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An Interview With Bills LS Reid Ferguson

I sat down with Bills LS Reid Ferguson, discussing his preparation each week, off-season regimen, and injuries during his career.

I had the fortune to sit down with Bills LS Reid Ferguson last month to ask him some questions regarding his origins as a long snapper, his injuries, preparation and recovery after each week, off-season training, and some fun questions at the end. If you haven’t figured out already from his other media appearances, Reid is a well-spoken, down to earth person who enjoys many things outside of football and does a lot of charity work including advocating for diabetes. Reid was gracious enough to give me some of his time to share his thoughts for everyone.

Give the readers a brief background on where you’re from, education, and how you became a long snapper.

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Credit: foxsports.com

Reid Ferguson
Age: 25
Hometown: Buford, GA
Position: Long Snapper
College: LSU
Degree: Sports Business & Sociology ‘15
Bills Jersey: #69

In 8th grade, the guy ahead of me got hurt, I was playing DE and TE, the center and snapper got hurt, I wasn’t playing much on defense or tight end, I really wasn’t playing at all, my Dad said, the guy got hurt, why don’t we give it a shot, see if it’s a way to get you snaps on the field.

My dad did the same thing playing baseball, telling me to try catcher, I played the position, I wasn’t very good, but I understand where your dad was coming from saying that.

In your high school/collegiate/pro football career, have you had the misfortune to deal with any serious injuries?

I have been able to avoid serious injury for the most part. I have been fortunate to also avoid any concussions.

Any moderate/nagging ones you had to work through?

My thumb, senior night in high school, I was playing offensive line and went for a block, the thumb went back and the muscle pulled off the bone on my non-dominant hand. I was out for 4 games, had to have surgery with a pin inserted to stabilize the fracture but I was able to come back and snap in the semi-final and state championship game later that season.

Other than that, I haven’t had any nagging injuries during my time with the Bills, I haven’t missed any games, nothing even notable, just sore after a game. I’m definitely fortunate. It’s silly for me to think that I can go an entire career without something happening, but as you get older, it’s something you just gotta work to prevent more than anything, if it happens, it happens. Every coach tells you the same thing, if you played scared, you’re going to get hurt; Gotta play fast.

Did you learn anything about your body or yourself during your thumb injury?

It was a long time ago, It was only 4 weeks, I just remember it going by pretty fast and remember it sucking knowing I couldn’t be out there playing in the playoffs even knowing that I could run and everything.

In your NFL career, how do you manage injuries if they do occur during the season?

Cryotherapy has been a big addition to my recovery process. Now that the facility has one, I do it almost every day. That helps me in recovery, but also, I feel that it helps me sleep better. I don’t have any problems sleeping; it gives me a deeper sleep. I wake up feeling better the next day. It helps a lot, especially after a night game. The chiropractor also helps out a lot in regards to treatment. I’ll see the team chiropractor on Wednesday’s and Sunday’s before the game. Just minor adjustments. During training camp, when we’re hitting it, going really hard every day, I use the NormaTec boots every day to help flush the legs a little bit in between a lift and practice or post-practice. I also stay hydrated, I try to drink as much water as I can.

The cryotherapy makes the biggest difference and then sleep, resting. A lot of guys my age that play in the league, I think don’t rest as much as they should. I think they underestimate that early in their careers. I think I’m a little ahead of the game. Just trying to get an adequate amount of sleep, got to fit it in where you can.

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Credit: homeceuconnections.com

Author’s note on Cryotherapy and NormaTec boots:
Cryotherapy is generally known as using cold temperatures to aid in injury management and recovery. The general mechanism of cold is to reduce inflammation and pain in an injured area. Cold therapy promotes blood vessel constriction which reduces the inflammation response that is a protective measure of the body following injury. If this phase can be shortened, then return to function can occur sooner.

With cryotherapy tanks, an individual is placed into a standing tank for 2-3 minutes where subzero cool air is passed over the skin for several minutes, dropping the temperature of the skin temporarily to achieve a systemic cold response. This cuts down on time spent recovering by addressing the entire body at once and reduces the risk of frostbite under proper supervision. To read more, click here.

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Credit: cryofreezeoh.com

NormaTec or pneumatic compression boots are air-filled compression sleeves that assist with milking out excess fluid in a joint/limb. These are commonly seen in lymphedema patients but are incredibly useful for athletes as well.

During strenuous activity, lactic acid builds up as glucose, which is fuel in the body, oxidizes down into pyruvate which turns into lactate. Lactate levels rise faster than the body can process it and begins to settle in the muscles. The presence of lactic acid acts as a protective measure of the body to prevent overworking and tissue breakdown. While this is an important function of the body, minimizing buildup reduces soreness after activity and will allow for a more effective and quicker recovery via the use of the boots.

The purpose of the NormaTec boots is to move excess fluid out in a uniform manner. The sleeve increases in pressure distally or furthest from the body and alternates increasing pressure as it moves up the leg. This is similar to squeezing the bottom of the toothpaste tube, working all the excess towards the top. The pneumatic compression works lactic acid and wastes out of the muscles and back into the circulatory system to be processed and filtered out of the body. To read more, click here.

Between the NormaTec boots and cryotherapy, these are designed to reduce the body’s response to strenuous activity and aid in recovery to maximize future function.

How do you prepare for your job each week knowing that you do not have a long snapping coach or is there resources for you to work through difficulties you experience?

Each special teams coach is a little different, some know more than others. It really depends on the relationship between the kicker and the coach or the punter and the coach and how much they want to get information from the coach. If the specialist doesn’t want information from the coach, they usually make it known. The coach may watch film, but not be overly aggressive and teach or fix problems. It all just depends, some specialists like feedback wherever they can get it, they like having two, three, four pairs of eyes on their craft. Someone may see something that they’re not catching. Most special teams coaches aren’t familiar with how we operate, they’re more familiar with kickers and punters. A lot of the work comes on our own. I would say it’s more of a player by player preference.

