Bills coach Sean McDermott has steadfastly maintained that he has a plan for Josh Allen, and he's not going to deviate from it this summer.
However, given the shoulder injury suffered by A.J. McCarron in the Bills' 19-17 victory over Cleveland, the plan for Allen may have to be altered because the Bills now have only two healthy quarterbacks on their roster, Allen and Nathan Peterman.
Allen got his first extended look with Buffalo's second-team unit last week in practice, and then during the game at FirstEnergy Stadium, but with McCarron likely to be sidelined a month, and probably more, Allen and Peterman will have to divvy up first- and second-team reps for the remainder of training camp and the preseason, and that means an acceleration of duties for Allen, perhaps earlier than McDermott would have liked.
Based on what we saw in Cleveland, Allen seems ready for the challenge. He played well Friday, completing 9 of 13 passes for 60 yards while driving the Bills to a touchdown - his two-yard pass to Rod Streater - and a pair of field goals. He left the game early in the third quarter with the Bills leading 13-7.
"It looked like it was a step in the right direction," McDermott said. "Certainly, he got some meaningful time in the first half, which was important. (He) directed a two-minute drive before half, came out after half and took control of the first series there, which is all good experience for him."
Regarding his performance, Allen was cautiously upbeat.
"I thought tonight was good," Allen said. "Still, there's some things I need to do better. As an offense, we need to move the ball a little better and that starts with us, so I'm going to break down this film and understand and try to fix whatever problems we may have. I've just got to continue to do a better job improving every week."
McDermott will never divulge exactly what the plan is for Allen, but the way the Bills were holding him back throughout training camp and giving him most of his reps with the third team, it didn't seem like he was destined to get a start in any of the first three preseason games. Now, given McCarron's injury, and the way Allen has progressed, McDermott should absolutely let the first-round draft pick start Sunday against Cincinnati.
Peterman started against Carolina, McCarron against Cleveland, and Allen should get the Bengals game. He has earned the opportunity to work with the first-string offense, but beyond that, consider this: If Peterman is named the starter for the season-opener in Baltimore, and he were to get hurt, Allen would be pressed into duty, so it would behoove McDermott to give him meaningful time with the first unit in this third preseason game.