It has been an emotionally charged week following the news and updates of Buffalo Bills S Damar Hamlin. The initial concerns and worries everyone had for Hamlin in the moments and days following the game were constant. It’s incredibly fortunate to hear of his progress over the week and to see that he is on the mend.
Writing that first paragraph and reflecting on the event almost makes this Week 18 matchup against the New England Patriots trivial. I am sure others feel this way in that the football game isn’t important anymore. However, the NFL is a business, this is a scheduled game that does have an impact on the seeding for the playoffs, and it does need to be played.
Below are the full injury reports for each team, projected inactives, Banged Up Bills Best Bet, and final thoughts.
One housekeeping note: Due to the Bills-Bengals game being declared a no-contest, this did not allow for a full game recap which means there was no Week 17 injury review this week.
BUFFALO BILLS INJURY REPORT
QB Josh Allen (Left ankle/right elbow)
Allen remains on the injury report due to his Week 9 right elbow sprain he continues to require weekly treatment. He has gone on to say that it’s something he’ll have to manage in the near future.
As for his ankle injury, this was the result of the play below.
You can see that Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson rolls into Allen’s left ankle, jamming his ankle. He did require training staff to tape it up on the sidelines after the offense left the field. This appears to be a mild sprain and shouldn’t affect Allen greatly. He can still step into his throws and there may be some extra effort required cutting to his left, but with the tape and adrenaline, I doubt he will even feel the injury.
CB Taron Johnson (Concussion)
Johnson left Monday’s game with 14:04 left in the first quarter following a hit from Bengals TE Hayden Hurst. He required the assistance of training staff coming off the field before going for further assessment for a head injury.
Official diagnosis of a concussion was not announced until Wednesday’s injury report only due to Monday’s stoppage. Fortunately, Johnson cleared protocol and will play Sunday. This is Johnson’s third publicly reported concussion.
LB Tyrel Dodson (Knee)
Dodson was the surprise addition to the injury report Wednesday with a knee designation. As the game does not officially count, there are no snap counts of how many plays he was out there for or even game footage to review. This injury remains a mystery.
LB Matt Milano (Left knee)
Milano continues to work through his left knee injury sustained against the Patriots in Week 13. He had worn a hinged brace but both the injury and brace have done little to stop his stellar play.
It’s difficult to pinpoint, but this injury may be more than we were expecting. I expect to get details following the season.
DT Jordan Phillips (Right shoulder)
Phillips missed two games with what appears to be a labrum tear in his right shoulder following his injury in Week 13. This occurred late in the game when he attempted to chase down Mac Jones out of the pocket and fell with his arm outstretched. He missed two games before returning and struggling against the Chicago Bears.
He wore a brace and tape on the area during the Bears game and I expect him to continue to do this for the remainder of the season. Phillips will occasionally struggle with tackling and blocking as the shoulder shifts, causing subluxations or even dislocations.
TE Dawson Knox (Right hip)
Knox still requires treatment on his right hip pointer injury he sustained early in the contest against the Chicago Bears in Week 16. Following a catch in the first quarter, he fell to the ground hard, striking the iliac crest of the hip. This is more of a pain issue, but not always easy to play through.
CB Cam Lewis (Right forearm)
Lewis has received treatment on his right forearm all season due to a chronic bone infection. This was the result of a fracture suffered in college while at the University at Buffalo. He requires the use of a padded brace on the area when he plays.
S Jordan Poyer (Lateral meniscus tear)
Poyer’s latest injury was revealed several hours prior to kickoff on Monday when he told Lisa Salters that he has been playing through a lateral meniscus tear this season.
He did bang up the knee against the Miami Dolphins, but looking at the film did not reveal any mechanism of injury for this issue. This leads me to believe that he has been playing through the injury for some time. In the video below, he is moving pretty well and does not appear to have a brace on either knee.
The tear appears to be rather minor, there may be some fraying rather than a tear that outright catches. This is the same type of tear that was initially reported for Von Miller before they found the ACL tear during exploratory surgery. He may struggle at times with certain cutting movements, jumping, and the swelling that comes with aggravating the injury.
It’s not certain that he will require off-season surgery, sometimes meniscus tears can resolve on their own as the body essentially remodels the tissue on its own. But it’s certainly affecting him to some level at this time.
