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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 Preseason Injury Preview- Panthers

Detailing the latest Bills injuries prior to the Week 2 preseason game against the Panthers.

The Bills survived a thriller over the Colts last Thursday at New Era Field with a 24-16 win! They managed to play well & avoid major injury which is always ideal in the preseason. Entering Week 2 of the preseason, health concerns of several players still exist. Today’s post will identify those who are questionable & likely out.
 
Ruled out:
 
C Mitch Morse: concussion
 
Morse is still dealing with the after-effects of a concussion diagnosed over 2 weeks ago. He has since progressed to return to full practice with a red non-contact jersey. He has been able to take snaps, run full speed, and do nearly everything except full contact. He will not play Friday due to the obvious concerns of suffering another head injury. He still requires the reps & practice with the first-team offense to be ready for the regular season. His time in the preseason will come, but likely in the 3rd game.
 
RB Frank Gore: veteran rest
 
Gore played in the preseason opener with a strong, but brief outing & avoided injury. He has nothing left to prove to the Bills until the regular season. It was already announced that he would sit out so that RB LeSean McCoy starts. This will allow Devin Singletary, TJ Yeldon, and others to make their case on the final roster.
 
TE Dawson Knox: hamstring
 
Knox continues to work back from his hamstring injury sustained early in camp. Many reports state that Knox is performing rehab, but not cleared to don a non-contact jersey. This is due to avoiding coming back too soon and re-injuring. While he is a lock to make the team, his development has been severely stunted. Hopes are that he gets on the field for the last 2 games to catch up.
 
OL Conor McDermott: concussion
 
Like Morse, McDermott is in the concussion protocol following a hit on Thursday night. He currently wears a red non-contact jersey signifying that he is rapidly improving. Yet, it may not be wise to expose him to live football this week to ensure his long term health. As he is fighting for a roster spot, he may be best to fight another day.
 
Questionable:
 
C Russell Bodine: oblique strain
 
Bodine suffered an oblique strain during last weeks preseason win. He has since worn a non-contact jersey during the two practices in South Carolina. For his health, he may be best suited to sit out this game. Considering he has to fight for a roster spot behind Morse, Long, Feliciano, and even Bates, he may try to play through the injury.
 
TE Jason Croom: hamstring
 
Croom, like Knox, has been battling to get back on the field to show why he needs to make the roster. He appears to be near 100% but is truly questionable whether he plays Friday. This will likely be a player decision to play. I don’t expect that he will re-injure the hamstring again, but there is always a possibility.
 
C/G Spencer Long: knee
 
Cover 1’s Greg Tompsett observed Long as a full participant in practice this past week. Yet, Tompsett noted that Long continues to don a brace and a wrap on the right leg indicating there is still an issue. Considering the hinge bracing, this still supports that he tweaked his MCL. While this is not 100%, this could keep Long out of the 2nd game to ensure his versatility at both positions.
 
There will be other likely starters that will sit out, but not due to injury. Considering the joint practices this past week with the Panthers, I expect more situational football played than all-out war. This should keep the number of injuries down but allow borderline players to showcase their abilities.
 
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 Preseason Injury Preview- Colts

Reviewing all Bills injuries prior to the 1st preseason game against the Colts.

Football is upon us! The first preseason game of the 2019 Bills season is Thursday night against the Colts. While HC Sean McDermott has announced that starters will play the 1st quarter, this doesn’t mean that all potential starters will play. Due to several injuries, the below listed players are either not expected to play or are questionable.

Ruled OUT:

TE Jason Croom & Dawson Knox: hamstring strain

Both tight ends have been out since the beginning of training camp due to hamstring strains. For Croom, this is his 2nd hamstring strain after suffering one during OTA’s in May. Since both have not practiced in full, both are expected to be ruled out. This will give starting reps to TE Lee Smith & TE Tommy Sweeney along with playing time for TE Keith Towbridge, TE Nate Becker & TE Kyle Carter. 

