The Buffalo Bills are 2-1 but injury-wise, it feels like they are already on the ropes, absorbing the body blows until the bell dings. Losing to the Miami Dolphins 21-19 after missing out on the opportunity for a game-winning field goal stings.
After all the injury-luck the team has had over the past several years, the law of averages appears to be catching up to the Bills. With the investment into the facility they built, the team gets to see how much of a difference it makes and how effective the training staff really are as they prepare for Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens.
WR Jake Kumerow (Left high-ankle sprain)
Kumerow got hit low and outside his left leg following a 10-yard catch with 1:12 left in the first quarter. Due to how he was hit with his foot planted, there was a concern for a high-ankle versus an MCL sprain as they can appear to have similar mechanisms of injury.
He was questionable to return with an ankle injury, ultimately not returning to the contest. Kumerow was also observed in a walking boot following the game. On Monday, the Bills plainly stated that he was dealing with a high-ankle sprain with confirmation and supporting video below.
A high-ankle sprain isn’t really all that high, it’s just the location of where the sprain occurs in the ankle. The injury occurs to the syndesmosis which holds the tibia and fibula together that allows the talus of the foot to articulate and create the ankle complex. The mechanism for a high-ankle is sudden dorsiflexion and eversion, the same as what the video shows.
He was able to walk off the field as the swelling had not quite set in yet and was later seen in a boot. While those signs do appear promising, this is still not an easy injury to rehab from. When running and jumping, the talus will now act as a wedge that pushes between the tibia and fibula due to the weakened syndesmosis until the area heals.
Even for a mild high-ankle sprain, they take several weeks to recover from. Kumerow could play through it but would be highly ineffective. The Bills have a bye in Week 7 and if a player goes to IR, they have to miss four games, not four weeks. I expect Kumerow to miss Week 4 against Baltimore and Week 5 against Pittsburgh. Even if it’s a mild sprain, he could possibly play against Kansas City, but wouldn’t be 100 percent.
Depending on how severe it is, he could be an IR candidate if they need the roster spot due to other injuries on the roster. They do have to be mindful of return-to-play designations, but they have eight available and at this point are expected to use only one on WR Marquez Stevenson. As of now, he can reasonably come back against Green Bay in Week 8.
CB Christian Benford (Right-hand fracture)
Benford quietly left Sunday’s game midway through the second quarter with a hand fracture. It’s not obvious when he suffered the injury, but the play below may be a candidate for injury.
It wasn’t known he was dealing with an injury until they designated him as questionable with a hand injury. He returned to play with a club on his right hand and only played special teams, allowing Ja’Marcus Ingram to play defense.
Benford will undergo surgery on Tuesday for the hand fracture per the team. Considering they designated the injury as a hand leads me to believe that this is a metacarpal fracture, the same injury as Dawson Knox had last year. To read up on the injury again, click here.
Sean McDermott noted that Benford would be out several weeks and I agree with that. I expect him to miss three games plus the bye, returning in Week 8 against Green Bay. Knox missed three total weeks last year with a well-timed bye following his hand fracture. However, I don’t believe Benford will go to IR due to the timeline for healing.
He could hypothetically return sooner in Week 6 against Kansas City and play with a club if necessary, but I’m not certain they want to do that to the rookie. Avoiding IR allows the team to keep this option open and have him practice/play as he heals.
G Ryan Bates (Concussion)
Bates left the game with 4:59 left in the third quarter requiring a head evaluation. He never received an updated status in the game. However, on Monday, it was revealed that he was in the concussion protocol. Below is the last play that Bates was in, though how he hit his head isn’t clear.
According to my records, this is Bates’ first publicly documented concussion. He must pass through the five-stage concussion protocol before he can be cleared to play. Click here to view the five stages.
Every concussion is unique and practice reports will indicate when Bates is ready to return.
QB Josh Allen (Right hand)
Allen underwent x-rays following the game on a right-hand injury sustained with two minutes left in the game on a QB sneak. In the video below, you can see how Allen’s hand hits the defender’s helmet with a closed fist. It even then looks like the ref comes in and either kicks it or steps on the hand.
He then threw two successive short passes to Stefon Diggs and Isaiah McKenzie which would have been the game-winning touchdowns. The team downplayed the injury, stating the hand is sore but alright and that Allen’s mechanics were off on the throw to McKenzie. I would not be surprised if Allen hits the injury report with a right-hand designation but practices in full.
OT Tommy Doyle (ACL tear)
Doyle was the biggest surprise of the Monday press conference, ending his season with an ACL tear. At the time, it wasn’t clear when he suffered the injury as he was able to finish the game. Looking through the film, it isn’t obvious when he suffered the injury, but below is a candidate.
Whenever he tore, he was still able to play effectively enough to finish the game. This reminds me of when former Bill Harrison Phillips tore his ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season late in the game. He attempted to play through the injury before his knee buckled again, requiring training staff to intervene.
Doyle will undergo surgery soon, potentially waiting three weeks as we saw the team did with Tre’Davious White last year. It’s unknown the extent of the damage in the knee at this time. If this is an isolated ACL tear, it’s reasonable for Doyle to be limited or not participate in OTA’s next season, but be ready for training camp in late July. Hopefully, more information will be released regarding the injury to formulate a more concrete timeline.
OT Spencer Brown, TE Dawson Knox, WR Isaiah McKenzie, WR Stefon Diggs, OL Greg Van Roten (Heat)
All the players above left the game for various durations due to heat-related issues anywhere from heat illness with Brown down to cramps for the rest of the players.
Despite all the precautions the team took to hydrate the players throughout the week and during the game, sometimes the body can’t keep up. This was evident in the players needing to leave to get IVs or stretched out to continue playing.
With the dehydration from the heat, the risk for muscle strains was increased. I would reasonably expect some of the players to be on the injury report with a designation whether it be a calf or hamstring issue. Fortunately, for heat illness and cramping, once the player is removed from the heat and allowed to cool down and get fluids, they can recover fully.
Playing in Buffalo in early October next week will be a welcome reprieve from Sunday’s oppressive heat.
Micah Hyde is out for the season due to a disc herniation in his neck from last Monday’s game and will undergo surgery. I detailed the injury and timeline over at Buffalo Rumblings.
The Bills did not elect to play Ed Oliver (Right ankle), Mitch Morse (Right elbow), or Jordan Poyer (Foot) as they work back from their respective injuries. It’s reasonable to expect all to return to play in Week 4, but the Bills appear to be more conservative with injury management this year, understanding that it is a long season.
Tre’Davious White, Ike Boettger, and Marquez Stevenson can all begin practicing after Week 4, opening a three-week window for them to return. If they begin practicing, they must be activated to the roster after three weeks or go back on IR for the season. I expect White to be activated after a ramp-up period and potentially Stevenson if they know they have a roster spot for him.
While Boettger would be beneficial to have back considering the OL issues from Sunday, he may not be ready yet from the Achilles injury in Week 16. This is still a wait-and-see approach for the Bills regarding roster management.
Injuries are hitting hard and catching the Buffalo Bills early in the 2022 season. While not ideal, I would rather battle through early-season injuries over late-season ones that cost the team a deep playoff run. Expect a flurry of roster moves in the coming days and gameday elevations to account for the depleted roster. Look for another lengthy injury report with more names come Wednesday.
Top Photo Credit: JAMIE GERMANO/ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE / USA TODAY NETWORK