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!!

Buffalo Bills Bounty of Free Agents!

Analyzing the most recent Bills acquisitions & injury concerns moving forward into next season.

Whooo wee! What a week for the Buffalo Bills! 8 free agents total after the national media stated that Buffalo was not a place that free agents wanted to go? Where else would you rather be than Buffalo, NY?! The front office is building something special here, or they’re at least trying to. This has a totally different feel from past years where a free agent or two would show up and they were a piece that maybe fit part of the puzzle, but didn’t complete it. These most recent acquisitions are far from completing the puzzle, but the total picture is certainly coming together better than in past seasons. Today’s article will review the acquisitions and my thoughts on their injuries going into 2019.

First up is CB Kevin Johnson. The former 1st round pick recently released by Houston has had a litany of injuries during his short career in the NFL. To review, he has had Lisfranc and Jones fractures, wrist fracture, sprained MCL, and multiple concussions. In my article I wrote for Buffalo Rumblings, I dove into his injury history and my thoughts on the signing.  Make sure to check out the above linked article. He is overall a low risk, high reward signing due to his contract and has clearly demonstrated the ability to play when healthy. If he is able to avoid some of the seriousness of the injuries in the past, he could help resurrect his career and have a new start in Buffalo.

Next up is C Mitch Morse. The former starting center from Kansas City quickly found his way to Buffalo to become the NFL’s highest paid center. However, his arrival does not come without concern. During his also short career in the league, Morse has suffered 2 concussions which caused him to miss 3 games his rookie year, a foot injury costing him 10 total games with a trip to IR in 2017, and a concussion that caused him to miss 5 games in 2018. As with Kevin Johnson, I detailed my thoughts on Morse with Buffalo Rumblings.  While he is still young and highly talented, there is concern if he were to suffer another concussion at such a collision heavy position in the trenches with sub concussive hits nearly every play. The talent is there which makes the money worth it, but the Bills must have a contingency plan in place if injury occurs in order to ensure that the signing of Morse works in their favor.

Continuing to go down the list is WR’s Cole Beasley & WR John Brown. Both veteran receivers come via Dallas & Baltimore, respectively. Both have demonstrated effective play making abilities which appealed to both the front office and QB Josh Allen. After last year’s pitiful wide receiver production, significant upgrades at the position were a must. Injury wise, both look overall good. Beasley has only missed 1 game in his career due to illness and for the most part, manages to stay off the injury report only dealing with a knee & ankle injuries along with a concussion. As for Brown, most of his injury concerns involve hamstring strains along with a quad and toe injury that cost him 4 games in 2017. These are excellent signings by the Bills and really demonstrate the urgency to get the offense moving.

WR Andre Roberts comes to Buffalo after a season with the Jets in which he earned an All-Pro nod on special teams. Like Beasley & Brown, Roberts comes with several injuries, but minimal concerns. Roberts has saw time with Arizona, Washington, and the New York Jets suffering shoulder, ankle, and quad injuries missing only 3 games total as a result. He did suffer a knee injury that sent him to IR and prematurely ended his 2015 season with Washington. Other than a back injury in 2018 that he did not miss time with, Roberts will significantly upgrade the special teams group and provide a dynamic returner not seen since CB Terrance McGee.

Moving onto the offensive line depth, the Bills signed both OT Ty Nsekhe & OG Jon Feliciano from Washington & Oakland respectively. Nsekhe has had quite the journey to the NFL, starting his career in 2009 playing in Arena Football for several years before getting a crack at the NFL with the Colts. He then proceeded to bounce around in the CFL, more Arena Football, and cups of coffee with St. Louis and New Orleans before solidifying a job with Washington. I am unaware of his injury history during his time in other organized leagues, but his NFL injury list is short with foot/ankle injuries in 2016 along with a core muscle injury in 2017 that caused him to miss 5 games. Last season, he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss 2 games but considering his age of 33, most guys are exiting the league, Nsekhe appears to continue improving. He has demonstrated the ability to play well when called up to start along with demonstrating the ability to play multiple positions, but understands how to be an effective backup.

