McDermott took issue with the hit, saying he “addressed that with the powers that be. I’m not going to go any further on that.”
“I saw the replay, and whether it was late or not, that’s not up for me to decide,” Allen said. “I threw the ball and took the brunt of the hit, and like I said, that’s football. It’s a man’s game. It’s a tough game.”
Allen stayed in the game for one more play after absorbing the hit, but fell to his knees after an incompletion to Zay Jones. That brought trainers out on the field, and Allen was removed from the game.
“The competitor in me, and not just in me, but every person who plays this game, they want to be out on the field,” Allen said. “It (stinks) being sidelined, but it’s a part of the game. It’s football; it’s going to happen one time or another.”
Images of Allen’s injury were sent to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion.
“Everybody is on the same page with what it is and how we need to move forward,” McDermott said. “We’ll be cautious and calculated with that.”
For Allen, that means being patient.
“I want to be back as fast as possible. At the same time, I have to be smart and understand that the only way I can help this team is being 100 percent healthy,” he said. “Whether it’s next week or the week after, there is no timetable right now. It’s seeing day to day, week to week how I’m feeling, how we’re progressing, getting in the training room like heck and then going from there.”
Allen’s injury overshadowed what was the dominant storyline before the game. The Bills have aggressively pushed back after a Rochester TV station report that wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin declined to run routes with Allen during pregame warmups.
“Everybody’s got a different pregame ritual. There’s some games that I’ve thrown to ‘KB,’ there’s some games that I haven’t thrown to ‘KB,’ ” Allen told The Buffalo News. “This is one of those games where, you know, he was out there for a while stretching, warming up. I was about to go in, I said, ‘hey, KB, you want any throws?’ He said, ‘no, I’m good.’ So I went inside and thought nothing of it.”
Allen said he was disappointed that the story started to explode on social media before anybody from the team could explain what happened.
“People were going crazy with it and having all these false accusations,” he said, before adding, “We’re moving on. Me and ‘KB’ have talked about it, and there was nothing really that we had to talk about. That’s my guy right there.”