ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Rather than continue watching a pedestrian offense muddle through a third consecutive game, Bills coach Sean McDermott sent his team a jolt by making an abrupt change at quarterback.
Tyrod Taylor was benched Wednesday and rookie fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman will make his first career start on Sunday, when Buffalo (5-4) plays at the Los Angeles Chargers (3-6).
McDermott acknowledged taking a “calculated risk” in making the switch at a time when the Bills have a winning record. They sit sixth in the AFC standings, and control their own destiny in a bid to end a 17-season playoff drought — the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports.
“This is about becoming better as a football team,” he said. “As a decision maker, you have to be able to or willing to take calculated risks to get to where we’re trying to go. And I’m comfortable doing that.”
As for the Bills record, the first-year coach said his objective isn’t being a winner in November.
“It is and will be for the time that I’m here be about becoming the best team we can possibly become,” McDermott said. “We are made for more than 5-4. And I’ve come here to be more than 5-4.”
CTE confirmed in live person
Four years ago, researchers from Evanston’s NorthShore University HealthSystem and other scientific organizations announced that they had used brain scans to detect the hallmark of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in ex-football players while they were still alive — a technique that promised to spur more accurate diagnoses, and possibly new treatments.
The scans indicated the presence of tau, a protein that builds up over damaged neurological cells, in the brains of former NFL players. But the scientists cautioned that the results needed to be confirmed, since CTE can be definitely diagnosed only by examining brain tissue after a person’s death.
Dr. Julian Bailes, a NorthShore neurosurgeon, said Wednesday that confirmation has arrived.
— Chicago Tribune
Chargers optimistic about Rivers
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Philip Rivers is practicing with the Los Angeles Chargers, and coach Anthony Lynn is optimistic that the veteran quarterback will play Sunday against Buffalo.
Rivers reported symptoms of a possible concussion Monday, but he participated in certain parts of a non-padded practice Wednesday.
Rivers was hurt during an overtime loss in Jacksonville for Los Angeles (3-6). He has started 194 consecutive games for the Chargers since 2006, racking up the fourth-longest streak of consecutive starts by a quarterback in NFL history.
If Rivers can’t play, Kellen Clemens is expected to make his first NFL start since 2013.
Olsen will broadcast Rams-Vikings game
What started out as a bye-week cameo to test his broadcasting chops has turned into a mini-controversy for Greg Olsen.
But the Panthers tight end says he’s sticking with his plans to serve as a guest analyst Sunday for Fox’s broadcast of the Vikings-Rams game, despite the objections of Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman.
Spielman told NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero this week he didn’t want Olsen in the booth and requested that Olsen work a different game, which Fox declined.
Olsen is expected to be activated from injured reserve next week, two weeks before the Panthers host the Vikings in a matchup with big NFC playoff implications.
Fox officials said Olsen will not attend the production meetings in Minneapolis or join the other members of the broadcast crew at the Vikings’ Friday practice.
Olsen said it was “crazy” to suggest he would gain an advantage for the Panthers this weekend.
— The Charlotte Observer
Rodgers takes snaps from trainer
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Quarterback Aaron Rodgers taking snaps and whipping a towel in a throwing motion was of great interest to the reporters covering practice Wednesday afternoon.
Whether it was a sign he is ahead of schedule or just doing what quarterbacks do when they’re four weeks removed from having a broken right collarbone surgically repaired, it was the first time he had done anything in front of the media while his teammates were practicing.
Rodgers worked on cardio and agility drills and then took snaps from a trainer simulating both the under center kind and shotgun. A couple times, Rodgers playfully threw the ball a few yards back to the trainer with a three-quarters motion.
Later, Rodgers whipped a towel down in a throwing motion with his right arm.
— Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Vikings stick with Keenum
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer isn’t ready to rock the boat —not yet, anyway.
Zimmer announced Wednesday that Case Keenum will start Sunday’s pivotal game against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. That puts Teddy Bridgewater’s 2017 debut on hold for now. Bridgewater will enter the game as the backup, just as he did last week against Washington.
Keenum passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns in the 38-30 victory, but he also threw two fourth-quarter interceptions. While he was able to steady himself and put the game away, the potentially costly hiccups could have opened a window for Bridgewater.
Zimmer said on Monday that he has a plan for Bridgewater, but did not reveal that plan to the media.
The Vikings have three straight road games after facing the Rams: at Detroit on Thanksgiving, at Atlanta and at Carolina.
— Star Tribune