2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Special Teams

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Special Teams room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Returning:

Reid Ferguson

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

As durable as they come, Ferguson has not missed a game since making the team in 2017. He also has not appeared on any injury report either which is a testament to his preparation every week. I continue to have no concerns regarding his ability to perform and be available.

Tyler Bass

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

After some early season struggles as he adjusted to the NFL, Bass came through in the clutch, demonstrating why the Bills took him in the 6th round. He did not deal with any injuries in 2020 and besides the risk of a groin/hip, hamstring, or quadriceps injury for which he is not at any more risk than usual, he should be able to perform without concern. 

Taiwan Jones

Appeared in 13 games, 3 postseason games.

While he is officially a running back on the roster, 5 offensive snaps all season doesn’t qualify to play the position in my book. Jones continues to make his mark on special teams, showing up each and every week.

Injury wise, he dealt with a right knee injury during the preseason but this did not affect his availability for the regular season. He later suffered a hamstring strain, side not specified, in Week 8 that forced him to miss 2 games, but he had the benefit of the bye week to help him recover. 

I can say with virtual certainty that he will get injured this year. If you don’t believe me, go look at his injury history above. I am convinced that Jones is playing until he simply cannot anymore. He is still dangerous on special teams and if he doesn’t stick with the Bills coming out of camp, he will find a home somewhere else.

New to the roster:

Matt Haack

Haack comes to the Bills following 4 seasons with the Dolphins. He has no publicly reported injuries and he is reportedly a better holder than Bojorquez, bringing stability to the field goal unit. Outside of a groin or hamstring strain which he has avoided, I have no concerns.

Not returning:

Andre Roberts

Appeared in 15 games, 3 postseason games.

Roberts is listed as a wide receiver and did at times contribute, but his mark was mainly on special teams as it has been most of his career. Injury wise he suffered:

  • Ankle injury, Week 4, missed 0 games.
  • Achilles injury, Week 14, missed 0 games.
  • Low back injury, Week 15, missed 0 games.

It is important to note that he was active for the regular season finale, but did not see any snaps, getting some much deserved rest. Roberts has since signed with the Texans and while I think he could have done more here in Buffalo again, his price tag appears to have been too rich for the front office. 

Corey Bojorquez

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

He did not suffer any publicly reported injuries, but a lack of consistency and a higher price tag led the Bills to move on from the lefty punter after 3 seasons. He has since signed with the Rams.

2021 Injury Expectations:

There is absolutely no concern from an injury perspective other than a freak accident occurring and Taiwan Jones working through whatever if he gets injured. This has been a healthy and consistent unit for several years and looks to improve with the addition of Haack. Another strong year of special teams production from the specialists and return game could give the Bills the edge in several games to put teams away.

Expectations are high to not only make the AFC Championship game again, but to make the Super Bowl and win the long elusive Lombardi trophy. Currently, the Bills are third favorite to win the Super Bowl at +1100, leading the odds are last year’s finalists Chiefs vs Buccaneers. 

Hopefully the Bills can prevent the Chiefs from going for a three-peat in the AFC and I believe the Buccaneers will have a tough time defending their title from last year. This is the year for the Bills to break through, throw some money down, and jump through a table because the Bills are going to the Super Bowl!

Make sure to follow everything here at Banged Up Bills and for more content, check out my deep dives into specific player injuries over at Buffalo Rumblings again this season! Thank you and Go Bills!

2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Safety

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Safety room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Returning:

Josh Thomas

Appeared in 2 games.

Mainly a practice squad player, Thomas made several brief appearances during the season last year on special teams. He did not suffer any publicly reported injuries but it is important to note that he did was at minicamp but did not participate, wearing a red jersey. This will be something to monitor closer to training camp, but he will need to be fully healthy and have a strong camp to have a chance at the roster. 

Jordan Poyer

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

I had to double check this one, but Poyer did not suffer any publicly reported injuries during the season. The closest he got was a concussion evaluation in Week 16 following a hit on Patriots QB Cam Newton. He was cleared and immediately returned. He’s as durable as they come, only having missed one game since arriving in Buffalo. 

There are always concerns about injury considering his position and what he means to the defense, but he has shown the ability to play at a high level and stay healthy. I have no reason to expect any change.

Jaquan Johnson

Appeared in 14 games, 3 postseason games.

Johnson, originally viewed as a safety replacement as Poyer and Hyde age out, appears more on special teams and has found a home there over the past two seasons. Injury wise, he suffered:

  • Right lower leg contusion, Week 4, missed 0 games.
  • Back injury, Week 7 practice, missed 0 games.
  • Right ankle injury, possible high ankle sprain, Week 13, missed 2 games. 

