Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Review Week 5

Connor McGovern

The Bills headed out to Chicago this week to face the Bears in the final preseason game for 2023. While most of the roster is set, there are still plenty of players either fighting for a depth position or a practice squad spot. Saturday night is one last dress rehearsal to show the Bills and others around the league why they deserve a job on an NFL roster.

Due to several injuries, other players will get the opportunity to showcase their talents. Most of the players listed below could or will make the roster, but are fighting through injuries. Below is a recap of all the notable injuries from this week.

Camp Injuries

G Connor McGovern (Right knee)

McGovern did not finish practice on Wednesday after he “banged knees” with a teammate during a drill. Trainers came over to assess him and placed a compression sleeve on his knee as he sat and watched the end of practice. He was observed walking on the knee after practice but did not participate Thursday. 

Sean McDermott noted how it was too early to tell McGovern’s status at this point. A knee-to-knee collision could have many implications on the possible injuries. One of the possibilities could be an MCL sprain as over 40 percent of knee injuries are MCL sprains.

The severity of the knee injury is not known but the team may want to see how he responds to rehab before making a decision on his status. As a fan, pay attention to how the offensive line looks at the beginning of the game. There’s a very good chance that will be the starting unit in Week 1 and beyond. 

QB Matt Barkley (Right elbow)

Barkley missed practice all week due to a right elbow injury sustained against the Steelers on a hit in the pocket. A defender’s face mask hit Barkley from what appeared to be the outside of his elbow which caused the fumble. 

He has been wearing a compression sleeve on his elbow and has not thrown all week. With a hit to the elbow with the arm cocked back, there was concern for a UCL sprain. This is similar to what Josh Allen went through last year.

Considering he will likely be the practice squad quarterback, they may just want to give Barkley the time to rehab and help round out the quarterback room after cut-down days. If it was indeed a UCL sprain, it can heal on its own but will take longer as Barkley would go the conservative route, not having to use PRP or other more aggressive means of tissue healing.

LB Terrel Bernard (Hamstring)

Bernard returned to practice in a limited role on Wednesday in full pads performing drills off to the side. This has been his first action since suffering his hamstring strain early in practice back on August 10. 

If this was a regular season game, I would have expected Bernard to play in this week’s game, but not with any ramp-up time with the defense, it may not be the best idea to put him out there. The team has done an excellent job at managing the soft tissue injuries to not suffer reinjury in season. 

Week 1 should not be in jeopardy, but it’s unfortunate that he missed out on an early chance to grab a starting role in the defense. 

WR Kahlil Shakir (Sore ribs)

Shakir missed practice all week with sore ribs as indicated by the team. He only played in 12 plays during the game, eight on offense and four on special teams. There weren’t many plays where he could have hurt himself, but there was one where Shakir secured a tackle on a punt return where he got hit on the right side when a shoe came up and hit him inside as he fell down with the tackle. He played through the injury until his night was done, but that was one of the few times where there was a chance for a rib injury.

As he did not practice all week, he won’t play in Saturday’s game but he should be healthy enough to play in Week 1 even if it was a rib fracture or cartilage damage. 

RB Jordan Mims (Mouth/concussion)

Mims was hit in the mouth on Tuesday, drawing blood and receiving attention from the training staff. He then missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practices with a concussion. Mims possibly had a delayed onset of symptoms which forced him into the concussion protocol. He will miss Saturday’s game and a chance to make one final push to make the roster. 

LB Dorian Williams (Calf)

Williams missed practice all this week due to a calf injury sustained in the Steelers game. Considering his recent draft status and performance thus far, his roster spot is safe and he will have two weeks to fully recover in time for the start of the season.

OL Greg Mancz (Right knee)

Mancz missed practice on Tuesday with a sore right knee, most likely from the game, but was able to return to practice in full on Wednesday. 

Other Injury Notes

TE Dawson Knox (Left fifth digit)

Knox sat out Saturday’s game with a left pinky injury originally suffering the injury in practice. He has a pretty significant tape job as seen in the video below. The tape job suggests some type of instability towards the base of the knuckle where the finger meets the hand. 

Considering he isn’t throwing the football and catches more with the thumb and other fingers, this shouldn’t be a big issue but may hinder him at times if he suffers a reinjury. 

DT Eli Ankou (Calf)

Ankou was able to return to practice on Wednesday after missing the last week of practice, originally suffering the calf strain against the Colts. These calf strains are unfortunately common for Ankou and hopefully don’t linger. 

DE Von Miller (Right ACL)

Wednesday saw the return of Von Miller to the sidelines working out in a helmet and football pants going through drills. 

He is roughly 9.5 months out from his ACL surgery and the team has given no indication whether he will be removed from PUP prior to Tuesday. It’s odd that we haven’t seen him do most of this type of work over the past few weeks, suggesting some type of minor setback. We saw a similar approach for Tre’Davious White last year, but there were other factors in play with him. Miller hasn’t had the opportunity to ramp up his activities to football and consider a chance to get live reps.

Considering cut down day is on August 29, I believe it would be short-sighted to activate him and then push him out onto the active roster to play within a few weeks. They should save the roster spot and give him another four weeks to rehab. 

Once his four weeks are up, he can begin practicing with the team during his 21-day window and acclimate that way. The team needs him in January, not September. 

EDGE Shane Ray (Right hamstring)

Ray was released on Friday with an injury settlement following his right hamstring strain against the Steelers last week. The hamstring strain did not appear serious enough that it would be a true season-ending injury, but this allows Ray to go find another team once he is healthy enough.

He can re-sign with the Bills, but he has to wait whatever amount of weeks he was paid for to rehab the hamstring plus three weeks. However, he can sign with any other team immediately.

John Murphy (Stroke)

There were some additional updates including the specifics of what happened with Bills play-by-play announcer John Murphy. Check out the link below to read more, but it still remains to be seen as to if and when Murphy will return to the booth.

Overall Observations

The Bills are not as lucky anymore as preseason injuries have affected both roster building and continuity at various positions. Other than the season-ending injuries to Tommy Doyle and Nyhiem Hines, things have been all right. Plenty of ill-timed injuries for guys fighting for roster spots, but that’s why availability is key in the NFL.

Hopefully, there will be no more significant injuries tonight and there will be a clearer picture as the Bills head into cut-down day on Tuesday.

Top Photo Credit:  Bryan Bennett/Getty Images