2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Wide Receivers

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Returning:

Cole Beasley

Appeared in 15 games, 3 postseason games.

Beasley, coming off his best season of his career, dealt with several injuries that prevented him from getting to 1,000 yards as a slot receiver. Injuries include:

  • Upper back injury during preseason, went to NFI list.
  • Hip and thumb injuries during Week 2, missed 0 games.
  • Left foot injury, Week 4, missed 0 games.
  • Left partial proximal fibula fracture, Week 16, missed 1 game. 

Beasley was pretty durable, playing through the various injuries listed above and still being effective during the season. None of the injuries above are concerning as the hand and foot injuries were sprains and typically don’t linger. 

Quite possibly the biggest injury was the proximal fibula fracture that he played through during the playoffs, significantly hampering his play in the postseason. Fortunately, this was a rare injury in itself and fractures typically heal without complication, especially since the fact that it was non-displaced. It’s not guaranteed that he won’t suffer further injuries, but his past history is fairly minimal and the fibula fracture should not suffer a recurrence. 

Stefon Diggs

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

Diggs exceeded all expectations not only from a production standpoint on the field but he managed to stay overall healthy, leading to his first All-Pro season. Fortunately, the injuries he did suffer were rather minor:

  • Knee/back soreness, preseason
  • Left foot injury, Week 15, missed 0 games
  • Oblique injury, Week 17, missed 0 games

The knee/back soreness should not be an issue as the soreness may have been getting back into shape and the foot injury was the result of getting his foot stepped on late in the game against Denver. 

As for the oblique injury, there wasn’t a ton of information regarding the severity at the end of the season but he was questionable heading into the Wild Card game. In the offseason, Diggs did note that he played through a torn oblique, a muscle tear is also known as a muscle strain. 

The one thing that isn’t known is which side and how severe the injury was. It also isn’t known whether he required surgery to correct the issue such as a core muscle repair. Diggs has been active this offseason and didn’t miss minicamp which suggests that he did not require surgery. While it is possible to suffer further muscle strains, it doesn’t appear that this should be an injury that lingers into this season or occurs again.

Gabriel Davis

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

The surprising rookie season of Davis was possible due to the fact that he was able to stay healthy throughout most of the season up until an ankle injury slowed him down in the playoffs. Injuries include:

  • Leg contusion- preseason
  • Right ankle injury, Divisional round, missed 0 games.

The only concerning injury was the right ankle sprain suffered in the win over the Ravens in the divisional round. It appeared as though it was a low ankle sprain but it significantly affected him in the AFC Championship game. This isn’t something that appeared to be a long term issue, it was a poorly-timed injury. I expect Davis to be fully healthy coming into the season.

*To note, it has since been disclosed that he suffered a high ankle sprain, confirmed here in this article at the Buffalo News.

Isaiah McKenzie

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

A versatile weapon on special teams and jet sweeps, McKenzie was a player that could do it all and add a wrinkle to the offense that teams at times simply could not account for. In addition, he stayed incredibly healthy throughout the season, only dealing with minor concerns here and there including:

  • Hamstring tightness, practice, Week 2
  • Ankle injury, Week 7, missed 0 games
  • Ankle injury, Week 17, missed 0 games

There are no concerns for McKenzie heading into 2021. It was not clear which ankle he injured each time or if this was a recurring issue, but this was not something that limited him. The hamstring tightness was also something that did not linger and looking back, it was early in the season and may have been precautionary as players were getting back into game shape. McKenzie needs another big season to earn a legitimate contract extension either with the Bills or elsewhere.

Isaiah Hodgins

Spent year on injured reserve.

After suffering a left shoulder injury in college, Hodgins attempted to play through his rookie year with bracing until he injured it in the preseason. He went to IR for several months rehabbing the shoulder before briefly returning during his IR-to-return window around Thanksgiving before shutting him down once again, later to have surgery.

While it was not revealed what procedure he had, it’s likely he required a labrum repair due to the timeline away from the team and the fact that he attempted to play through the injury with a harness. There are concerns he could re-injure the shoulder again, but he will have done everything he can from a rehab and strengthening standpoint to reduce his risk.

Jake Kumerow

Appeared in 1 game.

Kumerow was limited during his time as a Bill, appearing mainly on special teams and catching one touchdown against Denver in Week 15. He didn’t suffer any publicly known injuries.

He’s had his share of injuries in the past, but I have no concerns heading into 2021 if he makes the roster.

