The Buffalo Bills head up to Boston to face the New England Patriots in a Week 7 AFC East clash. Over the past few years, these two teams have taken drastically different paths as the Patriots move on from decades of winning while the Bills have established a new culture of winning. The result is a dominant 4-2 Buffalo Bills team coming to Foxboro to face a reeling 1-5 New England Patriots team looking to stay relevant.
Both teams have quite the injury issues heading into this game with the Bills having lost three defensive starters this month alone. The Patriots continue to cycle through various offensive line groupings and shuffle defensive pieces around to field the most competitive team possible.
Below are the injury reports for each team, projected inactives, Banged Up Bills Best Bet, and final observations.
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Buffalo Bills Injury Report
DT Ed Oliver (Toe)
Oliver was a surprise addition to the injury report with a toe injury when the first injury report came out Wednesday. In Week 6, he played in a season-high 87 percent of snaps. With this being a toe injury, the first thought goes to turf toe, but there do not appear to be any instances where his foot got caught extended and his foot landed on to show that mechanism.
Considering the body part location, this could also be as simple as a muscle strain in the foot around the area that flexes the toe or someone stepping on his foot and he’s working through the pain. He was unable to practice all week despite getting some warm-up work done during practice on Friday during the portion that’s open to the media. He will be out and this gives him some extra time to be ready on a short week.
TE Quintin Morris (Right Ankle)
Morris revealed on Monday that he injured his ankle several plays prior to his game-winning touchdown on Sunday. By video, there was concern for a high-ankle sprain which explains why he was unable to practice all week and ruled out prior to Sunday. I would not expect him to play against the Buccaneers in Week 8 with a small possibility in Week 9.
CB Cam Lewis (Stinger/Shoulder)
Lewis left the game Sunday after three offensive snaps due to a stinger likely sustained on the first play. This occurred when he tackled the punt returner, causing his head to snap back as he and the returner hit the ground. The broadcast stated that trainers were working off to the side addressing his arm strength before he could try to return.
He ultimately did not and as for the shoulder designation, he likely was having some residual discomfort from the stinger that he was working through. Right now, the concern is reintroducing contact to the area and aggravating the healing area. This may come down to how he feels Sunday, but if they call up Ja’Marcus Ingram, then he would have no more call-ups which means he would have to be signed to the active roster the next time he is needed. They can call up other players, but we may see this on Saturday afternoon. Considering they have a short week, it may be best to rest Lewis.
QB Josh Allen (Right Shoulder)
Easily the biggest injury heading into the game, Allen suffered a right shoulder injury early in the second quarter. He initially grabbed at the shoulder and winced in pain before slowly working the arm out.
After the game, he underwent x-rays and had kinesiotape placed on the shoulder prior to his press conference. The mechanism for injury appeared to be an AC joint sprain. He can play through the injury with an injection to manage the pain, but I am concerned about his accuracy and power on his throws.
We saw a similar effect after his shoulder injury in 2020 to his non-throwing shoulder that saw him wear a shoulder harness for support. Hopefully, the run game can get going and take pressure off Allen having to throw the ball as often.
DE Greg Rousseau (Right Foot)
Rousseau appears for the third consecutive week on the injury report with a right foot injury that at this point is lingering. At this point, it’s at least a sprain or even more that the team is closely monitoring. He was able to line up only over the right tackle and push off his left foot to get around the edge. He played in 70 percent of plays but appeared to labor at times at the end.
While is expected to continue to play through the injury, it may be several weeks before he is fully healthy. He is one to watch should he have any possible setbacks.
OT Spencer Brown (Right Knee)
Brown injured his right knee at the end of the skirmish at the end of the third quarter when he was pushed backward in the end zone. He appeared to stutter step down and tweak his knee, requiring a brief absence, and later returned with a knee brace on. He was able to practice in full this week indicating that while it may have been a mild sprain, he is able to play through the injury.
TE Dawson Knox (Right Wrist)
Knox was limited all week with a right wrist injury after originally suffering the injury against the Jaguars in Week 5. He took a helmet to his wrist which caused him to be limited all last week and he wore a wrist brace at the Sabres game last week.
During the game Sunday, he saw six targets but only got three receptions for 17 yards, at times appearing to have difficulty in catching the football. While this injury is at least a sprain, there could be additional damage that the team is mum about. I do expect this injury to linger for a few weeks before we see him return to full health.
