WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

–Very few Bills’ observers gave Nathan Peterman much of a chance of winning the starting quarterback job, but in the end, he outplayed Josh Allen and AJ McCarron all summer and head coach Sean McDermott made the only logical call he could.

“It makes it certainly gratifying as a coach to be able to reward a young man who has earned it,” McDermott said. “He went through some adversity. Not only last season but in his college career. We’ve all been through that. If you go through some adversity early in life, you’re that much more prepared for it later in life and that to me, that becomes a character trait that’s good to have.”

Peterman completed 33 of 41 passes for 431 yards with three TDs and one interception in the three preseason games he played, totaling approximately five quarters of action. While preseason numbers mean nothing, Peterman performed well in practice, particularly later in training camp when things began to ramp up.

McCarron played his way out of contention, and his shoulder injury in the second preseason game further derailed his chances. He wound up playing the entire fourth preseason game, and despite a heroic rally to pull out a victory over Chicago, the Bills parted ways, trading him to Oakland for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

That left Peterman and Allen, and while Allen has the physical tools Peterman mostly lacks, he simply isn’t ready to start in the NFL, so Peterman was named the man on Monday.

“It was a challenge ahead of me, but again, my focus, and I think that’s what I have to continue to do, is focus on myself and being the best that I can be, no matter what outside circumstances happen,” he said. “It was a goal accomplished, for sure. I set high goals for this year and this was one of them. I took a day-by-day approach and that’s what I’ll continue to do. I put a lot of work into getting leaps and bounds better and I have to continue to do that.”

Allen was disappointed, but certainly not bitter because he recognizes he still has a way to go in his development.

“First of all, I’m for the team, no matter what it is; coach will make the best decision for the team,” the No. 7 overall draft pick and widely presumed future face of the franchise said. “As a competitor you want to play, and to not play, that will hurt anybody’s feelings, but at the end of the day that’s football, we’re part of a team and I’m going to do whatever I can to help Nate and win football games.”

–There were very few surprises when the Bills pared their roster to the 53-man limit, but a couple names did jump off the page a little higher. Fourth-year tight end Nick O’Leary, who was the Bills’ primary backup to Charles Clay since coming to the team as a sixth-round pick in 2015, lost out to Jason Croom, Logan Thomas and Khari Lee.

O’Leary caught only 32 passes for 473 yards and two touchdowns during his time with the Bills as he never developed into the pass catcher that he was in college at Florida State.

Lee is the best blocker of the four-man group, and Croom and Thomas both showed far more athleticism and big-play potential than O’Leary ever showed in Buffalo. The Bills hope Clay has a big year in Brian Daboll’s offense that puts an emphasis on tight end usage, and that may include Croom and/or Thomas getting meaningful snaps in passing situations.

Veteran receiver Rod Streater looked like he had a chance to stick at the end of a six-man depth chart, but the Bills opted to keep undrafted rookie Robert Foster because he’s younger and faster. Foster seemed to be in decline during training camp after a strong showing in the spring, but he came on at the end of the preseason, and his familiarity with Daboll’s offense — he played at Alabama where Daboll was the coordinator last season — may have tipped the scales in his favor.

The Bills parted ways with Colton Schmidt, who had been their punter since 2014. Schmidt ranked 20th in the NFL last year in net average at 40.5, and it was clear that he’d have to win the job in camp.

The Bills had Cory Carter for most of camp before he suffered a knee injury in the second preseason game, then brought in long-time Seahawks punter Jon Ryan for the final two weeks of the preseason, but oddly, Ryan was never really given a clear look. He was cut and Schmidt survived the first roster trim, but Sunday, after the Patriots cut rookie Corey Bojorquez, the Bills claimed him on waivers.
TEAM MVP

–Running back LeSean McCoy: This is a Buffalo offense that is woefully devoid of top-end talent, and McCoy is far and away the best player on that side of the ball. Quite frankly, he’s the best player on the team and if the Bills hope to have any success moving the ball, McCoy will play an integral role. Of course, it won’t be easy because opposing defenses will be loaded up to stop him on virtually every play, at least until the Bills can prove they can effectively throw the ball.
TEAM ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

–Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips: The third-round draft pick out of Stanford was considered a steal by many draft gurus at that point in the process, and he has fit perfectly into head coach Sean McDermott’s defense. He was already going to be a fixture in the tackle rotation, but with veteran Kyle Williams sidelined by a knee injury and possibly out for the opener, Phillips will get the start next to Star Lotulelei. The 300-pounder is a ferocious, high-energy player who should help a run defense that ranked 29th in the NFL last season.