On my latest appearance with Joe Marino on the Locked On Bills podcast, we discussed why the Bills are so healthy this late into the season, how rare this is, & why the team’s facilities are such a vital addition. There was so much information, this required its own article & it was promised to you on the pod, I better deliver!
This article will look at several different areas of how injury management has changed since 2017 & why the Bills are so healthy this late into the season.
First off, let’s look at how rare this instance of no injuries or no one missing a game is. Looking at pro-football-reference.com takes us back to 2009, the earliest recording of injuries by the site. There may be other instances of weeks where there were no injuries before then, but they may be lost to time.
To note, the designation probable was discontinued following the 2015 season. This designation meant that there was a 75% chance the player would play. 94% of the players declared probable during 2009-2015 played. Also noted is that IR designation does not count into this assessment, only active players on the roster at that time.
Times no player was ruled out since 2009
Week 6 Arizona
5 players ruled questionable: Jarius Byrd, Chad Rinehart, Da’Norris Searcy, Kyle Williams, Eric Wood
Week 13 Atlanta
1 player ruled questionable: Kyle Williams
Week 14 Tampa Bay
2 players ruled probable: Marquis Goodwin, Kyle Williams
Week 9 Miami
1 player ruled questionable: Sammy Watkins
Week 6 Houston
No injury designations
Week 10 Cleveland
No injury designations
Week 11 Miami
1 player ruled questionable: Jerry Hughes
Prior to this season, there were only 5 instances where there wasn’t anyone that was ruled out. The closest instance to last week’s injury report was 2018 before the Houston game & before that, the 2013 Tampa Bay game. To have games back to back where no one was ruled out, you have to look back at Weeks 13 & 14 in the 2013 season seen above.
To not have anyone listed at all last week is even more incredible. There are still injuries that players are dealing with as noted in the article from Monday. But to have a “healthy” roster this late into the season may be truly the difference between making the playoffs or sitting on the couch in January.
Why is the team getting healthier? I believe a part is due to luck, a part is due to better medical staff & resources. This isn’t to say that the medical staff before was poor by any means, but to have a great training staff plus the resources available at the AdPro Sports Training Center that opened earlier this year.
Following McDermott’s first year, the training staff changed dramatically with the retirement of Bud Carpenter & the dismissal of Shone Gipson. This allowed the team to bring in Nate Breske from Chicago who brought on his own staff which clearly made a huge difference over the past 2 seasons.
Adding the AdPro Sports Training Center helped to individualize care to focus on the specific needs of each player rather than a one size fits all approach sometimes seen in rehab & medicine. Some of the features that the facility has included:
Sleep pods, float tanks, yoga, massage rooms, active release technology. These all assist in getting proper rest & relaxation to allow the body to heal more completely to maximize the recovery process by reducing stress.
Sleep pods allow the players to get a power nap in when they begin to feel groggy, for example after lunch. They can go into a sleep pod for 20 minutes or however long they choose & recharge to get through the afternoon unlike the rest of us who get by with coffee & clock watching.
Float tanks & yoga allow the body to go into deep relaxation & allow the body to rest in a variety of ways, rather than sitting in front of a TV, zoning out. The float tanks assist with sensory deprivation, blocking out all the stressors from day-to-day activities & yoga allows for mindful meditation along with the flexibility to reduce injury.
Finally, massage rooms allow for the knots, lactic acid, and overall soreness to be worked out of the body. Training staff can also work in active release techniques to work the muscle through its specific actions to promote blood flow & break up scar tissue to maximize healing.
They also have a cardio room, nutrition bar, cryotherapy tanks, NormaTec boots, and activity trackers. These all allow the body to recover during the healing process, think of active recovery. NormaTec boots act as a large air-filled compression stocking to assist the body in flushing out lactic acid & inflammation following games & practices. The nutrition bar introduced proper foods for maximizing performance & recovery, taking the thinking out of the player’s hands so they can maximally fuel their bodies with the proper building blocks.
Cryotherapy tanks allow the players to be exposed to cold temperatures for brief amounts of time up to 3 minutes to assist with controlling inflammation through blood vessel restriction. This is performed by dropping the air temperature around the body for a systemic response in order to cut down on time spent recovering.
Finally, the activity trackers assist with proper load management to avoid overworking players & ensuring they are achieving their maximum functional abilities during each game & avoiding injury.
While these are not found at all NFL facilities, this collection of resources has allowed the players to maximize their healing process & take away any excuse they may have in getting better. These resources individually in themselves aren’t superior to other therapies, but having a variety of options available to find the right sequence could allow the training staff & players to maximize recovery.
The players still have to perform the work, the training staff has to instruct in what’s best to get the players healthy, but the Bills are at least finding ways to get a leg up on their competition in order to stay healthy throughout the season in their push towards the playoffs.
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