The last few days have been made to feel like an eternity due to the fire and brimstone discussions seen on social media thanks to Sunday’s loss to the Colts.
Fortunately, the Buffalo Bills return to the field Thursday against the New Orleans Saints for Thanksgiving. Both teams are entering the game reeling in their own respects with the Bills losing 3 of their last 5 including all of those losses to the AFC South. The Saints have lost the last 3 games after a hot start and both teams are looking to save their season.
While the Bills deal with COVID issues amongst two key contributors, the Saints deal with a litany of injuries on both the active roster and injured reserve, severely testing their depth and talent at a variety of positions.
Injuries and availability will be key components of who will ultimately win Thursday’s game to stay in the playoff hunt. Below are the Bills and Saints injuries along with projected inactives.
BUFFALO BILLS INJURIES
WR Cole Beasley (Left Ribs)
Beasley continues to be on the injury report with rib injuries sustained in Week 8 against the Dolphins. Nothing new changes regarding the details of the injury other than he continues to be limited in practice without a game designation. It is important to note that his snap count has increased steadily over the past few games, indicating his health may be improving.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring)
Edmunds has been able to practice in full following a hamstring strain in Week 9 that cost him the previous two games. Based on his practice status this week, he likely was very close to playing Sunday if not for the weather.
There is always a concern he could re-injure the area, but the team has a mini-bye playing on Thursday which will allow him to rehab if he has any sort of setback.
G Jon Feliciano (Calf)
Feliciano is eligible to return off injured reserve following his calf injury originally suffered in Week 8.
I had thought he would play Thursday, but Feliciano came out and stated that if it wasn’t a short week, he would have had a good chance to play.
I’d expect him to come off IR following the Saints game.
WR Marquez Stevenson (Right Foot)
Stevenson returned to practice for the first time this regular season since injuring his foot in the preseason game against the Chicago Bears. By video, he appeared to suffer a midfoot sprain, though it’s important to note he played through the injury against the Green Bay Packers the following week. You can read more about the injury after it originally happened here.
By this point, he is likely fully healthy and probably has been for some time now, biding his time on injured reserve, waiting for an injury to someone else to be activated. It’s important to note that the Bills activated Isaiah Hodgins last year around this time before shutting him down to have shoulder surgery due to a re-injury in practice.
Sean McDermott has said it’s possible Stevenson could play as soon as Thursday, but a roster move will have to be made. They currently have 52 players on the active roster which means he could be signed immediately, but other roster moves would have to be made to accommodate the return of Star Lotulelei, Spencer Brown, and Feliciano.
It’s also important to note that this is a 21-day window which means his last day is December 13th, one day after the Week 14 contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
DT Star Lotulelei/OT Spencer Brown
Both are still on the COVID/Reserve list and have no timetable for return. Lotulelei is eligible to come off Thursday following his 10-day quarantine whereas Brown was eligible Wednesday if he were vaccinated and has negative tests, it’s likely he has to wait the full 10 days. We will have to wait and see when the team announces their return.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS INJURIES
RB Alvin Kamara (Left MCL Sprain)
Alvin Kamara has missed the last two games with a left MCL sprain originally suffered in the game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9. It initially appeared to be mild by video but his absence has proven otherwise.
It’s highly probable that Kamara had a setback in his rehab that forced him out of Week 11 as he was practicing in limited availability on Wednesday of last week before getting downgraded to DNP for Thursday and Friday.
Kamara was unable to practice all this week either indicating this injury is far more severe than reports have let on or they are looking to save him for a playoff run in December. Not having Kamara will only help the Bills’ chances at stopping the run.
OT Ryan Ramczyk (Knee)
Ramczyk missed his first game last week of the season due to this knee injury suffered in Week 9. This comes after missing only one game in his entire career until this season.
It isn’t clear what type of knee injury he is dealing with but it’s worth noting that he required a knee scope last year during training camp to clean up the cartilage. It’s possible the knee has become arthritic and needs some maintenance to get through the season. Either way, he’s out for this game.
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (Ankle)
Kpassagnon is working through an ankle injury that forced him out of Week 11. There isn’t any information regarding the details of the injury from available reports.
He did suffer a calf injury that forced him to miss Week 2, but he has overall been a healthy player, appearing in all 16 games 3 out of the 4 prior seasons. He unfortunately will miss this game.
DE Marcus Davenport (Shoulder)
Davenport appears on the injury report with a shoulder injury following the loss to the Eagles. While it isn’t clear what the specifics of this shoulder injury are; he did miss 4 games earlier this season due to a pectoral strain suffered in Week 1 against the Packers.
It’s possible he could have re-injured the shoulder and if he went to IR, that would mean the end of his season. Right now, their defensive end depth is limited with the only healthy players including Cameron Jordan, Carl Granderson, and Jalyn Holmes.
