Buffalo Bills DT Linval Joseph Injury Analysis

Buffalo Bills DT Linval Joseph Injury Analysis

The Buffalo Bills brought in reinforcements on Thursday, signing veteran DT Linval Joseph to the active roster. To make room for Joseph, the team placed CB Kaiir Elam on injured reserve due to his nagging ankle injury.

Joseph comes to the Bills after multiple stops around the league with stops with the Giants, Vikings, Chargers, and Philadelphia, playing in two Super Bowls and winning one. He has been shown to be fairly effective in his role as a one tech defensive lineman and has played through a fair number of injuries. 

Below is the injury history for Linval Joseph

Injury History

2010 New York Giants

No publicly reported injuries.

2011 Giants

No publicly reported injuries.

2012 Giants

Right knee, Week 11, missed 0 games.

Joseph had his first appearance on the injury report with a swollen right knee that kept him out of practice early in the week. He was able to get a limited practice in and play in Week 12 despite being questionable. 

Left ankle cyst removal, off-season.

Following the season, Joseph underwent surgery to remove a cyst that was putting pressure on a nerve in his foot, making most of the area numb. He dealt with this issue for four and a half months, at first getting it drained before realizing that wasn’t going to fix the issue. Even a space occupying mass can have negative consequences.

2013 Giants

Ankle/knee injury, Week 4, missed 1 game.

Joseph missed his first game of his career due to an ankle and knee injury, side not specified. 

Right shoulder surgery, labrum repair off-season.

Following the season, Joseph underwent surgery on his right shoulder to repair a partially torn labrum that he even hid from the Giants training staff. He signed with the Minnesota Vikings in free agency and missed most of the off-season workouts.

2014 Minnesota Vikings

Calf, Week 1, missed 0 games.

Joseph was officially questionable due to a calf designation, specifically, he was shot in the calf by a stray bullet at a nightclub immediately after the Vikings first preseason game. Fortunately, it was a minor wound, passing through the muscle and he was released from the hospital. He did note that he was limited all season with it taking a full year to return to normal. 

Shoulder, Week 3, missed 0 games.

Joseph was questionable with a shoulder injury heading into Week 4 and played. 

Ankle, Week 7, missed 0 games.

Illness, Week 16, missed 0 games.

He then dealt with an illness heading into Week 16 but suited up. 

2015 Vikings

Turf Toe, Week 9, missed 4 total games.

Joseph suffered a turf toe injury that was originally designated as a foot injury and was probable heading into Week 10 that season. He battled the last two months of the season alternating between out, questionable, doubtful, and probable as the Vikings lost in the Wild Card round to the Seattle Seahawks. In the off-season, he underwent surgery to repair the injury, likely a plantar plate injury. 

2016 Vikings

Shoulder, Week 9, missed 0 games.

He made only one appearance on the injury report with a shoulder injury suffered against the Detroit Lions, losing in overtime. He was unable to practice Wednesday or Thursday but got a limited practice in to be questionable but played. 

2018 Vikings

LASIK surgery

In a non-injury update but still affected performance, Joseph underwent LASIK surgery to correct his vision and also helped improve his vision at night. 

Week 6, Ankle, Knee, Shoulder, missed 1 game.

Joseph suffered through a multitude of injuries that culminated in missing Week 7. After the season, he reported that he was hit in the leg by teammate Danielle Hunter which appeared to limit him throughout much of the season.

Off-season left shoulder surgery.

Following the season, Joseph underwent surgery to his left shoulder as seen in the picture below. It was never identified the specific procedure, but considering he tore his labrum in his right shoulder, and appeared on the injury report for the next few seasons with a shoulder designation, it’s likely he underwent a labrum repair in the left shoulder as well. 

2019 Vikings

Right knee meniscus tear, Week 9, missed 2 games.

Joseph suffered a right knee injury that ended up being a meniscus tear that required a meniscectomy to clean out his knee. He was expected to miss up to four weeks but was able to return after only missing two games and using a well-timed bye to return to play. 

2020 Los Angeles Chargers

No publicly reported injuries.

2021 Chargers

Shoulder, Week 10, missed 1 game.

Yet another shoulder injury sidelined Joseph for a game and was doubtful the following week. 

COVID-November 22

Joseph was added to the COVID/Reserve list the day after the Week 11 matchup but was removed prior to Week 12. 

2022 Philadelphia Eagles

No publicly reported injuries.

Injury Analysis

Joseph has been around a long time and has suffered his fair share of injuries as seen above. Playing such a demanding position, it’s hard to find a player who hasn’t gone through several issues and not been 100 percent. 

Looking at the concerning injuries, the two shoulder surgeries, turf toe, meniscectomy, and gunshot wound are the most notable. 

The gunshot wound is scary but a truly one-off incident. If you read the linked story, he was incredibly close to having a vastly different outcome. 

Turf toe, especially ones severe enough that require surgery can be more problematic for skill players, but since Joseph is in the trenches, a return to performance is more likely according to the research. Fortunately, this was also eight years ago. 

Considering he had one labral repair, to have a second likely repair and playing through the injury isn’t actually all that concerning. The arms straight out blocking could have easily caused posterior tears due to the shoulder taking the force from the blocks. These are quite common in lineman and most return to their prior level of function after surgery. Even the most recent one in 2019 has proven he at least is managing the issues consistently.

Hopefully the meniscectomy allowed him to return to the field sooner without accelerating any arthritic changes within the knee. He has not been on the injury report with at least a questionable designation since then suggesting it hasn’t been an issue. 

If the shoulders still looked good after all the football and the knee checked out based on the idea he passed a physical, then there isn’t much to hate regarding the signing.

One final note, the right elbow brace in the picture above appears to just be part of his uniform and not something injury related based on the injury history.

At this point in his career, Joseph is a paid mercenary, looking to collect another Super Bowl ring before he is done playing football. He was close last year with the Eagles but has enough left in the tank for a half season of Buffalo Bills football.

Hopefully he can provide some pressure up the middle and allow the rest of the defensive line to collapse the pocket before the ball can get to the second level. Let’s hope Linval Joseph can help this defensive line maintain their edge.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images