Duke Williams

Appeared in 1 game. 

A fan favorite that has cooled since the 2019 playoffs, Williams only appeared in 4 offensive snaps all year in Week 7 against the Jets and spent the remainder of the time on the practice squad. As a result, he did not suffer any publicly reported injuries. His biggest battle will be making the roster; any type of injury or reps missed could cost him a job.

New to the roster:

Tanner Gentry

Gentry enters 2021 with a somewhat clouded injury history from his brief stint in the XFL, but other than an unknown injury, he brings with him a right AC joint sprain during his days at Wyoming. He will also have a tough time making the roster, but talent and not lingering injuries may be his downfall. 

Lance Lenoir

Other than a vague knee injury sustained in the preseason while with the Cowboys in 2019, Lenoir comes to Buffalo with a clean injury history and no concerns for 2021. 

Brandon Powell

Powell appears to be more of a special teams threat, but his abilities may hold him back more so than any recent injury. He had a foot injury last year when he was with the Falcons, but it only caused him to miss one game. Unless more details emerge, there is little concern for injury.

Emmanuel Sanders

Sanders has a very decorated injury history that you can read right here. He has shown the ability to produce but has had several significant injuries including a torn Achilles, high ankle sprain, and meniscus, among other injuries. 

However, Sanders has been able to stay relatively healthy and shown to still produce despite several of the injuries, including the Achilles. He is on a one-year deal which appears to be a very boom-or-bust approach. His injury risk may be tied to the volume of snaps he gets in the offense. I do expect Sanders to have an impact, but nowhere near the production that Diggs, Beasley are capable of producing.

Marquez Stevenson

Besides a broken collarbone and torn ACL his freshman year at Wisconsin, Stevenson has been able to stay relatively healthy over the next several years besides an ankle injury. He is outside the high-risk window to re-tear his ACL but is still susceptible to injury due to the positional demands. He, like many others on this list, may be more limited due to his abilities rather than his injury concerns. 

If any injury occurs, there is plenty of depth not only on the active roster, but also the practice squad and street free agents. The quality in play may drop off but long gone are the days of street free agents playing a majority of the season due to injuries to the primary starters. As a whole, the Bills have a fairly healthy wide receiver room that was unfortunately banged up at the very end of the season.

Not returning:

John Brown

Appeared in 9 games, 3 postseason games.

After having a superb 2019 season, establishing himself as a number one receiver for Josh Allen, Brown regressed due to his reduced role and several injuries. Starting off with what appeared to be plantar fasciitis the first several weeks of the season, this then progressed to a calf injury in Week 3. These two injuries did not force him to miss time but a knee injury suffered in practice during Week 5 forced to the bench. He later returned and re-injured the same knee against the Chiefs the next week.

Finally, Brown suffered a high ankle sprain against the Cardinals that forced him onto IR and out for a total of five weeks. The veteran receiver found a home with the Raiders in the offseason but between Brown’s health and his hefty contract, it wasn’t expected that he would stick around for 2021.

2021 Injury Expectations

There are no concerns heading into the 2021 season with the Bills releasing John Brown, the biggest injury concern from 2020. Each player who produced significantly last year has favorable injury histories that suggest that they will be available besides the occasional minor strain or sprain.

Published by Dr. Trimble

My name is Dr. Kyle Trimble and I am, first and foremost, a Buffalo Bills fan!! When I am not cheering on the Buffalo Bills, I am a Physical Therapist. To give a background on myself; I was born and raised in Erie, PA, moved to Buffalo in 2006 to begin my studies at D'Youville College towards becoming a Physical Therapist at which time I became a devoted Buffalo Bills fan.  I graduated in 2013 with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy and moved home for several years. Moving back to the Buffalo area in 2016, I have gained extensive experience in outpatient orthopedics, skilled nursing, acute care hospital, and home care. Having obtained a significant wealth of knowledge that continues to grow, along with a undying fandom of the Bills, puts me in the unique position to educate my fellow fans about our great team. 
I am currently an injury spotter working with Dr. David Chao, Orthopedic Surgeon @ProFootballDoc based out of San Diego. In this role, I provide real time updates regarding injuries during the game. I hope you enjoy what I publish and I welcome any comments or questions you may have.
Disclaimer: My opinions are my own.  Any thoughts I have on the injuries is based on media reports, my knowledge of the injury, and speculation based on the information currently available.


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