The Buffalo Bills head down to South Beach to play the Miami Dolphins on Sunday for sole ownership of first place in the AFC East! Both teams are coming into the game at 2-0 after wildly different outcomes the first two weeks of the season.
While this old rivalry appears to have found new life, the outcome of this game may be determined by injuries. Both teams come in with significant injuries to the roster at various key positions. Be forewarned, this is a lengthy injury report for both teams, get that thumb ready for scrolling.
BUFFALO BILLS INJURY REPORT
S Micah Hyde (Neck)
Update: Hyde is out for the 2023 season with a herniated cervical disc.
This is the injury that grew throughout the week, culminating in an OUT designation for Sunday. To briefly recap, Hyde tackled Robert Woods late in the third quarter seen below. He was designated with a neck injury and later went to the hospital for further evaluation. This was likely due to paraesthesia or numbness/tingling going down one of his arms.
At the time of the injury, it appeared to be a stinger, a sudden compression or stretch of the nerves in the neck, causing an electrical shock through that particular nerve.
Worry escalated on Thursday with a report from Mark Gaughn from The Buffalo News stating that Hyde went out of town for a second opinion on the injury.
Among the fan base, this stoked fears of Eric Wood, Aaron Williams, and even former Sabre Jack Eichel. Every one of these names listed in the prior sentence did have significant neck injuries that either led to retirement or surgery.
However, each injury was vastly different in location, interventions, and outcome.
Friend Dr. David Chao (@ProFootballDoc) released a video on Friday evening detailing the potential specifics of Hyde’s injury as seen below.
After gathering more information over the past few days, I do share his concerns about a disc issue. This is common to see with a stinger, especially if they are recurrent. This is where a piece of the vertebral disc protrudes out and pushes on a nerve in the area, causing pain, numbness/tingling, and weakness down that nerve. This issue is known as radiculopathy in the physical therapy world and is a very common diagnosis to treat.
I personally have had a lot of success treating this issue conservatively with therapy. There is physical therapy, chiropractics, injections, and many other conservative interventions to be considered even before surgery is an option.
This is a very common diagnosis within the rehab world, go find a PT or Chiropractor, they will confirm this.
This is Hyde’s fourth neck injury designation since 2015 and while I do not consider neck injuries to be cumulative as we see with concussions, they can be separate issues.
However, if Hyde had a pre-existing neck injury that the team has managed and not been a problem, it may have flared up now. There could be other issues such as stenosis, a condition in which there is a narrowing of the foramen where the nerve exits the vertebrae. There could be vestibular (balance) issues in play here. There could be something that I’m not even considering at the moment.
The second opinion does not always equal bad. TJ Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers went for multiple second opinions on his pectoral injury in Week 1, ultimately not requiring surgery. What is difficult to prognosticate is what the exact injury is and how long he will be out or a timeline to return.
What we do need is patience and optimism moving forward. It stinks that he is out for Week 3, but Hyde is needed in January and February, not September. With Hyde’s importance on the team, more information will come out, giving us clarity and a potential timeline for return.
CB Dane Jackson (Neck)
By now, everyone has seen the Dane Jackson hit that led to him going to the hospital via ambulance on Monday night. This was all precautionary as the team suspected a cervical neck injury that required imaging to rule out.
He did not practice this week and was already ruled out prior to practice Friday. He was at practice this week working through stretching drills and presenting with the team, appearing in good spirits.
I don’t have much more to add than what I already stated in my injury recap article. To read more about his injury, please click here.
DT Ed Oliver (Right ankle)
Oliver was a surprise scratch heading into Week 3 with a right medial ankle sprain suffered in Week 1. I have been initially optimistic that he would play in Week 2 but was ruled out. After limited practices all week, he appeared to be on track to play, but the Bills are holding him out once again.
Looking at the situation, we are missing something. Either the injury was far worse than it appears and what has been reported or there was a different mechanism of injury such as a high-ankle sprain. Another possibility is that the Bills see this as a long season and want to make sure he is fully healthy knowing the depth they have at the position.
Limited practices all week should progress to at least one full practice next week for Week 4, but this one will have to play out to see his availability in the future.
DT Jordan Phillips (Left hamstring)
Phillips went down with what looked to be a left hamstring strain on the Matt Milano pick-six to ice the game late in the third quarter Monday. He did not practice all week as expected and was ruled out prior to Friday’s practice.
The Bills are notoriously conservative with hamstring strains and this one is no different. He dealt with a hamstring issue in 2020 while with the Cardinals, but it’s not clear if this is the same side.
Depending on the severity, he may miss more time than just this game, but practice reports should give us an indication of severity. I would expect he is at least practicing and questionable heading into Week 4 based on what we saw this week.
