Injury Analysis: Buffalo Bills OT Brandon Shell

Injury Analysis: Buffalo Bills OT Brandon Shell

Fortifying the offensive line, the Buffalo Bills signed OT Brandon Shell to a one-year contract Thursday. The veteran right tackle comes to Buffalo after stops with the Jets, Seahawks, and Dolphins. 

Having started 72 games, Shell brings with him a wealth of experience after nearly a decade in the league. While he brings a lot of knowledge, he also brings plenty of injuries that have affected his availability at times. 

Below are Shell’s publicly reported injury history and concerns. 


2012 South Carolina

Ankle, side not specified, missed 0 games.

Shell suffered an ankle injury against Tennessee, unable to return. The Gamecocks had a bye the following week, allowing him to fully recover and avoid missing any games. 

2015 South Carolina

Labrum repair, right shoulder, missed spring practices.

Shell underwent right shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, missing the spring practices. He did not miss any games during the 2014 season, but he did have to sit out of practice prior to the bowl game, suggesting he injured the shoulder prior to the game. 

Labrum tears are unfortunately common in offensive linemen and this was no exception. He was able to return fully healthy for the 2015 season. 


2016 New York Jets

Shoulder, side not specified, Week 8, missed 1 game. 

Shell injured his shoulder and was able to play in the following game with a questionable designation before needing to sit out the following game.

2017 Jets

Shoulder, side not specified, Week 3, missed 1 game. 

Shell suffered a shoulder injury early in the season, receiving a doubtful designation heading into Week 4. Not surprisingly, he missed the game. 

Neck, Week 7, missed 2 games.

Suffering a neck injury against the Miami Dolphins, Shell missed the following two games against the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills. 

Concussion, Week 16, missed 1 game.

2018 Jets

Left knee, Week 15, went to injured reserve, missing 2 games. 

Shell suffered a left knee injury in Week 15 that ultimately required surgery in the offseason. Shell was rolled up on and had to leave the field via cart.   A confusing report suggested a multi-ligament injury as linked here. 

However, the timeline in this article stated that he would be out for six weeks, suggesting more of a cleanup or meniscectomy. Other reports indicated that it was a complicated knee surgery, but it’s not clear what exactly he injured that required surgery. 

2019 Jets

No publicly reported injuries. 

2020 Seattle Seahawks

Ankle, side not specified, Week 11, missed 2 games. 

Shell originally injured his ankle in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals, forcing him out of the following two games.

Ankle, side not specified, Week 14, missed 3 games.

Regrettably, Shell appeared to re-injure his ankle several weeks later, forcing him out of the last three regular season games. Considering he has exclusively played right tackle, it’s possible he was working through a high-ankle sprain on his right leg. Considering that is the foot that he would step back with when kick-sliding, the outside ankle would be difficult to step onto and effectively push off of. He also missed Week 17 due to COVID, but was on the injury report as also still working through the shoulder injury.

COVID, Wild Card week, missed 0 games.

Unfortunately, as Shell was close to returning, he came down with COVID, leaving him uncertain to play the game. He was able to clear protocol in time and played in every offensive snap. 

2021 Seahawks

Ankle, side not specified, Week 2, missed 2 games. 

Shoulder, side not specified, Week 13, missed 1 game. 

Shoulder, side not specified, COVID, Week 16, missed 2 games.

Not much information could be found on any of the injuries from this season other than the shoulder injury from Week 13 lingered and he was on the COVID list again that season. 

2022 Miami Dolphins

Groin, side not specified, Week 8, missed 0 games. 

Shell appeared on the injury report with a groin injury and was limited Wednesday and Thursday before practicing in full that Friday. He was able to play against Chicago and play in every offensive snap. 

Right Shoulder, side not specified, Week 16, missed 0 games.  

Shell appeared midway through the week with a shoulder designation, limiting him in practice. He did not have a game-day designation heading into the game. The top picture shows him wearing a shoulder harness on his right shoulder prior to the regular season finale, indicating the side injured.

Left knee/ankle, Week 18, missed Wild Card Game.

Shell went down in the fourth quarter in Week 18 with what looked to be a left MCL sprain or high-ankle sprain against the Jets. It was not a surprise that he missed the following game against the Bills.

Buffalo Bills Injury Outlook

A lot of shoulder and ankle injuries in Shell’s past that have cost him a total of 18 games including playoffs in his career. While he has never played a full season, Shell has been a dependable presence on the offensive line throughout his career. Playing only right tackle does hurt his versatility if injuries happen with the Bills, but someone who has had dozens of starts at one position is far better than a journeyman plugged into the lineup for the first time.

Due to the lack of information on most of these injuries, it’s difficult to determine what is a concern and what is the cost of playing football. It’s not clear whether the shoulder injuries are similar issues to what he dealt with in college or if it’s even the same shoulder. 

He does have a neck injury as well along with shoulder issues which could suggest a history of stingers. However, that wording has not been used in conjunction with discussing his injuries when performing the research. 

His knee injury at the end of 2018 appeared to indicate that he suffered a multi-ligament injury, but the way the tweet was worded suggested that it was an odd injury. Further research indicated that this was more of a minor issue and this isn’t something that has lingered.

However, a lot of these injuries are significant enough that they warrant injury waivers on his shoulder and knees.

Overall, it’s solid depth in the event that Spencer Brown goes down with another injury. Even if Brown has to exit the game even briefly, the hope is that there is no drop-off in play should Shell enter. This signing doesn’t move the needle in terms of excitement, but its depth and leadership will come in handy in the event of future injuries. 

Photo by: Doug Murray/AP