The 2021 Buffalo Bills season officially kicked off with the return of training camp that began July 27th and first practice on the 28th. Following four practices, there are some health and injury notes from the week that have to be addressed.
COVID-19 Reserve list:
Dion Dawkins, Ike Boettger
Both started on the COVID-19 Reserve list and are free to come off once they pass through the NFL protocols. Unfortunately, this will possibly continue to happen to other plyers as the preseason and season wears on, but for those that are vaccinated, mitigating this hurdle will be far easier than those not vaccinated.
Jerry Hughes (calf)
Hughes starts off on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list with a calf injury, side not specified. It’s unknown when he suffered the injury or how severe it is, but it’s significant enough that he could not pass a physical.
From what could be found, Hughes does not have a repeated history with calf strains or soft tissue injuries for that matter, but has had a long list of injuries he has played through. It’s important to note that he had a calf injury last week during Week 2 against the Dolphins, but it did not force him to miss any games nor did it appear to linger. I’m not certain that these injuries are related.
It’s likely that he strained the calf while training on his own and as he is older, is taking the conservative approach for the start of the season. Unless we get more information, this is a wait and see approach. I won’t be alarmed if Hughes misses two weeks, potentially even more as calf injuries can linger if not addressed properly. Overall, this is a smart approach from the training staff.
Jacob Hollister (back)
Hollister left practice early Thursday with a back injury designation and has since been ruled day-to-day. It is unknown the specifics of the injury, but my initial thoughts are that it is generalized back tightness from all the recent blocking and football activities. He does not have a known history of back problems according to his injury profile, but considering the designation he has, I’d expect him to return to practice sometime late next week or early the following week.
I don’t anticipate we will receive more information anytime soon, but this may be a general acclimation injury, if so, this is something that should not linger.
Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs did not practice at various times this week but both appear to be more veteran rest days rather than injuries with Diggs confirmed as a rest day. Both should be fully healed from their respective injuries from the playoffs. With how long the season is, it’s a smart move.
Anthony Prohaska of Cover 1 observed Emmanuel Sanders being worked on by trainers after practice Saturday in the stadium, specifically his lower back and hip. He doesn’t have any previously reported back or hip injuries, but I would expect that this is more of an acclimation issue based on the wording of Prohaska.
This will be something to monitor if he begins to miss time or practice, but right now it is the first week of camp and this is the time to get the body right.
Bills-related injury news:
DiMarco retired last year due to a neck injury sustained in training camp and that was all we heard from him in close to a year until he appeared on Shout: A Buffalo Football Podcast.
He revealed that he had a history of stingers throughout his career and one he suffered in camp lingered unlike other ones, forcing him to seek further medical attention as he couldn’t lift his arm up.
A stinger occurs when the head or shoulder suffers a blow to the area, suddenly stretching or compressing the nerves coming off of the spinal cord. These injuries occur often in football, and symptoms can last seconds to days, depending on severity. This injury is the result of when an arm is pulled down one way and the head is pushed the other. This can also occur with a direct blow to the shoulder or if the head is hyper-extended and side-bent towards the same side of trauma, causing compression.
After tests were performed, it was best that he retire due to the current state of his neck and quality of the nerves coming off the spinal cord. While this does not appear to be on the same level of what former Bills center Eric Wood dealt with, repeated stingers can be the cause of greater underlying issues such as foraminal stenosis in the cervical region or nerve damage in the brachial plexus. The stenosis can be a narrowing of the canal that the nerve exits from, causing pain, numbness, and weakness. There could have also been a disc issue that was pressing on the nerve, but DiMarco did not clarify the injury to that extent.
Repeated stingers can cause problems down the line and DiMarco is an example of that. It did not appear that he was ready to be done playing, but injuries forced him from the game, as it does many players. It helps to know why he had to suddenly retire especially after being a captain the last several years, but such is life. For more details, make sure to go listen to the podcast linked here.
Overall, this was a pretty good week for training camp with little injury concerns. Continue to follow @BangedUpBills on Twitter for the latest updates following practice and latest analysis here.
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