C Mitch Morse- concussion

Morse continues to deal with the after effects of a concussion sustained in the first padded practice of training camp that has caused him to miss nearly two weeks of valuable reps. Even if he is cleared for tomorrow’s game, the missed reps alone will prevent him from effectively playing. 

Considering his concussion history, it would be poor judgement to rush him back into the field which may necessitate the team to keep him out of at least the first 2 games. Based on video, it appears he is in stage 4 of the concussion protocol, but until he is cleared & comfortable with the playcall and pads, he should stay off the field. 

CB EJ Gaines- groin

Gaines suffered yet another injury, this time to his groin while performing 1-on-1 drills during Monday’s practice. Considering the team reports that he will be out a few weeks, he may miss the rest of the preseason while rehabbing. It’s obvious he will not play Thursday. To read more about his most recent injury, check out my article at Buffalo Rumblings.

RB LeSean McCoy- veteran

McCoy will not play against the Colts on a Thursday to avoid injury and ensure that he stays healthy going into 2019. He will play during the Panthers preseason game whereas RB Frank Gore will sit that game and play in the Colts game. This is a smart move and will also let RB Devin Singletary & RB TJ Yeldon touches to see what they have as depth. 

 

Ruled QUESTIONABLE: 

C/G Spencer Long: knee

Long has been in and out of practice the past week dealing with what the team has described as knee soreness. He has been seen wearing a hinged knee brace and compression sleeve indicating he may have sustained a mild knee sprain. Considering the issues that Morse is dealing with now, Long may be forced to play the first quarter in the even that Morse is not ready to start the season. If Long cannot start, then C Russell Bodine will. 

OL Jon Feliciano: shoulder

Feliciano suffered a shoulder injury during Thursday’s practice and appeared to re-injure the area again during the Friday practice at New Era Field. While there is not video or any descriptors of the injury, it is hard to speculate what he is dealing with. Considering the issues with the offensive line, I would expect the team would want to get him reps for a few series in order to see how things get on the field. However, the team may hold him out as a precaution to see how the rest of the linemen look. 

There appears to always be surprises for preseason games but as they are generally a waste for starters to play, it is expected that others will sit as a precaution. There are many others Bills players listed with ailments but do not appear to be limiting as all have practiced over the last week without issues. 

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- Special Teams

Reviewing the injuries at the special teams unit & what the 2019 version may look like.

Training camp is here! After nearly 8 months of waiting, the Bills break for training camp on Thursday & we are one step closer to having meaningful Sunday’s again. Today’s article marks the finale of the positional reviews for the 2018 season. Special teams bringing up the rear and rounding out the remaining Bills players on the roster.

First up is LS Reid Ferguson. The now veteran snapper has made a nice home for himself in Buffalo, appearing in every game the last 2 seasons while not missing a snap and avoiding injury. While there are not many stats for long snappers, he did accumulate 3 total tackles, 2 solo, 1 assisted. He will be coming back this season as the most consistent special teams player and look to improve on their performance from last season.

P Matt Darr appeared in 5 games this past season, punting the ball 20 times for 809 yards. He also did not suffer any injuries but his time with the team was solely due to the injuries and inconsistencies at a normally stable punter position. Darr has since moved onto the New York Jets for the 2019 season.

P Colton Schmidt had two stints with the team, winning the job coming out of training camp before getting cut in favor of Bojorquez. However, Schmidt did get re-signed to the team for 3 games after Bojorquez went down with injury. He was able to make 16 punts for 676 yards during his brief time in Buffalo and avoid injury. He is currently a free agent but unlikely to return to Buffalo this coming season.

P Cory Carter missed all of last season with a torn ACL suffered in the Browns preseason game. This was the result of a Browns player running into Carter’s leg after he got the punt off, he was unable to land safely on his plant leg, the knee hyperextended and the ACL tore. Carter spent all of last season on IR but the team appeared to like him enough to bring him back to compete for the starting job this season. To note, he was the only Bills player to suffer an ACL tear last season.

Moving onto P Corey Bojorquez, he suffered a torn labrum during the Tennessee Titans game in which he attempted a botched fake field goal. While he was attempting to throw the ball, he was tackled and the force of his fully flexed arm led to a labral tear. He was able to play several more games before being shut down and sent to IR. Bojorquez appeared in 8 games, totaling 45 punts for 2028 yards & 1 block. He appears to be fully healthy coming into this season and should have a healthy competition with P Cory Carter for the starting job.

Next man up is RB Taiwan Jones. While he is listed as a running back, his mark was made on special teams. He appeared in 6 games, mostly returning punts until he suffered some sort of neck injury against the Houston Texans. I have reviewed film countless times and was unable to identify what the injury was. Whatever he was diagnosed with, he was sent to IR for the season but has since signed with Houston to bolster their special teams in 2019. To note, he did suffer a rather gruesome gash on his head as the result of a muffed punt against the Chargers where he took a direct hit from a helmeted player. Thankfully, he did not suffer a concussion and as far as we know, no lasting issues with the head wound.

Finally, K Stephen Hauschka rounds out the special teams unit. He appeared in all 16 games finishing 22/28 for a 78.4% FG percentage completion which is an all time low for the veteran kicker. He also made 25/26 extra point kicks for a 96.2% completion. However, to provide context, Hauschka was not the same kicker after he got blindsided by Jets DE Henry Anderson after a blocked FG on the last play in the 2nd half of the first meeting with the Jets. I had originally thought he suffered a hip pointer injury which could make kicking very difficult & painful which certainly affected his effectiveness the rest of the season. Looking back, there is reasonable questions on whether the Bills should have brought a different kicker in while Hauschka healed. But, as Hauschka is a veteran, he has learned how to take care of his body and with time and rest, this should not affect him going into this season. However, if he starts to slip, they team may want to move in a younger direction.

Overall, I expect Hauschka & Ferguson to be on the 2019 Bills roster with a fierce battle at the punter position taking place. Technically, Hauschka does have competition with UDFA K Chase McLaughlin, but it would take a horrendous preseason for McLaughlin to unseat the veteran. This should be a much improved unit with new ST coach Heath Farwell taking the reins and improving the overall special teams units in order to overcome the shortcomings that cost the Bills games last 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!!

Bills Season Injury Review- Safety

Read the latest Bills season injury review at the safety position and what the outlook is for 2019.

Training camp inches closer and closer and the end of season injury reviews near! Today’s review of the safety position will go into the injuries from last season at the safety position, new faces including recent signings & who has the ability to make the roster.

First man up is S Dean Marlowe. The veteran safety has been a mainstay in Sean McDermott’s defense since his days in Carolina. Marlowe’s time in Buffalo has been infrequent, a result of being placed on the practice squad, called up due to injury, cut; rinse and repeat. His stat line is as follows: 2 games with 1 start accumulating 1 pass deflection, 5 total tackles, 4 solo, 1 assisted. As Marlowe has been brought in as needed, he may find himself looking outside following training camp. However, he may be a quick signing based on injury needs as the season progresses.

Next up is S Rafael Bush. The longtime veteran safety has demonstrated an ability to be an effective plug and play piece in the event of injury. His stat line for 2018: 15 games played with 7 starts, 1.5 sacks, 40 total tackles, 30 solo, 15 assisted, 2 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits. Injury wise, he suffered what looked to be an AC sprain or shoulder contusion while attempting to tackle Packers RB Aaron Jones. He did miss the next game as a result but didn’t suffer any further injuries through the year. Bush was slated to come back and compete for a depth spot at the safety position, but retired on July 19th, days before training camp was to begin. Unless he changes his mind, Bush will be walking away on his own terms.

S Siran Neal is the next player assessed during this positional review. The versatile safety out of Jacksonville State saw limited playing time during the 2018 season but made his presence known when he was on the field. Neal appeared in all 16 games with 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack, 11 total tackles with 10 solo, 1 assisted, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 QB hit. In addition, he avoided any known injuries. Neal is a strong candidate to make this roster again and should continue to develop into an excellent depth piece in the event starters go down.

S Jordan Poyer continues to outplay his contract every year since arriving 2 seasons ago and will be due a hefty raise when his contract is up. Poyer has been incredibly durable during his time in Buffalo, only missing 1 game over the last 2 years. Last season, he appeared in all 16 games recording 4 interceptions with 6 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 2 sacks, 100 total tackles with 73 solo, 27 assisted, 9 tackles for loss, and 3 QB hits. Poyer managed to only sustain a right finger injury during the 1st Dolphins game, but did not miss anytime. Poyer will continue to hopefully produce and earn his next contract in a Bills uniform.

Finally, S Micah Hyde rounds out the players returning from last season. Like Poyer, Hyde has also been incredibly durable over the past 2 seasons, missing only one game during that time frame. Stat wise, Hyde appeared and started in 15 games, recording 2 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, 1 fumble recovery, 58 total tackles with 41 solo, 17 assisted, and 1 tackle for loss. Injury wise, Hyde suffered a groin injury while trying to cover TE Jimmy Graham during the 1st quarter in the Packers loss. He simply performed a football move, rotating his hips to keep up with Graham and tweaked the hip adductor. He did miss the next game but was able to come back and play the rest of the season without further complications. Hyde comes back to lock down the other safety position with continued lock down coverage in 2019.

New faces to the team include 6th rd draft pick S Jaquan Johnson and veteran S Kurt Coleman. While Hyde & Poyer are once again occupying the starting spots, there is a lot of talent behind them that can step up on the event one of them go down. It’s likely that Hyde, Poyer, Johnson, Neal, and even Coleman make this roster. Marlowe could be cut but brought back immediately as needed. Overall, the Bills secondary continues to be one of the healthiest & strongest groups on this team to help bring the Bills defense even higher.

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 Backs

Breaking down the 2018 injuries and players who suited up for the Bills and what to expect in 2019.

Training camp is less than a week away! As the opening day nears, a bullish outlook on the secondary is the general consensus after the excellent play the last two seasons. The only weak spot is CB2 in where there was a carousel of players throughout the season due to injury which led to inconsistent play. Today’s post will review the injuries from last season, impact they’ll have on this season, and new faces added to the mix.

First up is CB Phillip Gaines. The veteran corner appeared in 7 games, starting 6 accumulating 2 pass deflections, 30 total tackles, 24 solo and 6 assisted with 1 tackle for loss. Gaines also suffered a dislocated elbow during the loss to the Chargers. As a result, he missed 1 game. Gaines was cut in early November due to his inconsistent play where he later signed with the Browns. He won’t be back and the cornerback position will be better without him.

Next up is CB Denzel Rice. The 4th year back has bounced around the league, most notably playing in 8 games with the Browns last season. Rice was a late-season addition to the roster in which he appeared in 4 games and completed 2 tackles. As he came in late and with little consistency sticking with a team, it will be a long shot for Rice to make this team unless he has an amazing camp along with injuries to other players.

CB Lafayette Pitts has shown to be a somewhat dependable player though his contributions were felt more on special teams during the 2018 season. Pitts appeared in all 16 games and recorded 9 tackles, 8 solo and 1 assisted. Injury wise, Pitts suffered a concussion when he collided with Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook on a punt return in the 1st quarter. Thankfully, Pitts did not miss any future games and appeared to have no lasting effects. Pitts has a solid chance to make this team due to his previous play over the past 2 seasons but is far from a lock.

CB Ryan Lewis marks another returner from 2018. Lewis was a waiver claim from the Patriots and had an immediate impact on the field early in the season. However, he must have drawn the ire of the coaching staff as he was inexplicitly benched shortly after his debut and received sporadic playing time thereafter. Lewis appeared in 7 games, starting 3, notching 3 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, 15 total tackles with 12 solo and 3 assisted. To note, a majority of those stats came in the 3 games he started before his benching. Injury wise, Lewis suffered a concussion during the 2nd Jets game which caused him to miss the remaining 3 games of the season. Considering his doghouse status and concussion at the end of the year, things do not bode well for Lewis. It is unlikely that the concussion will affect him this year, but he will also have to have an outstanding camp to make the 53.

