One of the surprising roster decisions the Bills made out of training camp was keeping Jake Fromm as the team's third quarterback.
The Bills had kept only two QBs every year under Sean McDermott.
The surprises continued when Fromm was not seen on the practice field week one and listed on the injury report as limited with "not injury."
McDermott shed some light on Fromm over a week later, saying the team was keeping him away from the other QBs as a COVID precaution.
Fromm was approached with the idea just days after making the Bills initial 53 man roster. Quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey is the one who told the rookie what his role would be this season.
"I had no idea," Fromm said last week. "This is just kind of part of the world of football right now and all these tests and staying safe. Definitely something that I had no idea coming into was part of the deal, but I'm thankful to be here and really thankful for the opportunity to be on the team and ready to help out any way I can."
The plan is for Fromm to be in this role the entire season.
It definitely took some getting used to at first.
"I didn't know exactly what I was getting myself into to start with, but it's something I'm definitely growing into," From said. "Trying to figure out the best way to do certain things."
Four-plus weeks later, Fromm is more in the groove of the routine.
He comes to One Bills Drive each day just like everyone else. Inside, his schedule is filled with the same things as his teammates with meetings, lifting, and practice. The difference is how and when those things take place.
"During meetings, we have a big meeting room, so I'll be about 15 feet back of the other guys," Fromm explained.
Lunch and down time are other areas where Fromm needs to alter his normal routine.
"I can interact, it's just hey, let's stay physically distant to make sure we're staying safe," Fromm said. "We have the chairs spread out to eat lunch and I can eat lunch with the guys, it's just making sure I'm a little bit farther away than the next guy is. It's a crazy line to kind of balance. It's a lot on me to kind of balance and make sure I'm doing my part too."
With the hardest place to do that being inside the locker room.
"The locker room's sort of the only where there's no 'rules' or anything," Fromm admitted. "It's just kind of on me to govern myself. Come in, be smart, don't go dap up 50 guys on the team. Be smart. Be kind of quick in-and-out. That's on me to govern me and be safe and staying distanced in there as well."
From a football side of things, Fromm gets his lifting in while the rest of the team is on the practice field. When that is over, he will join everyone else for a short time.
"I'll be coming out to practice about 3/4s through, see the team periods, physically distance there," Fromm said. "That way I get to watch, see it there and see it on the film on the way back in meetings. Then after that, boom, straight into practice for me."
With Fromm's practice more limited in time and those participating with him.
"It's anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes," Fromm said. "We'll keep a lot of the practice squad guys like Duke [Williams] and Jake [Kumerow] and Antonio [Williams] and C-Wade [Christian Wade] and Reggie [Gilliam] and we'll kind of keep those guys back and throw a lot."
The biggest help to Fromm may just be another guy with the Bills being thrust into a new role due to the pandemic. Ryan Moore is listed in the Bills staff directory as the team's Community Relations Youth Programs Coordinator. But he has shifted this season into the role of COVID Protocol Coordinator. Part of his duties are helping Fromm while he is away from the rest of the team.
"He helps out and does a lot of spot-up catching for me," Fromm said. "He's kind of my guy right now and me and him go to work."
As Fromm has embraced this team-first role, he also admits the challenges it presents. From a personal standpoint, it has made relationship building with new teammates tough.
"I would say it's definitely not the most ideal thing for a rookie coming in and really trying to connect with the other guys, but this is the hand I was dealt. You got to take on the role 100% and head on and I feel like I'm doing the best I can and really try and develop relationships and develop my game on the field as well. It's definitely not easy. It takes a lot more work than normal and that's part of it and let's go play football."
From a developmental aspect, Fromm is learning the NFL game without going against NFL players.
"It's definitely tough," Fromm admitted. "It's the first time ever in my career that I haven't been getting 11-on-11 reps. One in practice, good on good, or in the game too. It's very tough, very different for me, but a lot of it's on me to make sure that I'm practicing the way I need to practice and I'm taking everything as game-ready as possible. A lot's on me. It's definitely tough. It's not the most ideal thing in the world, but, hey, I got to be ready and do my part as well."
And who knows, maybe the more individual practicing can work to his advantage.
"Hopefully," Fromm said. "I want to be as optimistic about that as possible. Hopefully that's the case and we'll see when we do OTAs and camp next year."
Until then, Jake Fromm will being working and waiting from a distance.