The Buffalo Bills will miss out on a reunion with Josh Allen’s former backup this weekend.
The Carolina Panthers announced on December 17 that backup quarterback Matt Barkley was being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and would not be joining teammates in the trip to Buffalo for a Week 15 matchup. Both the Bills and Panthers have been hit with infections ahead of the game, which could be make-or-break for Buffalo’s playoff hopes.
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Barkley Out, Panthers Protecting Other Quarterbacks
The 31-year-old Barkley joined the Bills in 2018 and served as Allen’s backup before the team let him leave in free agency last offseason. The Panthers signed Barkley to serve as depth after losing Sam Darnold to injury. Barkley was not likely to play against the Bills barring a series of injuries, as he remained behind Cam Newton and P.J. Walker on the team’s depth chart and was only active for one game since joining the team.
As Nick Wojton of USA Today’s Bills Wire noted, the Panthers decided to quarantine Walker and keep him away from teammates ahead of the trip to Buffalo as a precaution. Panthers coach Matt Rhule hinted this week that both Walker and Newton would be part of the team’s game plans against the Bills.
“We planned on playing PJ in the game. We had a package for him and then also planned on him playing in the two minute,” Rhule said, via the Charlotte Observer. “We’ll continue to play both guys.”
Bills Hit With Infections
The Panthers are not the only team that will be shorthanded for the December 19 game. The Bills have also suffered some infections, placing starting left tackle Dion Dawkins on the Reserve/COVID-19 list this week. Dawkins had previously been infected with COVID-19, testing positive last summer after he had gotten a first vaccine shot but before he was fully vaccinated. Dawkins was hospitalized and said it was a difficult and frightening ordeal.
As Sal Maiorana of the Democrat & Chronicle reported, the Bills could call on rookie Tommy Doyle or veteran Bobby Hart to start in the place of Dawkins. Bills head coach Sean McDermott spoke about the possibility of sliding the little-used backups into starting roles.
“I think they’re both good players, very capable players at different stages of experience, different levels of experience,” McDermott said. “Bobby’s been around the NFL with multiple teams and then Tommy’s obviously a rookie this season and newly drafted here. Tommy has some playing time in regular-season games, not a ton, whereas Bobby on the other hand has quite a bit through the different teams he’s been with.”
While the Bills will likely need to fill the void left by the absence of Dawkins, they got good news on Allen’s status for the game. McDermott said on Friday that Allen would be healthy enough to play after suffering a foot injury in last week’s 33-27 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Allen was seen limping at the conclusion of the game and wore a walking boot while talking to reporters after the game, but McDermott said the team’s medical staff determined he was good to go against the Panthers.