Add it to the long list of injuries that Poyer has been playing through this season. This is exactly why he wanted a new contract in the offseason, for this exact reason. Two elbow injuries, foot, torn meniscus, and pneumothorax.
He will be active for Sunday and continue to play at a high level despite all the injuries and adversity this season.
S Damar Hamlin
Hamlin was officially placed on injured reserve Friday, ending his season. This is purely a transactional aspect of the business as this allows the team to fill his roster spot while he recovers. The team brought back CB Christian Benford from IR and also signed S Jared Mayden from the Jets practice squad, releasing CB Xavier Rhodes.
For more information on Damar Hamlin and updates, I encourage you to check out my article here.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS INJURY REPORT
WR Jakobi Meyers (Left shoulder)
Meyers suffered yet another injury, this time to his left shoulder late in the game against the Miami Dolphins. This was the result of a touchdown catch with 4:37 left in the fourth quarter. He caught the ball and then landed directly on the left shoulder, suggesting an AC joint sprain.
This comes after he suffered a similar injury several weeks ago to the other shoulder before later suffering a concussion. I do expect Meyers to play through the injury, though I doubt he will be effective in pushing off the left side and catches away from his body.
TE Jonnu Smith (Concussion)
Smith is questionable for the Week 18 contest against the Buffalo Bills due to a concussion originally suffered against the Bengals in Week 16. This was the result of a play where he was wrapped up in a tackle and then sustained successive hits to the head as he went down early in the fourth quarter.
He missed last week’s game and as of publication, it remains to be seen if he is cleared by the independent neurologist.
CB Jalen Mills (Groin)
Mills has not been able to play since Week 12 due to a persistent groin issue. He was questionable for the following game and able to practice before getting shut down for three weeks, ruled out of each contest. He was questionable heading into last week’s game before ultimately not playing.
Considering he has missed the past five games, the depth is thin at cornerback, and playoffs are on the line, I would expect him to attempt to play. However, do not be surprised if he requires surgery once the season ends.
CB Jonathan Jones (Chest)
Little information continues to be available regarding Jones’s chest injury that he appeared to suffer in practice prior to Week 16. He has not missed anytime suggesting it is more of a manageable issue despite his questionable designation.
CB Brandon Schooler (Hip)
Schooler was limited Thursday and Friday with a hip injury that was also possibly injured in practice. He is officially questionable for the game and has seen all of his playing time this season on special teams.
DT Davon Godchaux (Illness)
Godchaux missed Thursday’s practice with an illness before returning on Friday with a full designation.
CB Myles Bryant (Shoulder)
Bryant appeared on the injury report Thursday with a shoulder issue, suggesting this may have either been suffered or aggravated in practice. He was limited Thursday before returning to practice Friday and does not have a designation.
WR Devante Parker (Concussion)
Parker has cleared concussion protocol after missing three games due to the concussion suffered against the Arizona Cardinals.
CB Marcus Jones (Concussion)
Jones cleared concussion protocol after missing last week’s game against the Miami Dolphins. He originally suffered his concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals after playing in the entire game.
BUFFALO BILLS PROJECTED INACTIVES
LB Baylon Spector
TE Tommy Sweeney
OL Justin Murray
CB Cam Lewis
S Jared Mayden
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS PROJECTED INACTIVES
TE Jonnu Smith
CB Jalen Mills
CB Shaun Wade
DT Sam Roberts
RB Kevin Harris
Banged Up Bills Best Bet
Record 6-5 +1.00 unit
This game is going to be emotionally charged and the Bills may even come out a bit flat due to the overwhelming events of the past week. However, they will be at home and playing for their teammate, wanting to win for him. Despite the Patriots needing to win to get in, I don’t think the Bills let this happen, releasing their emotions in the form of touchdowns. I don’t see the Bills allowing this one to stay close in the second half which makes my betting pick 1 unit for the Bills to cover the spread -7 (-110) at BetMGM.
It has been a trying week. A lot of emotion and uncertainty at times. But a lot of good has come from this too. Damar’s toy drive has raised so much money to help so many people, he is recovering well, and the good in people has been evident.
Sunday will be much more about the game. It will be about the Bills’ medical staff, Damar’s continued recovery, and the well-being of the team and region. In tough moments, sports can be an escape. However, Sunday may allow for some closure to the event, allowing some level of normalcy to return for everyone. I hope everyone is doing alright after this past week and I continue to wish Damar Hamlin my best in his recovery and rehab.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images