NFL

Bills QB Peterman could get call again

(TSX / STATS) -- ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills might have to turn to rookie Nathan Peterman at quarterback Sunday when they host the Indianapolis Colts in a game they must win to continue to entertain any realistic chance of making the playoffs.

Tyrod Taylor sustained a knee injury on the first play of Buffalo's loss to New England, and after playing three quarters, he took himself out at the start of the fourth quarter.

Peterman started one game this season, and it was a disaster. Head coach Sean McDermott benched a struggling Taylor prior to the Bills' game against the Chargers, hoping Peterman could spark the sagging offense.

Instead, Peterman threw five interceptions in 11 minutes in the first half, and was pulled in favor of Taylor.

Taylor led the Bills to a victory in Kansas City, then was the losing quarterback against the New England Patriots as he passed for only 65 yards.

Taylor did not practice on Wednesday, and McDermott would not divulge what his philosophy is on quarterbacks starting after missing at least part of the practice week.

"There's no timetable. I'm not going to get into the timetable on if he practices, if he doesn't practice, what that means," McDermott said. "Obviously today he's not going to practice; Nate will get the reps. Joe (Webb) will also work. We'll see, we'll take it one day at a time."

This might be a good time to give Peterman a mulligan. The Bills are at home, and the Colts are 3-9 and possess one of the worst defenses in the NFL, and the very worst pass defense as they allow an average of 271 yards per game and also have recorded only 20 sacks.

The Chargers on the road presented a much more difficult task for Peterman.

Peterman was Buffalo's fifth-round pick and most likely isn't their long-term answer at the position. However, McDermott has already shown confidence in him once, and if he plays Sunday, it will be another opportunity for him to prove he should be considered for the starting job next year when the Bills are expected to take a quarterback in the first round.

Peterman finished off the Patriots game and completed 6 of 15 passes for 50 yards. The good news is that he wasn't picked off, and maybe that's enough to reinstate his confidence.

"You've got to have a short memory in this business and I thought Nate came out and made a great throw on the first throw to Andre (Holmes) there and went through his progression at times and did some good things so it's good that he continues to work, continues to play through, and continues to grow and build on what he's done in the past," McDermott said.

Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who some believe had input in the initial switch from Taylor to Peterman, said he's pleased with how Peterman has continued to work hard and seems to have mentally overcome the trauma of the Chargers game.

"He's obviously a tough-minded -- I said that a couple weeks ago -- he's a tough-minded kid," Dennison said. "He came back, and he's prepared, he's in his book.

"We went through that film and talked that one through. Certainly, (Sunday) he operated in a couple no-huddle situations, did some really good things, and then made some mistakes that we corrected. He sees what he does right and what he does wrong, and then goes from there."

SERIES HISTORY: 69th regular-season meeting. Bills lead series, 36-31-1. The last time the teams met was the season opener in Buffalo in 2015, Rex Ryan's first game as Bills head coach, and the Bills earned a 27-14 victory. Since the Bills' playoff drought began in 2000, the Colts have won seven of the nine meetings, but most of those were with Peyton Manning at quarterback.

--Two starters were placed on injured reserve this week and will be lost for the season: defensive end Shaq Lawson and wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Lawson sprained an ankle in the loss to New England Sunday while Matthews has been battling a knee injury the past few weeks that had forced him to miss one game already. So ends two seasons that could be classified as disappointing.

Lawson, the Bills' first-round draft pick in 2016, was supposed to be a force this season as Buffalo moved to a 4-3 defense that better suits his skill set. Instead, while he played decent against the run, he managed only four sacks. That leads the team, but it's well below what many thought was possible for the former Clemson standout, and it has raised questions about whether this regime - which did not draft Lawson - will keep him on the team in 2018.

Matthews has been a bust ever since he came to the Bills in August from Philadelphia in a trade that also netted a third-round draft pick in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby. Matthews suffered sternum, thumb and knee injuries that forced him to miss three games, and he never got settled into the offense. He caught only 25 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown. He's a free agent at the end of the year and likely won't return in 2018.

--Rookie wide receiver Brandon Reilly, who made quite an impression on Bills' fans during the preseason, might get his chance on the active roster Sunday. He was elevated from the practice squad Tuesday when Matthews went on IR, and now Reilly will try to work himself into the game-day 46.

"Great story, just a phenomenal story and he's not the only one that's been brought up over the course of this season," said head coach Sean McDermott. "Just a great example of when you do things right, you work hard (and) you bust your tail every day.

"I think not only myself, but the rest of the team is excited about having Brandon up because he's worked so hard. He's earned it. A great reminder for all of us: when you work hard, that result may not come right away but if you stay persistent, good things happen."

--After a solid effort the week before in Kansas City when the Bills run defense held the Chiefs to 55 yards, there was a serious regression in allowing the Patriots to pile up 191.

In their four losses in the last five games, the Bills have yielded 194, 298, 146 and 191 and have fallen to 25th in the league.

"We just have to do what we did a week ago when we were in Kansas City; just be where we're supposed to be and then make a tackle when you're there," said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

"Fortunate for us on both of those long runs (against the Patriots), our safeties made the tackle. We were able to hold them to field goals in the red zone, which is a big deal. You'd like for those runs not to happen because it creates other issues for you, but when it does, you've got to be able to recover, and our guys did."

Frazier pointed to gap control as opposed to poor tackling regarding Buffalo's difficulty stopping teams. "Being in the right gaps," he said. "It's been a recurring theme on some of those long runs and it's something we'll continue to work on. The tackling - I thought our tackling was pretty good for the most part of the day."

NOTES: WR Jordan Matthews was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a knee injury and is done for the season, and is likely done in Buffalo. He is a free agent in 2018. Matthews finished with just 25 catches in an injury-plagued season. ... WR Brandon Reilly was signed from the practice squad to take Jordan Matthews' place on the roster, and is expected to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Colts. ... DE Shaq Lawson was placed on injured reserve after suffering an ankle sprain against the Patriots. ... DE Cap Capi was signed from the practice squad and will take Shaq Lawson's spot on the active roster.

... RB LeSean McCoy has climbed to sixth in the NFL with 851 yards rushing, he leads the team with 48 pass receptions, and he's tied for 15th in the NFL in third-down pass receptions with 18. ... WR Kelvin Benjamin was able to return to practice Wednesday and there seems to be a good chance that he can play Sunday. ... CB Tre'Davious White participated on a limited basis in practice Wednesday, but remains in concussion protocol and his status for the game will most likely be questionable all week. ... RB Travaris Cadet is in concussion protocol and his status will be questionable for the game. ... LT Cordy Glenn was limited in practice Wednesday, but his availability remains a mystery. He has missed the last four games with foot and ankle problems. ... RB Mike Tolbert was back working on a limited basis as he fights through a hamstring injury that has cost him the last three games.

Updated December 6, 2017


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