AFC East Injury Roundup- Preseason Week 1

The NFL has just wrapped up the first week of preseason games and as the dust settles, injuries concerns for the AFC East vary. Some teams are dealing with the minor bumps and bruises normally expected whereas some teams have already begun dealing with the worst and prepare for a further onslaught.

Read below to get a full round-up on the injury situation around the AFC East as the preseason moves forward.

Buffalo Bills

OT Tommy Doyle (Right foot injury)

Doyle was a surprise addition to the injury report following Monday’s practice with a right foot injury as seen below.

Looking at the film, Doyle played the entire first half and did not have any notable instances of injury. He did not require attention from the training staff during the game either.

My initial thought is that he got his foot stepped on as he was switching positions from tackle to guard throughout the game, leading to missteps or simply getting tied up at the line of scrimmage.

This injury wasn’t deemed to be a major one which is good news, but more information needs to be known for long-term concerns. We will see if he returns to practice this week for his availability on Saturday.

DT CJ Brewer (Leg/Knee)

Brewer also made the injury report with an injury after playing most of the second half.

Like Doyle, the injury is not clear when it happened as he finished the game. Whatever the injury is, he will need to be a quick healer in order to be ready for Saturday as he has a tough path to the roster, and every snap counts. 

RB Raheem Blackshear (Left ankle injury)

Blackshear punched in the final touchdown of the game with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter to move the Bills to 22-24 before a successful two-point conversion. However, on the touchdown run, Colts LB Brandon King went in for a shoestring tackle, grabbing Blackshear’s left ankle. King hit him from the outside as Blackshear twisted down, crossing the goal line. 

The rookie running back was in visible pain as trainers came out to assess the ankle. By video, there was a chance for a high ankle sprain, though not definitive. The ankle was caught on the ground by the defender and Blackshear twisted to his right, putting the foot into eversion and dorsiflexion due to pinning the foot on the ground.

It’s possible he avoided the dreaded high-ankle if his heel came up off the ground under the defender, leading to more of a generalized sprained ankle. He struggled to walk back to the sidelines with trainers with his walking becoming increasingly difficult, and at one point losing his balance.

Fortunately, Blackshear was able to return to the next series in under two minutes, appearing to have his ankle taped up. He was visibly limping throughout the remainder of the game but was able to finish.

He may be limited throughout the week, but as a UDFA fighting for a roster spot, I don’t blame him one bit for wanting to return. Every play matters for these guys, injuries be damned.

WR Marquez Stevenson (Right foot surgery)

Stevenson underwent surgery on his right foot after suffering an injury during the first week of August.

He was spotted in a boot and on a scooter last week in the tunnel during the scrimmage at the stadium. This was necessary as he had the surgery that was posted on his IG account but wasn’t known until today.

It’s still not clear why he underwent the procedure and what needed to be repaired. I did find this quote below that could shadow some possibilities as to the specifics.

The way I read this, it implies that he did not have a Lisfranc as that is often season-ending. A Jones fracture could be considered but those take upwards of three months, putting Week 1 with that injury impossible.

Without more information, it is hard to identify a timeline. I suspect a fracture but this is a guess and the specific bone is not identifiable. The coming days and weeks will provide more context as to what the team will do with him this season. 

New England Patriots

As of right now, the Patriots remain overall healthy with no major injuries testing their depth at this time. However, there was one notable injury coming out of the preseason loss to the Giants detailed below.

LB Cameron McGrone (Right elbow injury)

McGrone was spotted with a large wrap on his right elbow following Friday’s game, finishing with five tackles (one solo). He played in 67 percent of the defensive snaps along with 46 percent of the special teams’ snaps, suggesting that this was either a late game injury or an injury that became apparent after the game.

The Patriots are known to minimize injury details, so this one will be one to monitor. Right now, it appears as though it is either a sprain or contusion based on the wrap and his playing time.

As he was a fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft, he has a good shot to make the roster, especially after missing all of his rookie seasons on the NFI list. While in college at Michigan, he tore his ACL in November of 2020 and spent the entire year rehabbing as he adjusted to the NFL. Considering the linebacker injuries the team dealt with last year, bringing in younger players and ones that can stay healthy will be paramount. 

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have been relatively healthy throughout this preseason so far, at least according to new head coach Mike McDaniel.

However, two injuries are worth highlighting, one before that statement and one after. No team will get through a game without some type of injury, but the goal is to avoid the major, season-ending variety already seen around the league. Unfortunately, this has hit the Dolphins’ secondary early in the season.

CB Trill Williams (Left ACL tear)

Late in the preseason win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Williams dove in to tackle WR Deven Thompson on a five-yard loss before coming up and grabbing his knee. You can see the play in the clip below. 