Feliciano is cut from the same cloth as Nsekhe, however, not bouncing around from various professional leagues. The veteran guard has spent his entire career with Oakland before signing with Buffalo a few days ago. Along with moving across the country, Feliciano comes with several calf injuries and a concussion over his career. However, while he can start in spot situations, his ability to understand O-Line coach Bobby Johnson’s game plan allows him to fit in nicely and allow to be an effective piece moving forward in 2019.

TE Tyler Kroft comes from Cincinnatti after playing 4 years for the Bengals. Kroft began coming on as a tight end as TE Tyler Eifert began suffering injuries which limited his ability on the field. Unfortunately, Kroft had difficulty staying healthy at times, suffering a knee/ankle injury at the end of 2016 followed by a foot injury that caused him to miss 11 games with a trip to IR, ending his season prematurely. While he is a young player to help open up the offense, he is far from the answer moving forward and will complement any draft pick or future tight ends signed to the roster.

Finally, old man RB Frank Gore. This man has been playing so long, he predates the injury reporting on pro-football-reference.com. While his injury history may have a few blank spots, his career has been defined by his durability. After suffering two ACL tears in college, Gore was able to find a home in San Francisco for many productive years until 2014. He has had a smattering of injuries over the course of his productive career with most notably shoulder injuries during his rookie year, a broken bone in his hand a few ears after that, and a hip injury that sent him to IR and ended his 2010 season early. Other than the hip, he suffered a foot injury which ended his season in Miami 2 games early. Many consider Gore to be a future Hall of Famer with his dominance at the position and his overall stats. Despite going into his age-36 season, Gore has managed to keep injuries to a minimum and avoid some of the larger injuries that spell out shorter careers in an already high turnover position that is running back. While he will not be as productive in past seasons, he should be able to be an effective back up behind RB LeSean McCoy and provide leadership to a young team. I believe that he will show some of the younger players how to prepare mentally to maximize their skills on the field while also minimizing injuries in order to stay healthy.

Overall, I like most of these signings. I do not expect every once of these to be a slam dunk upgrade, some will simply not work out. Gore was an odd one considering the age, but if there is still something left in the tank, the Bills want to ride him until there’s fumes. I have concerns about the Johnson & Morse signings, but if both stay healthy, they could turn out to be lucrative in the long run. I like the offensive line depth that the front office focused on because no NFL team is immune from injury, it is imperative that the backups are able to play effectively until the starter returns. Nothing will torpedo the Bills 2019 season more than poor depth. Finally, the WR & TE signings signal that they are serious about taking QB Josh Allen to the next level and show everyone how he can throw it over them there mountains. I don’t believe the Bills are done in the free agency market; they are showing that they are willing to bring in anyone they feel that can upgrade the quality of play on the field. Just think, we still have 6 weeks before the NFL draft and me personally, I’m pumped!

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- Offensive Tackle

Read the latest Bills injuries at the offensive tackle position from 2018 & how it affects 2019!

The 2018 Buffalo Bills offensive line took a significant step backwards after several successful seasons in which they led the NFL in rushing and appeared to continue this trend moving into 2018. Unfortunately, due to the forced retirement of C Eric Wood and the bizarre retirement/release of G Richie Incognitio, the loss of these two proved to be too great in order to protect rookie QB Josh Allen and as a result, was unable to open effective lanes up for RB LeSean McCoy, leading to his worst season of his career. Today’s post will identify injuries from the tackle position on the offensive line and how things will shape up in 2019.

First up is T Conor McDermott. The 2nd year player out of UCLA drafted by the Patriots before being picked up by the Bills saw him play sparingly, mostly during the last month of the season once they were out of the playoff race. Total, he played in 5 games with no penalties and did not suffer any injuries. From my vantage point, he is a player that is too good to keep on the practice squad, but not quite ready to play full time on the field. As he has been a part of this team the past 2 seasons, I expect that the coaching staff brings him back next season to continue his development.

