The Buffalo Bills secured back-to-back wins at Ford Field, a first by any team since 2016 with a score of 28-25 on Thursday afternoon. It was a thrilling game that felt like it should not have been that close, but the Detroit Lions are a talented team that was on a three-game winning streak heading into the contest. This kind of game shows that no team should be taken lightly no matter the record.
Unfortunately, Thanksgiving has not been kind to the Buffalo Bills in recent years with regard to injuries. Last year, we saw Tre’Davious White go down with a left ACL tear, ending his season. This season, we saw Von Miller go down with a right knee injury of his own along with several other injuries to note below.
DE Von Miller (Right lateral meniscus tear)
The news is out about the details regarding Von Miller. He managed to avoid the dreaded ACL tear as was the fear below in the video.
He did suffer a lateral meniscus tear per reports. To get the full details on the injury including timelines, please check out the article posted Saturday.
The tweet from Jeremy Fowler below shows some optimism but the key point will be to see how he does with rehab.
OT Dion Dawkins (Right ankle)
Dawkins left the game with 12 seconds left in the second quarter of Thursday’s game with a right ankle injury seen below.
By video, there is a concern for a high-ankle sprain, but his foot does escape from under the defender pretty quickly. This could be a mild high-ankle or he could have avoided the issue altogether. He was never ruled out of the game and at times could be seen jumping up and down on the sidelines with the right ankle wrapped.
The team also had optimism with how they discussed his ankle, taking it one day at a time. This is in contrast to the wording they used with past high-ankle sprains with Jake Kumerow and Greg Rousseau.
This is one we need more information on, but his injury appears to be far more positive than the video shows. His practice participation will be the true indicator of the level of severity.
WR Stefon Diggs (Left abdomen/hip)
Diggs appeared to be more hurt than injured on this play, having to walk off for a moment to get right before coming back in. As you can see in the video, he takes a hard shot to his left side before getting his head hit to finish the tackle.
He may be feeling the effects of this hit, but it may not be enough to land him on the injury report for anything more than a veteran rest day.
QB Josh Allen (Left knee/hip)
In another instance where there appeared to be more pain than injury, Allen gets knocked out of bounds, getting hit in the outside portion of his left knee. He did land hard on his left and appeared to be in some level of discomfort as he was helped up by his teammates, but he did set up the game-winning field goal with that run.
CB Christian Benford (Oblique)
This was a surprising injury as there was not any in-game designation for the rookie. He was in on the final snap on special teams which may have been why he did not receive a designation if he played sparingly throughout the game.
He was initially termed as week-to-week before later being placed on injured reserve for the next four games. Benford will be eligible to return in Week 17 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
I did attempt to find when the injury occurred and below appear to be the best candidates. He did not play on defense at all during the fourth quarter and only on special teams, at least at the very end. This may have been an injury that he felt happened, thought he was ok and then as the game went on, it began to worsen.
There isn’t a lot of research on abdominal or oblique injuries when it comes to timelines for a football player to return. Based on the IR designation, Benford is looking at least at a Grade 2 strain.
Oblique injuries are quite common in baseball which can give somewhat of a timeline for a player to return, though it varies. Pitchers take on average 32.8-44.5 days to return based on the contralateral or ipsilateral side of the pitching arm. Non-positional players take 21.2-28.9 days to return to play, once again, ipsilateral to contralateral to the throwing side. However, this is a poor comparison considering the throwing mechanics compared to playing football.
An Australian Rules football player required 35 days to return from an abdominal wall oblique wall rupture at the iliac crest, though it’s not known what type of oblique injury Benford is dealing with. It’s possible that it may be more significant than what we have previously seen with Stefon Diggs and Matt Milano in previous instances. This may be the closest comparable injury in terms of sport, but we don’t have the specifics of Benford’s injury.
This will be an injury to watch to see how long he is really on injured reserve once he completes the minimum four-game requirement and begins to ramp up. This will also be an injury that I expect to find more research about.
WR Jamison Crowder (Left ankle fracture)
Apparently, the book has not been closed on Crowder returning this season. As seen in the tweet below, Crowder has been traveling with the team recently but has not been out practicing off to the side yet.
If you recall, he broke his left ankle back in Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens, requiring surgery.
This is what I said back in October.
“He likely suffered a high-ankle sprain with fracture/dislocation. This is the result of the foot being pushed up and getting twisted outward for the high-ankle mechanism. When the foot gets twisted out, the foot complex pushes on the lateral malleolus, and with another force pinning the fibula from above such as the tackle, the bone breaks. This commonly leads to dislocation in the ankle complex as well.
These are unfortunately common in football and are often season-ending. Crowder does not have a timeline to return at this moment. Currently, Crowder is looking at about a four-to-six-month recovery. I will note, that even with a timeline such as that, NFL players usually need longer to get fully back to their prior level of function. To read more about his injury, check out the article I did at Buffalo Rumblings when Matt Milano fractured his ankle.
If everything goes perfectly, Crowder could hypothetically return for the playoffs. However, this is on an accelerated rehab schedule and rehab would have to be absolutely no complications. He would still need to get back into cardiovascular shape and be able to sprint, cut, and jump without hesitation off that left leg, something that I don’t believe will return quickly. On top of that, Crowder at less than 100 percent would still have to be a better option than what’s on the roster.
On average, NFL players who have suffered a distal fibula fracture (broken ankle) missed a total of 123.8 days (4 months). Even if he suffered an isolated fibula fracture without any associated damage that required surgery, he would miss 117.1 days (3.8 months). 90 percent of players who suffer this injury return to play the following season. The four-month mark from his surgery date would be the divisional playoffs.
In the best-case scenario, I would consider a return similar to what former Alabama and now Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle went through in 2020, returning in 11 weeks to play in the National Championship game. Even then, he wasn’t much of a factor and was visibly limited in his abilities. Unfortunately, Crowder is nowhere near as talented as Waddle.
If Crowder starts to show notable progress late in the season, then we can revisit this discussion. The team also has to consider other players on IR at that point when using their allotted 8 return-to-play designations. Taking this all into account, his season is effectively over.”
This is certainly a wait-and-see approach with how his rehab is going. If he does return, I would expect him to begin working off to the side sometime in mid-December to begin ramping up with the four-month surgery mark being in the divisional playoff round.
To read more about his injury, timeline, and links, check out the injury review from Week 4.
The Bills made a series of moves Saturday, signing former Bills WR John Brown and DT CJ Brewer to the practice squad. They also moved CB Xavier Rhodes to the active roster and placed Christian Benford on IR.
Brown has been healthy since leaving Buffalo, though hasn’t seen a ton of playing time. Check out his injury profile to review his injuries.
The Bills have a full week to get ready for the New England Patriots before getting a well-deserved mini-bye after Thursday’s game. This has been a season of attrition from an injury perspective that the team has navigated fairly well so far. Other winning teams have overcome the injury bug to either win championships or have deep playoff runs. We can only wait and see what the Buffalo Bills do over the remainder of the regular season.
Top Photo Credit: Photo by Craig Melvin