Former Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman has had some impressive outings with the Buffalo Bills this preseason, but it didn’t seem like that was going to get him very far.
The presence of incumbent starter Tyrod Taylor meant he had no shot at the No. 1 job, and T.J. Yates seemed to have the inside track on the second-string position early in the preseason because of his previous experience in offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s system.
To Peterman’s credit, he appeared to overtake Yates for the No. 2 spot with his performance against the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 10, and it seemed like that was going to be the peak of the preseason, if not the entire 2017 season, for him.
But things change fast in the NFL, and they did for Peterman and the Bills on Saturday night.
On the team’s second drive in their game against the Baltimore Ravens, Taylor’s head hit the ground as he was sacked by linebacker Matthew Judon. Taylor left the game, and shortly after, the Bills issued an announcement, noting that he had suffered a concussion and would not return.
Peterman took over for Taylor and went on to complete 11 of his 23 passes for 93 yards. Although he failed to post 100 passing yards for the first time this preseason, he led the Bills on their only scoring drive of the night before coming out of the game.
After the game, Bills head coach Sean McDermott sounded pleased with what he saw from Peterman.
“The next man stepped up tonight,” he said, per the team. “Peterman did well. I was proud of how he handled himself.”
Yates relieved Peterman in the third quarter and threw for 102 yards on eight completions, but he coughed up his second pick of the preseason. The interception proved costly, as the Ravens went on to score three plays later. But that wouldn’t be the worst news for Yates.
On Sunday, Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com reported that Yates had also suffered a concussion against the Ravens, leaving Peterman as the team’s only healthy quarterback.
“The morning after the 13-9 loss to the Ravens, T.J. Yates joined starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the concussion protocol,” Brown said.
The news was something of a surprise, as Yates wasn’t sacked on Saturday, showed no signs of injury and never left the game. Even McDermott was uncertain when the concussion occurred.
“I don’t know for sure exactly what play, but he took some licks later in the game trying to win the game at the end,” he said.
The injuries leave the Bills in a tough spot, as they now need to track down a short-term contributor or two to fill in under center. They also have just two weeks left until their season opener against the New York Jets, and although McDermott called the situation “concerning,” he didn’t go into detail about his plans to resolve the issue.
“The quarterback position this week will be an interesting one,” he said. “We’ll obviously have to go in with more than one quarterback, so we’re going through that right now and we’ll see how it works out.”
For now, the surprising news means Peterman should at least get some first-team reps in practice, giving McDermott and Dennison a chance to see what he can do when surrounded by first-string talent. And with Taylor and Yates unlikely to be rushed back for the Bills’ preseason finale against the Detroit Lions on Thursday, Peterman may get an extended look there as well.
With that said, McDermott has clearly stated that Taylor is his starter, and the only way that seems likely to change is if he’s unable to play. That’s currently the case, but NFL players often get through the concussion protocol in just a week or two. So while there’s a chance that Peterman could start in Week 1, it’s unlikely that he’ll end up getting the nod.