This is Part 11 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 11 consists of the safety room.
S Kurt Coleman
14 games, 2 solo tackles, 1 TFL
Coleman leaves the Bills following one season and searching for his 4th team in 4 years. Coleman’s contributions were mostly on special teams during the season, seeing occasional playing time on defense in garbage time or the finale against the Jets. Coleman was able to stay relatively healthy with the exception of a hamstring strain during a special teams play against the Dolphins in Week 7. He missed the next two games against Philadelphia & Washington but returned rather quickly.
As Coleman increased in age and cost, the team decided to move on from him, looking to replace his skillset with younger, cheaper talent. At this time, Coleman does not have a team for 2020.
S Micah Hyde
16 games, 16 starts, 1 INT, 2 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 72 combined tackles, 50 solo, 22 assist, 1 TFL, 1 QB hits, 2 kick returns, 1 TD
The Bills defense could not function without Hyde running the show in the defensive backfield. In addition, he plays special teams when called upon and scores spectacular touchdowns to add some flair to his game. He is also incredibly healthy which helps keep the Bills secondary so dangerous against opposing offenses. He managed to appear in all 16 games plus the playoffs despite some minor injuries suffered throughout the season.
Below is Hyde’s known injuries:
Hyde dealt with a mild neck strain early on in training camp that forced him to miss the Colts game. As he was a veteran and his roster spot was safe, this injury was likely more out of precaution than the actual injury. It is not known what caused the neck strain, but there wasn’t any benefit to getting out to play live football if he wasn’t 100%
- Right knee contusion
He dealt with a minor knee injury early in the 4th quarter against the Redskins when he got clipped by a cleat as he went down to the turf. While there was not any structural damage, there was certainly a pain tolerance issue that even the toughest of football players have a tough time dealing with. Fortunately, this did not have the potential to linger.
- Left leg contusion
He also dealt with a left leg contusion against the Cowboys late in the first quarter. He attempted to complete a tackle and was kicked or hit as landed, causing the trainers to come out and assess him briefly. He left for one play by Kurt Coleman before returning, indicating that this was more of a pain issue, similar to his contusion earlier in the season.
Hyde continues to stay incredibly healthy, missing only 1 game in 3 seasons. As long as he stays healthy, the defense is in great shape.
S Dean Marlowe
9 games, 2 games started, 1 pass defended, 9 solo tackles
Marlowe must be a favorite of Sean McDermott’s. Everywhere he goes, Marlowe follows. They have been together since 2015 in Carolina and it’s a relationship that works. Marlowe is a player who when waived, isn’t scooped up by other teams, but can hang out at home until he’s needed and can start the next game if needed. His availability not with just the knowledge of the defense, but health has also made him extremely valuable to the Bills.
Below is Marlowe’s known injuries:
He suffered a hit to the head early in the 3rd quarter against the first meeting with the Patriots on the kickoff return following the Bills scoring play. He wasn’t assessed for a head injury until later in the 3rd quarter and his day was done. This hit was the result of a flurry of bodies assisting in completing the special teams tackle.
His day was done and he was placed into the concussion protocol along with Josh Allen & Patrick DiMarco. He was questionable for the next game but ended up clearing the protocol in time along with the others and playing against the Titans.
Marlowe is at risk for another concussion due to the previous one, but this is the only documented concussion that can be found since he entered the NFL. If he doesn’t make the roster, he will be the first callback if there are depth concerns at the position.
S Jordan Poyer
16 games, 16 starts, 2 INT, 3 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles, 1 sack, 104 tackles, 68 solo, 36 assist, 4 TFL, 1 QB hits
Jordan Poyer has been criminally underpaid since he signed his contract with the Bills in 2017. This was no fault of his own or the Bills; this was simply the result of Poyer playing at a much higher level than what was expected. The team rewarded his stellar play this offseason and he will be here for the next two years. Like his counterpart Hyde, Poyer has only missed 1 game in his 3 seasons with the Bills.
