The Buffalo Bills head to Baltimore to play the Ravens in a key Week 4 AFC matchup that could have big implications for playoff seeding later in the season.
Both teams are dealing with injuries across the board but Baltimore appears to have an advantage as their injury list is considerably shorter. The Bills’ injury report is as long as it has ever been after suffering numerous injuries over the past two weeks, including several season-ending ones.
The Bills will be far better off in the wind and rain as compared to the heat last week in Miami, but poor footing and a significant amount of injuries may level the playing field. The marquee attraction of the game will be the battle between Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, seeing who can elevate their level of play for a win.
Get the full injury report below for both teams and projected inactives.
BUFFALO BILLS INJURY REPORT
CB Christian Benford (Right-hand fracture)
Benford fractured his hand late in the second quarter, later returning with a club, playing only special teams. On Tuesday, he underwent surgery on what is assumed a broken metacarpal based on the hand designation and bandaging observed.
I expect him to return in Week 8 after the bye but could hypothetically return sooner in Week 6 with a club and play special teams.
WR Jake Kumerow (Left High-ankle sprain)
Kumerow suffered a left high ankle sprain late in the first quarter, not returning to the game. I do not expect him to return until after the bye in Week 8.
DT Jordan Phillips (Left hamstring)
Philips is set to miss his second straight game following his left hamstring injury sustained in Week 2. This was the result of Matt Milano’s pick-six with Phillips trying to keep up in case he needed to block.
He has a shot at playing next week if he gets some limited practices in, but his return timeline may point him to returning in Week 6 against Kansas City.
CB Dane Jackson (Neck)
After leaving Highmark Stadium in an ambulance on September 19, Jackson returned to practice this week, shedding the non-contact jersey Friday. He is officially questionable but he has publicly stated that he will suit up Sunday.
I do not expect him to play the whole game unless there are other injuries, but playing in a timeshare will allow him to reacclimate and keep the rest of the cornerback room fresh.
DT Ed Oliver (Right high-ankle sprain)
Oliver continues to work back from a right ankle injury sustained in the Week 1 contest against the Los Angeles Rams. Initial impressions were that this was a medial ankle sprain, but Oliver came out and said this week that he had a high-ankle sprain as seen below.
He continues to ramp up his workload in practice, limited all last week and this week with a questionable designation. Considering there is new information available that this was a high-ankle, it makes sense why he hasn’t attempted to play. This also clarifies why he was able to return to the game that Thursday due to the swelling not set in yet. However, once it did, that’s where the real injury and rehab came in.
He was limited all week and questionable for the game. The team has been getting the job done without him and I believe that another week would benefit him in the long run. If he does play, I would expect limited snaps.
S Jordan Poyer (Foot)
Poyer missed last week with a foot injury suffered in the win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 2. It is not apparent on film when the injury occurred, but he was questionable heading into Week 3 before news broke Sunday morning that he would not suit up.
He remains questionable heading into this week and with M&T Bank stadium being natural grass and factoring in the weather, footing may be an issue. While this could prevent several serious injuries such as ACLs with the foot not getting caught in the turf, this could also exacerbate any pre-existing injuries such as Poyer’s, trying to push off the foot effectively. Considering all the injuries and how Damar Hamlin and Jaquan Johnson played last week, it may be best for Poyer to rest one more week.
WR Gabe Davis (Right ankle)
Davis played nearly every snap in the Week 3 loss to the Dolphins Sunday after Jake Kumerow left with his own ankle injury. This was likely not the plan to have him play so much as he worked through the injury.
Designated as questionable, Davis publicly stated that he would play Sunday, but I don’t expect him to be productive. I would expect a second-half surge in production after he improves his health.
C Mitch Morse (Right elbow)
Morse missed last week’s game with a questionable designation following a right elbow contusion against the Titans. While the injury appeared relatively routine and he practiced last week, there very well could have other underlying issues within the elbow. He has been blocking in the NFL with his arms extended and placing a lot of stress through his elbows since 2015 and before that at Missouri.
With Morse being the lynchpin of the offensive line, his return will be welcomed as the Bills try to get the rushing game going Sunday.
TE Dawson Knox (Back/hip)
Little is known regarding his injury after he was questionable with a right foot injury heading into the game. The hope is that this is a contusion from all the hits he took Sunday. There isn’t a clear mechanism of injury from the game that gives insight into what he is dealing with.
When I do see a hip/back designation, I begin thinking of radiculopathy, essentially what sciatica is in common terms. There is often back and buttocks pain that can radiate further down the leg, but this is pure speculation on the clustering of the designation. However, this can be managed through physical therapy or chiropractics if this were the case and can be addressed through many conservative interventions.
OT Justin Murray (Foot)
Signed to the active roster Monday, Murray immediately appeared on the injury report with a foot designation. It’s possible he injured the foot in his first practice, but he also dealt with an ankle injury during the preseason with the Cardinals that led to him receiving an injury settlement.
Considering when he was signed and already dealing with an injury, it appears unlikely that he plays Sunday.
