The Bills came into the Patriots game with a lot of hope that this was going to be the beginning of the end of the dynasty. While the pass defense did hold Tom Brady in check, the run defense did not do their part and offensively, never really got going. The only upside to the 24-12 loss is that the carnage of the past two weeks injury wise appeared to simmer down and allow the Bills to play with a mostly healthy roster of what’s left. Today’s post will dive into the injuries and what they mean going forward into the final game against Miami.
Those ruled out prior to the game were CB Ryan Lewis (concussion), RB Chris Ivory (shoulder), and TE Charles Clay (healthy scratch). Lewis is limited but still working through concussion protocol; there is a realistic chance that he is able to play next week if cleared. Ivory is still dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him out the past 2 weeks. He is able to practice in full but still questionable which makes me believe that pain and shoulder function appear to be the main limiting factors. I still believe he’s dealing with an AC joint sprain that he keeps re-aggravating. It is quite possible he is dealing with a torn labrum, strained/torn rotator cuff, or nerve issue, but if he was dealing with the previously mentioned issues, the team would want to get surgery done in order to have him be healthy in time for training camp as he still has one year left on his deal. Thankfully, the team has reported that he should be in good shape this week which indicates that he may be ready to play the season finale.
As for TE Charles Clay, it appears the writing is on the wall. There is a strong youth movement on this team and Clay has not been producing. While his availability would have been beneficial on Sunday, he still has not produced to the level that his contract dictates. He does have a spotty injury history plus his age does not make him a viable candidate to finish out his contract and the team take a cap hit. Pending other offensive weapons availability, he may be inactive for the season finale.
Those injured on Sunday included LB Julian Stanford (ankle) and WR Deonte Thompson (right toe). LB Julian Stanford (ankle) sustained an injury to his ankle on a punt return with 5:50 left in 1st quarter. Upon video review, there is concern for a high ankle sprain as he was hit from behind and a body fell onto his right leg with foot in eversion or turned out. However, video is very poor and there were not any additional angles at time of writing. Considering he was questionable, eventually downgraded to out with the team reporting an ankle injury makes me believe the injury is more severe than an inversion sprain. There has not been any additional reports that state that he suffered any fractures, but it appears his season may be done even with a mild high ankle sprain. It was reported that he would not practice Wednesday which indicates that he is not going to IR but his availability will be determined by practice this week.
WR Deonte Thompson (toe) suffered a toe injury with 11:10 left in 3rd quarter. Thompson sustained the injury attempting to catch a pass when DB Johnathan Jones tackled him early, falling on his feet before Thompson took another step in vain to catch the ball. Thompson came up and began hopping on his left leg before going down to take his right shoe off. He was later taken into the medical tent and the sideline reporter initially reported a right ankle injury that was taped up. However, he was unable to return for the remainder for the game. The team later designated him with a toe injury. There are several possibilities for injury including turf toe, plantar plate injury, midfoot sprain or fracture. The most likely ones are turf toe or plantar plate. This is supported by the fact that the team taped up the area and he tested it out which indicates that a fracture or midfoot sprain was likely ruled out.
The mechanism of injury also supports either injury due to Jones falling on his foot as he was running forward, placing his toes into hyperdorsiflexion. In the event of turf toe, this is when the great or big toe is placed into hyperdorsiflexion with a force placed through the heel, pushing the toe past its normal limits. These are unfortunately common in football players and would greatly affect Thompson’s ability to push off during walking/running and make pivoting very difficult.
There is also concern for a plantar plate injury as the mechanism is similar in presentation to the turf toe. The difference is that this affects the attachment point that connects the plantar fascia to the metatarsals which are the smaller toe bones of the foot. To understand why this is possible a quick understanding of the plantar fascia must be understood. The plantar fascia connects from the heel to the bottom of the toe bones or metatarsals and acts as a lever when we walk/run to allow us to have a rigid area to push off effectively. As the medial arch elongates due to weight bearing, the plantar fascia tightens and becomes rigid to allow effective push off and prevent the feet from flattening out further. The plantar plate acts as a bridge between the plantar fascia and bones and also acts as a transverse attachment to prevent the foot from splaying out during push off.
It is difficult to identify which injury occurred without more information or physical examination. Both injuries would present with immediate pain/swelling with palpation, loss of range of motion, possible deformity if injury is severe along with bruising. Either way, it would be difficult for Thompson to play this upcoming game unless either injury is very mild. Reports indicates that he was not practicing Wednesday. In the event that Thompson is unable to play, this might allow WR Ray-Ray McCloud to get one more shot to prove his worth to the team before the season is over. They also have WR Di’Mari Scott, WR Victor Boldin Jr, along with WR Cam Phillips and WR Tanner McEvoy on the practice squad if Thompson goes to IR. To note, Thompson was dealing with an Achilles injury earlier in the week but that issue would not have any bearing on this most recent injury.
Going into the final game of the season, the Bills host the Miami Dolphins in the friendly confines of New Era Field with favorable weather conditions suited for the Bills. I believe the Bills can overcome the special teams mistakes of the first meeting resulting in a loss, finding a way to win, and finish 6-10. The team can then move into the offseason focused on how to find the best players in both free agency and the draft in order to build the team that is envisioned to compete for division, conference, and Super Bowl titles.
I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and glad that you all made it to the end of another disappointing Bills season. Continue to follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at http://www.bangedupbills for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!