While it is not the best view, it does show how Williams decelerates, plants, and twists Thompson down, tearing the ACL in the process. While reports note that he tore the ACL, it’s not clear if he has additional damage at this time. This will take anywhere from 9-to-12 months to recover from, but considering that this happened in August, he will miss the 2022 season but have a strong chance to return in 2023 to full health. 

This loss hits the secondary depth hard and Miami has already looked for a replacement in CB Mackensie Alexander.

CB Byron Jones (Left ankle surgery)

Jones remains on the PUP list into mid-August after having surgery in March to address an ankle/Achilles issue. At the time, it was reported that it would be a two-month recovery.

However, he started training camp on the PUP list and as of publication, has not been removed. Jones is “trying to get back for Week 1” suggesting that he had some type of setback in his rehab during the offseason. It’s not clear what procedure he had that would slow him up this much, but he is quickly losing ground to be 100 percent ready for Week 1. 

By the time Week 1 kicks off, Jones will be roughly six months removed from surgery which is ample recovery time for most injuries, especially with one with a two-month timeline. This will be one to closely watch as the regular season nears. 

New York Jets 

QB Zack Wilson (Right knee bone bruise, meniscus tear)

The ACL tear that wasn’t, Wilson managed to avoid the season-ending ligament team Friday night as he pivoted off his right knee running upfield. 

The initial concern was an ACL tear with how he pivoted off his right knee, but further assessments and MRIs showed that the ACL was indeed intact, but he did suffer a bone bruise and meniscus tear, putting him on the shelf for at least 2-to-4 weeks. 

Wilson is scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday in Los Angeles to potentially trim out the meniscus tear, but there is a concern for more damage once they get inside the knee.

The meniscus trim is the simple part of the injury; these typically can take 4-to-6 weeks in the normal population to return to activity. In the NFL, guys can return in about half that time once they can manage the swelling to regain full range of motion and strength. 

Looking at the bone bruise based on the initial timeline given, there is a strong suspicion that Wilson has a sub-periosteal hematoma. This is a bruise to the outside portion of the bone and provides blood supply to the bone. The injury is the least severe of the bone bruise classifications and is the result of direct high-force trauma to the bone. 

This direct high-force occurred when Wilson planted and pivoted upfield. The sudden pivoting motion of the right foot leads to the shearing of the lateral meniscus and bruising to the lateral femoral condyle. This is one of the better case scenarios for Wilson as he heads into the season. 

It will be imperative that the Jets do not rush Wilson back, especially for Week 1. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but if he is still experiencing swelling or pain in the area, this could lead to altered throwing mechanics or reduced mobility, both of which could cause injury. The Jets have invested too much into Wilson to rush him back. 

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that Wilson’s PCL injury from last season had any impact on this most recent injury. The mechanisms for injury are different and he had ample time to allow the PCL to heal in the offseason as they usually do without surgical intervention.

CB DJ Reed (Hamstring)

Reed has missed the last week of practice and the game with a slight hamstring strain suffered back sometime during the first week of August. 

Keeping him out appears to be more precautionary at this time. Considering how beat up the secondary was last year, it is not smart to rush anyone back until they are ready. 

DT Quinnen Williams (Ankle injury)

Head coach Robert Saleh announced Monday that Williams was dealing with an ankle injury following Friday’s game. The team does not believe it to be serious but additional details are not available at this time. 

OT Mekhi Becton (Right patellar avulsion fracture) 

Becton’s 2022 season ended before it could begin. He suffered a right knee injury due to falling awkwardly at practice. Initial reports were positive and the team did not think he would miss much time.

Regrettably, he was found to have an avulsion fracture on his kneecap that will require surgery to repair along with a patellar realignment surgery. This is the result of where the patella continues to sublux or dislocate out of the groove that it articulates with on the distal femur as the knee moves. The avulsion part is where a portion of bone is ripped away via a ligament or tendon. In this case with the patellar avulsion fracture, it’s possible a portion of the inferior or bottom portion of the kneecap was affected, coming off the patellar tendon, requiring surgical repair to re-establish the connection.

This most recent injury was similar to last season’s injury in that he did suffer a patellar dislocation but did not undergo surgery at the time as he was trying to return. Due to some residual instability within the knee, the patella was more likely to come out with knee movements that place stress on the patella, ultimately requiring surgery. 

Unfortunately, this injury was still bad luck and sets back what could have been a bounce-back season.

Once he does return, research indicates that 77 percent of subjects undergoing this surgery return to sports. While Becton is expected to return to play in 2023, it remains to be seen how he will perform or if the injury bug strikes again. In the meantime, the Jets signed veteran OT Duane Brown to anchor the offensive line.

Overall impressions

Injuries will continue to mount all around the AFC East; that’s a given. But the hope is that each team manages to avoid the serious and season-altering injuries that can dash postseason goals.