Not having Davenport for this game will only help the Bills’ offensive line regain some confidence following their dismal performance from Sunday.
RB Mark Ingram (Knee)
On the heels of Kamara’s knee injury, Ingram is also dealing with an injury of his own that has forced him out of practice Tuesday. He was not on the practice report Monday though that was considered a walkthrough practice following Sunday’s game. Ingram will still get significant snaps despite being less than 100 percent.
OT Terron Armstead (Foot/Shoulder)
Armstead has now missed two games due to these injuries and had missed two games prior due to an elbow injury.
The injuries are not detailed regarding what he is dealing with, but an offensive tackle that may be a step slow and can’t keep their block in front of them may be a prime opportunity to put pressure on the quarterback and close rushing lanes.
I expect Armstead to play and it’s highly likely that the Bills see former OT Jordan Mills play at some point which could make getting to the quarterback all that much easier.
WR Ty Montgomery (5th Digit Fracture)
Montgomery missed Sunday’s game following a 5th digit fracture suffered in the first half of the Week 9 game against the Falcons. According to head coach Sean Peyton, he broke the finger attempting to catch a pass from Trevor Siemen which resulted in the fracture. The fracture actually broke the skin which prevented his ability to buddy tape it back up and continue playing. To read more about the injury, click the link here.
Graphic picture below:
It’s important to note that suffering the fracture to the 5th digit makes catching the football even more difficult as 40 percent of a person’s grip strength is derived from the hypothenar musculature in the area.
He will play Thursday, but he is an opportunity ripe for fumbles and poor control following receptions that could result in key turnovers. This injury comes on the heels of his return from a hamstring strain that cost him 1 game followed by the finger injury that forced him out of Week 11.
QB Taysom Hill (Foot)
Hill is dealing with a foot injury after missing two games due to a concussion back in Week 5. It’s not detailed the exact nature of the foot injury. He has been able to practice in full this week after being questionable the week prior. Like many others on this list, there is little information regarding the specifics.
QB Trevor Siemian (Right Hand)
Siemian has practiced in full the past two days despite being on the injury report with a right-hand injury. This is detailed as such due to this is the hand he throws with. When there is an injury to a specific portion of the body that could affect productivity, the league has teams detail this.
We see this most notably with kickers regarding hip and groin injuries along with quarterbacks with hand, elbow, and shoulder injuries.
Siemian likely hit the hand on something and is dealing with soreness, but as long as he can grip the football, he can play through the injury.
TE Adam Trautman (Left MCL Sprain)
Trautman exited Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, suffering a left MCL sprain that is expected to keep him out 4-to-6 weeks, sending him to injured reserve in the interim.
Losing Trautman for potentially the remainder of the season is a tough pill to swallow as he accounted for over 80 percent of offensive snaps in 7 out of the 10 games he’s played this season.
OT Landon Young (Foot)
Young suffered a foot injury Sunday that ultimately requires surgery following his first start in the NFL. Despite suffering the injury, he played in another half of the game before exiting which is impressive considering the amount of effort that goes into each play when a player is fully healthy.
The exact injury isn’t known, but it’s likely that he suffered a Lisfranc or some sort of fracture in the area that they decided surgery was the best option moving forward.
BUFFALO BILLS PROJECTED INACTIVES
WR Jake Kumerow
OT Bobby Hart
CB Cam Lewis
DT Vernon Butler
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS PROJECTED INACTIVES
RB Alvin Kamara
OT Ryan Ramczyk
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon
DE Marcus Davenport
QB Ian Book
The Saints are dealing with injuries along with depth issues at key positions at offensive tackle, defensive end, and running back. To note, they currently have 11 guys on injured reserve including losing 3 more players within the past several days in Troutman, Young, and Malcolm Roach (knee). They previously lost G Andrus Peat to a torn pectoral and Jameis Winston to an ACL tear earlier this year.
The only healthy groups for the Saints are their wide receivers, linebackers, and secondary. I don’t get scared of their wide receiver room and if the Bills can somehow win in the trenches, then this may limit the effectiveness of their secondary.
This is an entirely winnable game for the Bills. I believe they are the healthier and more talented team. The Bills have had injury advantages over the Titans, Dolphins (2nd game), and Jets, going 2-1 in those contests. This is another example where availability is a key metric in predicting who can come out on top.
Even with Lotulelei and Brown on the COVID/Reserve list and Feliciano not active yet, the Bills are still the team that can take advantage of the situation.
With the ups and downs of the season, all we can hope for is a win and to move to 7-4 before a long break until Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots in Week 13.
I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving and Go Bills!
Top Photo Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports