Bills head coach Sean McDermott wants injured QB AJ McCarron to complete his second round of testing and finish getting his second opinion before he alters the course of Buffalo's three-man quarterback competition. But McCarron is currently not fit to practice, which left just Josh Allen and Nate Peterman as active participants in the battle to be the Bills starting quarterback in practice Sunday.
"Definitely different because I've been playing in the league five years and I'm used to seeing three guys out there," said Logan Thomas of the two-man quarterback rotation Sunday. "So, it was different, but it was good for Josh and Nate to get extra reps and learn a little bit more and see a little bit more out there."
Extra time on the field for Allen and Peterman running the offense provides them with more opportunities to take steps forward in the competition, while also providing the coaching staff with more work to evaluate.
As callous as it might sound, the team has to keep putting the work in with or without McCarron.
"I just hope he's alright and heals up fast," said Jeremy Kerley of McCarron. "My prayers go out to him. Being hurt right now is tough, especially when you're competing for a job. With this game there's a 100 percent injury rate. When one guy goes down, the next guy has to step up. It just comes with the territory. It's just an unfortunate situation for him. I love AJ. He's a good dude, so I hate to see him hurt, or anybody hurt. We've just got to keep going."
Fortunately for the players on offense, the quarterback rotation has exposed all the players on that side of the ball to each of the QBs through the course of training camp.
"We went out today and we were just competing with Josh and Nate. We all kept a level head," said Kelvin Benjamin. "In our receivers room I was telling the guys we have to be accountable for these quarterbacks. We know they're not long on experience, so we can help them, keep them comfortable and just come down with every catch for them."
"We've got a feel for everyone. It's a good thing," Kerley said. "I haven't been in a lot of situations where you get to work with everyone, so it's cool."
Coach McDermott made a point of referencing Peterman's mental toughness, and how that's a valuable quality for a quarterback to have knowing the impact it has on his teammates. The players see it in Peterman as well.
"Definitely from last year to this year there's been a big change," Benjamin said. "Nate is just more comfortable and just sitting back and playing ball."
"I think that's one of the big draws with him, not only for the coaches, but his teammates too," said Thomas of Peterman. "He's not the kind of guy who is going to get rattled."
Meanwhile the body of work that Allen has put together since the spring has begun to earn the respect of his teammates.
"I asked him early on, 'Do you get nervous?' He was like, 'No, I don't really get nervous.' I'm thinking man you're better than me because my rookie year I kind of was nervous," said Benjamin. "I feel like he controls the huddle and he loves to compete and at the end of the day that's football."
"You see him in here all the time. He's always focused on his craft. He's also a great teammate," Thomas said. "He's getting to know people and understand them and what makes people tick and it's easy to respect anybody like that."
"He's coming along well. He's made some good plays. It's special to watch him play and that's why he got picked with the seventh pick. Some of what he can do is rare, and you see it out there at times. It's going to be fun to watch him grow over the years."
McDermott knows McCarron can't help his cause if he's not on the field, but he's not changing anything until he knows exactly what the prognosis for the quarterback's shoulder injury is going forward.
"Anytime you're not on the field, it's not really an ideal situation in that regard," McDermott said of McCarron. "I have a pretty good feel for what AJ has done to this point and what he can do. Let's take his health status number one and factor that into it. We just have to get through this next stage, one day at a time and then go from there. If healthy then we pick up where we left off."