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Joe B: Context is key with Josh Allen getting Buffalo Bills first-team reps

Posted: 12:50 PM, Aug 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-20 16:50:12Z
Joe B: Context is key with Josh Allen getting Buffalo Bills first-team reps

Many of you throughout the day logged on to your respective accounts across the scope of social media to find something a bit different about Monday's practice for the Buffalo Bills. For the first time, Josh Allen took a full day -- or so we're led to believe because media can't see the practice in full anymore -- of working with the first-team offense.

The excitement level just on that information alone was enough to warrant some background information behind the overall decision to give him first-team reps on Monday.  Through all the Josh Allen flossing and "It's happening!" GIFs out there, I don't mean to be a wet blanket of sorts, but I think it's more important to understand the context of where the Bills are in their decision at quarterback.

So, quite plainly, where are they with that choice?

To be determined.

I know. For a growing number of fans, that's not what you want to read. Those same fans want to see that Allen has already grabbed hold of the job and this was the critical day.

Except it isn't. Not yet, anyway.

The Bills gave Allen first-team reps for a few different reasons. For one, AJ McCarron is not a factor in practice for the time being as they continue to figure out how long he'll be out with a shoulder injury. Second, the Bills still are making this a rotation for the quarterback competition, and they needed another person to work in with Nathan Peterman. Third, and perhaps most important, Allen has settled in and has played well in his first two preseason games which have led to the Bills giving him the chance to work a full day with the top unit.

And while this isn't a declaration that the Bills have made their choice at quarterback, it is undoubtedly a step forward for Allen. Not a big step, but maybe more of the medium-sized variety.

The Bills have been as careful and as tactful with their development of Allen as you'll find in the buildup towards a season. They have done their best to insulate the quarterback competition and to douse the raging flames of expectation and excitement with a big bucket of water.

The Bills have done this with a purpose. They know that they only get one chance to push their young, future of the franchise quarterback into the starting lineup, and they don't take that responsibility lightly.

It's going to happen eventually, and probably sometime in the 2018 season. We all have eyes, and we can see that Allen is the most talented of the three without it being that close. Heck, even his teammates are left sometimes wondering, "How did you just make that throw?"

However, it's Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane's job to remove the emotion from it all. They have to do it when they feel entirely comfortable that it's the right time in Allen's development and maturity to handle everything that comes along with the expectations of being a top 10 pick and the player fans pin their hopes and beliefs on.

I will say, though, that based on what we've seen through the summer should warrant Allen getting at least some time with the first-team offense on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills owe it to themselves, really, because that game will be the last time they can get a risk-free look at Allen with and against NFL starters in an actual game setting. That opportunity shouldn't be taken lightly.

Should Allen get those chances and outperform Peterman on Sunday, then this is an entirely different conversation in the week before the regular season begins. That's how it's setting up, perhaps, but that's not where we are now.

Allen hasn't won the job, and Peterman hasn't lost the job. No one has the job. Neither player is the heavy favorite or even a favorite at all for that matter. It's that simple.

I'd expect that when the Bills come back to practice on Wednesday, it will be Nathan Peterman getting time with the first-team offense -- just as he did on Sunday. Because, after all, the Bills have liked what Peterman has done in the preseason, too.

After all is said and done, Allen could be the guy that takes the ball to start the 2018 season, and it's all on him from that point forward. But the Bills aren't there yet, and that's an important distinction for many to remember at this point of the preseason.

All I'm saying is let's see what happens on Sunday, which will be the most heavily anticipated Bills preseason game in quite some time.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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