The Buffalo Bills enter Week 4 with a record of 3-0 against the also 3-0 New England Patriots with a chance to stay undefeated this late in the season for the first time since 2008. However, despite the promise of 4-0, the Bills have really taken the name of this website, Banged Up Bills, to a literal definition. Following Friday’s injury report, there are 11 players listed with a variety of injuries with even more who required veteran rest days. There have been thoughts that the Bills are taking a Patriots approach in injury reporting in order to confuse New England into having to over-prepare. While there might be a hint of the Patriot Way, the Bills are still dealing with very real injuries that will put several players availability into a game-time decision. Put a pot of coffee on, this is going to be a long one.
If you haven’t read already, DT Harrison Phillips tore his ACL at the end of the game last week and has since moved to IR with eventual surgery. This was a big blow to the rotational depth at DT, but he suffered a direct contact ACL tear which are fairly difficulty to avoid. In his place, the Bills brought up former practice squad member DT Kyle Peko. To read more about Phillips, check out my video below & article at Buffalo Rumblings.
TE Tyler Kroft (right foot/left ankle)
Kroft is once again ruled out for the fourth straight week in a row with an injury. He is still recovering from the right foot injury that he suffered a possible Jones fracture back in OTA’s. However, the combination of the right foot fracture and left ankle sprain does not bode well for Kroft trying to return to play. There is a possibility he could return in Week 5 against Tennessee or return in Week 7 after the bye. If I was Brandon Beane, I would hold Kroft out until after the bye because TE Dawson Knox and TE Tommy Sweeney are filling in quite well in his place.
LB Corey Thompson (ankle)
Thompson, like Kroft, is already ruled out for Sunday due to an ankle injury, later requiring surgery. He was questionable for last Sunday indicating the ankle injury was suffered previously. Reviewing film from Sunday’s win, he played in 6 special teams plays, 2 kick off’s & 4 punt coverage plays. Each play failed to show any possible mechanism of injury. All the plays occurred in the first quarter and he did not appear in the game after that. He may have determined that his ankle was bothering him too badly and declined to continue on which led to the eventual surgery.
I suspect that he had some type of ankle clean out due to possible bone chips or loose bodies from a previous injury. These are fairly routine but do take time to rehabilitate because it is still a surgery, even as minor as it appears. Ideally, with the bye week coming up, he can return quickly and continue his contributions as a key special-teams member.
LB Maurice Alexander (knee)
Friday was the first instance where Alexander appeared on the injury report. It was reported that he was doing with a sore knee and held out of practice as a precaution. It’s unknown what is causing the knee soreness, but it has officially changed his status for Sunday to questionable. With an effective warmup before the game, he could be ready to play in limited action.
OG Jon Feliciano (neck)
Feliciano has been dealing with a neck injury suffered on the first scoring drive from Sunday. He was knocked over to the left onto C Mitch Morse and hit from the right side from Bengals DT Geno Atkins as he was falling down. He appeared to suffer a whiplash injury and did not return after the 2 point conversion. Later, he was observed wearing a neck brace in the locker room.
He has since been limited in practice the past two days with Friday able to practice in full. However, he is still designated as questionable most likely due to the limited practice days & whether he feels he can go for Sunday. The only way I do not see him playing Sunday is if he has a setback and he would have to make a decision not to play. If he is unable to go, G Ike Boettger or G Ryan Bates could step into his place. He has gone on the record reporting that he feels that he can play Sunday and I expect him to be a full participant.
WR Robert Foster (groin)
He appeared to suffer the groin injury on Wednesday, limiting him for Thursday. As this likely happened in practice, we do not know the severity or how it occurred. Foster has already been dealing with a turf toe injury during preseason dating all the way back to OTA‘s. I do not believe the turf toe is related to the groin. There is difficulty pushing off the toe and performing the movements expected every receiver to perform including twisting, cutting, pivoting, and running/sprinting. This would make everything that much more trying with a groin injury. While he is questionable, he is one guy that I could see inactive as the team already has WR John Brown as a deep threat and WR Cole Beasley underneath in order to keep the Patriots defense guessing.
CB Taron Johnson (right hamstring)
Johnson has been battling back from a hamstring injury suffered in the season opener, missing the past two games. However, he has looked incredibly good in practice from the video obtained from various beat reporters. It does not appear that he’s going full speed, though he appears to be much closer to full speed than others dealing with hamstrings. I have been on record multiple times stating that I believe he will play on Sunday and he’ll be a great matchup for the wide receivers. Expect him to play & be a difference-maker.
OG Spencer Long (ankle)
Long was another late addition to the injury report with a did not participate due to an ankle injury from either Thursday/Friday. Like Foster, we do not know the extent of his injury, nor what caused it. He is ruled questionable; this may be a game-time decision to determine if he feels he can play Sunday.
WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle)
McKenzie was added to the injury report Thursday with a did not participate, but was able to practice in full Friday. Like several mentioned above, we do not know the extent of the ankle injury or how it occurred. There does not appear to be anything on film to suggest that there is an injury; unfortunately injuries are easy to miss due to how TV broadcasts show the game. He is somebody that is likely to play on Sunday.
RB Devin Singletary (left hamstring)
Singletary is one of the key components in the Bills offensive attack early in the 2019 season. He has been electrifying, producing 12.7 yards a carry and showing that he can handle the load left vacant by the sudden cut of veteran RB LeSean McCoy. Unfortunately, Singletary suffered a left hamstring strain late in the win over the Giants. He missed the last game as expected but has looked quite good from video obtained during the week. Since this is a hamstring injury, he is still 50/50 and will likely be a game-time decision depending on how he feels. I have a sneaking suspicion that he will play on Sunday but may be limited to prevent overworking and re-injury of the hamstring.
EXPECTED TO PLAY
WR Zay Jones (shoulder)
Jones made the injury list as a surprise addition early in the week with a shoulder injury. From my previous tweets & observations on Locked On Bills, we know that he has a shoulder injury, but don’t know the severity, side, or type. We know that he had a torn labrum two seasons ago for which he had it repaired and did not appear to have any issues last year. I do not believe this is a recurrence of the injury and there wasn’t anything from the Bengals game to suggest any new injuries. This might be soreness that the team wants to avoid any type of contact to prevent limiting his catch radius. He was not designated questionable and is expected to play Sunday.
CB Tre’Davious White (neck)
White was once again on the injury report with a neck injury now 2 weeks ago. He was wearing a red non-contact jersey Wednesday & Thursday for practice. Thankfully, he was able to practice in full on Friday and did not have an injury designation for the game Sunday. I am still not certain exactly what Tre is dealing with but this might be something that the team is closely monitoring and ensuring that he isn’t injured further in practice. As he is now becoming an established veteran, he has begun to earn these rest breaks and limited play in order to preserve his body.
If you’re still reading, congratulations, you are a true Buffalo Bills fan! I anticipate that there is a little gamesmanship going on to prevent the Patriots from fully knowing who will be playing on Sunday. I expect the inactive list to read as follows:
The only wildcards from this are Feliciano & Singletary. If the Bills are hurting for RB, they can call up RB Byron Marshall or WR Duke Williams if Foster can’t go. This is exactly the reason for depth.
Despite the Patriots being who they are, the Bills are playing at home with a deep and talented roster. I truly believe they have a legitimate shot to win. It will not require perfection, but little to no mistakes to come out victorious. Costly errors will quickly submarine their chances to move to 4-0. If the Bills come out with a W, I expect that New Era Field may shake so hard from the raucous cheering from Bills Mafia that it crumbles to the foundation. LET’S GO BILLS!