A win is a win. Despite 6-2, the perception of the fan base is that the win over the vaunted Patriots was not convincing. No one’s going to look back and say how unconvincing a regular-season win was when a team wins the Super Bowl or makes a deep playoff run. I know we’re not at that point yet, but put it into perspective when you look at a quality of a win. Enjoy a win over a team that has tormented us for the better part of two decades.
As this season progresses, the wins will continue to become harder to come by especially as the injuries continue to mount. Below are the injuries from Sunday.
C Mitch Morse (concussion)
Morse made it through 3 plays before suffering a concussion picking up the block from Patriots S Adrian Phillips in the first quarter. The hit itself appears to be rather benign, but considering Morse’s 4 previously publicly documented concussions, sometimes it does not take much to suffer another concussion. Below is the hit that he likely suffered the concussion.
He was quickly ruled out of the game with an official designation as a concussion and has been placed into the concussion protocol. Now that Morse has suffered 5 concussions, there are concerns about his professional future and health.
I will say that he is an intelligent individual who has all the resources and information available to him to make an informed decision regarding his career and health. Looking at the research, an article published in 2003, those that suffer 3+ concussions are 3 times more likely to sustain another one.
Looking at timelines for recovery, on average, it takes 10 days to recover from a concussion. To note, that is looking at the general research; individuals may take considerably longer than 10 days to return to sport. Also to note, the amount of force required to sustain another concussion decreases as the number of concussions increase, leading possibly to why Morse suffered another concussion. He had several factors going against him that at this point, some he simply cannot control.
It is impossible to identify how long he will take to return. When he suffered his concussion last year, the team knew that he could not talk to the media while in protocol and they also took their time to ensure he was fully healthy before returning to play. They were also not in a rush to have the independent neurological consult for clearance as it was the preseason. This may have influenced the length of time he was in the protocol.
It would be reasonable to assume he could return quicker than last time, but impossible to say. The only thing we can go off of is his levels of participation at practice which will be watched closely. Hopefully, he is able to return in a quick but safe manner. Based on his history, I don’t see a scenario where he plays in Week 9. I also don’t envision a scenario where it takes him another 6 weeks to return as in the case with former Bills QB Derek Anderson, but it can’t be ruled out either. We simply need more information before determining return to play.
RB Taiwan Jones (right hamstring)
Jones suffered a right hamstring strain on the kickoff following the second Bills TD of the day. He suffered the injury running full speed down the field and roughly halfway down the field, he began to pull up, grabbing at his right side. He didn’t appear to change direction or slow down, the hamstring simply went.
He did deal with hamstring injuries last year when he was with the Texans, but it’s not clear that the previous injuries are directly related as there is roughly a year apart. It may simply be that the hamstring was strained as the result of top-end sprinting.
After seeing all the injuries that Jones has suffered, there is not a doubt in my mind that he will return to play eventually or try to at least. Based on how the team manages hamstring strains, he will probably be out 1-3 games but could be a candidate for IR if the strain is severe enough. We will know more in the coming days.
WR Stefon Diggs (abdomen/neck)
Diggs went down briefly with 4:58 left in the 3rd quarter after catching a 6-yard pass near the sidelines. Upon review of the play, he appeared to get punched in the abdomen and hit on the back of the neck upon getting tackled. He was motioning to his left flank area before he went down to be assessed by trainers.
He was able to return to the game shortly after a break, but it appears that Diggs had the wind knocked out of him based on what’s on film. He is not a player who has been showing up on the injury report this season though there are scares at times. At the time of writing this article, I don’t see an injury that could limit him from playing next week, but players show up all the time on the report with ailments not previously identified.
LB AJ Klein (left knee)
Klein suffered a left knee injury in the 4th quarter with 4:03 left in the game. He was tripped as he was attempting to pursue Patriots RB Damien Harris towards the sidelines. He came up grabbing at his left knee/shin area briefly but was able to return the next play.
It’s not clear what he exactly did, he looked to get tripped or pushed down, may have been a contusion or the calf area getting struck. It wasn’t serious enough to even miss a play for further evaluation. Considering how Klein was playing on Sunday, he probably could have used the time off the field.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (left leg)
On the same play that Klein went down, Edmunds also suffered a left knee injury that the trainers had to tend to on the field. Looking at the video, he got knocked off balance, having to take a bigger step forward with his left leg to try and stay upright before falling down. He missed two plays before returning to the game signifying that this may not have been serious.
