Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen expected to start Sunday despite sprained left foot

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is expected to start Sunday against the Carolina Panthers after suffering a left foot sprain in the loss last week to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coach Sean McDermott said Friday.

"[The medical team] is comfortable with where [Allen is] at, and he continues to trend in the right direction," McDermott said. "And then what I've seen through my own eyes at practice just yesterday, he seems to be again able to execute the job description that goes along with the quarterback position."

McDermott first shared Allen's status on his weekly radio appearance on WGR in Buffalo. The quarterback was a full participant in practice Friday and has been listed with no injury designation. He was limited in a walk-through Wednesday and at practice Thursday. Allen did not miss a snap in the overtime loss in Tampa after getting injured in the fourth quarter, and he has not missed a start because of injury since his rookie year.

Fellow offensive players reported Allen "looking good" in Thursday's practice. Backup quarterback Mitchell Trubisky took some of the snaps in practice this week.

The Bills offense might be without another key starter, however. Starting left tackle Dion Dawkins tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning, according to McDermott. Dawkins is fully vaccinated and was hospitalized for four days while dealing with the virus at the start of training camp. The positive test came within the two-week period after his second dose of the vaccine.

Dawkins had shortness of breath, fever, chills, coughing and dehydration when he caught the virus in July. He lost about 16 pounds.

"That's the first thing, the first place your mind goes to, right? How this person will handle it," McDermott said. "In this case, [Dawkins has] had it before and certainly had some challenges there. So, we're going to do all we can to support him and make sure that, No. 1, he is as healthy as possible, or can get as healthy as possible, as soon as possible."

Buffalo's offensive line has shuffled several times this year because of COVID-19 and injuries. Rookie starting right tackle Spencer Brown missed multiple games on the COVID-19 list but has since returned.

The Bills have only one other player on the COVID-19 list -- backup linebacker Tyrel Dodson.

McDermott did not rule out Dawkins for Sunday. This week the NFL introduced relaxed protocols for vaccinated players to return to the field. The team is in the middle of a crucial four-game stretch to secure a playoff spot.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (knee) is not expected to play, per McDermott, but is officially listed as doubtful. Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (toe), special teams player Taiwan Jones (knee) and defensive end AJ Epenesa (ankle) will be questionable for the game.