G Ryan Bates (Concussion)
Bates left in the third quarter of Sunday’s game with a concussion after also looking to struggle in the heat as most of his teammates also were. Fortunately, Bates has been ramping up well following his head injury, not practicing Wednesday before getting in a limited practice Thursday with the non-contact jersey.
He was seen going through drills and at times initiating contact which typically means that a player is in Stage 5 of the NFL concussion protocol. He was cleared after practice Friday and will play Sunday.
OT Dion Dawkins (Illness)
Dawkins missed Wednesday’s practice with a non-COVID illness that was related to the dehydration issues from Sunday’s game.
CB Cam Lewis (Forearm/knee)
Lewis continues to work through his forearm and knee designations. It’s not clear how he injured his knee but he has a chronic bone infection in his forearm, though I am not certain what he is dealing with that is limiting him from that aspect.
OT Tommy Doyle (Right ACL)
Doyle suffered a season-ending right ACL tear with 50 seconds left in the 4th quarter Sunday. He managed to play the remaining five snaps knowing that there was no one to replace him which is pretty admirable.
He has yet to undergo surgery but should within the next two weeks. Based on the timeline, he should be ready for training camp in 2023.
S Micah Hyde (Herniated Disc)
Hyde went on IR with a cervical disc herniation after missing practice all week. For more details including the anatomy, procedure, and outcomes, please check out the article I did over at Buffalo Rumblings.
BALTIMORE RAVENS INJURY REPORT
LB Justin Houston (Groin)
Houston has been ruled out of the Week 4 contest after not practicing all week due to a groin injury. A doubtful designation is not welcome for an already stressed linebacker corps. The potential loss of Houston further hurts the position that recently lost Steven Means to an Achilles tear in Week 2.
OT Patrick Mekari (Ankle)
Mekari is doubtful for Week 4 with a low ankle sprain suffered in the win over the Patriots in Week 3.
While low ankle sprains are relatively minor, this would still prevent Mekari from moving laterally effectively which could leave him a step slower. This could welcome additional pressure from the edge, preventing Lamar Jackson from getting the ball out quickly or forcing him to run more often.
OT Ronnie Stanley (Left ankle)
Following two ankle surgeries and playing in only 7 games since the 2020 season after breaking his left ankle, Stanley appears ready to return to play Sunday. He broke the ankle in October of the 2020 season and rushed back to play for 2021, still not at 100 percent. He was placed on injured reserve for the remaining 16 games and at some point, had another major surgery on his lower body, though the specifics of that are not known.
Despite the questionable designation, I would expect Stanley to play as Mekari will likely be out with his own ankle injury. The team also lost Ja’Wuan James to an Achilles tear in Week 1. When Stanley does return, I would not expect an All-Pro level of play, but he will be able to anchor the offensive line and improve throughout the season.
His return lined up against Von Miller and Gregory Rousseau will be an excellent litmus test as to how close or far away he is from his prior level of form.
RB JK Dobbins (Chest)
Dobbins continues to be on the injury report, this week with a chest injury that he likely sustained sometime in the second half according to his usage in his first game back. This may be more of a rib cage designation that is more pain-limiting and minimizes hits during the week to be ready for Sunday.
However, the bigger issue for Dobbins is his continued recovery from his left ACL injury which also included damage to his LCL, hamstring, and meniscus. This was the result of a knee injury in the final Ravens preseason game where he suffered a low hit directly to the knee.
He hasn’t looked explosive coming off that left side and has become defensive about his abilities on social media. While he is improving, he is still not 100 percent and with the poor weather expected on Sunday, I expect that he will struggle in addition to the poor footing on the grass. He’s not quite a non-factor, but he’s not anywhere close to the game-changing back coming out of Ohio State in 2020.
CB Marcus Peters (Knee)
Peters suffered an ACL tear last year days before the Week 1 opener and missed the entire season. His appearance on the injury report indicates that he may be still working through some of the soreness that is expected following his return to play. He missed Wednesday’s practice due to a rest day before practicing in full Thursday and Friday.
WR James Proche (Groin)
Proche will play Sunday after practicing in full all week with a groin injury originally suffered in Week 1, missing the last two games.
NT Michael Pierce (Biceps)
Pierce underwent season-ending surgery Thursday for a proximal biceps tear in Week 3. There was discussion about whether he could play through the injury, he could have, but the loss of function appeared too great to play effectively.
BUFFALO BILLS PROJECTED INACTIVES
CB Christian Benford
DT Jordan Phillips
WR Jake Kumerow
OT Justin Murray
S Jordan Poyer
BALTIMORE RAVENS PROJECTED INACTIVES
LB Justin Houston
OT Patrick Mekari
CB Daryl Worley
DE Brett Urban
RB Kenyan Drake
This game will be far better than the heat for the Buffalo Bills, trading the heat for wind and rain, but footing will appear to be the only issue. This game will come down to Josh Allen vs Lamar Jackson and who can make the least amount of mistakes.
The Ravens appear to be the healthier team heading into this game but the Bills appear to be playing the long game when it comes to injuries. Some of the injuries mentioned above could probably be played through, but considering the length of the season, it may be best to rest them early on to prevent lingering or worsening issues.
Top Photo Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports