Today’s post on Banged Up Bills breaks down the guard and center positional injuries and implications for next season. A total of 5 players suited up at the C/G position that powered the Bills to the playoffs and was able to maintain a top 10 rushing attack. Unfortunately, the offensive line is aging and unexpected injuries have derailed the possibility for a repeat performance next season.
Starting off with the center position is C Eric Wood. The 9th year pro had a relatively successful season anchoring the offensive line. Injury wise, Wood suffered an ankle injury during the win over the Oakland Raiders which did not force him to miss any time and was not a factor for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, it was later revealed he did suffer two neck stingers in Week’s 5-6 which after an end of season physical resulted in his inability to continue to playing due to possible long term risks. A more detailed analysis of his injury can be found here. He is not expected to return under any circumstances and is not officially retired due to salary cap complications.
Next up is versatile C/G Ryan Groy. The 4th year pro served in mostly a backup role this season but has shown the ability to start when C Eric Wood went down in 2016 with a broken leg. Groy saw no time on the injury report with the exception of illness in Week 16. The young lineman appears to be a natural fit to replace Wood at the position as a low cost option and will either grow into the position or be a bridge piece for someone else to come in. Expect him to assume a larger role next season.
Transitioning to the guard position, there were 3 primary players that took on the job at guard. First up is G Richie Incognitio. The controversial player found a second life in Buffalo and has continued to demonstrate a Pro Bowl caliber play despite being one of the older players on the line. Injury wise, Incognitio saw minimal time on the injury report, suffering an ankle injury during the Tampa Bay game and shoulder injury during the playoff loss to the Jaguars. The 12th year pro did require weekly rest days which may have contributed to his ability to stay healthier compared to others. Incognitio is still very effective despite his age and is a great transitional piece as the front office slowly begins to rebuild the offensive line. Recently, he restructured his contract to allow him to stay on a more team friendly deal to allow the team to focus on other assets this off season.
Next man up is G Vladmir Ducasse who after not initially starting the season, came in and performed effectively, playing in 12 regular season games and 1 post season game. Ducasse was thought to be a depth player going into the season but questionable play by G John Miller led to Ducasse’s starting opportunity after 4 games. In addition to winning the starting job from Miller, the 7th year pro stayed injury free and proved how effective he can be in a run heavy offense. As for next season, the Bills would be making a poor decision if he were to leave. Like Incognitio, his contract and availability is favorable and he also provides a nice transition as the line gets older. Expect to see Ducasse on the line again in 2018.
Finally, G John Miller rounds out the guard review for the 2018 season. Miller had a pretty rough season, winning the job out of training camp before relinquishing his job after 4 games to Ducasse. To add insult to injury, Miller began to be ruled inactive thereafter and suffered what I suspected to be a high ankle sprain in practice right before Thanksgiving which forced him to miss 6 games. Despite Miller’s horrendous season, it is possible that he returns for next season. He is only 24, has demonstrated the ability to play well in past seasons and is going into the final season of his rookie contract. He does provide another veteran body in an aging line but is still young enough that could be moved in a trade for other pieces if needed.
In addition to all these players likely to come back next season, C Adam Redmon is on a futures contract which may allow the Bills to not have to search far for their next center if Groy does not work out or is injured. Continue to check back with Banged Up Bills for the latest injury updates. Check out Grandstand Sports Network for other injury related articles that I post and please check out the latest content by my fellow colleagues. GSN is truly an unique site comprised of passionate individuals providing the latest stories and shows not found anywhere else. GSN is the #1 place to go for the 2018 NFL draft! As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!