Upon review, it’s possible that he may have slightly hyperextended the knee or hit the ground when he fell, causing momentary pain. It doesn’t appear to be much of anything but will be something to review further if he shows up on the injury report.
LB Matt Milano (left pectoral)
Milano did not suffer a re-injury to the area, but his play continues to be compromised due to the injury. This was notable in two places. He played in only 23% of the snaps, down from 33% last week. He also got burned badly by Patriots RB Rex Burkhead on 3rd and 10 with 4:15 left in the 3rd quarter.
He attempted to grab Burkhead with his left arm as he was falling down, unable to reach him before S Jordan Poyer was able to stop him. Looking at the video, Milano wasn’t in the best position to tackle, but the arm tackle that he has made so many times before could not be completed I believe due to the shoulder harness he is wearing.
The cuff attaches to the arm and has a strap that connects to the chest wall seen in the picture. This is designed to limit abduction and external rotation, similar to cocking back to throw a ball, both movements that could stress the healing pectoral muscle. When he went to tackle Burkhead, his left arm comes up into abduction and quickly snaps back down, indicating that he was suddenly stopped by the bracing. The brace did its job, but this injury continues to limit Milano with his availability and utilizing his skill set. You can see the strap that attaches near the armpit below.
I have received a lot of questions regarding when he will be fully healthy again. It’s possible that he will be following the bye as it will have been nearly 8 weeks since the original injury. He could hypothetically ditch the brace if the area shows that it’s fully healed. This could obviously change if he re-injures the area or if the team continues to have him wear the brace for further protection. Muscles usually heal up a lot easier due to a rich blood supply to the area, but re-injuries can complicate that healing process.
Those suggesting that he eventually requires surgery, the literature suggests that surgery isn’t performed on partial pectoral tears due to the lack of need. This includes partial tendon tears and tears within the muscle belly. Simply put, Milano needs time to rest. Limiting his snap count to obvious passing downs, limiting his practice reps, and continuous rehab can help maximize the healing process, but he still needs time to rest. Like Edmunds with his shoulder injury, I hope to see that his play improves as the season progresses and that he’s healthier for the playoffs.
G/C Jon Feliciano (pectoral injury)
Week 8 marked the return of G/C Jon Feliciano after suffering a right pectoral tendon tear shortly after training camp started. He had implied that he would return in Week 4, but the team had a say in stopping him from returning sooner to prevent re-injury. The plan appeared to have him worked in and rotate at the guard position, but the injury to C Mitch Morse prevented Feliciano from doing that.
Feliciano ended up playing in 100% of the snaps, all but 3 plays at the center position. G Ryan Bates did come in shortly after Morse went out, but the decision was quickly made to insert Feliciano into the role despite not practicing at the position leading up to the game. With Morse out for an unknown amount of time, the team has to make a decision at center. Feliciano is the obvious choice, but I don’t believe it’s smart to have him play the entire game again coming off an injury such as that, even with the shoulder harness he is wearing, similar to Milano. Just because he played one game like that doesn’t mean that he can’t suffer another injury.
The team does have options at center including Bates, G Ike Boettger, or practice squad member C Jordan Devey. I’m not certain that rotating at the center position would be great for offensive consistency. To save Feliciano, he should probably switch back to guard, continue to rotate in with someone else and keep another player at center consistently unless more injuries occur. That’s just my opinion, but I’d hate to lose Feliciano just after getting him back and not have Morse for possibly the immediate future.
Like we have seen every week, I expect to see a surprise injury or a few pop up on the injury report Wednesday. Hopefully, we see the return of S Micah Hyde, DT Vernon Butler, and CB Josh Norman to help shore up the defense as they begin to prepare for Seattle’s high powered offense. We may also see a trade today to bolster the defense as they prepare for the second half of the season. As the season progresses, the hope is that the injury list dwindles in time for the Bills to play their best football in December and make a deep postseason run.
Top Photo Credit: Billswire.usatoday.com