Injury Analysis: Buffalo Bills LB Christian Kirksey

Christian Kirksey

The beauty of the practice squad is the fact that it is really just an extension of your gameday roster. While it does allow for young player development, it has also become a way for veterans to get on a team to get up to speed without taking a roster spot. 

The Buffalo Bills are taking advantage of that benefit by signing LB Christian Kirksey to their practice squad on Wednesday. Going into his tenth year, Kirksey has had several stops but saw his most extensive playing time with the Cleveland Browns to start his career.

With a player as much mileage on the tires as Kirksey has, he’s had several significant injuries that slowed down his career. 

Below is Christian Kirksey’s publicly reported injury history and any concerns moving forward. 


2014 Cleveland Browns

No publicly reported injuries.

2015 Browns

Groin, Week 1, missed 0 games.

Kirksey was limited the Wednesday before the season opener with a groin injury but was able to practice in full Thursday and Friday, receiving a probable designation. 

2016 Browns

No publicly reported injuries.

2017 Browns

No publicly reported injuries.

2018 Browns

Ankle/shoulder, sides not specified, missed 2 total games.

Kirksey suffered ankle and shoulder injuries during the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers which left him initially questionable for Week 2 and doubtful for Week 3, missing both games. Other than the designation, there are not any additional details on the extent of these 

Illness, Week 4, missed 0 games. 

Hamstring, side not specified, Week 9, missed 7 games, sent to IR 

Kirksey suffered a significant hamstring strain playing against the Kansas City Chiefs and was unable to return to the game. Following the game, the Browns placed him on injured reserve, ending his season. 

While IR rules have evolved over the years, at the time when Kirksey was injured, a player had to stay on injured reserve for eight weeks. Had the Browns been in playoff contention, he possibly could have come back, but the injury appeared too severe to allow him to rehab on the active roster.

2019 Browns

Pectoral tear, side not specified, Week 2, missed 14 games.

Kirksey suffered a pectoral tear in Week 2 against the New York Jets, prematurely ending his day. There was some initial discussion about whether he could rehab and return during the season, but surgery was ultimately indicated which meant his season was finished. 

2020 Green Bay Packers

Right pectoral injury, Week 3, missed 5 games, sent to IR.

Kirksey once again suffered a pectoral injury, this time not as severe, playing against the New  Orleans Saints in Week 3 as a member of the Packers. His prior experience with the pectoral injury the prior season likely led to a different outcome for this injury. He also had the benefit of a shorter injured reserve stint due to the rule changes, requiring only a three-game stay, though he needed five. 

2021 Houston Texans

Thumb injury, side not specified, Week 7, missed 3 games with IR stint.

Kirksey suffered a thumb fracture in Week 7 which was later described as a fracture that required surgery. He attempted to play through the injury the following week with a club, but was ineffective, ultimately undergoing surgery to stabilize the area. It’s not clear which bone he broke but it’s possible he suffered a Bennett’s fracture, which is at the base of the thumb where the metacarpal bone has a clean break. 

COVID, Week 15, missed 1 game.

Kirksey was placed on the COVID list on December 15 and did not play against the Jacksonville Jaguars. At the time, the Texans had a surge of COVID-related illness hitting the team.

2022 Texans

No publicly reported injuries.

2023 Texans

Hamstring, side not specified, missed 3 preseason games.

Kirksey missed a majority of training camp with a hamstring strain with his first practice missed back on August 1. At that time, he was designated with a leg injury, but reports later clarified it as a hamstring

Texans training camp started back on July 26 which means Kirksey only got in roughly five practices before needing to sit out. Cutting Kirksey did allow the Texans to save $5.2 million, but prior to the injury, he was expected to make the roster.

Buffalo Bills Injury Outlook

For the first four seasons of Kirksey’s career, he was as durable as they came, not missing a game. Unfortunately, a season-ending hamstring strain followed by back-to-back pectoral injuries, along with a thumb fracture plus smaller injuries cost him a total of 31 games from 2018-2021. He was able to rebound in 2022 with a healthy season, appearing in 17 games, but the injury bug struck again this preseason with a hamstring strain.

Looking at everything as a whole, none of the injuries really concern me other than the hamstring from this preseason. Pectoral injuries are more problematic in the season leading to missed time, but even with surgery, most players return without a drop-off in performance. His thumb fracture was a one-off issue and he really didn’t have many other concerns. 

Going back to Kirksey’s hamstring strain, the league already knows that hamstring strains are the most common injuries with nearly 75 percent of these injuries leading to missed time. Even when players do return from a hamstring strain, there is still between a 22-34 percent chance for re-injury within a 12-month window. 

Considering Kirksey has not practiced or played in a month and is signed to the practice squad, he is not expected to play immediately. He has had adequate time to rehab up to this point, but this does not mean that he will be 100 percent even when the Bills put him through a physical. They will likely pass him knowing that he can continue to rehab on the side and do not have to make him a game-day call-up unless an injury occurs. This also allows him to get up to speed on the playbook.

The Bills have had interest in Kirksey for several years and the timing appeared to work out well this time. As long as he can continue to rehab from the hamstring injury and not be rushed into playing, then there is minimal concern moving forward. He is an older player and is expected to have injuries at this point in his career.

Overall, I love this move bringing him onto the practice squad to get fully healthy and up to speed. With 94 starts under his belt, Brandon Beane got a steal in bringing in a low-cost veteran player at a weaker position on the roster. 

Darryl Webb/Associated Press