How things have changed! Two weeks ago, the Bills demonstrated a true rarity in today’s NFL: an injury report devoid of injury. Fast forward and they are beginning to show some cracks in their base heading into a huge matchup against the vaunted New England Patriots in a rare Monday night game in Western New York. Today’s post will dive into the injuries and how they impact Monday night.
Those already ruled out for Monday’s game are QB Josh Allen (elbow), DE Trent Murphy (knee), and RB Taiwan Jones (neck). Do not expect to see Allen before the bye and possibly until he is 100% which may be towards the very end of the season. Jones continues to be a mystery dealing with a neck injury that has prevented him from participating in any football activities since the Texans game. The only information I have found is that he suffered the neck injury during the Texans game which was finally revealed Thursday. As to what he is exactly dealing with remains unclear. I have reviewed film twice watching every special teams play and while Jones did get hit several times, he never required medical attention after the play, he was never slow to get up, and appeared in 71% of special teams plays which is near the top of the reps on special teams. If anyone out there sees something that I missed, I would look forward to that conversation.
Murphy is dealing with a right knee injury that he suffered late in the loss to the Colts which ended his day. I had speculated that he suffered a right MCL sprain and that still appears to be the case. There has not been any reports that he had to have any imaging or surgical procedures which indicate that this is indeed only a sprain. To note, his sprain is in the right knee; he tore the left ACL last year. As he has battled injury all season, the Bills should be cautious to rush him back. He would benefit from sitting out the next 3 games and using the bye to get back to 100% which would be a reasonable timeline for this type of injury. There would be concern if he came back too quickly that he could place undue stress on his left leg as a result or further injure his right leg leading to injured reserve. He should be able to come back healthy but time is not on his side.
Those limited in practice this week include RB LeSean McCoy (concussion), T Jordan Mills (knee), QB Derek Anderson (back/calf), & RB Chris Ivory (hamstring). We already know that Anderson will play Monday as he’s been named the starter and is limited due to shaking off the rust as he returns to form. Ivory suffered a left foot injury Sunday that does not appear to be an issue but suffered a hamstring strain on Wednesday that thankfully will not cause him to miss the game.
Mills has a knee injury that is new to Friday’s practice but does not appear to be a concern as he practiced in full on Saturday. Going forward, the big question is RB LeSean McCoy’s concussion suffered early in Sunday’s loss. He appears to be going through the concussion protocol very well, appearing to be in stage 4 or 5 of the 5 stage process, but still needs to be able to perform full contact and activity without reproduction of symptoms for 24 hours. While he was limited in practice, it is far from a guarantee that he will be cleared. Until the team says he’s clear, there is no way to speculate the severity of the original injury and whether he will be cleared.
As of Saturday, he has been ruled questionable with things trending towards that he’ll play Monday. If he is cleared, I believe that he will be able to perform close to his expected level though may need extra rest breaks due to fatigue. He may also not be as sharp cognitively but depending on the severity of the original concussion will determine his recovery to baseline.
While it is not opportune for key players to be injured during any portion of the season, this one appears to hurt worse going into a key primetime game against the Patriots. I am sure that ABC/ESPN executives did not envision QB Derek Anderson leading the charge against Tom Brady & the Patriots when they scheduled this game. However, this is what the Bills are working with and have shown depth at all positions to allow them to stay competitive. An interesting note: the two previous numbers that the Bills have retired, they have lost each game. 2001 saw the Bills retire Jim Kelly’s #12 with the team losing to the Seattle Seahawks 23-20. 2016 saw the Bills retire Bruce Smith’s #78 with an awful loss to the Jets 37-31. We can only hope when the Bills retire Thurman Thomas’ #34, they find a way to win on the big stage that is MNF.
While I am not anticipating a win, anything can and does happen in the NFL. These Bills have a fight in them despite some of the lopsided losses this season. This is a division game, the Patriots are our most hated rival, and we will not be embarrassed! I look forward to going to the game and enjoying the atmosphere that is New Era Field & Bills Mafia.
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