This is Part 2 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 2 consists of the running back/fullback room.
RB Frank Gore
16 games, 8 started, 166 attempts, 599 yards, 2 TD’s, 16 targets, 13 receptions, 100 yards
The future Hall of Famer ran towards football immortality with his latest stop in Buffalo in 2019. While he is not the bell cow back he once was, he still provided an excellent change of pace for rookie RB Devin Singletary. Gore was able to carry the load early on but his age and the season caught up with him as Singletary took more of the load.
In addition, Gore was excellent at avoiding injury, only taking a shot to the head early in the season in the win over the Giants. He was evaluated by the medical staff and eventually returned, but that was all that could be identified injury-wise. As Gore has moved onto the Jets for 2020, his absence is hopefully replaced by a more effective back.
RB Devin Singletary
12 games, 8 starts, 151 attempts, 775 yards, 2 TD’s, 41 targets 29 receptions, 194 yards, 2 TD’s, 4 fumbles
Following his first season in the NFL, Singletary lit up the Bills running attack despite playing in the season as Frank Gore began to wear down, establishing himself as the feature back as the Bills only 3/4ths of the team’s regular-season games. He progressed in the second half of the march towards the playoffs. In addition, he managed to stay fairly healthy despite a hamstring strain early in the season.
- Left hamstring
Singletary suffered a hamstring strain while trying to pick up additional yardage late in the 4th quarter against the Giants. His day was done and as a result, missed the next 3 games and 4 weeks in total due to the bye week. While hamstring strains are not totally preventable, he did not have a recurrence of the injury later in the season.
There is concern that he could suffer another hamstring strain later, especially while ramping up to the regular season, but the fact that he is doing work now according to Instagram states that he will be at lower risk rather than if he was sitting on his couch all offseason. It also helps that Singletary is used to a high workload coming out of college which helps him to avoid injury as he does not risk overworking his body to meet the demands of the NFL.
RB TJ Yeldon
6 games, 17 attempts, 63 yards, 15 targets, 13 receptions, 124 yards 1 fumble
Yeldon wasn’t much of a factor during the season, playing in the first 5 games following a string of inactive designations before playing in the season finale against the Jets. Yeldon did not appear to suffer any known injuries but the lack of play was far more telling of his talent than availability.
GM Brandon Beane has described Yeldon as a 3-down back, but in this current Bills offense, Yeldon is lucky to get on the field for even one down. The lack of injuries may play well to where he can be traded in case of other needs on the team or can slide into a backup role in the event of an injury in the running back room.
FB Patrick DiMarco
16 games, 4 starts, 3 attempts, 7 yards, 7 targets, 5 receptions, 41 yards
DiMarco, a special teams captain, once again had more emphasis as a leader in the locker room and on special teams than he did in an offensive role. The stats above clearly indicate that. In addition, he also suffered several injuries that were overall minor.
DiMarco was a surprise addition to the injury report following the loss to the Patriots early in the season. He was able to play the entirety of the game but likely had concussion-related symptoms following the game, leading to him entering the protocol that week. He was limited during practice that week but was able to return to play the following week against the Titans.
- Right ankle contusion/sprain
DiMarco also suffered a right ankle contusion/sprain during the first Miami game in which he had a flurry of bodies come down on his ankle, dropping him to the turf. Fortunately, his toe was pointed down and this allowed his ankle to avoid a high ankle sprain due to getting locked into eversion and dorsiflexion. He was able to resume playing, albeit likely hurting.
DiMarco is at risk to suffer another concussion in the future, but this appears to be a mild one. This doesn’t reduce his risk any more than it is now but is something to watch as training camp nears.
RB Christian Wade
Wade, the former rugby star converted to NFL running back, spent his time on the practice squad last season as an international exemption. While he did flash during the few times he touched the ball in the preseason, he was far from ready to see action in a meaningful NFL game. He did not suffer any known injuries.
New to the roster
RB Zack Moss
A physical back out of Utah, Moss takes the place of the departed Gore. While Moss does have a variety of injury concerns, he comes to the Bills healthy and also used to a heavy workload, thereby reducing his risk to suffer overuse injuries as he transitions to the NFL. His detailed injury analysis can be found at Cover 1 and also at Buffalo Rumblings.
RB Antonio Williams
Williams, a former back that played for both Ohio State & North Carolina, comes to the Bills as a UDFA. He enters the NFL fairly healthy with only a hamstring strain to his name while at Ohio State. You can read his full injury analysis here at Banged Up Bills.
FB Reggie Gilliam
Gilliam, the Toledo special teams standout, finds himself squarely behind DiMarco at the fullback position. One thing that Gilliam has over DiMarco is fewer miles on his body and far fewer injuries. However, experience and a captain’s designation still get DiMarco places in the NFL. Read up on Gilliam’s injury analysis at Buffalo Rumblings.
The only locks on the team are Singletary, Moss, & DiMarco. Strong cases can be made for Yeldon & Wade, though Wade has a spot on the practice squad barring an unbelievable training camp. Williams & Gilliam are longshots, but an injury could help them find a roster spot in Buffalo. Both have strong cases to make the practice squad, but with how the practice squad rules change due to the new CBA & Covid-19, this could mean they still have a shot.
The RB room is incredibly young & cheap which allows the Bills to maximize production while putting money elsewhere in their attempts to make deep postseason runs. Both Singletary & Moss are used to heavy workloads which in turn should help keep them available barring any freak accidents. Overall, there are no concerns as a group moving forward.