The end of the season is rapidly approaching and the Bills roster is showing its cracks. The Week 16 injury report is quite lengthy and while there are positives coming out of this week, the players are clearly hoping to get through these last two games despite giving it their all for Coach McDermott. One player who will be giving his all for another 2 years is QB Matt Barkley who signed a 2 year extension which will give the Bills an effective veteran backup to QB Josh Allen as he matures. Today’s post will review all the injuries with greater clarity and determine how these injuries affect Sunday’s game.
A total of 11 players found their way onto the injury report, 6 alone from this past game. All the players listed are available to play besides CB Ryan Lewis (concussion) ruled out and RB Chris Ivory (shoulder) ruled questionable. However, each week at Banged Up Bills, we will still assess the injuries sustained from this week and how it will affect Sunday’s contest. First up is FB Patrick DiMarco (ankle) who suffered an ankle injury during a punt return in Sunday’s game. I had originally thought that he suffered a thigh/knee injury but it appears as though he tweaked his ankle as a result. As he was able to return to the game Sunday plus practice this week doesn’t concern me in his performance this Sunday or worry for long term issues.
K Stephen Hauschka (back) was able to practice in full this week after being limited all last week with his performance still clearly limited. This was most evident when the Bills were forced to punt early in Sunday’s win despite being in Hauschka’s normal range. He was still able to complete kickoffs and extra points but the team currently doesn’t have faith that he is able to make the long kicks right now. I still believe that he is dealing with a hip pointer injury which is essentially a contusion to the area. He may also still be dealing with back soreness following the hit which will affect his kicking motion secondary to the muscles pulling on the painful area when planting and kicking. This is an injury that takes time along with stretching and slow resumption of activity in order to heal properly. As he was practicing in full this week, there is hope that he is healed enough that he is able to resume making the long kicks that has allowed him to be one of the best in the NFL.
RB Chris Ivory (shoulder) continues to deal with a re-aggravation of his left shoulder injury originally sustained in Week 9 and then aggravated against in Week 13, forcing him to miss last game. I have suspected that he suffered an AC joint sprain that was healing but after the re-aggravation, this set him back in his recovery and may continue to limit his participation in Sunday’s contest. He was able to practice in full last week but still missed the game as a result. At this point, my guess is that he is still dealing with pain with direct contact along with limited range of motion in that shoulder, restricting his abilities to effectively carry and catch the football. He could receive interventions to assist him with pain, but if he continues to demonstrate instability in the region, the pain interventions will only make it more difficult to listen to his body if he re-injures the area. Right now, rehab and rest will get him back to normal in the off-season. If he continues to injure the area further, surgery may be required and those rehabilitation procedures are not fun to go through. Ideally, he would benefit from rest, but considering the Bills only have 3 “healthy” running backs on the roster, he may not be afforded the ability to rest. He is truly questionable and without further information, it is very difficult to determine whether he will play.
CB Ryan Lewis (concussion) is still working through the concussion protocol and appears to be in Stage 4 with light football activity participation as determined by the limited designation. He has since been ruled out and may be available for the season finale.
RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) continues to work back from his hamstring strain from 2 weeks ago and appears to be moving quite well in the video provided by Josh Reed. Shady has also indicated that he is ready and able to play Sunday. He is a player that despite the down season he has had, will still want to go out and give it everything he has especially against a hated divisional rival to end the season.
WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle) appears to still be recovering from the cramping episode from Sunday that appeared much worse than the eventual diagnosis. While he is listed as an ankle, this may still be the ankle/calf region as its very possible he is dealing with soreness to the area along with activity specific pain, preventing him from going full speed. As he practiced in full, I expect him to play Sunday but it is clearly evident that the long season has been taking it’s toll.
DE Trent Murphy (chest) apparently suffered a non-descript chest injury in Sunday’s win over the Lions. He did not appear to require assessment from the trainers nor indicate anything was wrong. He may have sustained a contusion to the area from a hard hit or suffer a minor strain to his pectoral muscle as he engaged offensive blockers. While chest muscles are very important to defensive ends, practicing in full gives support to the notion that he will play Sunday.
TE Logan Thomas (hamstring) missed last week’s game with the same injury. He was able to practice in full the past 2 days and appears to be fully healed at this time. Most strains we have seen all season have taken the player roughly 1 game to rest and recover from and Thomas is no exception. Thomas, along with TE Jason Croom, have to be available to assist TE Charles Clay in the passing game in order to keep the ball moving against the Patriots. Expect Thomas to play Sunday.
LB Corey Thompson (ankle) also suffered an ankle injury on the same play as DiMarco. He got tied up with a Lions defender and limped off the field, eventually returning. Similar to DiMarco, he was able to return to the game and practice in full this week which indicates that this was a minor injury and should be good to go Sunday.
WR Deonte Thompson (Achilles) was listed with an Achilles injury Thursday, having practiced in full. He was not listed on Wednesday’s injury report which indicates that he may have suffered this injury during Wednesday’s practice. As there is no video and he practiced in full, this appears to be a minor strain which may limit Thompson from pushing off effectively and decelerating. However, he should still be able to stretch the field and provide QB Josh Allen another target downfield.
Finally, DT Kyle Williams (back) suffered a back injury during some point on Sunday. He was DNP Wednesday, Limited Thursday, and Full on Friday. As there does not appear to be any conclusive video of the type of injury that he sustained or any assessment by training staff, it is quite difficult to identify the specifics. All I know is that the only way Kyle Williams misses a game is if he breaks something. Otherwise, he will be playing Sunday in hopes of putting a hurting on QB Tom Brady.
One interesting omission from the injury report is RB Keith Ford (ankle). Ford injured his left ankle late in the 3rd quarter which forced the Bills to get creative with the playbook as all the RB’s were out, leaving them with DiMarco and Allen in the backfield. Ford’s injury did not appear to be serious as he was not on the injury report which means he will be available Sunday. There is potential that he is the backup to McCoy in very possible event that Ivory is unable to play.
While this was a lengthy article for injuries, most appear to be relatively minor with most of the players expected to play through these ailments. At this point in the season, every guy is aching and hurting, requiring limited participation just to get through the week. While us Bills fans would love for them to still be playing for the playoffs, the recent rash of injuries would make it very difficult to compete with some of the high powered offenses come playoff time. The hope is that the back up’s playing now will get invaluable playing time to bolster depth going into next season with everyone expected to come back healthy.
The prevailing thought going into Foxboro is that the Patriots are finally starting to show cracks in their dynasty having lost 2 straight. A third loss would be unprecedented with the Patriots and send them to a rare 6th loss on the season and a spot in the Wild Card round where they have typically not fared well in season’s past. The Bills did play relatively well in their previous game on Monday Night Football in October’s loss, but, it’s still the Patriots. If the Bills play lights out defense and QB Josh Allen is able to move the ball effectively to his new weapons Foster and McKenzie, anything can happen. I would love to see the Bills win and send Tom Brady packing, but I do not know whether this will be the game or next season. We all see the end coming for the Patriots, we just don’t know when it will get here.
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