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Peterman is Bills' starting quarterback ahead of Allen

(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)

By JOHN WAWROW

AP Sports Writer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Quarterback Nathan Peterman never lost faith in himself following the most difficult moment of his young NFL career. What's more important, neither did Bills coach Sean McDermott.

In 10 months, Peterman has gone from throwing five interceptions in the first half of his first career start, to being chosen Monday as Buffalo's season-opening starter. Though the job is his until rookie first-round pick Josh Allen is deemed ready, Peterman's ascension from being counted out to being counted on is a testament to the second-year player's perseverance.

"I believe he's a resilient young man. He's certainly come through some times of adversity throughout his career," McDermott said shortly the Bills announced Peterman would be their starter at Baltimore on Sunday. "Usually, if you go through some adversity early in life, you're that much more prepared for it when it comes around later."

Peterman is aware of the critics he attracted following a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 19 in which McDermott's decision to start him ahead of Tyrod Taylor backfired. And Peterman was grateful for the opportunity to prove himself during a three-way competition that was trimmed to two once AJ McCarron was traded to Oakland last weekend.

"It means a lot. I'm thankful for the people that stood by my side through hard times," Peterman said.

"When you have obstacles, hard things in your life, that doesn't mean you should quit," he added. "Maybe that's the way some people think, but that's not the way I think. For me, it just amps me up even more and gives me a lot of desire and drive to go accomplish those goals."

McDermott based his decision on how the Peterman handled himself upon arriving at the team's facility in April, and his steady performance in three preseason appearances.

Peterman put up the best passing numbers during the preseason, 33 of 41 for 432 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

In the meantime, the start of the Allen era is on hold after the strong-armed but raw quarterback showed he requires more development.

Allen went 24 of 44 for 210 yards and two touchdowns in three preseason appearances, and particularly struggled in a 26-13 loss to Cincinnati on Aug. 26 in his only preseason start. The 22-year old managed three first downs on seven-plus series while getting little protection from a patchwork offensive line and being sacked five times for 39 yards.

"As a competitor, you want to play," Allen said. "To not play, that's going to hurt anybody's feelings, but at the end of the day, it's football. We're part of the team. I can't say anything bad about the decision. Nate played well in the preseason. Now I'm here to help him in any way possible."

The Bills traded up five spots to select the Wyoming product seventh overall - the highest draft position Buffalo has ever selected a quarterback.

McDermott declined to get drawn into making comparisons between the two quarterbacks. He described Allen's development as being on schedule and said the rookie can learn plenty from watching regular-season games from the sideline.

"I expect Josh will be ready to go when his number's called, whenever it is called. And that's his focus now," McDermott said.

The Bills are starting over at what's been an unsettled position since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season. Peterman will become the 11th quarterback to start a season, including Matt Cassel, who took the first snap in 2015.

Peterman has a track record of bouncing back from adversity.

In his first college start at Tennessee, Peterman had a hand in four turnovers - two interceptions, a fumble while being sacked and a botched handoff - before being pulled during a 31-17 loss at Florida as a redshirt freshman in 2013.

He then transferred to Pittsburgh following his sophomore year and excelled in his final two seasons. At Pitt, Peterman completed 378 of 619 attempts for 5,142 yards with 47 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 26 games, which led Buffalo to select him in the fifth round of the draft.

Peterman doesn't look toward starting against Baltimore as a chance to ease the memories of what happened against Los Angeles.

"Every time I've gotten back on the field it's a new opportunity," he said. "You're not tied to your past failures."

He's also not looking beyond this weekend, when reminded the Bills' home-opener is against the Chargers on Sept. 16.

"Yeah, that's two weeks away. And like I say, it's day to day," Peterman said. "It's about the Ravens."

NOTES: McDermott said Ryan Groy has earned the starting spot at center. ... DT Kyle Williams (right knee) practiced, though he's not sure he'll be ready to play Sunday. ... The Bills filled out their 10-player practice squad by signing offensive lineman Ruben Holcomb and defensive tackle Robert Thomas.

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Updated September 4, 2018

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