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Credit: Gettyimages.com

You have gotten to this level, you know what you need to do, it’s more of a figure it out by yourself. You also went to the Chris Rubio long snapping camps, have you ever contacted him for advice?

He still does camps around the country and does private lessons, but he lives out in Idaho, so he’s hard to get to. I’ve reached out to former snappers and current snappers to get tips here or there. Asking guys after games, like what do you do with your feet when getting ready for a field goal snap. Do you scoot your feet up a little? If you extend your arms out a little further, you can get more pull on the ball? Things like that. Every guy is willing to help each other out.

Now that you have finished your 3rd pro season, how have you shaped your off-season program? i.e. what do you focus on, how do you keep in shape? What services do you seek out?

Usually, after the season, I take 2-3 weeks off and just chill. After that, I start getting back into working out twice a week with CrossFit because it’s something different for a couple weeks. During training camp and the regular season, we’re up here doing similar workouts, so it breaks it up in the offseason. During this time, I won’t be snapping until late February. Then, I’ll start snapping once a week for 2 weeks, ramping that up. Once March hits, I’ll increase my workouts to 3 times a week and incorporating some running. I’ll then progress my snapping to 1-2 times a week and begin focusing on getting my weights back up, working on agility drills, and then that’ll take me into 3-4 days a week. I always take the weekends off, Saturday’s and Sunday’s. I’m a big believer in that.

As for recovery, I still do cryo 1x/week at home as it can be expensive and I’ll go to the Chiropractor every couple weeks. I also used to work as a Chiropractic Assistant in the spring of 2017 back home and got affiliated with my chiropractor that way and as a part of my recovery process. I also do incorporate Yoga sometimes. I do a lot of stretching on my own at my house. That’s a huge part of my job, staying as flexible as I can be. Makes a huge difference.

Do you try to avoid high-level activities in the offseason like long distance biking, mountain climbing, distance running?

Yea, I try to avoid that for the most part. So I work out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Take Wednesday as an off day. So when I was back home, my girlfriend came in and I did an active recovery day, took a hike up Stone Mountain, mile up, mile down, nothing too strenuous. Just something to get out and enjoy.

Even though you are not out on the field as much as your teammates, how do you stay focused mentally and physically, ready for when you are called upon?

That’s a good question. It’s not easy, but it’s not super hard. It is important to be locked into the situation to the game, whatever may be happening like a pick 6 where we would have to run out there and execute. You have to always stay ready. There are definitely lulls in the game that you feel. From a routine standpoint, every time we get the ball on offense, I do two punt snaps to get the rhythm back. Every time we cross the 50-yard line, I start getting in some short snaps for field goals. I’ve been doing that for a long time.

What is one part of your lifting routine that people would be surprised that you focus on for the specifics of long snapping?

I do a lot of ankle movements, stretching, and neck strength, I focus a lot of my neck. I focus on lats (latissimus dorsi). Being able to pull the ball through. I also focus on ankles, Achilles having to bend down so much, that’s huge for me.

Can you elaborate on the neck strengthening?

I do weighted, resistive movements, holds directionally, press ups against holds. This is part of the fine tuning; secondary stuff to help me get ready.

Do you ever do bridging for neck strengthening?

Bridging?

Like you see in wrestling, front bridges, back bridges. Touch your ears, nose, back of the head. You should ask Coach McDermott about that. He knows a thing or two about that.

Moving on, do you take anything into preference/consideration with your helmet or cleat selection? Or just what fits your comfort level?

They press us to use a helmet that’s above a certain grade. I’ve been using the same helmet for a couple years. It’s a solid helmet. Cleats wise, I use what’s most comfortable. Nike stopped making the cleats that I liked, so I switched to Under Armour. As for shoulder pads, pretty much stay the same as they’re specially made for snappers. There are no pads near the armpits to get the full range of motion.

That’s it for the main questions, now I have some general questions to wrap up the interview.

It’s been brought up in the past that you work with your brother with Type 1 Diabetes. When was he diagnosed?

I have to think about this one, about 2010-2011, I think he’s had it for about 8-9 years.

He’s obviously been able to transition to high school to college football to play at a D1 level with his condition.

Yea, he’s crushed it, I’m extremely proud of him to be able to do that, it’s not easy.

In the past, you’ve done some advocating for diabetes in Washington D.C., tell me more about that.

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Credit: billswire.usatoday.com

We did that last offseason, and then the past 2 years, I have done the “My Cause, My Cleats” for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. During the advocating, we were focusing on more research and funding for that trip. I also go to do hospital visits, charities, fundraisers with my brother around Atlanta and just trying to stay involved. I’ve done most of my advocating for Type 1 Diabetes due to my brother Blake, but both of my grandmas have Type 2, so it’s definitely on the radar.

You have a dog named Buck, he’s a Goldendoodle. Tell me about him.

He’s 8 months old. He’s been a good companion and doesn’t bark much. He’s pretty low maintenance.

Any favorite places you like taking him?

There have been some parks back home in Atlanta, but the weather has been so bad up here in May, I don’t want to take him anywhere where it’s going to get super muddy. I want to take him over to Knox Farm in East Aurora sometime when it dries up. That’s where I have been recommended to go.

I also recommend Chestnut Ridge Park if you like hiking, plus it has the paved trails to avoid the mud.

You enjoy soccer, you mentioned that Chelsea is your favorite team. How did you end up becoming a fan?

They had a couple players that I liked watching when I first started following, and it’s kind of just stuck with me. I started watching 2013-2014, that’s when I got hooked.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Buffalo?

Ooooo, Pearl Street, love Pearl Street.

What’s your favorite dish?

