For what it’s worth, after that rough loss to the Jets marred by numerous injuries, the injury report for the upcoming game against the Lions is relatively short. Granted, we are missing several starters over the past 2 weeks with CB Taron Johnson, C Russell Bodine, and LB Matt Milano all going to IR with their respective injuries. These are the kind of injuries that if suffered earlier, could have scuttled a promising season had the Bills had several games go their way. However, these injuries only allow these and other on IR to recover appropriately in time for next season. Today’s post will assess the injuries going into Sunday’s tilt against the Detroit Lions.
Already ruled out is CB Ryan Lewis (concussion). Lewis is still working through the league concussion protocol and as he is DNP, he is still in stage 1-2 of the protocol. However, we typically do not see most concussions clear this quickly and Lewis will miss Sunday as he continues to work through the concussion protocol.
Those questionable are K Stephen Hauschka (hip), RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring), TE Logan Thomas (hamstring), and RB Chris Ivory (shoulder). Hauschka has already been ruled available to play Sunday by coaching staff and has been sitting out all week to rest in order to be ready. Thankfully, his skill set does not require constant practice which allows him to get the treatment he needs in order to be 100%. Why he is questionable may be just how the injury list designates how you rule someone based on practice participation.
Things are looking promising for McCoy as he was reported participating in individual drills which is an excellent sign for his overall recovery. However, he is still limited which indicates that he is not able to participate in the entirety of practice and does not appear to be ready for Sunday. As he is a 30 year old running back with a lot of yardage on his legs along with one of his roughest seasons in his career, it would not make sense to get back out there quickly to play for a lost cause. He may be ready but he would be better served taking a week off and coming back against 2 divisional opponents to leave his mark on the 2018 season going into 2019.
Thomas may have tweaked his hamstring in Thursday’s practice which led him to report the injury but as he practiced in full Thursday but limited Friday doesn’t bode well for his availability Sunday. As there is not video of what exactly happened, it is hard to speculate whether he will play. Hamstrings are tricky and this may truly be up to Thomas on whether he feels he can perform. Considering it will be cold and the injury is relatively fresh, it may not be wise to try and playing unless he had a good warm up and feels loose.
Ivory exited the game this past Sunday and did not return after falling to his left shoulder hard after an 8-yard run. I believed that he suffered a re-aggravation of his AC joint sprain originally sustained against the Bears. As he is practicing in full, this is an excellent sign in the likely event that Shady is unable to play. However, he was still ruled questionable. Frequently, if someone has practiced in full all week, they are always good to go for Sunday. My only theory that I can formulate is that he was able to participate in practice going through plays and drills but still dealing with pain in the shoulder. Whether he plays may be whether he feels he can absorb the pounding that a running back takes during a game. If Ivory is ruled inactive, the Bills still have RB Marcus Murphy and newly signed RB Keith Ford to handle the run game.
Those cleared to play or Sunday are TE Jason Croom (groin) and QB Derek Anderson (concussion). Croom required a week off after tweaking his groin possibly late in the game against the Dolphins. As he practiced in full this week and was not made a game time decision, expect him to participate fully and potentially take Thomas’ snaps if he is unable to play.
Anderson is finally cleared from the concussion protocol after 7 weeks of not playing or fully practicing. He is expected to be the 3rd string QB and continued mentor to QB Josh Allen. Anderson has been an enigma for the Bills this season. He came in halfway through the season, started 2 games, suffered a concussion during Monday Night Football, and then has been out since. Now, having post-concussion symptoms for this long is not abnormal overall. I have personally worked with patients that have had post-concussion symptoms for months after the initial injury. We have also seen other examples of players dealing with post-concussion symptoms for long duration’s of time, most famously Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. So, its possible that he was dealing with recurring symptoms but my concern was why was he still on the active roster? He will not supplant QB Josh Allen as a starter; QB Matt Barkley is the backup, which leaves Anderson as a body taking up a roster spot. The only theory that I could come up with is that Anderson was still dealing with post-concussion symptoms and still on the active roster for the sole purpose to help prepare Allen each week. If he had been placed on IR, then he would have been able to be around the team but not participate in practice in any form according to IR rules. I suppose having Anderson available during practice to critique Allen during practice acting as a psuedo-coach to assist QB coach David Culley. Regardless of reasons behind his recovery, the important thing is that Anderson is finally healthy, can appear in another NFL game if the opportunity arises, and can finish out the season on hopefully his terms.
The Bills had been hovering around the 50% mark with regards to players with questionable designation playing but that number has since increased to 66% playing recently over the course of the season. Based on these numbers, I expect that McCoy and Thomas to be inactive with Ivory truly questionable and Hauschka playing. This fits the numbers but these are simply trends through the season and not a prediction model. We will see what happens Sunday.
The Bills should be able to handle the toothless Lions with effective ball control and clock management. If they minimize mistakes on special teams and prevent turnovers, then they have an excellent shot to move to 5-9 on the season. Hopefully the Bills can continue to stay relatively healthy and avoid more season ending injuries over the coming weeks. While these games are meaningless, the overall health of each player is still important going into the off season.
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