Besides the ankle injury that cost him two games, Johnson has been overall healthy this past season. Considering he only gets ~20 plays a game, I would expect his injury risk to be lower, but still possible due to the unpredictability of what special teams is. Considering Johnson will be returning to the same role this year, I don’t have many concerns from an injury standpoint.

Micah Hyde

Appeared in 15 games, 3 postseason games.

Similar to his counterpart Jordan Poyer, Hyde has also been incredibly durable since arriving in Buffalo, missing only two games. He continues to man one of the best safety tandems in the NFL and still performs despite injuries. Those include:

  • Left ankle sprain, Week 1, missed 0 games.
  • Left ankle sprain, Week 3, missed 0 games.
  • Concussion, Week 7, missed 1 game.
  • Ankle injury, side not specified, Week 10 practice, missed 0 games.

He dealt with that low ankle sprain early on that he re-injured several times, but either healed it enough play though or he re-injured it in Week 10. Either way, his play was minimally affected as his mere presence alone is game-changing. As for the concussion, this was the first publicly documented one that I have been able to find.

The only other game that Hyde has missed in his career with the Bills is a groin strain in Week 4 of the 2018 season. Any injury that results in missed time is concerning, but I have little concern for injuries this year as Hyde has shown again and again he will play through injury and still perform exceptionally well.

New to the roster:

Tariq Thompson

Thompson comes to the Bills from San Diego State having only missed 3 snaps against UNLV in 2019. The details of if there was an injury or other issues he was dealing with isn’t publicly known, but he also was shown to be durable and could find a home on the practice squad.

Damar Hamlin

Hamlin arrived in Buffalo as a late-round draft pick and has been rather healthy other than a complicated core muscle injury that wasn’t addressed properly by team physicians. This article by Tyler Dunne over at Go Long TD was really eye-opening as to why there were so many issues.

Core muscle repairs, when repaired properly, have an excellent return to play rate and typically don’t have complications later on. He has been durable since then and other than acclimation injuries in training camp, I have very little concern for Hamlin’s availability. I really like Hamlin’s chances to make this roster as a depth option or at the very worst, make the practice squad but be a frequent call up. 

Not returning:

Dean Marlowe

Appeared in 15 games, 3 postseason games.

A favorite of Sean McDermott’s since their days in Carolina, Marlowe suffered no publicly reported injuries and only missed one game due to going on the COVID list in Week 10. He understood his role and was called upon when asked to play, appearing in the most games of his career in 2020. He has since moved onto Detroit and I hope that he is able to parlay what he has learned in Buffalo to get more consistent playing time in the Lions secondary.

2021 Injury Expectations:

This is one of the healthiest groups on the roster and the injuries they do sustain are relatively minor. The loss of Hyde or Poyer would be extremely detrimental to the defense, but the Bills have been mindful to bring in talent to address the depth not only in case of injury but also as players get older or too expensive. This has been one group that excels on the field and stays healthy despite the demands of the position.

2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Cornerback

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Cornerback room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Returning:

Tre’Davious White

Appeared in 14 games, 3 postseason games.

One of the franchise cornerstones, White continues to be durable and playing at a high level year over year. He is not without injury which includes: 

  • Shoulder injury, Week 2, missed 0 games.
  • Back injury, Week 4 practice, missed 1 game.
  • Right side stinger/neck, Week 15, missed 0 games. 

White does have a history of neck ailments and stingers dating back to last season. His back injury was also intriguing as this occurred around the same time that the Titans were dealing with their COVID outbreak. I don’t believe White sat out of the game as a precaution, I fully believe his injury was legitimate. 

However, the pattern of the stingers and neck/back injuries are something worth noting. I cannot say with certainty that these are connected or a sign of a larger problem, but worth filing away for reference if there continues to be issues. Other than highlighting that observation, White has been available and produced when called upon and I don’t expect that to change. 

Levi Wallace

Appeared in 12 games, 3 postseason games.

Wallace continues to defy his critics, maintaining a hold on CB2 when not injured and playing well despite getting more run being opposite of Tre’Davious White. He dealt with several injuries this season including: 

  • Sore back, preseason.
  • Hamstring strain, side not specified, preseason.
  • Left ankle sprain, Week 4, sent to IR, missed 3 games. 
  • COVID, Week 10, missed 1 game. 
  • Right ankle injury, Week 15, missed 0 games. 

The veteran corner did have several nagging injuries throughout the year, the only notable one was the ankle injury in Week 4 against the Raiders. It’s not clear whether he suffered a significant low ankle sprain or if it was a high ankle sprain, but either way, having the time off on IR helped him recover more fully. 

I have little concern for him heading into this season from an injury perspective, he has more issues competing for a starting spot in training camp.

Dane Jackson

Appeared in 5 games.