One of the Alabama UDFA darlings, CB Levi Wallace makes his appearance. Wallace replaced Lewis midway through the season and never looked back. He appeared and started in 7 games with 3 pass deflections, 37 total tackles with 24 solo, 13 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 QB hit. While at times Wallace was inconsistent as he made the jump from CFB to NFL, he was able to remain healthy and show he could lock down the CB2 position. Wallace did suffer an ankle injury during the 2nd Jets game in where his ankle bent oddly as he was attempting to tackle the ball carrier. However, he did not suffer any long term issues and is a near-lock to make the roster barring any surprising performances by others.

2nd year CB Taron Johnson shows up and he made quite the impact as a rookie in 2018. He appeared in 11 games, starting 2 with 1 interception, 3 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 42 total tackles, 34 solo, 8 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 QB hit. For a rookie coming from a small school, that is an impressive stat line. What makes it even better is the fact that he suffered a torn labrum early in the season opener against the Ravens. He missed the next game but played the entire season with a damaged shoulder before being shut down after the Bills were out of the playoff hunt. I have detailed his injury and recovery at Buffalo Rumblings for those interested. Johnson may be at risk to re-injure next season but still overall low risk. He is certain to make this roster barring any season-ending injuries in training camp.

Finally, CB Tre’Davious White rounds out the group. The stellar 3rd year back out of LSU has really made a mark in the past 2 seasons with the Bills, but hasn’t quite got his dues from the national media. As he continues to play, I expect his stature to grow and be more well known. Regardless of national media perception, opposing teams are certainly aware of what White brings to the table.

He played in 16 games with 16 starts, accumulating 2 interceptions, 8 pass deflections, 54 total tackles, 44 solo, 10 assisted, and 1 tackle for loss. While he was stellar on the field, having minimal injury also did not hurt either. White suffered an ankle injury during practice prior to the Titans game which he did not miss. Unfortunately, he suffered a head injury in the season finale over the Dolphins where he was later downgraded to out. While no official information was released indicating concussion, precautions were still taken to ensure his health. If he was indeed diagnosed with a concussion, this would be the 2nd one of his professional career in as many seasons. White is a player that any coach can put in writing as a starter, the only concern will be who will be playing opposite him.

New faces this year include CB EJ Gaines who was with the Bills in 2017 as a key cog during the playoff run, CB Kevin Johnson, and CB Cam Lewis. All with the exception of Cam Lewis will have a legitimate shot at making this team. We know White, Wallace, and T. Johnson will make the roster, good shot that K. Johnson & Gaines round out the CB position. Pitts & R. Lewis also have a shot but injuries are always the great equalizer at the end of the day, so only time will tell how the cornerback position fleshes out.

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-Linebackers

Read up on the returning & new faces of the LB corps going into 2019 including how injuries may impact them.

As training camp approaches, optimism is high for the linebacking corps in 2019. The spotlight is placed on this unit due to the lack of availability in 2018 that was apparent as key injuries occurred. During the off-season, Brandon Beane made it an effort to find more talent in order to create competition at the position in the event that starters go down. Today’s post will review the injuries from 2018 and if it will impact 2019.

First up is LB Corey Thompson. The rookie UDFA out of LSU appeared in 6 games with 1 start. During his playing time, he was able to rack up 1 forced fumble, 14 combined tackles, 8 solo, 6 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit. Injury-wise, he suffered a minor ankle injury during the loss to the Patriots. Thankfully, this was not an injury that appeared to be serious and does not have any repercussions going into 2019. However, Thompson will have a difficult time making the roster with all the additional depth and will have to make his mark on special teams to have a chance.

