The Buffalo Bills have finalized their 53-man roster that will head to Los Angeles next week to open the NFL season on September 8. Several injuries impacted these decisions, creating roster spots to carry over as many players as possible heading into the season.
Detailed below are all the latest injuries following Tuesday and Wednesday’s transactions that made up the roster.
Physically Unable to Perform
CB Tre’Davious White (Left ACL tear)
The biggest decision of the cut-down day, White moved to the reserve/PUP to miss at least the first four games of the season. GM Brandon Beane had stated that they were trying to “run out the clock” when it came to his decision, ultimately giving him more time to rehab as he comes back from a left ACL tear on Thanksgiving.
I had originally speculated that he would be activated, using the active roster as part of his rehab to ramp back up to play in the early portion of the season. While on PUP, he is unable to practice with the team, virtually eliminating a Week 5 return against Pittsburgh.
I believed he required at least three weeks of ramp-up time practicing with the team to return in Week 2 had he been activated by cut-down day. That would have placed him three days shy of 10 months. Based on the idea that he would require three weeks of practice, it could be possible to return around Week 8 against Green Bay on Sunday Night Football.
But that may not align with what the team wants to do, potentially returning even later, sometime in November.
However, the team announced today that he will have a follow-up appointment which will give them an internal timeline of when he can be expected to return. At this point, until I see more videos and updates, I don’t have a return timeline.
Returning Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs may not allow him enough time to ramp up, Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers still may not even be ideal.
Playing the New York Jets in Week 9 at MetLife Stadium isn’t a good idea. That field has been known to not be great, causing several significant injuries including ACL tears. Week 10 could be possible against the Minnesota Vikings at home as well.
While hindsight does make this decision clear, several clues made it appear that he was close to being activated. He was out early in training camp working out off to the side and while he had some deficits, he still appeared on track. However, he disappeared from public view shortly after those workouts, leaving his status up in the air for the remainder of camp.
In addition, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler noted that White was set to return “sooner than later” back on August 11. While the thought of a setback was possible, Beane definitively stated otherwise that he did not.
The fact that they waited until the last possible second to make the decision indicates that it was a strong consideration to activate him. Getting in the defense and practicing during the first four weeks without the expectation to play right away would have been beneficial.
The big concern was not having the availability to have any ramp-up or scrimmages, basically no controlled settings for him to work back into playing shape. Interpreting this, they didn’t believe that White would get the necessary hits and reps he needed in practice to be ready for a game. At least not the quality reps he would get in preseason practice and games.
I also found it interesting that Beane referenced Thomas Davis, the former linebacker who famously was able to return after suffering three ACL tears. Beane was part of that front office that saw him work through that rehab and likely considered that as a factor when slow playing White’s recovery. I detailed more about the timeline in the thread below.
White will now have the next four weeks to continue his rehab as he prepares for practice. He will be in shape from a cardiovascular standpoint, but he will need to re-acclimate his body to work within the defense and hitting before he is able to return. Even when he does return, I expect a timeshare approach as I had speculated before.
While I do strive to be as accurate as possible based on the information available, there are always unaccounted variables to consider. I got this one wrong.
We have not seen the Buffalo Bills rush guys back from injury and we have generally not seen many major injuries where they have had to take them through an extensive rehab process.
G Ike Boettger (Left Achilles)
Boettger was moved to reserve/PUP back on August 23 as he recovered from his Week 16 Achilles injury. The team noted he had a setback and considering the logjam on the offensive line, this allowed the team to activate him later.
He will need to pass all objective testing and have a spot to return to if another injury occurs, but his status has relatively not changed.
WR Marquez Stevenson (Right foot surgery)
Stevenson continues to rehab back from right foot surgery, officially being placed on injured reserve Thursday, and set to miss at least the first four games of the season. Considering that we don’t have an exact injury designation, it’s still hard to determine a timeline.
He had the surgery during the first week of August based on reports along with being in a boot and on a scooter. He is set to miss the first four games, putting him eight weeks out from surgery just ahead of Week 5.
If this was something like a Jones fracture, he will require at least another month of rehab to lessen concerns for re-injury, putting him somewhere into early-mid November. Add in the fact that he doesn’t have a roster spot to return to until there is a corresponding move, he could sit there all season like he did last year until they needed him.
Stevenson isn’t even with the team at the moment as he rehabs in Houston.
Until we get an exact injury designation or additional information, it’s a shot in the dark to estimate when he returns.
DT Eli Ankou (Left hamstring)
Ankou left after one play against the Carolina Panthers last Friday, injuring his left hamstring. While he was iffy about making the roster, the team elected to give him an injury settlement instead.
What this does is that they give him money that he would have earned while on the roster rehabbing. This absolves the team of responsibility while he works back. We don’t know the number of weeks they speculated that he requires to get fully healthy. Could be two weeks, could be six weeks.
As Sal mentioned above, he can return to the team if they wish to re-sign him after that time period plus three weeks. If Ankou is healthier sooner than that, he is free to sign elsewhere immediately, but he must pass a physical, which prevents him from rushing back too quickly. He is too talented to not play again this season, but he may find his way back to Buffalo eventually.
WR Isaiah McKenzie (Undisclosed)
Very little is known regarding the injury that Isaiah McKenzie sustained last Saturday at practice following the Carolina Panthers game. He left with training staff and then has only been seen working off to the side.
They haven’t ruled out McKenzie for Week 1, but they will have to see how he progresses.
Monday will be the first time we get an injury report that gives us an idea of what he is dealing with.
WR Jamison Crowder (Undisclosed)
Crowder was off to the side on Tuesday working out with the other injured players. This could have been a veteran rest day or something else. We will know more Monday.
OT Tommy Doyle (Right foot)
Doyle continues to work off to the side as he recovers from a foot injury sustained in the first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. The fact that he wasn’t placed on injured reserve supports what the team stated that it wasn’t a major injury, but he will need at least a limited practice Monday to have a chance to play next Thursday.
TE Quintin Morris (Right Hamstring)
Morris tweaked his right hamstring starting a route in practice on Monday. Below is the instance when it occurred.
Morris later confirmed that it was a hamstring tweak, but downplayed the severity.
His practice participation next week will determine his availability for Thursday. Considering he is TE3, he could either be inactive altogether or be solely on special teams. The team has played players in the past after hamstring strains when the snaps are limited.
DT Tim Settle (Calf)
Settle has not returned to practice since suffering a calf injury against the Indianapolis Colts. By the time Week 1 kicks off, he will be nearly a month removed from the injury, typically ample time to recover. His practice participation Monday will be interesting to watch.
S Jordan Poyer (Left elbow)
Poyer continues to ramp up in his return to practice, doing all sorts of work to be ready for Week 1. He is still wearing a brace at times on the field following the left hyperextension of his elbow, but he doesn’t appear to have any limitations.
I had thought that he would not wear the brace in-game, but it may come down to how he feels and if he needs it just to protect himself for the first game. Either way, this isn’t something that should linger.
The Buffalo Bills signed Sam Martin as their punter Thursday as they moved Marquez Stevenson to IR. Here is his injury profile if you are so inclined.
They also filled out their practice squad, signing OT Ryan van Demark, TE Zack Davidson, and CB Kyler McMichael.
Football is back!
Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams is less than a week away. We will get more answers Monday regarding several of the players mentioned above and have a clearer picture heading into Week 1 to kick off the NFL season.
Top Photo Credit: NFL.com