Real football is (kinda) back! The Bills are going to Detroit to play the Lions in their first preseason game in nearly two years as they begin the march towards the start of the 2021 NFL regular season. While the outcome won’t have any bearing on the standings, this is an opportunity for the coaches to get guys in live action to see how they perform. We already know that the Lions will be playing their starters for only about a quarter, according to head coach Dan Campbell.
For the Bills, playing time will be based on individual players but it was noted Wednesday that Josh Allen would not be playing.
I would expect that the Bills plan on doing the same as the Lions, but with several alterations to prevent injuries as several key players are not yet ready. Below are the injuries from this week and expectations heading into the game.
Buffalo Bills notable injuries:
These are either injuries that the players have not practiced in the past week or are not cleared.
Christian Wade (shoulder)
Out since August 5th, Wade continues to work back from whatever shoulder ailment he is dealing with. He has yet to return to practice which makes it highly unlikely that he plays Friday. It’s a shame that he will miss one of the few opportunities to showcase his football skills, especially with Zack Moss out but playing hurt won’t help his chances, as miniscule as they are to make the roster.
Forrest Lamp (calf)
Lamp has been dealing with a calf strain, side not specified, since July 31st which has really hampered his ability to showcase his health and talent as he tries to parlay his 2020 season into a job with the Bills.
Saturday will mark two weeks since the injury and it’s hopeful that he will be able to resume practicing in the near future to at least get some reps in to appear in the preseason game against Chicago.
Vernon Butler (concussion)
Butler suffered a concussion despite wearing the Guardian Caps during practice on August 7th and has entered the concussion protocol. Even if he had cleared the protocol, it was unlikely that he would play this week coming off the concussion.
Jerry Hughes (left calf)
On Tuesday, Hughes returned to practice after getting activated off the NFI list for his calf injury. He has been working to get back up to speed and while he won’t play Friday, his return to the defensive line will only help push some of the younger players in their development.
There is a chance that Hughes could re-injure the calf, but I believe his chances to be rather low as he had to pass a physical to practice. I would interpret that as him being closer to 100 percent compared to someone who was coming off a surgery such as an ACL or Achilles.
I wouldn’t expect to see him this preseason or at the very least, several snaps against the Packers to knock some rust off.
Zack Moss/Duke Williams (hamstring)
Both Moss and Williams left practice Tuesday with hamstring injuries, though the side was not specified for either. It has been very humid and hot this week which could have contributed to these injuries, and these are still very much an acclimation issue.
Fortunately, Moss doesn’t have any prior issues with his hamstrings and same goes for Williams. They haven’t practiced since Tuesday and I’m not certain they both will be ready to play until the final preseason game against the Packers, making this a one-to-three week injury. Hamstring strains can vary greatly in terms of severity and while this won’t affect Moss’ roster spot, this could significantly hamper the chances for Williams to make this roster.
Dion Dawkins/Marquel Lee (COVID-19)
Dawkins has begun the process to return to camp on August 12th after starting on the COVID list. He won’t play Friday and I’m not certain he ever sees the field during the preseason unless they use the final preseason game to get several reps in prior to the regular season.
Lee moved to the COVID list which made room for Jerry Hughes to return. He has a tough road to the roster and a bout of COVID won’t help his chances.
Stefon Diggs (knee)
Diggs sat out of three practices this week with a knee injury, though the mechanism of injury or when it occured is unknown. According to my notes from last year, he did deal with knee soreness during the preseason, but did not affect him later in the year.
In the clip below, Diggs is coaching off to the side without any noticeable swelling, bracing, wrap, or hesitation in moving either knee. This isn’t to say there isn’t an injury, but rather this may be a minor one that may just disappear.
We simply need more information before jumping to any further conclusions.
These players have not been ruled questionable, rather they have either been dealing with injury recently or it is a true question as to whether they will play.
Jon Feliciano/Tommy Doyle (illness)
Despite COVID being all the rage, other illnesses do occur and seem to have affected both the veteran and rookie. Depending on the type of illness, it’s possible both could play Friday. I would take Doyle over Feliciano to play.
Matt Milano (mouth)
When I read a mouth designation, this is not something I see often but I would interpret this as a dental complaint. He left practice Monday but was able to return and practice in full on Tuesday which indicated that this might have been a non-issue. If he doesn’t play, it’s due to his status as a starter and not the injury.
Emmanuel Sanders (foot)
Sanders returned to practice Monday and appeared to not miss a beat, flashing again during practice and demonstrating why the front office brought him in. Unless he continues to have problems, this may be irrelevant moving forward. He doesn’t need the reps, but he may get some.
Marquel Harrell (foot)
Still little is known regarding Harrell with his foot injury. He returned to practice as early as Tuesday and continues to show his worth. Either way, any time missed is not good for someone trying to make the roster.
Detroit Lions notable injuries:
Breshad Perriman (hip)
Perriman’s hip issue cropped up last Saturday from what was available and past that, there isn’t anything more. While he does have a lengthy injury history throughout his multiple stops around the league, any sort of hip ailment would prevent him from suiting up as a precaution Friday.
Tyrell Williams (groin/dislocated left 5th digit)
Williams’ groin is tight per HC Dan Campbell, but is otherwise fine. Reports are that he was all good to go, but I don’t expect him to play more than the quarter that Campbell states to avoid exacerbating anything. It’s also important to note that he dislocated his pinky on his left hand during practice last week, but buddy taping the area to give it support may allow him to get through the game.
Tyrell Crosby (hamstring)
While Crosby is listed on the second team, he would be expected to play a majority of the game. However, according to reports, Crosby is dealing with a Grade 1 hamstring strain suffered on August 3rd that has kept him out of practice since then.
I don’t see him playing Friday which means this could be a mismatch as a tackle that some of the new Bills defensive ends can take advantage of whoever third string is on the team.
De’Andre Swift (groin tightness)
Out since August 4th with groin tightness, Swift has suited up but unable to participate in any meaningful team drills. Considering he is the lead back of that team, they want to keep him healthy and any sort of setback, especially with a groin injury could linger into the season. I don’t see how he plays until this is fully resolved.
T.J. Hockenson/Da’Shawn Hand (minor injuries)
Both are dealing with minor injuries and looking at the depth chart, we should see more of Hand with regards to playing defensive tackle over Hockenson at tight end.
Overall, this is a preseason game and I don’t expect any special moments from the starters. Those that do play need to get in, get their reps, and get out healthy. They need some live game action to ramp up to the regular season, but this should be a showcase for every single depth player, especially for the bottom five of the roster that will be cut next Tuesday, barring injury.
Top Photo Credit: Bleacher Report