We knew that injuries during the regular season would be increased due to the lack of preseason, but injuries are taking their toll greater than most Bills fans would like. The big talking points of the week was Josh Allen running the ball along with the injuries to Matt Milano & Tremaine Edmunds.
We will let the talking heads and Twitter debate the abilities of Josh Allen in the rushing game, but you’re here for the injury breakdown.
There have been several new developments this week with the injuries that will be described below. The one thing that I want to impart to the readers is how drastically different doing this job is this year. What I’m seeing is not that the injuries change, we are seeing an increase in frequency that was expected, but in how the Bills are using the Injured Reserve designations and Practice Squad call ups.
We are seeing injuries would normally be played through or that wouldn’t require extensive time missed get that IR designation or missing the game altogether. I have several theories on their roster management in how it pertains to each player, but this will continue to take time to get adjusted to interpreting properly. Make sure to come here for the latest Bills injury impressions.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)
Edmunds has been an interesting injury to assess this week. He injured it while trying to tackle Jets WR Jamison Crowder on the 69-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter. The only contact that he made was with the ground falling into the turf. His right shoulder hit the turf hard with his arm close to his body. He played in the extra point play but didn’t appear in distress.
He was assessed in the blue medical tent for a while, later coming out without pads, signifying his day was done. Later in the locker room, he didn’t have any ice, bracing, slings, anything to allude to the severity of the injury.
He then practiced in a limited fashion in mostly individual drills Wednesday and Thursday. Typically limited practices translate towards a player likely suiting up on Sunday. Edmunds was ruled out Friday morning even before practice took place.
Either this injury is way more severe than we thought, which is entirely possible. Instead of the contusion/minor AC joint sprain, there still is the possibility of a labrum or rotator cuff tear. That is a scary proposition, but if the labrum is torn, I expect to see bracing used next week on the right shoulder. This was not something I observed this week from video available below.
You can also use bracing for a rotator cuff tear, but it is not necessary as we saw with G Jon Feliciano last year. I have thoughts that the shoulder is still a painful shoulder contusion. This is something that he could have played through, but the team is allowing him to be fully healthy and miss a winnable game instead of laboring through the next few weeks with it. If it’s worse, then maybe a trip to the IR would do him good now that it’s 3 weeks in duration instead of 8 weeks.
The fact that the coaching staff did not get the opportunity to get preseason looks at their other guys may have played into this decision as well. If they know they can be without him, then they can get their backups some of the vital game time reps that they needed to improve as players. Add in the practice squad call ups in with both LB Deon Lacey and LB Andre Smith available, why wouldn’t you want to protect your top assets with other guys who can at least fill in for the time being?
Until we get more information, I don’t believe my eyes are deceiving me. I wonder if this is more of the coaching staff maximizing the new roster rules to a competitive advantage.
LB Matt Milano (hamstring, possibly right)
Since his injury on Sunday, he has been a long shot to play. He had 3 straight DNP’s which usually equate to being ruled out for Sunday. I’ve seen various percentages for return to play, anywhere from 13-18 days on average for a Grade 1 hamstring strain, but Milano would not have fit that timeline anyway. He will miss Sunday, but his absence can be withstood as Miami still doesn’t appear to be a threatening team yet. The hope is that the hamstring was truly minor and he can return next week against the Rams. That’s a big hope for me right now. If not, a matchup in the desert against the Raiders may be more likely.
Before I can be sure of a true timeline, he will have to have at least 1 full practice but would do better with 2-3 before I could say he’d be out there. If he continues to miss & be limited, then it was likely more severe and he’s looking at 3+ weeks, similar to what the team has done in the past. There is a possibility that he goes on IR which Sean McDermott had alluded to in Friday’s press conference, but now it’s too early..
LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)
Phillips is out with a quadriceps injury after missing 3 straight practices. He only played in 7 special teams plays according to snap counts. He did not appear in the game again following the kick-off which resulted in a touchback following the score that sent the Bills to a 14-0 lead. On broadcast, the camera pans towards the location of the ball, unfortunately away from the Bills running down the field. For All-22, that play does not exist. For whatever reason, there were glitches and delays for All-22 this week and that play may have been a casualty.
Until he resumes practicing and getting full practices in, we are left to guess the injury and when he returns. Considering this was a touchback, this leads me to believe it may have been more of a quadriceps strain sprinting or slowing down rather due to the lack of contact. This could also be from a previous play that he could not continue to play though. I didn’t see any major contact for him, but some injuries are virtually impossible to spot on film.
