BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — So long as he can walk, Josh Allen has no intention of letting a sprained left foot prevent him from playing against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and with the Bills’ late-season playoff push needing a jolt.
“Obviously, I want whatever’s the best opportunity to win the football game,” Allen said Wednesday. “But if I can go, I’m going to go.”
Though it’s too early to determine whether he’ll be cleared by the Bills medical staff, the fourth-year starter left no doubt of his desire to play after practicing on a limited basis in a noncontact walkthrough session three days after getting hurt in a 33-27 overtime loss at Tampa Bay.
“Yeah, it’s quite a bit better,” Allen said of his injury. “We’ve got a few more days to be able to rehab. Obviously, I’d love to play. I guess we’ll have to re-evaluate some things in a couple of days. But as of right now, it feels pretty good.”
A bigger test comes Thursday, when the Bills are scheduled to hold a full practice.
“We’ll just have to take it one day at a time,” coach Sean McDermott said regarding Allen’s chances of playing.
“He’s working through it. He’s a tough guy. And the soreness is still there, that’s to be expected,” he added. “But I love his attitude. And I think that’s key to when you’re trying to come off of any injury, is the attitude and the mindset.”
Allen’s injury comes at a critical juncture for the Bills in their bid of making a third consecutive playoff appearance, which would match the team’s longest run since a six-year stretch spanning the 1988-93 seasons. At 7-6, Buffalo has lost three of four, but maintains hold of the AFC’s seventh and final postseason berth.
Despite various struggles, Allen has been the team’s most valuable player in accounting for a large majority of the team’s offense.
His 28 touchdowns passing are fourth in the NFL, and already rank third on the team’s single-season list. Allen’s 531 yards rushing are 16 shy of Devin Singletary’s team-leading total, and represent more than a third of Buffalo’s total of 1,573.
Allen’s value to the Bills was particularly on display in the second half against Tampa Bay, when he went 23 of 32 for 175 yards passing with two touchdowns, and had 66 yards rushing and a TD in rallying Buffalo from a 24-3 deficit.
“Give me a pair of pads, I’ll play right next to him,” McDermott said of the resolve Allen showed in playing through the injury which occurred six minutes into the fourth quarter. “Whether it was throwing it, running it, just diving for first downs, I was very not surprised but impressed with what he did in that game, in particular down the stretch.”
If Allen can’t go, the Bills would turn to backup Mitchell Trubisky, an offseason free-agent addition who spent four seasons in Chicago after the Bears selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft.
The Bills signed Trubisky to a one-year contract because they considered him an upgrade over former backup Matt Barkley in the event Allen might get injured. That belief would be put to a test should Allen miss his first start since missing four games with a sprained throwing elbow in 2018, his rookie season.
“Very confident in Mitch Trubisky,” McDermott said of the backup who has been limited to mop-up duty in five appearances this season. “Very appreciative of his team-first approach for a guy that hasn’t typically been in that role prior to coming here. … I’m real proud of him for it, and we’ll be ready to go if and when his number’s called.”
In holding a walk-through, McDermott revised Buffalo’s practice schedule to provide players an extra day of rest. The Bills played games six days apart following a 33-27 overtime loss in Tampa on Sunday.
During a normal seven-day week, Buffalo traditionally holds two full days of practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
NOTES: WR Emmanuel Sanders did not practice and is not expected to play after hurting his knee against Tampa Bay. … DT Star Lotulelei was limited in practice because of a toe injury, which led to him not playing Sunday. … DE Jerry Hughes was limited with a foot injury.