The pizza is really good. I also like the roast beef sandwich is really delicious.

Have you had the six cheese bow-tie pasta?

No, is it good?

It’s excellent, had it at banquets and my wedding reception, it’s worth trying next time you go there.

Is there anything that I didn’t cover that you want the readers to know or anything that I didn’t ask?

Nothing comes to mind, I believe that I covered everything that pertains to me.

I would like to thank Reid for taking the time to sit down with me and discussing his life in the NFL. Next time you’re watching a Bills game, focus on the special teams play including long snapping. There is far more complexity that goes into the position than one may initially think and there is a reason that long snapping is a special teams necessity.

If you liked this interview and want to support Reid, you can follow him on Twitter @SnapFlow69. You can support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation by donating anytime at the link for JDRF. You can also donate during the “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign during the NFL season when Reid dons a pair of cleats advocating for JDRF.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Season Injury Review: Defensive Tackles

Assessing the 2018 Bills injuries at the defensive tackle position.

OTA’s are nearly done and mandatory minicamp is approaching! This week marks the end of Phase 3 of organized team activities in which the Bills slowly ramp up incorporating game plans and molding each unit towards success in 2019. One group that experienced a high turnover from 2018 is the defensive tackle position. Only 2 players and 2 practice squad players come back to training camp that will be relied upon to pressure QB’s and disrupts the offensive line in order for the rest of the defense to do their job.

The first player reviewed is DT Robert Thomas. The journeyman saw time in 2 games early in the season, appearing in the loss to the Chargers, followed by the win over the Vikings. He was then cut and resigned to the practice squad later in the year. He did not record any defensive stats or suffer any injuries. As he has bounced around the league from the Redskins, Dolphins, and Giants, he will have an uphill battle to climb in order to make the roster in 2019.

DT Adolphus Washington was unceremoniously cut, leaving town after an overall disappointing career during his time in Buffalo. The former 3rd round pick appeared in the season opener for Buffalo, recording 2 tackles before being waived where he was later picked up by Cincinnati where he played sparingly for the rest of the season. He did not suffer any injuries during his time in Buffalo and won’t be returning to the team as he was yet another member of the previous regime that Beane & Co. removed.

Next is DT Kyle Peko who was a practice squad member all of last season. He did not get activated for any games, as a result, did not accumulate any stats or suffer any known injuries. Like Thomas, he will have a tough time making this roster unless he really shows something special in camp.

DT Harrison Phillips worked through a promising rookie season, appearing in 16 games, racking up 1 fumble recovery, 35 total tackles with 20 solo, 15 assisted, and 2 tackles for loss. He was the only defensive tackle on the team this season that played in every game and did not suffer any known injuries. While most of the fan base expects him to be the next Kyle Williams, right now he is just Harrison Phillips hoping to build off a promising rookie season. He is a lock to make the roster and Bills Mafia may riot if he’s cut/traded.

The other Phillips on the team, DT Jordan Phillips was a mid-season signing after he was cut by the Miami Dolphins. The former 2nd round pick appeared in 12 games, obtaining 1 fumble recovery, 19 total tackles, 12 solo, 7 assisted and 2 tackles for loss. Phillips also did not suffer any known injuries and re-signed in Buffalo for a one year, prove it deal that will allow him to get his 2nd contract if he plays effectively as a rotational/depth piece. He is a near lock to make the roster barring injury. 

Moving to the heavy hitters of the D-Line, DT Star Lotulelei appeared in 16 games with 17 total tackles, 10 solo, 7 assisted, and 1 tackle for loss. While he is one of the higher paid players on the team, many wondered why he produced so little. He was a big body that took up space in the middle and allowed others on the D-Line to do their job more effectively. The fact that he was relatively healthy didn’t hurt at all either. Injury-wise, he only suffered a back/neck injury which I believed was a trapezius strain in the preseason against the Panthers. He did not miss anytime as a result and that appeared to be an injury that healed up well without any long term issues as evident by appearing in all 16 games. He is a lock to make the roster and will provide leadership and act as a transition piece as the defensive tackle position gets younger.

Finally, the Bill of all Bills, DT Kyle Williams. While there have been many more skilled players to put on the Bills uniform, few played with the heart that he showed every week, year in and year out during his 13-year career. While he never won a Super Bowl or many team accolades, he really provided the leadership needed to get through some of the drought years and helped instill the new coaching regime’s message which had an immediate impact, making the playoffs for the only time in Williams’ career.

Stat wise, Williams appeared in 16 games with 16 starts, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 5 sacks, 35 total tackles, 22 solo, and 6 tackles for loss. He also appeared on the offensive side of the ball during his last game, hauling in 1 catch for 9 yards. Injury-wise, he suffered a Grade 1-2 MCL tear in his right leg during the preseason game against the Browns. Williams also suffered another injury to his right knee during the win over the Titans that appeared to be a contusion and he only missed 1-2 series before returning. Finally, he dealt with a back injury late in the season against the Lions, but did not show any signs of slowing down the last 2 games of the season. If he wanted to come back for another season, the coaching staff would welcome him back with open arms, but Williams does not appear to be a man who wavers on his decisions. He is finished, he can rest, and he can walk away knowing he gave everything to the Buffalo Bills. I wish him well in his retirement.

Overall, the defensive tackle position will have a lot of turnover, leading to fresh faces as the position gets younger. Only Star Lotulelei, Harrison Phillips, newly drafted DT Ed Oliver, and quite possibly DT Jordan Phillips make the roster for next season. While there may be others who make the roster including DT Quindarius Thagard, DT Robert Thomas, and DT Kyle Peko, this doesn’t appear to be a position that has many surprises going into training camp or the regular season.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

 

 

Phase 3 OTA Week 1 Recap

Assessing the latest injuries following the first week of Phase 3 of OTA’s.