CB Dane Jackson (Foot)
Jackson continues to work through a foot injury that saw him two out of three practices last week and miss Sunday’s game as a result. Considering he played in 100 percent of snaps, this may have been more of a pain issue which further suggests why he was unable to play Sunday. He has no gameday designation and will play on Sunday.
DE AJ Epenesa (Quad)
Epenesa was a new addition to the injury report Wednesday due to a quad designation. Considering he practiced in full this week, this may have been a contusion that needed some treatment during the week.
CB Kaiir Elam (Ankle)
Wednesday revealed that Elam aggravated an ankle injury from training camp that left him limited on Wednesday before practicing in full on Thursday and Friday. Looking back at my articles from August, there wasn’t any mention of injuries during in-game broadcasts or from the media that I can find.
Elam had an ankle/foot injury last year that he injured against the Steelers in Week 5 before aggravating the injury several weeks later, jamming his ankle. It’s unknown if this is the same issue or a different complaint, but any injury that hinders Elam’s performance doesn’t help his development. He does not have a designation and will play on Sunday.
TE Dalton Kincaid (Concussion)
Kincaid missed last week’s game due to a concussion but was able to clear the protocol and practice in full on Wednesday.
RB Damien Harris (Concussion/Neck)
Harris suffered a hit at the end of the third quarter when he ran into the back of the offensive line, hitting his head before going down, unable to get back up. Due to the nature of the hit and possible paresthesia within his body, he was placed on a backboard and sent to the hospital for further testing. Reports later indicated that he was able to move all his extremities and was released from the hospital the following day.
The team announced that he was placed in the concussion protocol and was unable to practice all week. Later on Friday, they announced that Harris would go on injured reserve and miss at least the next four games. This could have been to allow Harris to take the time to recover from the concussion and possible cord contusion. He may also have disc issues or a stenosis that is causing radiculopathy down his arm with persistent symptoms.
The team signed RB Ty Johnson to the active roster while Harris recovers.
New England Patriots Injury Report
LB Josh Uche (Knee/Ankle)
Uche suffered a knee injury in Week 5 but was able to play through the injury, appearing in only 27 percent of defensive snaps before suffering a foot injury. He was unable to practice all week until Friday with a limited practice. Considering he has multiple body parts, it may be difficult for him to move laterally and drive off of the affected leg. He may be best to sit this one out.
DE Keion White (Concussion)
White has been unable to practice all week after suffering a concussion during Sunday’s loss and has already been ruled out.
OL Riley Reiff (Knee)
Reiff missed last week with a knee injury after spending a portion of the season on injured reserve due to a knee injury in preseason. On Thursday, Bill Belichick announced that Reiff’s injury is different from what he suffered in the preseason. Already ruled out, Reiff’s tough season continues to become more difficult.
OT Trent Brown (Chest/Pectoral)
Brown injured his chest in practice last week Thursday which left him limited for the remaining practices and officially questionable heading into the game. He revealed on Friday that he will play Sunday as he continues to work back from a nagging pectoral injury. Despite the injury, he does not wear a harness or a sleeve on either side. He was able to play in 100 percent of snaps which is likely what will happen again this weekend.
WR Kayshon Boutte (Hamstring)
Boutte was added to the injury report with a hamstring designation on Thursday and limited on both days heading into Sunday. He did work through a hamstring issue prior to Week 2 but had no designation for that game. How severe the injury is will determine his status for Sunday.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Concussion)
Smith-Schuster missed last week’s game due to a concussion in Week 5 and has been limited all week. According to Draft Sharks who I have found to be reliable for historical injury data, this is Smith-Schuster’s fifth documented concussion. Each concussion is unique which means timelines are unique. He was in full pads Wednesday but has not yet been cleared. He is a true unknown whether he plays Sunday.
CB Jonathan Jones (Ankle)
After missing three games, Jones was able to return to play in Week 5 with 67 percent of snaps. He increased that workload to 79 percent and added in special teams snaps indicating he’s on the mend and should play this weekend.
DT Davon Godchaux (Ankle)
Godchaux suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 and has been limited in practices during the weeks but continues to play, appearing in a season-high 70 percent of snaps last week. I would expect that he suits up again despite his questionable designation.