Next up is LB Deon Lacey. The veteran linebacker appeared in all 16 games with 0 starts, completing 7 combined tackles, 5 solo, 2 assisted. Most of Lacey’s playing time was spent on special teams where he did not appear to suffer any injuries but he will once again have to fight tooth and nail to earn another spot on the 53 man roster for 2019.

LB Julian Stanford makes the list as another primary special teams contributor from 2018. He appeared in 13 games with 1 start. He accumulated 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 15 tackles, 13 solo, 2 assisted, 1 tackle for loss. While his contributions appear to be more versatile compared to his other special teams’ counterparts, he still is also not a lock to make the roster. Injury-wise, he suffered a broken nose during the last preseason game which caused him to miss the season opener. He also missed the last game of the season due to what appeared to be a high ankle sprain during the loss to the Patriots. This isn’t an injury that lingers but he will still have to fight in order to make this roster in 2019.

Next up is the ageless LB Lorenzo Alexander. Despite his age and time in the league, Alexander continues to produce, appearing in 16 games with 8 starts. During the season, he recorded 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 6.5 sacks, 74 combined tackles, 55 solo, 19 assisted, 11 tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits. On top of his stellar play, he continues to avoid injury through his rigorous recovery routine during the season. He is coming back to the team in 2019 as he is an incredibly vocal leader and will still prove to be valuable on both defense and special teams.

LB Tremaine Edmunds arrives next on the list with a solid rookie campaign but at times had injuries which limited his ability to fully showcase what made him a 1st round pick in 2018. His stats are as follows: 15 games, 15 starts with 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, 121 combined tackles, 80 solo, 41 assisted, 5 tackles for loss, 7 QB hits. While he was incredibly productive as the quarterback of the defense, injuries certainly impacted the ability to maximize his potential.

Edmunds suffered a concussion early in the season during the first Patriots game on MNF in where he collided with FB James Devlin and caused him to miss the next game against the Bears. Edmunds also suffered injuries to his right leg and low back during the season. The right leg injury was due to the foot getting caught in the turf and being hit by a falling body which could have caused some serious damage if he was falling the other way but thankfully he just tweaked things. He also suffered a back injury during the win over the Lions which did not cause him to miss anytime but he was labored in his movements following the hit from OL Frank Ragnow. None of the injuries were serious outside the concussion, but Edmunds has a lot of work to do to improve off his rookie season in 2019.

Finally, LB Matt Milano rounds out the linebacker group from the 2018 season. Milano was on pace for a Pro Bowl season appearing in 13 games with 13 starts accumulating 3 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 sack, 78 combined tackles, 52 solo, 26 assisted, 12 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits before injury struck. Reviewing all his injuries, Milano suffered a head injury during the first game against the Jets. Considering he had the bye week right after the game, it was unknown if he was officially diagnosed with a concussion, but it was not something that appeared to cause any long term issues.

Unfortunately, Milano’s season was cut short with a gruesome ankle injury in where he broke his fibula as the result of QB Sam Darnold falling onto his ankle and Milano getting hit from behind. There was and still is much concern regarding how he is progressing in his rehab which I have detailed in my article with Buffalo Rumblings. He should be 100% going into the season and this is supported by his full participation in OTA’s. He is another component that will continue to shore up the linebacking corps in 2019 and take the defense to the next level.

New faces to the team include 5th round draft pick LB Vosean Joseph, UDFA’s Tyrel Dodson & Juwan Foggie, and FA Maurice Alexander. It’s likely that L. Alexander, Milano, Edmunds, Joseph, and M. Alexander all make the team with Dodson, Thompson, and Foggie possibly making the practice squad as they still have eligibility. As for Lacey, he still has a shot to earn a roster spot but as he is a veteran, there may be cheaper options on special teams. This will be a strong corps regardless who makes the final roster as McDermott has a penchant for linebackers and safeties on special teams. The top half of the linebackers is set, the bottom half will be fun to watch!

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!!