In an offseason that appeared to be going well for the Bills with lots of new faces, a promising outlook, and possible long lasting stability, a jarring reality set in on Day 2. Tuesday brought a wide variety of injury news, some good, mostly bad that puts worry into every Bills fan even though it is May.

The most serious injury of OTA’s came in newly signed TE Tyler Kroft (foot). Unfortunately, he suffered a foot fracture on the first day which will require surgery. Regrettably, this is the same foot that he fractured last year that cost him 11 games. According to Ian Rapaport, this will sideline him for up to 3-4 months. While this is bad news, it’s not totally awful. The 3-4 months recovery timeline tells us several things. This tells us that this injury wasn’t as serious as it could have been. This rules out a Lisfranc as a conservative recovery would be 6 months.

We know that it’s not trauma or a stress fracture as trauma most likely would have been reported and a stress fracture wouldn’t require immediate surgery. This leads us to several possibilities. He could have had an avulsion fracture in where a portion of the bone is pulled away from the bone. He could have a metatarsal fracture in any of the long toe bones of the foot. Or he could have a Jones fracture.

Considering he injured the same foot last year, had surgery, and then fractured again, I am leaning towards the Jones fracture. It’s a surgery that requires stabilization with a screw, it has a known failure rate after the first surgery, and the timeline fits with the reported recovery time. The mechanism of injury is similar to an ankle sprain which can be rather innocent when dealing with positional drills, someone tweaks their ankle, steps funny, pushes off differently. Kroft most likely woke up the next day having issues, had imaging, and found out the bad news.

While he is still a near lock to make the roster, losing him for 3-4 months will allow some of the younger tight ends to get more reps and make the roster. Kroft will likely start the preseason on the PUP list, possibly paving the way to allow someone to get some playing time in place during the preseason. If he is on PUP at the start of the regular season, he wouldn’t be able to return until Week 6 when he is eligible. By then, there could be corresponding roster moves such as injury or insufficient play from other players which may prevent having to cut another TE before the regular season. This designation would also not count against an IR-to-return spot.

Others coming off injury are RB Frank Gore (foot/ankle) and RB TJ Yeldon (groin). There has been a documented injury for Gore at the end of last season which sent him to IR. There has been no known surgeries, but considering that Gore is ancient in NFL terms and these practices are voluntary, it’s an easy out to not participate in drills.

As for Yeldon, he may have tweaked something early on and decided to avoid making things worse rather than trying to go through meaningless drills. For both backs, there is no concern moving forward unless new information comes to light.

Many became worried with the revelation that both newly signed C Mitch Morse and WR Cole Beasley required core stabilization surgery, better known as a sports hernia repair. This is the same type of injury that infamous Bills CB Vontae Davis suffered 2 seasons ago. I detailed his injury when he originally signed with the team, make sure to click the link above for more information. While there is concern that they may not be ready for Week 1, it was revealed that they had their surgery several weeks ago with a general recovery timeline of roughly 12 weeks.

Both could certainly come back sooner than that based on the amount of damage in the region, but having surgery in April gives them a return to full ability in July. These injuries do unfortunately happen considering the positional requirements throughout the season but are able to play through. While there is always concerns for complications, the return to play rate is ~90% for NFL players, I do not expect anything less for Morse and Beasley.

Others nicked up include S Rafael Bush (groin/shoulder) and CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Bush was seen wearing a red non-contact jersey alongside Johnson, but considering these workouts are voluntary, he may be just be cautious as he was dealing with a groin injury last season, according to research by Nick Wojton. Bush also did suffer a shoulder injury last season that may have lingered to the point where he didn’t want to risk anything and could be the true cause of why he was sitting out OTA’s.

Johnson is coming off his labral repair and has made excellent progress to this point. Considering he is 5.5 months out from surgery, he is able to participate in drills but contact is not advised yet, he’ll be ready come training camp. To read more, please check out the article here from Buffalo Rumblings.

Rookie WR David Sills V (hamstring) suffered a hamstring strain in rookie mini camp, these injuries occur despite the best preventative methods out there. He just needs rest and rehab. TE Jason Croom (undisclosed) was seen walking with a trainer, dealing with something, but no further information has come out regarding what he injured.

Finally, C Russell Bodine (shoulder) did not participate in OTA’s as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. I had noted last year that he was wearing a compression sleeve later in the season. He most likely had a shoulder debridement, possible subacromial decompression. This would be similar to what Panthers QB Cam Newton had recently. The procedure would smooth down any arthritic changes in the shoulder or trim back the acromion which could cause impingement leading to weakness, pain, and possible further complications with the rotator cuff if left untreated. He is also coming off a broken fibula requiring surgery that appears to fully healed. Regarding both injuries, he will be fine for camp and this is not worth any further words.

Players that suffered injuries last season that practiced in full were LB Matt Milano (ankle), P Corey Bojorquez (shoulder), and P Cory Carter (knee). Milano is coming off his gruesome fibula fracture with dislocation practicing in full. He appears to be on schedule and working back into football shape as expected.

Bojorquez suffered a torn labrum last season on his bonehead fake FG attempt, he was practicing in full and his shoulder won’t give any issues as he likely had surgery in October and he doesn’t take the regular contact or use the shoulder in a way that Taron Johnson would.

Carter is coming off his ACL tear that cost him all of 2018 due to a direct blow to the knee. He is roughly 9 months out from surgery and should be cleared to resume full activities. There is less concern for him returning from the injury than we saw last year with DE Trent Murphy.

Despite all the doom and gloom of Tuesday, there are still positives to take away as they still have 3 months before a meaningful snap is taken. All will be fine. We will also get to see more action on the 28th which will give us some glimpses into what the mandatory minicamp participation will be like. I believe most of these injuries will not be mentioned in June.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Post Draft: UDFA Signings

Assessing the injury histories of the Bills UDFA signings and their injury histories.

