WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

–The Bills may have a serious problem on their hands if star running back LeSean McCoy is implicated in the beating and robbery of his former girlfriend on July 9. McCoy has denied any involvement, and to date the NFL and the Bills have not made a statement regarding their separate ongoing investigations. However, if McCoy is deemed to have played any type of role, he could be subject to being placed on the commissioner’s exempt list while the fact-finding continues.

If that were to happen, he would be ineligible to participate in training camp and preseason games. And if he were to receive a suspension, a Buffalo offense that is already expected to struggle to move the ball and score would take a major hit. Without McCoy, the Bills would be left with 30-year-old Chris Ivory, who was signed to be McCoy’s backup this year. Behind Ivory are two third-down back specialists, Travaris Cadet and Taiwan Jones, neither of whom – unlike Ivory during his time with the Jets – has ever been a featured back.

If the Bills were to lose McCoy for any length of the regular season, they may have to make a move later in camp, either by signing a currently available free agent or waiting for the final cuts to be made. Further, if McCoy is culpable in the incident, the Bills – who have preached culture and character since the arrival of head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane – could opt to release him.

–Second-year quarterback Nathan Peterman presents an interesting case for the Bills when training camp begins. Most known for his five-interception implosion in his first NFL start last season, Peterman spent part of the offseason working with noted throwing motion guru Tom House, the former major-league pitcher, to refine his mechanics, and the results were impressive in the spring workouts.

Considered an afterthought when the Bills signed free agent AJ McCarron to replace the traded Tyrod Taylor, then drafted Josh Allen No. 7 overall in the hopes that he will become the franchise quarterback, Peterman may have a chance to leap-frog both if he really shines in camp and the preseason games.

“A lot more comfortable, especially just knowing our guys, knowing everybody’s names out there, having a pretty good feel,” Peterman said at the conclusion of the final spring practice. “I think the work that we have done to improve our chemistry, improve our timing has been great and I think it’s something that we can build on even more (in camp).”

TOP THREE GOALS IN CAMP

–Determine who the starting quarterback will be. The Bills will conduct a legitimate three-man competition for the job, and at this point, it’s anyone’s guess who will win. Josh Allen was picked No. 7 overall in the draft and the Bills hope he’s their future, but he isn’t likely to be ready to start this season. Free agent AJ McCarron was signed to essentially be the placeholder for Allen, but he was pushed in the offseason program by last year’s fifth-round pick, Nathan Peterman, so that should be an interesting battle in camp.

–Figure out the defensive backfield sub-packages. The Bills’ starting secondary is set with corners Tre’Davious White and Vontae Davis and safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, but they have a mostly new depth chart behind them. Rookie fourth-round pick Taron Johnson and free agent Phillip Gaines are in line to be the nickel corner, and rookie Siran Neal could work his way into the dime package, while a couple other players to watch are cornerbacks Levi Wallace and Lafayette Pitts.

–Have a plan in place in case LeSean McCoy is suspended. The Bills’ best player may be in some legal hot water pending an investigation into an incident involving his ex-girlfriend. If the league determines he was involved in some capacity, the Bills have big problems on an offense that is already expected to be weak. Chris Ivory is McCoy’s 30-year-old backup, and career backups Taiwan Jones and Travaris Cadet are both better suited as third-down pass receivers than ball-carriers.

TOP SUMMER BATTLE

Wide receiver. The Bills don’t really have a true No. 1-type player at this position, let alone a No. 2 and beyond. Kelvin Benjamin is the best they have, but he’s more of a possession receiver and red-zone target than he is a defense stretcher. The Bills hope that second-year player Zay Jones, coming off a disappointing rookie season, can emerge as the starter opposite Benjamin, while they are banking on veteran Jeremy Kerley to be effective in the slot. There are several young candidates vying for backup roles including two late draft picks, Ray-Ray McCloud III and Austin Proehl, and free agents Malachi Dupre, Robert Foster and Quan Bray.