The final roster is set! Following Tuesday’s cut down day and Wednesday’s IR and waiver wire transactions, the Buffalo Bills have their roster they intend to take into Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. There are always surprises including that Jacob Hollister was cut, but the health of several players and overall vision for the team helped shape those decisions. Below are the updated injuries following the 53-man roster cutdown.
Treyvon Hester (back)
Hester was placed on injured reserve Saturday August 28th with a back injury designation. Teams and the player have a 5-day window in which they can negotiate an injury settlement, but that window has closed. Hester will stay on injured reserve for the season and rehab his back injury or require a procedure if needed. It’s noted that the specifics of the injury are not currently known.
Christian Wade (shoulder)
Largely out of practice since August 5th, Wade did not make the 53-man roster as expected, nor did he go to the practice squad as an international player exemption. Instead, it was announced that he would require season-ending shoulder surgery. Details of the injury still are not known, but considering he needs surgery indicates that this is a more severe injury than what was initially perceived.
At this point, I would believe that he either suffered a rotator cuff or labrum tear. How he injured the shoulder isn’t known and which side for that matter. Social media doesn’t provide any additional clues as to the specifics of the injury. More information will be known in the coming days and weeks, but regardless of the injury, he should be ready for training camp next season.
Marquez Stevenson (right foot/head injury)
Stevenson was a surprise to go to injured reserve despite several other players dealing with what were thought to be potentially longer term injuries. Stevenson had suffered what looked to be a right midfoot sprain in the win over the Bears, just prior to his electric punt return TD before exiting the game. He required x-rays and a boot but quickly returned to practice and play in the game against the Packers, suggesting that this was minor.
However, foot injuries can and do linger. It’s possible that he was feeling good and aggravated things Saturday. He did play in 8 offensive snaps and 3 on special teams. He was evaluated for a head injury late in the game but it never was revealed whether he was officially diagnosed with a concussion.
While moving a player from active roster to IR following roster cut downs is common, this move simply kept Stevenson away from the waiver wire. The earliest he can return is Week 4 against the Houston Texans and his return will be dependent on either the play of others or injuries.
Warring comes to the Bills as a former third-round pick of the Houston Texans and has since had cups of coffee with the Patriots and Colts this preseason before getting signed by the Bills on September 2nd to the practice squad.
He was originally selected 10 picks ahead of Dawson Knox but injuries significantly limited his ability to stay on the field since being drafted two years ago. These injury concerns date back to college and at least show a trend in his inability to stay healthy. You can read more about his injury history in his injury player profile page here.
Star Lotulelei (calf)
Lotulelei did not participate in Wednesday’s open practice due to a calf injury, side not specified. He played in 12 plays Saturday but calf injuries are notoriously hard to decipher on film alone. This may be a precautionary thing, but more information must be known before making any final rulings for his status for Week 1. The team does have Brandin Bryant on the practice squad as a call-up in case Lotulelei is not ready next Sunday.
Other injury updates
Harrison Phillips (left knee)
Following the release of Reid Ferguson and Jacob Hollister, it was assumed that these roster cuts were made so that others could be moved to IR after the cut down day. However, only Ferguson returned when Marquez Stevenson was moved to IR. Phillips was a candidate to move to IR simply to keep him around and something I considered after the initial roster moves. The fact that this did not occur and his participation in this week’s practice suggested otherwise.
According to Cover 1’s Greg Tompsett, Phillips was seen sprinting down the sidelines at Wednesday’s open practice, signaling that he was close to returning. He was not in a red non-contact jersey and participated fully with a hinge brace on his left knee, a common presence following his most recent ACL tear.
Based on the video and updates, I still believe he suffered a PCL sprain and that he is working through the rehab to be ready for September 12th. It was reported that this was a minor knee injury and this appears to be the case. To read more about the suspected injury, check out the article following the Bears preseason game.
Tommy Sweeney (left foot)
Sweeney is a massive surprise to see return to practice as he originally injured what looked to be his left foot against the Lions. This was the same foot that appeared to be injured last year that cost him the first half of the season before COVID and myocarditis ended the remainder of 2020 for him.
Sweeney was seen in a walking boot since then and had not been participating in practice, suggesting a potential aggravation from last season’s injury or even a fracture. Fortunately, he returned to practice in full on Wednesday without anything other than cleats on either foot/ankle area and looked to move without hesitation. This may have been a minor strain or sprain that the team wanted to be conservative with considering his history.
The fact that he made the roster out of training camp despite missing a significant portion indicates the faith the team has in not only his abilities, but his health. He will be someone to watch for a recurrence of injury, but he appears to be trending upwards.
Isaiah McKenzie (left shoulder)
McKenzie, also a potential IR candidate at one point, returned to practice with a red non-contact jersey and participated in every aspect of practice Wednesday. He was at times wincing due to pain if he caught a ball away from his body as seen in the clip below, but that is more pain limiting than any potential damage. As long as he avoids any hits to the shoulder for another week, then that will allow him to be closer to 100 percent.
He’s on track for Week 1 as the primary kick and punt returner, though I would not be surprised if he sticks to that role initially over Week 1 and even Week 2 to limit his re-injury risk.
Taron Johnson (right hand)
Johnson has returned to practice with a red non-contact jersey and club on the right hand following being seen with a cast on prior. This suggests that he has some sort of fracture in one of the metacarpals. I have no concern for him playing Week 1, however I don’t expect him to be getting any interceptions anytime soon.
Jaquan Johnson (knee)
Jaquan Johnson has returned to practice according to reports but did not appear to practice anymore past open media availability. Details of the injury are non-existent but it is important to note that the team has not ruled him out for Week 1 yet.
Dane Jackson (stinger)
Jackson is still in a red non-contact jersey as the result of a stinger from the Bears game. He did undergo an MRI following the game, but no further information has been revealed since then. Stingers can linger if there is an underlying issue, but more information would have to be known to have a long-term outlook or how it will affect him.
Levi Wallace (right hip)
Practicing in a normal jersey, Wallace continues to participate with a wrap/compression sleeve that’s under his shorts on the right side. Details of the injury are also not known, but he appears on track to play Week 1 and nothing that the coaching staff has stated suggests otherwise.
Spencer Brown (left knee)
Brown has returned to practice but he has been sporting hinged knee braces on both knees. Collegiate programs require double knee braces to reduce injury risk and his injury from the Bears game may have scared him enough to brace up to protect the knees. The injury does not appear to have long-lasting issues, but it’s possible that the bracing doesn’t go away this season.
The Bills are slowly getting healthier with most of the main injury concerns receiving more positive news than prior to cut down day. Practice next week will be more telling as to who may miss Week 1, but injury news continues to improve with each passing day.
Top Photo Credit: RochesterFirst.com