Even though the Bills addressed a lot of needs through the draft last weekend, they were far from done, signing a slew of undrafted players to nearly fill out the 90 man roster. Today’s article will review the injury histories of each UDFA and whether they have a shot at making the roster come the regular season.

First up is QB Tyree Jackson out of University at Buffalo. The familiar face was reportedly one of the first players signed following the draft and appeared to be a priority for the front office to begin developing future signal callers. This is a far cry from past regimes that were looking for a quick fix through free agency or hoping to hit in the draft. Injury-wise, he was relatively healthy through his college career despite being a mobile QB. He did suffer a knee injury in 2017 that caused him to miss 4 games. Specifics were not given on the injury but considering the timeline, his mobility, and lack of reports indicating further complications lead me to believe he suffered an MCL sprain. This is not an injury that typically lingers and is supported by the fact that he played in all 14 games last season.

As for Jackson’s future in Buffalo, I expect that he’ll make the practice squad, soaking up what it means to be an NFL pro with the possibility of moving up to a backup role with the Bills or getting scooped up by another team to develop. Still, an excellent signing by Buffalo to identify future talent.

Next is WR Nick Easley out of Iowa. The productive WR out of the Midwest spent only 2 years with the Hawkeyes compiling 103 receptions for 1024 yards and 9 scores. During his 2 years, he suffered a collapsed lung with broken ribs during the regular season finale but recovered well enough to play in their bowl game which is incredible due to the pain alone of broken ribs. In 2018, he dealt with several nagging injuries for which I could not find specifics but he did not miss any games as a result. One article from 2017 revealed several injuries he stated that he had dealt with over his collegiate career included: turf toe, ankle sprains, two concussions, and a severe high ankle sprain from high school. The ankle sprains could have been something chronic over the past year in which he suffered a sprain but quickly recovers due to the scar tissue already present. However, most of these injuries are unfortunately common injuries players sustain but can vary in severity with regards to games missed. I am not certain that these injuries mentioned are what he dealt with this last season, but merely opens a window into what he played through. Future injury concerns moving forward, the broken ribs/lungs are not concerning but the concussions and ankle injuries can cause further worry as previous concussions increase the risk for future concussions. In addition, the ankle injuries could become chronic if not rehabbed properly, leading to more frequent injuries due to instability.

Considering he had to work his way up from Iowa Western Community College to D-1 football to the NFL, he has shown the ability to work and tough it out. While I don’t know how he will fit in with the WR corps, he may be someone who could sneak onto the roster with special teams play and an excellent training camp.

OL Blake Hance our of Northwestern demonstrated that during his time in Evanston, he was incredibly durable at a violent position. He at one point made 35 consecutive starts until an ankle injury forced him to miss one game early in 2018. Overall, he played in 51 out of a possible 53 games for the Wildcats demonstrating his health. He is yet another player that the Bills have placed a priority on with regards to avoiding major injury during college and being available. Considering the academic reputation that Northwestern has, he could be an intelligent developmental player on the practice squad that earns roster consideration in the future as the Bills continue to mold their offensive line.

Another local player that the Bills picked up as a UDFA was CB Cam Lewis out of Buffalo. It’s always said, you can never have too many cornerbacks. The Bills certainly understand this as it seems like while they have talent at the position, if an injury occurs, the quality of play goes way down and finding a CB4 that can be consistent has been challenging for this regime. While Lewis may not be the answer, he may be someone they can develop if he shows promise in training camp. He could also be someone that they put on the practice squad or cut but keep close by in the event of a shortage of defensive backs. Injury-wise, he did deal with several while in college but nothing that is likely to become a problem at the next level. In 2017, he dealt with a broken thumb and forearm that caused him to miss 5 games. In 2018, he suffered a leg injury which forced him to miss the Army game, but no specifics regarding the nature of the ailment could be found. This could have been something as simple as a contusion, pulled calf muscle, etc. that necessitated rest.

LB Juwan Foggie out of UNC-Charlotte continues the trend of effective, healthy players that the Bills have targeted in the draft. Foggie appeared in 47 games over his career, appearing to avoid injury which is remarkable in itself. As there are no injury concerns, he could be another player that sees practice squad time with an effective training camp or cut and brought back if injuries mount.

WR David Sills out of WVU appears to be an incredibly sneaky signing by the Bills during the UDFA period. The former QB turned WR has been a hot topic in past years, famously being given a verbal scholarship offer by then USC HC Lane Kiffin when he was 13. Unfortunately for Sills, he broke a knuckle on his throwing hand during his junior year of high school which altered his throwing motion which led to the position change. During his time at WVU and El Camino College, he did not suffer any reported injuries which is remarkable considering how much physical demand is required at that position. Sills will have a tough climb up the depth chart at WR, but could make noise with a great training camp and may warrant a roster spot to avoid losing him altogether.

LB Tyrel Dodson out of Texas A&M declared for the draft as a junior but that decision appeared to be short-sighted as he was not drafted and will have to work even harder to get an NFL roster spot. While has productive during his time in College Station, the one thing that he has going for him was that he did not suffer any major injuries. The only injury that can be found was in 2018 he suffered a minor sprained ankle against Ole Miss for which he did not miss any games. While the linebacking corps can always use extra depth, Dodson may be another player who makes an NFL training camp and nothing further.

Finally, K Chase McLaughlin out of Illinois rounds out the UDFA signings. McLaughlin was the 2018 Big Ten Kicker of the year, hitting 4 of 6 FG’s from 50+ yards out. As he is a kicker, special teams players are typically not known for getting injured and he was no exception. While K Stephen Hauschka continues to produce at a high level, he has begun showing his age along with suffering an injury last year due to a blindside block. I do not believe that McLaughlin will seriously challenge for the starting kicker role. However, the competition will certainly help keep Hauschka on his toes to produce.

