The Buffalo Bills reduced their roster to 53 players on Tuesday as they prepare for Week 1. This included PUP, injured reserve designations, injury settlements, and practice squad signings. This allowed the team to maximize who they were able to keep in the building and maintain continuity throughout the roster.
Despite training camp being over, there are still plenty of injuries the team is working through prior to Week 1. Below are all the injuries following Tuesday’s transactions and how the team will look as they head into practice for Week 1.
Regular Season Injuries
LB Terrel Bernard (Hamstring)
Bernard is set to return following missing a significant chunk of training camp with a hamstring strain, suffered two days before the first preseason game. He has flashed at times in the limited reps observed at practice, but he appears to be on track to play in Week 1.
It remains to be seen whether the hamstring will bother him later on; the Bills do an excellent job at minimizing the issues historically. He is at risk of suffering another hamstring strain right now, but since he has had several weeks to rehab, it is less likely than if this happened in-season. He needs a strong start to the season after ending training camp with plenty of questions.
LB Dorian Williams (Left calf)
Williams missed all of practice last week as he worked through a left calf strain suffered in the Steelers preseason game.
Sitting him out of the last week of practice was the smarter move as he needs to continue to transition to the pro game, letting his body adapt.
WR Khalil Shakir (Ribs)
After suffering an injury to his ribs against the Steelers, Shakir sat out all last week and the Bears game with “sore ribs”. Despite it being the preseason, it’s very likely he suffered a more notable injury such as a rib fracture the team is downplaying.
Either way, he should be healed enough to play in Week 1 without major restrictions.
G Connor McGovern (Right knee)
McGovern returned to practice Wednesday after suffering a knee injury the prior week when he “banged knees” during a drill. He sat and watched the remainder of practice with a sleeve on, but did not leave.
In the video above, you can see how the right knee is braced up and the struggles he has in driving off the knee. While his first game is not until September 11, it may be a tall task to get ready and play at a high level against the New York Jets defensive line.
I do not believe this injury is anything more than an MCL sprain or even a PCL/LCL sprain, but it should not linger past several more weeks. We will have to see how he looks over the next week in practice, but I am not hopeful that he will suit up in Week 1.
LB Baylon Spector (Right hamstring)
Spector was placed on injured reserve to start the season due to his right hamstring strain suffered against the Chicago Bears last week. While the injury does appear to be moderate, it was also poorly timed, preventing Spector from contributing early. He will miss the first four games of the season and be eligible to play Week 5, though he has a 21-day practice window to work within.
His return will be more predicated on when there is a corresponding injury and when the linebacking corps needs him. When he does return, there may be a chance he still isn’t 100 percent, but much healthier than if he tried to play through the injury, missing only a game or two.
WR Justin Shorter (Hamstring)
Shorter’s injury was a surprise move, something the Bills seem to do every year. He played in 35 snaps last Saturday which means finding the hamstring strain in there difficult. I fully believe that he has an actual injury, but this was also a way to keep a draft pick around as he developed.
He did battle a hamstring strain at Florida last year, it’s possible this latest injury is related, but unable to prove. I’m willing to bet that his injury is less severe than Spector’s, but this is an opportunity to bring him to the active roster when depth is needed. I do expect him to be fully healthy upon his return.
QB Matt Barkley (Right elbow)
After suffering an injury to his throwing elbow against the Steelers, Barkley was placed on injured reserve just prior to the cut-down day. Had he not been given an injury settlement, he would have been paid his full salary and spent the season on injured reserve. At this point, it appears he suffered a UCL sprain and needs extra time to fully recover before considering a return to playing.
Instead, he has been released and can sign with any team immediately, pending he passes a physical. If he were to re-sign with the Bills, he would need to wait whatever the timeframe on the injury was plus three weeks. If/when he does return, he will very likely be signed to the practice squad.
DE Von Miller (Right ACL)
Brandon Beane said it was a tough decision whether to activate Miller from PUP prior to the cut-down day, but considering what he means to this team, they need him for the playoffs. A 34-year-old player coming off a second ACL tear should not be rushing back.
While there is no confirmation, there is also a strong chance that Miller suffered some type of setback during his recovery. He was not seen practicing off to the side for nearly three weeks and when he did return, he was doing more basic drills than when he was last seen. It’s very possible he suffered some type of muscle strain either on the same or opposite side. Had he been pushing to return in Week 1, these types of compensation injuries could have lingered all season, robbing Miller of what makes him great. He is eligible to return in Week 5, though the team may need to give him more of a ramp-up period.
The team is looking alright as they head into their first week of practice preparing for the New York Jets. Everyone appears on track to play that is on the active roster other than Connor McGovern. He may play, but he needs to show an improvement in his movement and show he is still a better option than David Edwards against the Jets’ defensive line.
We will get more information once injury reports come out next week, but things are looking good for the Buffalo Bills to hit the ground running for the 2023 season.
Top Photo Credit: Sal Capaccio/X