In an unprecedented season, the Buffalo Bills have a plan in place should they face a situation at quarterback similar to what the Denver Broncos dealt with in Week 12.
The Broncos were forced to play their Week 12 game against the New Orleans Saints without any of their quarterbacks, each of whom had been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the game.
If Buffalo quarterbacks Josh Allen, Matt Barkley and practice squad quarterback Davis Webb were to all be placed on that list at the same time, the Bills would turn to rookie quarterback Jake Fromm.
In an effort to keep him safely distant from the Bills' other quarterbacks to meet coronavirus pandemic protocols, the fifth-round pick has practiced separately from the team since the beginning of the season. It's a decision coach Sean McDermott made with general manager Brandon Beane, though they didn't arrive at it quickly.
"Sometimes you make decisions in life that you're not sure if they're the right decisions," McDermott said, "and with Brandon and I making this decision, it wasn't easy because not only [did we] separate a player from the team but also a rookie. And it's hard enough to acclimate oneself and transition from college to the NFL game, and now to kind of be apart has made it all that much harder [for Fromm].
"We recognized that, and Jake and our staff have just done a phenomenal job of executing that, and that's honestly why we've done it, and [the Denver situation] could happen to anyone. [It] can happen to any position, for that matter, so it's another great learning lesson for us."
Fromm doesn't take physical reps with the team in practice, so the only full-team experience he has had at the NFL level is the relatively few reps he took during training camp. However, Allen said he has noticed Fromm taking "mental reps" by himself.
"It's not an easy ask, to put a guy who's played his entire career and just kind of say, 'Go over there and stay away from everybody,'" Allen said. "He's handled it with a lot of pride. He takes pride in his work, and it's good to see a guy like that go in there and do his job. He's been a pleasure to be around, he's grown a lot since he first got here, and he's been awesome in the quarterback room."
McDermott didn't go into detail about what exactly Fromm does while separate from the team, but he confirmed that the QB is kept far enough away from the other QBs while in the facility that he doesn't register as a close contact, should an outbreak occur.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll credits Beane, McDermott and assistant quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney for keeping Fromm engaged throughout the process.
"[Fromm is] kind of away from the guys. He works real hard to stay into it," Daboll said. "Not an ideal situation, but it's the situation that we're in. So I just think it's Sean and Brandon trying to stay on top of the game."