The Buffalo Bills are reported to have signed Darrynton Evans to a contract, just prior to training camp starting to replace Nyhiem Hines, lost for the season following an ACL tear.
Evans comes to the Bills after being selected in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. He did not see much playing time behind all-world RB Derrick Henry, but injuries have not helped his opportunities.
Below is Darrynton Evans’s publicly reported injury history and concerns moving forward.
Broken hand/thumb, missed three games.
2017 Appalachian State
Right knee injury, redshirted the entire year.
Evans suffered a popliteus muscle tear in his right knee that forced him to miss the entire 2017 season.
2020 Tennessee Titans
Hamstring strain, prior to Week 1, missed 2 games.
Hamstring strain, Week 5, went to IR, missed 8 games.
Evans suffered a hamstring strain, side not specified, prior to Week 1 of the 2020 season with several reports indicating that this was a groin strain. He missed the first two games of the season before returning to play in Week 3. He saw minimal playing time in the next two games before suffering a hamstring injury against the Buffalo Bills, sending him to injured reserve.
He missed eight games once going on IR, returning in December. Keep in mind that the minimum number of games to be there was three games that season, indicating how severe the injury really was.
Knee injury, preseason, missed 17 total games.
Evans suffered a knee injury, side not specified, during the first preseason game in the first quarter. He missed a significant chunk of training camp and was placed on injured reserve to begin the season, missing six games. In 2021, a player only had to spend three weeks on IR before coming off.
He returned to play against the Kansas City Chiefs but suffered a re-injury to his knee, sending him back to injured reserve, ending his season. He missed 16 regular season games and the divisional-round playoff loss to the Bengals.
2022 Chicago Bears
No publicly reported injuries.
2023 Indianapolis Colts/Buffalo Bills
Off-season member of the Colts, with no publicly reported injuries.
Buffalo Bills Injury Outlook
Missing 26 out of a possible 34 games including playoffs explains why the Titans decided to move on from Evans.
Looking at his injury history, the popliteus muscle tear is certainly interesting but appears to be an isolated incident. The muscle assists with medial and lateral rotation of the knee depending on the position of the knee and acts as a stabilizer. This injury also reportedly affected his hamstring which is not surprising considering the location of the muscle. This is not something I have seen clinically nor do I believe that this is an injury that would lead to his other issues later in his career.
The hamstring strain in 2020 was unfortunate as it appears as though he suffered the injury but could never get fully healthy. Whether this was due to the severity of the strain or whether he rushed back, it cost him nearly the entire season.
His 2021 knee injury lacks details which makes it difficult to determine whether this is a chronic issue or even whether he required surgery.
He avoided the injury report during his time with the Chicago Bears, though that was in part to spending most of the season on the practice squad, occasionally getting call-ups.
Watching this clip from Cover 1 shows why the Bills were interested in him during the 2020 draft, bringing him in for a top-30 visit.
The speed and skillset are clearly there, but injuries have truly derailed his potential.
Are the Buffalo Bills getting the healthier 2022 version of Evans or will they be getting the Titans version? Everyone, including Evans, is hoping for the 2022 version, but the hamstring and knee injuries can’t be ignored. If he can stay healthy, this could be an excellent addition to the running back room and for possible special teams.
The Bills are smart to churn the bottom of the roster, looking for guys who may have slipped through the cracks. He passed a physical from the Bills which indicates that he is healthy enough to play and perform.
However, if Evans begins to miss time due to injuries, they can easily move on from him without regret. Time will tell how this signing plays out during training camp.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images