The Bills roll into Orchard Park with a 1-3 record and much to play for when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. While it is quickly becoming a reality that this team will not look like last year’s surprise playoff team; the fan base is still hoping that there are some positives that can be squeezed out of this season.
According to Friday’s injury report, no one has been ruled out prior to Sunday’s game. Three players have been ruled questionable including: S Rafael Bush (shoulder), S Micah Hyde (groin), and TE Charles Clay (ankle).
Reviewing video, Hyde’s injury was fairly straight forward, pulling his left groin midway through the 1st quarter attempting go upfield and get involved with the play, coming up lame. He was on the injury report the prior week with a toe injury but this is not something that would have caused compensation patterns leading to the injury. He simply performed a football move and it caught him. While he is questionable, he has not practiced all week which historically is not favorable when predicting whether he will play Sunday. He will realistically need at least one more week before he can even consider playing in a game. Expect him to miss this Sunday.
S Rafael Bush injured his shoulder on the last play of the 1st quarter tackling RB Aaron Jones out of bounds. He injured his left shoulder when he got spun around off Jones, falling directly onto his shoulder without having the ability to brace for the fall. He was able to play the rest of the game but was not really directly involved in many plays regarding physical contact after that. His injury was not immediately apparent until reported on the injury report Tuesday. I believe he suffered an AC joint sprain or possible contusion to the general area. Other possibility of a SC joint sprain, though less likely. Typical mechanisms of injury are similar to what was described above; a direct blow to his shoulder. Considering that he was able to play the rest of the game, but take the entire week of practice off suggests that it is a mild sprain/contusion that may take a week to heal.
From my previous article from the Tampa Bay game last year, edited for relevancy:
“On average, the Grade 1 shoulder sprain that Bush possibly could have sustained typically takes 9.8 days to fully recover from according to Dr. David Geier. He will be at day 7 by kickoff Sunday, which may affect his ability.”
It’s possible that he could play, but not practicing all week may have allowed him to heal in order to play, but more realistically, he is not quite ready for contact. Like Hyde, he was unable to practice which almost certainly seals his fate.
TE Charles Clay suffered an ankle injury that on film did not appear serious. He had a Packers defender falling to the ground and fell into Clay’s ankle while he was trying to get out of the way. He was able get the ankle taped up, continue playing and finish the game. It appeared that he got his ankle rolled up on or tweaked as a result. While he was limited Wednesday, did not practice Thursday, he was able to practice in full Friday which is a strong indicator that he will play. In addition to the ankle, he is also dealing with previous shoulder and hip issues from the previous game. He is also a veteran and requires more maintenance which is why he is unable to practice during the week yet play Sunday’s. I would expect him to suit up to be QB Josh Allen’s safety valve.
Other injuries on the report include RB Marcus Murphy (rib), and DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring). Murphy appears to have a generalized rib injury that cost him last week but it appears healed enough to perform this week. Hopefully it is a contusion that continues to heal rather than a broken rib. Lawson missed two games with his hamstring strain and while he did play the entire game, he may have developed soreness as a result, requiring conservative maintenance on it so as to not further irritate the healing tissues. While it is possible to re-injure the area, giving it rest through the week gives him the best shot to play at 100% Sunday.
Others dealing with injury but did not make the injury report: RB LeSean McCoy (ribs/hand), CB Taron Johnson (shoulder), and CB Phillip Gaines (elbow). McCoy has been dealing with cracked rib cartilage that is physically impossible to be healed yet which still limits him despite what he says otherwise. However, reports indicated that he injured his left hand with it visibly wrapped up after the game. Film review was inconclusive whether he suffered any particular injury. To note, he was able to demonstrate effective ball safety, gripping the ball in each hand respectively without compensation during his limited playing time.
CB Taron Johnson has been a bright spot in the defense 4 games into his rookie year. However, he continues to deal with a shoulder injury that appears to be a torn labrum in his right shoulder. This is evident with the use of visible bracing on the right side, he continually injures the area on hard hits but is quicker to return in the game, and the original mechanism of injury. He can continue to play on the shoulder but eventually he may require surgery for long term correction. Until then, he has altered his tackling style, he is wearing bracing, and I’m certain he is doing rehab to strengthen the surrounding muscles around the joint in order to get through the season.
Finally, CB Phillip Gaines is coming off a right dislocated elbow that forced him to miss one game. However, he was inactive despite practicing in full the week of the Packers game which indicated that he may have been held out due to personnel needs rather than injury. Regardless of reason, the extra time off allowed him to heal even more and he may not require any bracing given the time frame.
Overall, anticipate Hyde and most likely Bush to miss the Titans game with Clay playing with several nagging injuries. These thoughts are further solidified with the signing of S Dean Marlowe and releasing TE Khari Lee. This indicates that at least one safety is certain to miss and the thinning of the TE depth chart indicates Clay is playing. The others mentioned above are expected to play but have injuries that do not require treatment by training staff but could still limit their effectiveness. This game should allow the Bills to get their first home win of the season and move to 2-3 to maintain some level of respectability in the AFC.
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