Today was a game of “how fast can Keith Wenning learn the offense”.
Thursday will be a game of “how long do the Bills risk Nate Peterman”.
Tyrod Taylor and TJ Yates remain in concussion protocol, that’s why the Bills signed Wenning Monday. He was a member of the Ravens practice squad while Rick Dennison served as the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2014.
McDermott said Wenning’s ability to “get up to speed” with the playbook would determine how much playing time he’d receive in the preseason finale against the Lions on Thursday.
“It’s a challenge, regardless if a player has been in this system or not,” McDermott said. “Just off of two, three days max is going to be a challenge and he’s up to the challenge.”
“To come into a totally new place and not know anyone, some of the offense is the same,” Wenning said. “A lot of it has changed in terms of terminology, so I’ve been grinding the last two days. I don’t know if you can compare it to anything else.”
Peterman is the only other healthy quarterback for Thursday and if Taylor or Yates don’t recover from their concussion, he’ll be the starter for the regular season opener against the Jets.
Playing Peterman extensively Thursday is a risk and McDermott knows it.
“It’s something that we need to stay on top of and get the best feel we can, with respect to Tyrod and TJ with how that impacts week one,” McDermott said. “We have to monitor that very closely.”
In other injury news, McDermott said he’s “cautiously optimistic” wide receiver Jordan Matthews will be ready to play September 10th. He’s still limited in practice and will not play in the preseason finale after suffering a chipped sternum in his first 15 minutes of Bills practice.
McDermott also discussed the Reggie Ragland trade, calling it a “tough decision.”
“Reggie’s a good person and he’s a good football player,” McDermott said. “Really appreciate everything that he gave us. For us, it was a good situation because it was a good situation for Reggie also.”
McDermott gave Preston Brown lots of credit for winning the middle linebacker job and dismissed the idea that Ragland could not work in the new defensive scheme.
“I don’t necessarily think it’s the wrong fit. We’re into good football players and Reggie’s a good football player,” McDermott said. “It was the right fit for us in terms of the trade. We feel like we got a good draft pick and we know how important those are for building this football team for many years to come.”
Brown said Ragland was the kind of guy who’s always laughing and joking. “A great personality to be around.”
He did notice Ragland having difficulty recovering from the torn ACL suffered in training camp last year.
“You could see he was a little slower some days. He was just trying to get through it,” Brown said. “It’s that mental process of knowing you can trust it and be able to run as fast as he can. It was definitely difficult for him.”
He did admit that the thought of Ragland helping the Chiefs and, therefore, hurting the first round pick Buffalo acquired from Kansas City did come up.
“We felt like it was right for us at this time and right for Reggie at the same time,” McDermott said.
As for Marcell Dareus, McDermott said he and the star defensive tackle are now “on the same page.” McDermott’s main concern is making sure his team is in alignment and the communication that builds it.
“You always want to have great clarity around any message. Communication, building alignment, that’s a big part of leadership. That’s a big part of the job: building alignment around what’s expected, building clarity around what’s expected. Sometimes you need to circle back and reinforce the message,” McDermott said.