Overall, these UDFA signing’s show some promise but are relative long shots to make the team. Bills fans know all about UDFA’s making their mark in the league with LB Lorenzo Alexander spending nearly 15 years in the league along with CB Levi Wallace and WR Robert Foster eventually making the roster and producing despite their starting position as a UDFA. This will be an exciting group to watch through training camp who can make their presence known. I believe at least 1-2 of these guys will find their name on the Buffalo Bills roster come 2019.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

 

Buffalo Bills Draft Recap

Analyzing the newest Bills draft picks and their injury histories including where they may end up after training camp.

The 2019 NFL draft has come and gone! Like a speeding train, you could hear and see it from a mile away, louder and louder as it neared, then gone as quickly as it came! Aboard that speeding train was a bounty of draft picks that have nearly filled out the Bills roster as the off-season continues. Today’s post will briefly review the players selected, their injury history, and where I believe they may end up at the end of training camp.

The Bills 1st round draft choice was DT Ed Oliver out of Houston. The junior defensive tackle was a 3x All American which demonstrates how special of a talent he was entering the draft. Regarding his injury history, he was relatively healthy throughout his career at Houston before suffering a knee injury in the game against Navy during this most recent season. As a result, he missed 4 games with what was described as a bruised knee. He was able to come back but reportedly wasn’t himself. Still, he was able to garner another AA nod and he was ready to cash in. The bruised knee is not something I am concerned about and it did not come up in the draft process indicating that this is a moot point. He should be a Day 1 starter and make noise his rookie year.

2nd round draft choice OL Cody Ford out of Oklahoma was the Bills top Day 2 pick.  The big lineman out of the midwest helped block for 2 Heisman winners and was the recipient of the Joe Moore award, given to the nation’s top offensive line group.  Reviewing his injury history, 2016 saw him play 3 games before suffering a broken fibula, causing him to miss the rest of the season. 2017 saw him miss 2 games with undisclosed injuries for which I was unable to find specific information. He avoided injury in 2018 and as a result, was highly sought after in the draft, falling to the Bills at pick 38. The previous injuries are not concerning as broken bones typically heal well and are unlikely to become chronic issues. Like Oliver, Ford should be a Day 1 starter and shore up the offensive line.

3rd round draft choice RB Devin Singletary out of Florida Atlantic was the 74th overall pick by the Bills. Looking at his injury history, there does not appear to be any concerns during his time at FAU. He appeared to stay healthy which would explain his insane level of production of 714 attempts for 4,287 yards and 66 TD’s over his career. While he was productive, there is a concern about how much tread is left on the tires despite his youthful age. Singletary will see the field during his rookie year, but he will not be the feature back which will allow him to acclimate to the game and avoid some of the wear and tear he’s had the past few years. Expect him to make the roster, but see minimal playing time unless there is a shake-up at the RB position.

3rd round draft choice TE Dawson Knox out of Ole Miss was the Bills 2nd pick in the 3rd round, 96th overall. Similar to Singletary, Knox has a limited injury history outside of a dislocated ankle during his senior season in high school. The ankle should not give him any issues as it has been several years since the original injury. One reason he may have been able to avoid injury in college was due to the fact that he only had 39 receptions for 605 yards and 0 TD’s. The lack of production is worrisome, but considering how WR Robert Foster performed last year despite a lackluster performance at Alabama, Knox’s numbers do not worry me. In fact, I believe he may exceed his career stats in his rookie year if he manages to secure a starting spot on the offense. Knox should make the 53 man roster with playing time available with a strong training camp.

(Note: after finding more information regarding Knox, it was later discovered that he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot along with a torn meniscus later in the 2017 season, both which required surgery. Both are concerning injuries as stress fractures are overuse injuries and the meniscus act as shock absorbers in the knee. There is potential for future complications but considering he made it through the 2018 season without apparent complications, this is a good indicator moving forward.)

5th round draft choice LB Vosean Joseph out of Florida is the next man up. The versatile linebacker was taken with the 147th overall pick and also demonstrated a propensity to avoid injury during his time as a Gator. He appeared in every game the past 2 seasons in Florida and showed ability on both the defensive side of the ball and on special teams. There has been talking that he could be a solid replacement for LB Lorenzo Alexander upon his retirement. Joseph will be another depth piece going into the regular season, earning playing time on special teams with the chance to get back up play as injuries occur.

6th round draft choice S Jaquan Johnson out of Miami was the 181st pick on Day 3. Johnson, like most others in this article, has minimal injury concerns, only missing 2 games during his senior season due to a right hamstring strain. Considering his position, these types of soft tissue injuries do occur but this does not appear to be a chronic issue, unlike other individuals around the league. Johnson also appears versatile and may make the roster as a depth piece behind S Jordan Poyer & S Micah Hyde, possibly seeing playing time if either goes down injured.

7th round draft choice DL Darryl Johnson out of North Carolina A&T makes his way to the Bills as the 225th overall pick. Like many others on this list, Johnson has no known injury history. He did have an injury senior year of high school that cost him scholarship opportunities but he was still able to receive an offer from NC A&T, allowing him to play well enough to be a draft selection. While there is the opportunity for him to make the roster with the turnover on the defensive line, he will most likely see the practice squad barring injury in training camp.

The final pick for the Bills in the 2019 NFL Draft was TE Tommy Sweeney out of Boston College. The 228th overall draft choice comes to the Bills without injury concern. During his time at BC, he proved to be durable, appearing in every possible game while in college. Sweeney is another player that could be destined for the practice squad, however, with the uncertainty at the TE position, it is possible he could sneak onto the roster with the right circumstances falling his way.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Season Injury Review- Defensive End

Review the Bills injuries at defensive end from 2018 & how this will affect depth in 2019.

