The Josh Allen-Sam Darnold rivalry might get off the ground in Week 10.
Allen, the Buffalo Bills’ rookie quarterback, is now being listed as day to day with an elbow sprain, opening up the window to returning Sunday against the Jets. If he does, the No. 7 overall pick would look across the field at Darnold, the Jets’ franchise quarterback taken with the third pick.
“We’re going to take it day to day at this point in terms of his availability for this week,” coach Sean McDermott said, adding that Allen is “progressing well.”
Allen has been out since spraining his right, throwing elbow in a Week 6 loss to Houston. He has resumed throwing.
“He threw a couple times over the weekend, and then he threw again this morning,” McDermott said. “I thought he had a good day – threw about 100 balls which, in the course of a practice, is about average workload for a normal practice. He has progressed well with our medical staff and we will continue to evaluate that moving forward.”
The Bills’ bye week arrives after the Week 10 game in New York, which means Allen could get nearly three additional weeks of recovery time if he is held out against the Jets.
“We’re aware of that. We know the value of that,” McDermott said. “At the end of the day, I’m going to depend on our docs to give us the full evaluation as to where he is and the risks that might be in terms of him playing. We’re going to make sure he’s healthy before we send him out there.”
If Allen can’t go, the Bills would start veteran Derek Anderson – provided he clears concussion protocol. As of Monday afternoon, that had yet to happen. If Anderson isn’t ready, Nathan Peterman would again get the call. Peterman started Sunday in a 41-9 loss to the Chicago Bears at New Era Field. Although they weren’t all on him, Peterman threw three interceptions as the Bills continued to turn the ball over at a dizzying rate.
“It hasn’t been good enough,” McDermott said of the team’s offensive performance. “We’ve got to establish first downs, let’s just start there. We’ve got to establish the line of scrimmage – being able to run it, play action, and throw it. It comes down to fundamentals, it comes down to a lot of one-on-ones, us winning one-on-ones, whether it be at the line of scrimmage, the run game, the pass game. That’s where it really starts, and it progresses down the field with finding separation and winning one-on-ones in the passing game. We haven’t been able to do that. We have to continue to find ways to do that, and that’s what we’ll work on again this week.”
At 2-7, the playoffs are all but an afterthought. The rest of this season is about finding something to build on heading into 2019. That’s why Allen’s return is so anxiously awaited.
“I’ve had a chance to spend some time with Josh over this last couple days in particular, just meeting with him and working with him in his development,” McDermott said. “Everything happens for a reason. It’s never easy for a young player to miss reps, valuable reps, but it’s offered a nice perspective in kind of a glass-half-full type of approach in terms of his development. He’s had a chance to watch, take a step back, and learn while being on the sideline.”
Anderson and rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds remain in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Backup running back Chris Ivory suffered a sprained shoulder and is listed as day to day. Ivory was taken to ECMC for evaluation, with McDermott saying “we wanted him checked for some internal issues that may have been going on. He was released and cleared last night.”
Tight end Charles Clay is listed as week to week with a hamstring injury, as is defensive end Trent Murphy with the knee injury that has kept him out the last couple games.
The Bills made a change to their 53-man roster Monday, claiming wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie off waivers from Denver and releasing rookie receiver Cam Phillips.
McKenzie, 22, was a fifth-round draft pick of the Broncos in 2017. He played in 11 games as a rookie and one game this season, appearing mostly as a punt returner. The 5-foot-7, 175-pounder ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting combine. He has 23 career punt returns for 196 yards, an average of 8.5 yards per return. McKenzie played collegiately at Georgia, setting the Bulldogs’ career record with five punt-return touchdowns.