T Marshall Newhouse is the next player to be assessed today. The veteran tackle had spent the early part of his career with the Packers before bouncing around to the Giants and Raiders. Newhouse was brought in to provide depth at a position that had some question marks going into 2018. Unfortunately, his time in Buffalo was short lived to just 3 games, eventually shipping out to the Panthers in exchange for a 2021 7th round pick. During his 3 game stretch, he did not suffer any injuries and had 1 holding penalty and 1 false start penalty. As he is an aging veteran who was moved for a low round draft pick 2 years from now, it is unlikely that Newhouse finds his way back to Buffalo.

T Jeremiah Sirles is another veteran tackle that has bounced around the league with stops at San Diego, Minnesota, Carolina, and Buffalo. During the 2018 season, Sirles saw action in 12 games, starting 5 with 1 false start penalty and 1 declined/offset penalty. In addition, Sirles managed to avoid the injury report and provided to be a solid depth option at the tackle position. While he is far from the long term answer at the position, his play this past season was rewarded with a one-year contact extension and I expect to see him on the field in 2019.

T Jordan Mills was an interesting player this year. The big man has been a part of the Bills since 2015; before that, he spent 2 seasons with the Bears. He appeared in and started all 16 games, recording 3 holding penalties and 2 false start penalties along with 2 penalties that were declined or offset. Mills was one of the few tackles this season to sustain injuries including a knee injury suffered in practice prior to the Colts game that did not force him to miss any games. He also suffered a left knee injury during the first Jets game that caused him to miss several plays but was able to return. He was one player this year that managed to sustain small injuries, require medical attention but never appeared to be anything serious. Most of his injuries may have been more contusions due to the brutal hits he has to endure but somehow he did not miss significant time. Mills is currently an unrestricted free agent and the team does not appear to be in any rush to re-sign him. I believe that his time in Buffalo has come to a close and it is possible that he could catch on with another team requiring veteran depth at the position.

Finally, T Dion Dawkins rounds out players at the tackle position. The 2nd year player managed to wow the coaching staff last year with his exceptional play as a rookie, but with losses to the offensive line due to Wood/Incognito, it appeared as though his flaws were exposed as a result. Dawkins managed to appear and start in all 16 games with 1 holding penalty, 3 false start penalties, 3 offset/declined penalties; a stark increase from 2017 in which he only sustained 3 total penalties. In addition to his tackle play, Dawkins got in on the passing game, hauling in 1 target for 1 reception for 7 yards and a TD during the win over the Jets. Injury wise, Dawkins only suffered what appeared to be a hip pointer injury during the preseason against the Bengals. Otherwise, Dawkins managed to avoid further injury and continued to provide stability at an ever changing offensive line. While I have heard some discussion that the coaching staff has fallen out of favor with him as he was not a guy they drafted, I would still keep him on the roster as he has shown he can play at a high level and his health issues are minimal. I expect to see him back in 2019 improving his play with new coaching along with experienced, more talented players added in allowing Dawkins to reduce the burden he was placed with this past season.

Overall, this is another position group that has to be addressed in both the draft and free agency. Outside of Dawkins, the rest of the players listed are merely depth players even with Mills starting the past few seasons. With the Bills picking at 9th overall, it appears as though they are going the best player available route which could dissuade them from going offensive tackle, but if that player happens to be a tackle, then they could certainly upgrade one side of the line and begin to re-solidify the offensive line.

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- Tight Ends

Bills season injury review at the TE position & how much the position will turn over in 2019!

The 2018 Buffalo Bills tight end position suffered mightily as the result of the anemic passing game and as a result, will lead to significant overhaul going into 2019. The overall stats for the tight end position were 89 targets for 61 receptions for 525 yards and 1 TD. Those stats alone aren’t fantastic for one player, let alone an entire platoon for a team. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained during the 2018 season and how this will affect 2019.