WR Gabe Davis (Right ankle)
Davis injured his ankle late in practice on Saturday prior to Week 2, giving him a questionable designation. He ultimately did not play due to the recency of the injury but was seen at practice this week with the right ankle heavily taped.
He has injured this ankle several times before; in 2020, during the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, and then in 2021 during Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
There may be some residual laxity within the joint due to the sprains which means that the ankle can be sprained more easily, but also does not sustain as much damage or missed time. Davis has publicly stated that he will “100 percent” play on Sunday. I have no reason to doubt that.
He may still be limited in running to the right side and slowing down at times and may not be getting a ton of yards after the catch in Week 3.
One additional note, this is what I said about Davis regarding his abilities from a fantasy perspective. (By the way, go check out Jeff’s work and give him a follow for fantasy injury news.)
S Jordan Poyer (Foot)
This is the only injury that is not readily apparent on film. Poyer played in 80 percent of snaps in Week 2, only coming out towards the end with the game in hand. It’s not clear when he suffered the injury or what the extent of the issue is.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, this is a day-to-day issue as seen below.
He was able to get a limited practice in on Friday, leaving him questionable for the game. While two DNPs followed by an LP aren’t great for playing Sunday, the team has shown to be lenient with playing when it comes to veterans. Poyer is one of the best at his position and should be able to work through this ailment.
Considering the team will be without Micah Hyde and Dane Jackson, they need someone in the back to call the shots. If he doesn’t play, I will join everyone in utter shock.
TE Dawson Knox (Right foot)
Knox was limited Thursday and Friday with a foot injury originally sustained on Monday night. He was observed getting his ankle/foot taped up on the sidelines but never received an in-game injury update. Below is the play where he gets hurt.
As he heads out to the sideline, he falls over his foot with the toes planted, placing stress through his midfoot. Based on the mechanism of injury, it appears as though he is dealing with a midfoot sprain. He was observed in practice this week with a brace and tape on the area working through drills. You can see how he moves late in the video.
He clearly favors that right side when slowing down and pushing off. Like I mentioned with Davis above, Knox can play, but he will not be the focal point of the offense.
C Mitch Morse (Right elbow)
Morse is questionable after having three limited practices following his elbow injury on Monday night. He fell on the right elbow early in the first quarter, leaving briefly for x-rays before returning late in the second quarter. He was able to finish the game and did not appear to have any drop-off in play.
During practice, he did not have any additional bracing on the right elbow other than the regular wraps he normally wears. Morse was also likely limited due to needing to get Greg Van Roten some starter snaps in the event Morse goes down again. He is still likely dealing with pain in the area, but he appears ready to suit up and play in Week 3.
DT Tim Settle (Right calf)
Settle missed last week with a calf injury originally suffered in the preseason. He missed roughly three weeks of practice before returning in Week 1, again injuring it sometime in the first half and returning with a compression sleeve in the second half.
He was doubtful heading into Week 2 with the extra time off but did not play. While he is questionable, I expect he plays due to the issues with Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips. The team rotates their defensive line to keep them fresh and they may try to limit Settle to avoid re-injury.
I do worry about further injury to the calf, but he has had another two weeks of rest other than some practice where the team can control the workloads.
CB Cam Lewis (Right forearm/knee)
Lewis appeared on the injury report this week despite not playing in the game on Monday. He is working through an unspecified knee injury that he appeared to pick up Thursday after only having a forearm designation.
He has a chronic bone infection from an injury in college that likely causes pain at times. He practiced in full all week and will be heavily used with the depth issues seen in the secondary.
LB Matt Milano (Neck/Stinger)
Milano suffered a stinger in the third quarter with a thunderous hit on Titans QB Malik Willis, wincing in pain following the hit. He later came off due to the injury and score of the game.
Considering how he hit more with his shoulder, he likely compressed more of the brachial plexus of the shoulder, causing pain but this type of stinger is less concerning than we are seeing from Micah Hyde mentioned earlier.
FB Reggie Gilliam (Left elbow)
Gilliam was a late addition to the injury report on Thursday with an elbow designation. This was the result of a hit on the punt return unit at the line of scrimmage with 9:23 left in the third quarter.
He was guarding his elbow coming off the field and then returned on the next special teams series with a black brace on the elbow. He does not have a designation and will be crucial in both the special teams and offensive game plan with others limited.
MIAMI DOLPHINS INJURY REPORT
TE Cethan Carter (Concussion)
Carter missed the Week 2 contest against the Ravens due to a concussion originally sustained in Week 1. This was the result of a special teams play when Carter got pushed into the lane of traffic as Patriots RB/WR Ty Montgomery hit him as he fell, causing the injury.
Every concussion is unique and Carter has been ruled out once again, not practicing all week. This may be more severe, leaving uncertainty as to when he will be cleared to return.
TE Hunter Long (Ankle)
Long suffered a late-week ankle injury in the Friday practice prior to Week 2, later downgraded to Out on Saturday, not traveling with the team.
