The Bills 4-0 start seems like ages ago following two straight losses to the two best teams that the AFC had to offer last season. Sitting at 4-2, the Bills are still in a prime position to win the division and host a playoff game for the first time in a quarter-century. Despite being in the driver’s seat, it doesn’t feel like they can field a healthy team in order to keep the march going strong.
In the time writing these weekly injury reports, this is one of the more taxing ones that have been completed. There are simply a lot of injuries. There have been other weeks within a season that have had a lot of designations, but the list thins out or guys get healthy. We are now feeling the effects of injuries piling on top of injuries with multiple guys already ruled out prior to Sunday’s matchup against the Jets. Fortunately, the depth that the Bills have is still sufficient in the short term to get through this week. Below is the extensive list of injuries.
G Cody Ford (right knee)
Ford is ruled out for Sunday after sustaining what appears to be an MCL sprain to his right knee as the result of getting rolled upon in the 4th quarter. He was able to walk off under his own power before requiring the cart to head to the locker room. I had thought he would benefit from a short term IR stay but the team has not elected to go that route quite yet. Considering he was playing through a groin, possible left shoulder/elbow, and now knee, he could use the break. Regardless of the IR decision, Ford will be out Sunday.
WR John Brown (left knee)
Brown was ruled out for Sunday due to a left knee injury sustained in the Chiefs game. This occurred in the first series as Brown was trying to catch a cross route when he fell onto the left knee. He was hobbled by it the rest of the game and was largely ineffective.
Based on the latest injury alone, he probably could play through it, but considering all the injuries he’s been dealing with including the previous knee injury along with calf and foot issues, he could use a week off and that’s what appears to be happening following a week of DNP’s. The week off should do him some good in order to get ready next week for the Patriots.
TE Dawson Knox (calf)
Knox will miss his second straight game with a calf injury originally sustained in the Titans loss. The severity is unknown but considering he will now miss two games, this says that it isn’t minor. The literature does show that these can take some time to heal, on average, 17.4 days which means he’s not quite there yet. At this point, he will need full practices 2 out of the 3 days in order for me to be convinced he plays. The more time Knox misses, his 3rd game total due to a concussion, the less he can be relied upon as a weapon for Josh Allen.
Update: Knox has since been placed on the COVID/Reserve list along with Lee Smith, Nate Becker, and Tommy Sweeney.
CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)
Norman reportedly tweaked the same hamstring from training camp, which according to records, was the left side. He has since been ruled out and we do not know the severity of the hamstring which will make a timeline tough to establish.
Due to the previous hamstring strain, he was at greater risk of re-injure the area with the literature showing a 33% recurrence rate. Hopefully, the injury was minor and he comes back in time for the Patriots game. If he can’t go, CB Levi Wallace will come off IR, giving the team some options.
LB Tyrel Dodson (right hamstring)
Had Dodson not been injured, we possibly would see Milano sit another week due to the lack of need. However, since Dodson injured his right hamstring on a punt return, Milano may be pressed into service Sunday. Dodson has already been ruled out and may miss the Patriots game as well. Hopefully, Dodson is not out too long to give this team depth and versatility in the second half.
Update: Dodson has since been placed on IR.
LB Matt Milano (left pectoral)
Milano continues to battle back from a left pectoral strain suffered against the Raiders in Week 4. He appeared to be on track against the Chiefs to play but the research didn’t support a return that quickly with him ultimately missing another week.
He is far more likely to play in the Jets game considering the lack of depth available at the linebacker position. With any injury, he would benefit from additional time off but he is probably healthy enough to play and be effective. I expect him to play with the shoulder harness and give the defense a needed shot to get right for the coming weeks.
CB Cam Lewis (left wrist)
Lewis continues to practice with a club on his left hand following Sunday’s injury attempting to tackle Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. It’s not clear what he did to the wrist but it’s significant enough that he has to wear a club on his left hand and that he was ruled week-to-week. The one upside to his injury is that he can go out to perform all the duties of the cornerback position with the exception of catching interceptions. Considering the lack of depth, Lewis may be forced to be active but available only in case of an emergency.
CB Tre’Davious White (back)
White appeared on the injury report again with his back injury that has been bothering him since the lead up to the Titans game. Outside of it being a pain-related issue, we still don’t have details as to what is flaring things up.
While he is not playing quite at the level he was last year, he is still playing at an above-average level which makes him still one of the best options on the team even not fully healthy. I expect he plays or at worst, is active but only in case of emergency. It’s unfortunate that the team has to resort to suiting up injured players, but such is the case with the Bills this week.
QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)
Allen continues to practice in full with the left shoulder injury sustained in the Raiders game. I have thought his throwing mechanics have changed due to the injury which could explain some of the misses over the last two weeks. I expect him to come off the report soon but to linger on the report as long as he has is important to note later on. I still suspect he tore his labrum or injured his rotator cuff, but I will be looking to see if he continues to wear a brace on Sunday for stability.
S Jaquan Johnson (back)
Johnson popped up on the injury report Friday with a back designation but practiced in full. There is absolutely no idea what he could be dealing with unless we get more information. Due to the issues in the secondary, any nick or bruise draws concerning responses from the fan base.
G Jon Feliciano (pectoral tear)
Feliciano has been discussed in the game plan this week for the first time since before his injury occurred. His 21-day window to practice without counting towards the active roster is rapidly closing and the team will have to make a decision by October 28th.
By the time you’re reading this, Feliciano will likely have been activated from IR. I do not expect him to take all the snaps in his first game back but he should see a decent amount to get live game reps to prepare for the second half of the season. A corresponding move to bring Feliciano back will either mean someone is cut or someone is placed on IR, hopefully, Cody Ford.
TE Tommy Sweeney (foot)
Sweeney is mentioned because he is now eligible to return from PUP following a six-week stay. The team has five weeks to activate him to practice and from there, they have a 21-day window to activate him to the roster. I had thought that he suffered a stress fracture and is still working back from the injury. Considering the struggles that Dawson Knox has had, Sweeney could be a nice addition in the coming weeks. I will be interested to see what the plan is moving forward.
Update: Sweeney has since been placed on COVID/Reserve list.
G Quinton Spain (foot soreness/released)
Spain was a surprise release following two games where he was declared inactive due to foot soreness. While he was a good player last year and had recently signed a contract extension, it simply did not appear to work out due to the team wanting to develop Cody Ford at the guard position. Details aren’t exact with regards to the reasoning of the release, but I would expect it was because he wasn’t happy with his playing time.
While it is not a great look to release a former starter, it is better to cut loose a player who does not want to be there rather than let any potentially negative attitudes fester in the locker room. Best of luck to Spain in his NFL journey as he looks to find a new home.
TE Dawson Knox* COVID
CB Josh Norman
G Cody Ford
LB Tyrel Dodson* IR
QB Jake Fromm
WR John Brown
RB TJ Yeldon
CB Dane Jackson
CB Lafayette Pitts
The only upside is that the Bills are playing the Jets this week. Had we been forced to play another team such as the Patriots or Seahawks, this game could have been rough. Along with having a lesser team in the Jets, they are also dealing with their own injuries seen below.
Those are some key players that are injured that could make an already depleted team even more susceptible to a loss. But according to Tom Pelissero, QB Sam Darnold is expected to play.
While there are questions about whether the Bills are the real deal following two losses, these are the kind of games where a winning team must come in and do their job, beating a lesser opponent. Ideally, the Bills take care of business and move onto the Patriots in addition to getting healthier as the team enters November and the second half of the season.
Top Photo Credit: BillsWire USA Today