First up is TE Khari Lee. The veteran end has been in the league since 2015 in mostly a special teams role with Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo. Lee spent part of the 2017 season with Buffalo followed by 2 games during Week’s 3 & 4 in which he recorded 1 target for 1 reception for 5 yards and 0 TD’s. While his presence was more felt on special teams and as a blocking end, his offensive production did not warrant his continued presence on the roster. He did not suffer any injuries and depending how things shake out, he could be back in Buffalo if the front office sees any value in him.

Next player up is TE Logan Thomas. The converted QB to TE had his most productive season to date after entering the league in 2016 with Arizona. Thomas appeared in 12 games with 3 starts amassing 17 targets for 12 receptions and 77 yards with 0 TD’s. The converted tight end was able to stay relatively healthy all season minus a minor hamstring strain in practice prior to the Lions game which caused him to miss only one game which was more out of precaution due to the relatively acute nature of the injury. This is also an injury that should not carry over into next season. As Thomas is a restricted free agent, it will be curious whether the Bills retain his services going into 2019. Right now, the Bills have right of first refusal in the event that another team offers him a contract. If he gets a contract and the Bills refuse to match, they would receive a 4th round pick from that team in return for the upcoming draft. Knowing this information, I can certainly see why the Bills are in no rush to offer Thomas a contract, hoping that they can bait another team to offer him. If this plan does not work, I would strongly suspect that the Bills retain his services going into 2019.

The player who disappointed the most was TE Charles Clay. His stat line was as follows: 13 games, 12 starts, 36 targets, 21 receptions, 184 yards, 0 TD’s. I hate to be blunt, but this is terrible for any veteran player, regardless of contract status. For someone who has been in the league for 8 years, he has had his share of injuries, but he just failed to produce all together. He suffered ankle and shoulder injuries early in the season that landed him on the injury report but did not miss anytime. He did miss 2 games due to a hamstring string early in the loss to Chicago. Other than the hamstring, he was relatively healthy, just was far from productive. His defining moment of 2018 was missing the winning TD catch against the Dolphins in the end zone which summed up how things went this year.

Over Clay’s playing career, he has had a long history of knee and hamstring injuries that caused him to miss time nearly every season. He has also had a smattering of back and ankle injuries that do not appear to be recurring but even though Clay did not miss a lot of games during his career in Buffalo, it always seemed like there was a constant problem he was dealing with which aggravated fans. No one can play forever, but it will be curious to see whether Clay can rebound from the poor season he had in 2018 with a fresh start in Arizona, hoping the dry heat can help keep him healthier. Considering the Bills released him due to not living up to his contract, he will not be in a Bills uniform again anytime soon. He has shown the ability to be productive as evident by his first 3 seasons in Buffalo, but his time in the NFL may be ending unless he finds the fountain of youth.

Finally, the most productive tight end for the Bills in 2018 was TE Jason Croom. The converted wide receiver to tight end was able to put up decent numbers including 15 games, 3 starts, 35 targets, 22 receptions, 259 yards, 1 TD. While these are far from eye popping, they paced the tight end group in his first full year in the NFL. Injury wise, Croom suffered several injuries this season including a low ankle sprain in the preseason against the Browns, a knee injury during practice early in the season prior to the Vikings game, and a mild groin injury suffered in the loss to the Dolphins which caused him to miss one game. Groin injuries can linger if not dealt with properly but as he sat out and did not deal with it for the remaining games, it appears to be a non-issue going into 2019. Considering Croom is the only tight end under contract right now, it is strongly assumed that he will return. However, I do not believe that he will be the top option for the Bills going forward, but will continue to hopefully grow into the position.

Overall, I expect Croom and hopefully Thomas to return in 2019. I expect the Bills to address the position in both the draft and in free agency as there has been much talk regarding how OC Brian Daboll likes to work 2 TE sets in his offense. Considering the money the Bills have to spend this off-season, I expect them to pay a mid level player a decent contract to help give QB Josh Allen another weapon along with drafting some young talent in order to build towards the future. This is one position that will be nearly turned over, but one that is sorely needed.

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!!