The defense is on the board!! Today’s post marks the start for injury positional reviews on the defensive side of the ball. The Bills defense has demonstrated elite talent that has carried the team at times through the past 2 seasons. However, when injuries occurred, the replacements and gaping holes as a result were glaring. Today’s post will review the defensive end position and what this means going forward into 2019.

First up is DE Nate Orchard. The veteran end came to Buffalo off waivers from Cleveland, spending roughly a month with the team. During his time in Buffalo, he appeared in 3 games registering 4 total tackles, 3 solo, 1 assist and was cut on 10/2. He then was picked up by Kansas City for a month before finding a home in Seattle for 2019. He did not suffer any injuries during his time and is not likely to return unless he is some type of camp casualty and the Bills need emergency depth.

DE Mike Love appears next in today’s review, appearing in 3 games without any stats. He was signed from the practice squad late in the season to assess what the team has for depth going forward. Due to his limited playing time, he did not suffer any injuries but should come back next season as he is a cheap option for depth and could continue to develop behind veterans at the position.

DE Eddie Yarbrough rounds out depth at the end position during today’s article. The 3rd year player out of Wyoming continues to demonstrate solid play worthy of a roster spot, evident with the Bills resigning Yarbrough to a 1 year extension as a ERFA. The youthful end appears in 15 games accumulating 29 total tackles, 21 solo, 8 assisted with 4 tackles for loss. In addition, Yarbrough managed to avoid injury which was key as several veterans mentioned later were not as lucky, leading to Yarbrough getting valuable playing time. He should be back next season and barring a sudden influx of talented defensive ends, should make the 53 man roster.

DE Shaq Lawson begins the run on injured ends in this article. The former 1st round draft pick has begun to show flashes of brilliance of why he was drafted 19th overall in 2016, but has not been able to consistently string together a season in which he can demonstrate he is the best defender out on the field. During the 2018 season, Lawson appeared in 14 games with 6 starts, accumulating 1 forced fumble, 4 sacks, 30 total tackles, 18 solo, 12 assisted, and 5 tackles for loss. While these are acceptable numbers from a rotational defensive end, more should be expected from a once highly drafted player.

Lawson suffered minor injuries this season, missing 2 games due to a pulled hamstring early in the season trying to chase down Ravens QB Joe Flacco. After the hamstring, Lawson was questionable with an elbow injury sustained in practice prior to the Jacksonville game but the specifics of the injury were not disclosed and he did not miss any time. Going into next season, Lawson will be healthy but have to fight incredibly hard to justify sticking around past next season. He will make the 53 man roster, but he needs to stay healthy and shine like a first round pick should if he wants several more years in Buffalo.

DE Jerry Hughes continues to be a monster coming off the end and is one of the few moves along with RB LeSean McCoy that made former Bills GM Doug Whaley look halfway competent. Hughes came over in a player for player trade from the Colts for LB Kelvin Sheppard in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. The dominant end started all 16 games, accumulating 3 forced fumbles, 7 sacks, 37 total tackles, 30 solo, 7 assists, 13 tackles for loss. He showed up this season and was clearly the best defensive end for the Bills this season. In addition to his dominant play, he was able to remain healthy, only suffering a right knee injury that may have been a minor knee sprain or contusion during the Jets game but did not miss anytime. Even though he is going into the last season of his contract, he is clearly a lock for the 53 man roster. He still demonstrates an ability to play at a high level and should garner another contract before his time in Buffalo is through.

Finally, DE Trent Murphy rounds out the defensive end position. The beleaguered end from Washington just could not stay healthy this year. Even though Murphy only missed 3 games this season, he was never quite healthy. He appeared in 13 games with 10 starts racking up 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 24 total tackles, 14 solo, 10 assisted, 5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks. Despite the average stats for a player making the money that he is, he constantly dealt with injury which led to his down year. Early in training camp, Murphy suffered a groin strain that appeared to be minor, appearing to come back too quickly, and re-aggravating the issue. As a result, he missed the rest of the preseason and never quite got the reps he needed to improve his football skills after missing all of the 2017 season with an ACL tear.

Once returning to the field during the regular season, Murphy had a breakout game against the Vikings with a sack, two tackles, and a forced fumble. Due to needing as many game reps to get back into shape forced him to play into the 4th quarter which led to a right ankle injury that was the result of getting rolled up on. He did not miss any time but was limited afterward. Murphy then sustained another ankle injury, though it wasn’t clear which ankle he injured during the loss to the Texans. Video review shows him taking an awkward step with what appeared to be his left foot. He did miss some time but was able to return.

Unfortunately, the next week wasn’t any kinder to Murphy as he sustained another late 4th quarter injury, this time injuring his right knee. He was in the process of engaging an offensive player during a block when another player got thrown into his knee with his knee bent and foot on the ground. The mechanism suggested an MCL sprain and as a result, missed 3 games but also had the benefit of the bye week to recover. But Murphy wasn’t done with injuries; he sustained some type of chest injury in the win over the Lions late in the season that did not force him to miss anytime. Once again, Murphy did not miss many games, but he was clearly not at 100% throughout the entire season.

There have been some calls for the Bills to release him after an underwhelming performance in 2018. However, I believe that Murphy will bounce back with a strong season in 2019. He will have the benefit of not having to recover from a season ending injury such as the ACL in 2017. While all the injuries were minor, cumulatively, they took their toll. He will have the ability to heal up completely and focus on football and injury prevention rather than rehab. There has also been multiple instances in which a player has a down year following an ACL tear followed up by an improved year as the player returns to baseline 2 years after original injury. While we hope that Murphy can regain some of his 9 sack season during his last season in Washington, any improvement over last year will be gladly taken. Expect him to make the 53 man roster with a significant bounce back year in 2019. I am high on Murphy taking the next step forward as an important cog in the defense.