Below is Poyer’s known medical issues:
Poyer suffered a head injury, colliding with Lorenzo Alexander on a tackle midway through the 4th quarter against the Titans. He was removed from the field for an assessment before returning after a few plays.
He was never officially diagnosed with a concussion; he may have had a questionable hit that warranted a concussion evaluation that he passed. There were also reports that he suffered a stinger that would fit the brief time missed before returning to play. Stingers are usually not a big issue unless they reoccur which could indicate neck issues requiring further intervention.
Poyer continues to stay incredibly healthy despite all that he does on the field. As long as Hyde and Poyer continue to be available, this allows the Bills to continue developing younger players without the worry of exposing them to early play and affecting their development.
S Siran Neal
15 games, 1 game started, 1 forced fumble, 27 total tackles, 20 solo, 7 assisted, 2 TFL
Neal has become a versatile player for the Bills over the past two seasons, spending most of his time on special teams, but getting increasing work in the defense, specifically in the big nickel. He has been able to develop due to the relative lack of injuries over the past two years and should continue to develop as a key player in the secondary.
Below is Neal’s medical issues:
He suffered a concussion against the Dolphins in the second meeting on a routine kickoff midway through the 2nd quarter. Not much was made of the injury and he quietly left the game to enter the concussion protocol. He missed the following game against the Broncos but wasn’t needed as that was a complete victory from start to finish.
- Right side stinger
If you’ve read through all the other injury previews, you’ll recall by now how beat up several players got playing the Jets in the meaningless season finale. This only reinforced the Bills decision to sit most of the starters.
Neal suffered a stinger on the right side during the 2nd quarter and was observed shaking out his right shoulder and arm due to getting hit directly overtop on the shoulder. This caused a depression on the right side which forcibly stretched the nerves connecting from the neck to the shoulder. He was able to return after several plays off and finish the game.
The concussion and stinger are both notable but not overly concerning as each injury is independent of each other. There is a risk for reinjury for each, but it is an unfortunate coincidence that he suffered both injuries close to the same area.
S Jaquan Johnson
13 games, 3 solo tackles
Johnson had a relatively successful rookie season as he transitioned to the NFL. He saw time exclusively on special teams all season besides the finale against the Jets. He was able to demonstrate the skills that led to him getting drafted in 2019, accumulating 3 tackles along with an interception that was called off due to a penalty.
Despite playing on special teams, Johnson suffered no known injuries which allowed him to get the most of his rookie season. He is a strong candidate to come back in 2020 as he grows with the possibility to take over once Poyer or Hyde leaves town.
New to the roster
S Garrett Taylor
The physical safety out of Penn State comes to the Bills as a UDFA with a possibility to make the team. He comes in incredibly healthy besides a torn ACL suffered during his senior year of high school. To read more on Taylor, check out Buffalo Rumblings. If he fails to make the roster, a practice squad position may be in the cards.
S Josh Thomas
Thomas comes to the Bills as a decorated 5-year player for Appalachian State, only suffering a fibula fracture back in 2017. You can read more about his injury history at Banged Up Bills. He comes from a program that had won 5 bowl games in 5 years, a feat only matched by 4 other schools in NCAA history. He was a two-year captain and brings a lot of process vibes to the Bills as they continue to reinforce their depth.
The outlook for 2020 is great for the safety position. Minimal injuries, lots of experience, and top-end play really help pave the way for a successful season. Even if Hyde or Poyer have to exit the game or are out for some time, there is enough depth to absorb the loss of either player until they return.
Hyde, Poyer, Johnson, & Neal are all locks to make the roster. The same goes for Marlowe unless he is cut to make room for another more pressing need, knowing that he can quickly return and contribute. Taylor and Thomas make strong cases for consideration but would likely benefit from practice squad status in order to develop. This is a healthy group & will ideally stay that way for the upcoming season.