The 2018 NFL season is finally upon us!! After months of waiting, we finally have real, meaningful football in Buffalo. The Bills are coming off their most successful season in nearly two decades and despite the “experts” that say the Bills will be terrible this year, I still expect them to post a competitive record and be in every game. This is a McDermott led team, they will not roll over and die. This is simply not in their DNA. After watching the Bills: Embedded, the culture that McDermott has fostered is palpable and can be understood why the team gelled so well last year. On a personal note, I wrestled in high school and my coach had a similar approach towards team building and creating a culture. We went from one of the worst teams in the district my freshman year to one of the top 6 by the time I graduated. They only continued to get better after my graduation and reached heights never thought of before. When I watch McDermott rally his team and how he does it, it’s like watching the same movie again. The ending may be different from my story, but I know what I see and I love it. Trust the Process is a real thing and while the ultimate goal is the Super Bowl, only time will tell if it’s achieved. If the ultimate goal is not met; continued, sustained success will be realized and a more successful product will be on the field week in and week out.
Along with having a competitive mindset as mentioned above, the Bills enter the 2018 season relatively healthy. While they did suffer injuries in camp, the most serious being P Cory Carter’s ACL tear, the team was able to avoid some of the other pitfalls that hold back other teams from maximizing their chances to make their mark on the season. Today’s post will review injuries going into the game and how it will affect the overall play.
Ruled out include WR Ray-Ray McCloud (knee). I had said in previous tweets he appeared to injure his left knee during a punt return late in the 4th preseason game. On video, it appeared to be pretty innocuous and nothing concerning. He was hit on the outside of his knee as he was going down which leads me to believe it is a minor knee sprain. He did require assistance to get up but no further video is available on how he was able to get off the field and training staff did not come out to assess. However, McCloud has been ruled out leading me to believe this is more serious than originally thought. It may be a minor sprain he just doesn’t feel up to pushing or something more that the team just has not revealed yet. I will continue to look for information to make a stronger assessment.
Next up is LB Julian Stanford (nose). As there’s few things that you can do to your nose, I’m pretty certain he broke his nose in the preseason loss to the Bengals. While the nasal bones do need to heal, with proper protection he can play. He has been limited the past few days according to the injury report. According to @profootballdoc, last season 67% of players listed as questionable for the Bills ended up playing. I like those odds to play but ultimately, it is up to whether Stanford feels he can perform Sunday.
Those not listed on the injury report but still dealing with injuries are DE Trent Murphy (groin) and DT Kyle Williams (knee). Murphy has not seen the field all preseason but recent video appears to show that he is ready to play at full speed. I see no hitches in his movement and it appears he is going at full speed. In addition, he has had over a month to fully heal from his groin injury which is more than enough time for a minor strain. I believe he will be able to play Sunday with no restrictions though may be limited on snap count to avoid further injury and keeping fresh players out there. Once he has demonstrated he can play on Sunday, he should be a very strong addition to the defense.
Williams was dealing with the more serious injury in which he sprained his right knee MCL during the Browns game. He was initially week-to-week and the prognosis did not appear favorable for a quick return. Surprisingly, Williams appears to be ready to suit up Sunday, just 3 weeks after his injury. I do not believe he is quite 100% based on the timeline for his type of injury. In the video above, he is wearing a knee brace on the right leg. It is hard to notice as it is white but towards the end of the video, you can see the brace and he has the slightest favoritism on that right leg. He may be still feeling the effects of the injury but it appears healed enough to play Sunday. Williams is a long time veteran who knows and understands what it takes to get through injuries such as this. This is also his last season and I don’t expect a man of his caliber to not play if he thinks he can suit up. If he does play, it will be similar to Murphy in that he may have a snap count or be a rotational player to keep guys healthy and rested.
Expect to see Murphy play with no restrictions, optimistic to see Williams play in a rotational role as last year and perform despite his recent injury. I also expect Stanford to play as the odds are in his favor and that his injury is relatively minor. Thankfully this was a short article, but expect greater in depth articles as more injuries occur this season.
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