WR John Brown (foot)
Everyone was quite worried about Brown missing practice Wednesday with a foot ailment. Little information is known other than Stefon Diggs had no idea he wasn’t at practice.
Brown could have had some general soreness from Sunday due to getting actual game reps, he could have had it stepped on, he could be dealing with plantar fasciitis with sudden overloading of the tissues due to the loss of reps from preseason. There could be a Morton’s neuroma where a nerve in the foot between the metatarsals is irritated, leading to pain.
He could have strained some of the musculature in the foot, he could have stubbed his toe at home, there’s just so many possibilities that it’s impossible to pinpoint without Brown or the team noting what he’s dealing with.
Film review didn’t show anything definitive but he may have been limping a little after plays in the 4th quarter. Could have been fatigue, could have been the foot, but there was not anything definitive on film to suggest an injury.
He did practice in full on Thursday and Friday, not receiving an injury designation for Sunday. This will be one to watch in case he has issues later. Right now, I don’t have any reason to believe that this is a huge concern. He will be someone to watch closer on Sunday.
WR Vernon Butler (hamstring)
Butler missed last week with a hamstring strain despite being questionable. While the weather is supposed to be much warmer and still wet, the extra week to recover along with full practices all week only made him more available. I’m excited to see how he will perform. There is still concern he could re-injure the hamstring, but after 3 weeks since the original injury, the risk continues to lessen, but not eliminated. Keep in mind, every injury is unique and responds differently to treatment.
LB Tyrel Dodson (neck)
Excellent to see Dodson cleared to play for Sunday following exiting the game late with what we now know was a neck injury. Looking back, he may have suffered a generalized neck strain or whiplash when he completed his tackle. There may have been more soreness and limited movement rather than outright damage.
He is taking over starting for Tremaine Edmunds on Sunday which will be a huge test calling out plays for the defense. This is his opportunity to show why the team stuck by him last year following his domestic violence issues last year and keeping him on the roster this year.
DE Jerry Hughes (calf)
Hughes was a surprise addition to the injury report Thursday with a calf ailment. He was limited on Thursday but able to practice in full on Friday. He may have had some calf soreness that he missed some drills for, leading to the limited designation, he may have injured it Thursday, little is known.
This is yet another soft tissue ailment that we expect to see early in the season. With the calf, I am slightly worried about his ability to explode off the line with that first step and get around the edge. He might have a little less explosion, but to the casual fan, may not be noticeable.
Whatever it is, Hughes will play through it, we saw that last year with his wrist and groin. Right now, I consider this to be something to note, like a timestamp, in case issues occur later.
WR Isaiah McKenzie (hamstring)
Like Hughes, McKenzie was limited Thursday but with a hamstring. He may have been feeling something and pulled himself out or injured it the day before. Considering he is cleared for Sunday makes me think it’s not a glaring concern.
But hamstring strains don’t just disappear. We will have to watch if this is recurring. I also did observe last year that despite an injury, players were still active but played little or not at all due to the Bills not being able to field a full roster otherwise. I don’t believe this to be the case, but sometimes injured players have to be active.
Once again, something to note and reference in case of injury later.
LB Matt Milano
LB Tremaine Edmunds
LB Del’Shawn Phillips
G Ike Boettger
RB TJ Yeldon
QB Jake Fromm
It’s easy to worry about all the soft tissue injuries and the linebacker corps. This was going to happen when the preseason did not allow guys to prime their bodies to game time action. The Bills also have a lot of depth available to withstand most of these injuries. They have also been churning the bottom of the roster and practice squad bringing in free agents weekly, trying to find out who else they can bring in if further injury occurs.
The Bills are still in great shape heading into Sunday with the Dolphins not having starting linebacker Elandon Roberts out with a concussion. DE Clayton Fejedelem is doubtful with a pectoral injury and WR DeVante Parker is questionable with a hamstring.
A doubtful designation isn’t a great chance to play and considering the weather mentioned above being warm and wet, I don’t believe Parker plays, especially after injuring last Sunday. If he does play, then I expect him to be limited and increase the potential for this to linger all season. Not the best idea for your top receiving option.
The Dolphins are better than the Jets, but this is an opportunity for the Bills offense to take control now that the defense is not at full strength. With the rain, I expect to see some injury incidence reduce due to the poorer footing, but the risk isn’t totally eliminated. I expect a Bills win and hopefully to write a much shorter article postgame.