The Bills are getting healthy. Despite the injury list being longer than we would all like, several players are set to return & several more are expected to play despite dealing with injury. While the Bills are not fully healthy, they are in a far better position than the Raiders as seen below who are missing many key contributors which may make the Bills job on Sunday far easier. Below are the Bills injuries heading into Sunday’s matchup.
LB Del’Shawn Phillips (left quadriceps)
Phillips will miss his 3rd straight game following a quadricep strain in the season opener. Originally, I could not find when this occurred but after further review, I found on the All-22 film that he suffered a quadricep strain with 6:48 left in the 2nd quarter on the kickoff following the Bills 3rd score. He ran down the field and appeared to strain his left quadricep, having difficulty slowing down, occasionally hopping it off.
Since then, he has not practiced with the exception of Thursday & Friday in which he was limited. He likely suffered a Grade 2 quadriceps strain which can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to recover based on the already established timeline. His status poses the question, why didn’t the Bills place him on IR since it is only 3 weeks now? That’s a good question. It’s possible that he was trending towards coming back sooner and had a setback or simply did not respond to rehab as expected.
While he only has 7 special teams snaps as a Bills to his name, the team clearly likes him and is keeping him around despite the ability to stash him on IR. I would need to see a string of full practices out of him before I could even consider him to play in a game.
DE Mario Addison (knee)
Nothing is known about Addison & his knee that popped up on Friday with a DNP. His status is officially questionable. There wasn’t anything in particular on film Sunday that suggested a knee injury. He did exit the game for cramping in what appeared to be his right leg, but this should not cause knee problems several days later.
He did have a knee injury back in 2017 that he didn’t miss any time with, but I do not believe this is connected nor do we know which side. It’s possible that he hurt his knee Thursday after practice, but any specifics are non-existent. I have to assume he doesn’t play based on the questionable diagnosis, but that guess is as good as flipping a coin and calling heads.
RB Zack Moss (toe)
Moss appears to be trending up from a toe injury sustained in the win over the Dolphins in Week 2. He likely suffered a turf toe injury which can be played through but does benefit from some time off. Fortunately, he’s not a bell cow back for the Bills and he can split carries with RB Devin Singletary and if needed, use RB TJ Yeldon like they did last week.
Moss will probably have a stiff sole and possibly tape to prevent excess movement at the big toe so that he can have that explosive first step. If he doesn’t play, then I expect him to be full-go for Week 5. Without more knowledge to sway either way, I’m leaning towards him playing.
WR John Brown (calf/foot)
Brown continues to be limited with foot issues since the beginning of the season, adding in a calf strain from the Rams game that caused him to miss the 2nd half.
The foot is more of a pain issue and a nuisance more than anything. The calf strain can linger but if he took himself out Sunday in the second half as a precaution and was DNP Wednesday, limited Thursday, and full Friday, it’s likely that he is healed enough.
The team may also be conservative in his approach during practice due to the heat expected in Las Vegas. This could exacerbate a strain if he gets dehydrated, however, they are in a climate-controlled stadium which may neutralize that factor.
Brown also has sickle cell trait which could place his body under extra stress and pain if he overworks his body or becomes dehydrated. This is merely a factor the team has to account for but does not limit his abilities. Sean McDermott appeared fairly confident that Brown would be available Sunday which is a ringing endorsement from a coach who says very little.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)
Edmunds finally was able to practice in full following a shoulder injury in Week 1 that caused him to miss Week 2. He did return in Week 3 and was less than effective with a shoulder harness.
Another week of rest & rehab should do him well & he should improve his play. The hope is that he eventually ditches the shoulder harness which would support the AC joint sprain which makes more sense & is less severe than a labral tear. He’s not 100% yet, but I expect him to slowly continue to improve towards a Pro Bowl level. I will also be watching closely how he engages his tackles and if he accepts more hits to the right side.
TE Dawson Knox (concussion)
Knox is slated to play Sunday following a concussion in Week 2 that forced him to miss the Rams game. He has since practiced in full and only has to pass his independent neurological consult if he hasn’t already. He is at a higher risk to suffer another concussion since he has already had one but playing football, he’s at risk regardless.