He was unable to practice all week with the team ruling him out for Week 3. The details of the injury are unknown at this time.
OT Terron Armstead (Toe)
Armstead continues to work through his toe issue suffered with 8:15 left in the 4th quarter in Week 1. Considering he is on the injury report again this week suggests that this is more than a toe contusion from someone stepping on the area. He played in 100 percent of snaps in Week 2 solidifying his reputation of playing through injuries.
However, he did not practice all week, leaving him questionable for the game. It varies from team to team whether a guy doesn’t have to practice but is allowed to play. The Dolphins appear to be open to that idea.
If this is more of a turf toe issue, he likely has it taped up and has a stiff sole in the area to prevent hyperextension of the toe. Though he is less than fully healthy, he doesn’t have a choice in whether he plays as the offensive tackle depth on both sides is lacking due to Austin Jackson going to IR last week. A less than 100 percent Armstead is still probably better than most options on the Dolphins roster.
Armstead continues to be one of the bright spots on the offensive line and was brought in to protect Tua from hungry defensive ends. While he may be able to hold off most defensive ends on his side, that may just invite pressure from the opposite side to disrupt the offense. I expect he plays.
CB Xavien Howard (Groin)
Howard is once again on the injury report with a groin injury heading into Week 3. He was on the injury report last year heading into Week 8 against the Bills and did not have a good day, fighting through the injury. This is what I said about Howard heading into the game last year.
CB Xavien Howard (Shoulder/Groin)
Howard has been working through shoulder and groin injuries over the past two weeks, missing the Jaguars game, but suiting up for the Falcons. Like most on this list, details are scarce regarding the specifics of the injuries, but a cornerback with a groin injury that has to rely on quick movements and has to be reactionary typically doesn’t go well.
The shoulder injury will also likely limit his ability to tackle at times and high point the ball for an interception if he’s in position. He has shown the ability to play the entire game based on his snap counts. He is a player that could be exploited in the second half if he begins to show signs of wear.
I am literally copying and pasting to apply these to my thoughts this year for Howard if he plays. The Dolphins are thin at cornerback and they need any and all help they can get. Should he play? Probably not, but I believe he will suit up and get out there, trying to be more opportunistic in his coverage. He is certainly a high-risk, high-reward type play this week.
WR Cedrick Wilson (Toe/ribs)
Wilson was on the injury report with several limited practices last week due to the toe injury with details unknown. The rib injury this week is new as he missed most of the fourth quarter with the injury.
Based on the wording, this suggests a rib contusion as he was able to practice all week with a limited designation. He was also in a non-contact jersey to avoid aggravating the injury. With an injection and padding, he could realistically play.
DT Raekwon Davis (Knee)
Davis reappears on the injury report with a knee issue after getting rolled up on prior to Week 1 in practice. He missed the season opener against the New England Patriots but was able to play in 54 percent of snaps in Week 2.
He did practice in full Wednesday followed by limited practices Thursday and Friday. It’s not clear whether this is a load management issue with the knee or if this is a separate issue.
LB Channing Tindall (Illness)
Tindall was a late addition to the injury report last week with an illness, listed as doubtful before missing the game. He appeared to still be working through the issue earlier this week but looks ready to play come Sunday.
FB Alec Ingold (Shoulder)
Ingold appeared on the injury report this week with a shoulder ailment that didn’t appear to have an in-game assessment from training staff on Sunday. He was able to practice in full all week and does not have a gameday designation.
TE Tanner Connor (Knee)
Connor has made steady improvement in his knee injury originally sustained in the preseason, increasing his workload in practice daily. He missed Week 1 as he continued to recover and played last week, getting one offensive snap and 15 on special teams.
He should see more playing time with both Cethan Carter and Hunter Long already ruled out for Sunday.
BUFFALO BILLS PROJECTED INACTIVES
DT Ed Oliver
S Micah Hyde
DT Jordan Phillips
CB Dane Jackson
T Bobby Hart (Suspended)
DT Brandin Bryant
CB Ja’Marcus Ingram
MIAMI DOLPHINS PROJECTED INACTIVES
TE Cethan Carter
TE Hunter Long
QB Skylar Thompson
WR Erik Ezukanma
RB Myles Gaskin
If you made it to the bottom, congratulations! This was a lengthy one to type up. The Dolphins have issues on the offensive line which could bode well for the Bills’ defensive line. However, the Bills’ secondary has been decimated by injury which could spell both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
This game could come down to whoever has the ball last or who can capitalize on turnovers. My head is spinning after typing all of this up and watching the game may be the easiest portion of all I do.
This projects to be an excellent game between one of the NFL’s best teams and a rising team, looking to prove they belong among the NFL’s elite. I hope for an excellent game with no injuries.
Top Photo Credit: Getty