OT Cole Strange (Knee)
Strange has been battling a knee injury since the first week of training camp, missing a significant portion. After returning to play in Week 2, he played in 100 percent of snaps followed by 74 percent of snaps before leaving with yet another knee injury in Week 3. He has been unable to play since then and may not even suit up, potentially set to miss his fourth straight game.
Should he play, the defensive line should figure out which side is injured and push him toward that side to overload the leg to win their battles and get into the backfield. Resting him for another week may be the best option.
C David Andrews (Ankle)
Despite being questionable, there is no concern that David Andrews will play Sunday as he said himself. He has played through much worse injuries and as the anchor on the offensive line, he will provide valuable continuity.
DT Christian Barmore (Right Knee)
Barmore continues to work through a right knee injury dating back to Week 3 this season but has seen him deal with the knee over the last two years. He has appeared in every game despite being questionable and I would expect that he will play Sunday, garnering his usual reps.
S Kyle Dugger (Foot)
Dugger injured his foot in practice last week and was questionable heading into Week 6. He played in 92 percent of defensive snaps along with several special teams snaps indicating this is an injury they are managing. I would expect him to play Sunday.
OL Mike Onwenu (Left Ankle)
Onwenu appeared to injure his ankle in Week 5 and did not have any snaps last week despite being active. He did have off-season ankle surgery that kept him out a significant portion of training camp on PUP. It’s possible that he aggravated the injury but it’s unknown which side he originally had surgery on. He is truly questionable and his status may come down what the status of the other offensive line players.
S Shaun Wade (Shoulder)
Wade suffered a shoulder injury in practice prior to Week 5 but was able to play through the injury, appearing in 14 percent of defensive snaps. He has historically been a reserve player but with all the injuries, he may be pressed into service again this week.
TE Hunter Henry (Ankle)
Other than getting a limited practice in on Friday, not much is known about Henry’s ankle injury. He injured it on Sunday and was able to return to the game but finished with one catch.
WR DeMario Douglas (Concussion)
After missing last week’s game due to a concussion in Week 5, Douglas was limited all week as he worked through the protocol. His availability will come down to if he can be cleared by Sunday.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson (Ankle)
After playing through a thigh injury last week, Stevenson was once again on the injury report with an ankle injury. Fortunately, this only left him limited on Wednesday before being removed from the injury report and no designation heading into Week 7.
S Jabrill Peppers (Knee)
Peppers was on the injury report Wednesday with a knee but was removed on Thursday, ready to play on Sunday.
CB Jack Jones (Hamstring)
Jones’s 21-day practice window from IR opened on Wednesday as he works back from a hamstring suffered prior to Week 1. He can be activated at any time with a corresponding roster move.
S Cody Davis (Knee)
Davis’s 21-day practice window is closing soon after he started the season on PUP following a season-ending injury in Week 6 last year.
DE Trey Flowers (Foot)
Flowers was immediately placed on PUP following his signing during training camp due to a foot injury.
Buffalo Bills Projected Inactives
DT Ed Oliver
TE Quintin Morris
CB Cam Lewis
OL Germain Ifedi
OL Alec Anderson
LB AJ Klein
Call Ups: DT Kendal Vickers
New England Patriots Projected Inactives
LB Josh Uche
DE Keion White
OL Riley Reiff
WR Kayshon Boutte
OL Mike Onwenu
Note: Expect several roster transactions based on the practice windows closing for several players that may affect this.
Banged Up Bills Best Bet
After a successful start to the season with a 3-0 line, we are on a losing streak of bad bets and miscalculations. The last three weeks have either come down to underestimating the skillset of each opponent to keep the games close with the exception of the Dolphins game where the Bills ran wild. Looking to get back on the winning side of things, I’m hoping the Bills can take advantage of the Patriots’ depleted offensive line and start fast. I’m taking 1 unit on the Bills to cover the spread -8.0 (-110) at Caesars.
Record: 3-3, -.27 units
The Buffalo Bills need to start fast if they want to have a deep playoff run this year. The past several games have led to much frustration and confusion as to why the Bills can’t distance themselves from inferior opponents. While the Patriots can never be counted out with Bill Belichick in charge, the roster simply doesn’t have what it takes to take over games like they used to even several years ago.
This should not be a close game, but if it is, the talking heads will have plenty to say for both teams with regards to how effective the Bills are and whether Belichick has enough left to get the NFL wins record. We’ll see how Sunday plays out, but the Bills can’t afford any injuries as they look to a short week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8.
Top Photo Credit: Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images