T Dion Dawkins (right shoulder)
Dawkins took a hard spill on Sunday as the result of trying to avoid Rams CB Troy Hill, somersaulting over him and landing on his right shoulder. The hope is that this is a contusion and is more pain limiting. There is a possibility that he suffered a minor AC joint sprain, but Dawkins was fairly jovial and hanging around following the win Sunday while not appearing to favor the arm.
One benefit of this being his right shoulder is that he plays left tackle. He will have to engage his left arm more, blocking the defensive end around the edge, allowing Dawkins to keep the end in front of him. He will use his right arm, but he can get through the game a lot easier because of this. I really don’t expect much drop off in the quality of play Sunday.
S Micah Hyde (left ankle)
Hyde sprained his ankle going in for a blitz Sunday and rolled it engaging the Rams tackle. Low ankle sprains are painful but easily played through with bracing or tape. My only concern is if he continues to re-injure the area that he misses time. I’m not all that concerned about damage in the short term, it’s easy to manage, but he is an older player and continues to require occasional days off to recover.
DT Quinton Jefferson (foot)
Little is known about Jefferson other than that he’s an older player with a previous Jones fracture from last season. He did have foot soreness in the preseason and is dealing with this again. There are other possibilities such as the plantar fasciitis that John Brown could be dealing with or that Jefferson had his foot stepped on.
This is something that I’m aware of but not concerned about right now, but something to monitor as the season progresses. I will be looking for patterns on the injury report and if he begins to miss snaps/games. For Sunday, he will be good to go.
DT Ed Oliver (right knee)
Oliver’s knee injury appeared pretty innocuous during Week 2 when he attempted to trip the offensive player, getting hit directly at the knee and then hit on the shin.
He was limited Wednesday due to the knee continuing to bother him followed by a DNP Thursday. This sent out a lot of concern to the masses thinking he wouldn’t play, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network indicated that it was a bruise and that the knee was structurally sound. But considering the DNP’s on Wednesday, this was probably done to stagger all the various players out. He likely hyperextended the knee during the original hit which led to the brace, but overall it does mean that the knee is sound as the knee does have some leeway with extension.
However, this picture above began making the rounds late Friday evening which makes me believe something more is going on. Clicking on the picture below, you can see that there is a bandage of Oliver’s medial right knee. Considering this is the location that he was hit, I got to wonder if he got his knee drained due to excess swelling.
This is a common procedure and the knee would be drained in that area. This picture highlights how severe the bruising may actually be. If you compare the right versus left calf, you can also see less definition on the right calf as compared to the left which would further show overall swelling in the knee and lower leg. I reached out to several Bills fans who have greater expertise in those areas and supported my thoughts. Really appreciate their input!
I wouldn’t be surprised to see both a compression sleeve on the knee and hinge brace for support Sunday. This will be something to monitor in the coming weeks.
CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)
Norman is slated to return to the active roster following a 3-week stay due to a likely Grade 2 left hamstring strain suffered during the first week of real training camp. He appeared on the mend but had a setback at the end of August, forcing him out of practices prior to Week 1.
He has since returned to practice Wednesday and has not been on the injury report. As of publication, he has not been activated, but the Bills waived CB Cam Lewis, later re-signing him to the practice squad. Considering the position and roster move, it appears a foregone conclusion that Norman will make his debut with the team Sunday. I expect him to work into a split role with CB Levi Wallace to keep the Raiders off balance and to help him adjust to game speed.
Ideally, the time off helped reduce his risk to re-injure the hamstring, but it is not completely absolved. Hopefully, he can find the fountain of youth and rekindle some of his stellar play from his days in Carolina.
QB Jake Fromm
DE Mario Addison
OL Ike Boettger
RB TJ Yeldon
TE Lee Smith
LB Del’Shawn Phillips
There doesn’t appear to be any surprises for the inactives, more personnel inactives than injuries besides Phillips & Addison. Based on my thoughts that Addison doesn’t play, that allows both DE Darryl Johnson & DE AJ Epenesa to get out there as they have been inactives in past weeks.
The Bills are far healthier heading into this game than the Raiders and I believe more talented. The injuries that we do have are on the mend which can help continue to develop depth in place until the starters are healthy. This is a game the Bills expect to win as they have much greater competition farther ahead, making each week more important than the last. Despite the early injuries, the rust appears to be shaken off and ideally, the quality of the defense continues to improve in order to support the hot start by the offense.
Top Photo Credit:
Chris Benoit Facebook/Nate Mendelson Twitter