Overall, expect Hughes, Lawson, and Murphy return as the top end players at defensive end. Yarbrough will continue to be a depth piece and Love has a chance to make the roster with a strong training camp, but could more likely be on the practice squad. DE Eli Harold also has a strong chance to make the roster after time with San Francisco and Detroit, but is far from guaranteed. To read more on Harold, his injury profile can be found here. I also expect the Bills to address defensive end in the draft at some point which could reshape this position based on what round a defensive end is picked.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Season Injury Review- Guard/Center

Analyzing the injuries at the Center/Guard position for 2018 & outlook for 2019.

Another position, another review! The 2018 Bills lacked offensive firepower up front and as a result, the offense continued to be anemic. Like the Offensive Tackle position, the Guard and Center position were sorely ineffective and as a result, we should see significant turnover at the positions come 2019. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained at the respective positions in 2018 and how this may play out in 2019.

First up for is G Ike Boettger. The rookie out of Iowa saw game action in 4 games avoiding injury and not drawing any penalties. Like T Conor McDermott, he appears to be another player who was too good to be stashed on the practice squad but not good enough to garner consistent playing time. He appeared in 4 games towards the end of the season recording 0 penalties. While he did get some game experience, it begs the question whether that experience will be enough to earn a roster spot going into 2019 especially with all the recent signings this offseason. He will have to have a strong preseason to stick around next year.

Next is G Wyatt Teller. The former 5th round pick from Virginia Tech in 2018 earned some well deserved playing time appearing in 8 games & starting 7, racking up 2 holding penalties and 2 false starts. He also avoided injury which would have set his progress back. He did show flashes of why he was drafted but at times was inconsistent. While it was not expected that a 5th round draft pick would come in and play exceptionally well, there was still hope that he would demonstrate some ability to play at the next level, which for the most part he did. Having new O-Line coach Bobby Johnson working with him along with several veterans should help Teller to progress. I expect him to return in 2019 as key depth.

G John Miller was at times a frustrating player during his tenure in Buffalo. He was a 3rd round draft pick back in 2015 and initially played well with veteran leadership on the line. However, as the seasons progressed, he became less effective and at times injured, leading to the coaching staff to begin searching for his replacement. While Miller was inconsistent, he did appear and start in 15 games, accruing 4 holding penalties. Injury wise, Miller sustained an ankle and knee injury which appeared to be minor. The veteran lineman did suffer an oblique strain in the win over the Jaguars which forced him to miss the next game. As mentioned before, oblique strains are not awful injuries, but due to the nature of his job in pushing large bodies out of the way, those abdominal muscles were necessary to play effectively at his position. Fortunately for the Bills, Miller left in free agency to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals and be reunited with his former line mate Cordy Glenn.

G Vladimir Ducasse, similar to Miller, has had an up/down time in Buffalo. 2 years ago, he was able to come in and play exceptionally well with Juan Castillo as the O-Line coach and with the offensive scheme by OC Rick Dennison. After the offensive play calling was changed to OC Brian Daboll, Ducasse never seemed to regain the level of play he had in 2017, leading to a drop off and him at times being replaced by the rookie Teller. The veteran guard appeared in 10 games, starting 9 with 1 holding penalty, 3 false starts, and 1 penalty declined. Ducasse also suffered a left knee injury during the loss to the Texans but did not miss any games. Due to his poor play, he may not have a team come after the 2019 training camp unless he finds a new way to re-invent his game.

Transitioning towards the Center position, next up is C/G Ryan Groy. The versatile lineman has shown the ability to play both positions well when called upon, but was found to be inconsistent when asked to do only one position exclusively, specifically at center. Groy had appeared in 15 games with 6 starts, earning 1 false start penalty. Groy has filled in admirably when former Bills C Eric Wood was injured in past seasons, but demonstrated the inability to be a replacement level starter. Fortunately for Groy in 2018, he did not suffer any injuries which may help influence whether he comes back next year. Due to the recent signings of C Mitch Morse, C/G Spencer Long, and G Jon Feliciano, Groy will have to battle exceptionally hard to warrant a roster spot in 2019 and may be back due to his health and versatility.

C Russell Bodine played at times spotty starting at center for the Buffalo Bills in 2018. He played in 10 games with 10 starts suffering 2 holding penalties and a broken fibula. Bodine suffered the injury in the loss to the Dolphins as a result of several large bodies, specifically Dolphins DT Davon Godchaux falling on him and fracturing the fibula bone which required surgery to fix. As a result, his season was over and forced C/G Ryan Groy to pick up the center duties for the rest of the season. In addition to the fibula fracture, Bodine also suffered some type of shoulder injury first noticed in the win over the Jaguars. As far as I could tell, this was not an injury that forced him to miss anytime or affect his play. While it is clearly evident that Bodine will no longer be the starter as C Mitch Morse was signed, he could still prove to be a valuable depth pieces especially with Morse’s injury history. Bodine’s leg will heal fully and should not have any complications for training camp which will be ideal for him as he’ll be fighting for a roster spot. Hopefully Bodine can be a solid depth piece and no longer relied upon as the starter.

Rounding out the remaining players: C/G Spencer Long, C Mitch Morse, and G Jon Feliciano fill out the remaining offensive lineman currently on the roster. While Morse is virtually guaranteed a spot on the 53 man roster due to his play and contract, Long and Feliciano provide versatility and depth that should make the 2019 training camp battle for starting spots something worth your viewing pleasure.

Normally, I put my thoughts on who will make the roster next season in a summary at the end. Outside of G John Miller, who left in free agency, all the players listed above have a realistic chance to make the roster with the only lock being C Mitch Morse. I’m excited for this position group to re-establish the run game and give effective protection to QB Josh Allen.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!