Jackson bounced back and forth from the active roster to the practice squad all season, mostly used as a COVID roster exemption call up to avoid burning through his practice squad eligibility call ups. Injury wise, he suffered a right knee injury against the Cardinals in Week 10 for which he did not miss any time. 

He is expected to strongly contend for CB2 and should make the roster out of camp. His lack of injuries coming out of college should help his availability in competing for the starting spot.

Taron Johnson

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

Finally demonstrating the ability to get through a full season, Johnson came up with two huge interceptions in Week 15 against Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the playoffs. One reason he was able to be so clutch was because he sustained few injuries. Those suffered below include:

  • Groin strain, Week 2, missed 0 games.
  • Concussion, Week 14, missed 0 games.

Despite the injuries, he was still able to perform rather well and seemed to find a new gear after losing his starting role halfway through the season. While he will have challenges coming into the season, I expect Johnson to hold onto his starting role if he can avoid the injuries that plagued him his first two years. He is at risk to suffer future injuries, but a healthy year of production helped demonstrate his worth to the team.

Cam Lewis

Appeared in 5 games.

Bouncing between the practice squad and active roster for the first several games of the season, Lewis began to get significant playing time at slot cornerback, including two starts. He saw 98 percent of the snaps in Week 5 against the Titans and was in position to continue playing until a left wrist injury put him on injured reserve following Week 7.

Details of the wrist injury have not been disclosed, but it appeared as though he suffered a wrist fracture. It was possible that he could have returned later that season, but either he wasn’t needed or the injury was more serious than it appeared. 

Lewis appears fully healthy heading into training camp and could be a serious challenger at slot cornerback, if not effective depth. 

Siran Neal

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

Seeing most of his playing time on special teams, Neal managed to avoid any publicly reported injuries last season. He continues to be a valuable piece to the roster and should make the team out of training camp. There is little injury concern as he has been relatively healthy since entering the league. 

New to the roster:

Rachad Wildgoose

Wildgoose comes to the Bills with one of the more creative surnames recently, but he does have an outside chance to make the roster, at least the practice squad. Besides a scapular injury in college, Wildgoose comes in healthy and will have a lot of competition.

Olaijah Griffin

More famously known as Warren G’s son, Griffin comes to the team as a UDFA with several injuries including labral repairs to both shoulders and a bulging disc. He was able to stay healthy last year but may find himself on the outside looking in without a strong camp.

Nick McCloud

Another UDFA that was making some noise during OTA’s, McCloud comes in with a relatively clean injury history other than a significant MCL sprain in 2019. He spent time at NC State and Notre Dame, so playing at big schools hopefully helps him adjust to the next level potentially as a developmental piece.

Not returning:

Josh Norman

Appeared in 9 games, 3 postseason games.

Norman was unable to recapture the magic that he had with Sean McDermott during the 2015 season where he was named All-Pro and was a cornerstone of the defense. Dealing with a left hamstring strain suffered in preseason that forced him to IR for 3 games wasn’t a good start for him. He later re-injured the same hamstring during Week 7 in practice, further missing 3 games along with a brief stay on the COVID list to make it 4 games total.

He might still have something left in the league, but it doesn’t appear to be with the Bills. Norman was yet another plug and play player at CB2 to get the Bills through the season.

Daryl Worley

Appeared in 1 game.

Playing in the Week 10 contest against Arizona, Worley saw a total of 20 snaps, recording no stats before reverting back to the practice squad. He was later signed by Las Vegas to finish out the season after starting the season in Dallas and is currently a free agent.

2021 Injury Expectations:

If Tre’Davious White or Levi Wallace go down for any extended time, that could affect the top end production in the secondary, but the team has done well developing depth to hold down the fort. Watching White’s injury history regarding his neck and back is worth noting, but more information will have to be known before making any further correlations. I’m more interested in seeing who makes the team out of camp based on all the options currently on the roster.

2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Linebackers

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Linebacker room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Returning:

Tremaine Edmunds

Appeared in 15 games, 3 postseason games. 

Edmunds dealt with several injuries during the season that prevented him from really jumping up to the next level in his development despite being only 23 years old. Injuries include:

  • Hip injury, preseason.
  • Right shoulder AC Joint sprain, Week 1, missed 1 game.
  • Left knee injury, Week 8, missed 0 games.
  • Foot injury, Week 14, missed 0 games.
  • Hamstring injury, Wild Card, missed 0 games.

In addition to the injuries, not playing with Matt Milano at times limited Edmunds effectiveness. The biggest issue was the AC joint sprain that really hampered his ability to tackle or take on blockers aggressively. These injuries typically heal up well with little impact on future production later on. He certainly could suffer further injury to the area, but prior injury doesn’t equate to increased risk in this instance.

The knee, foot, and hamstring injuries are casualties of the physical game that is football and are of little concern for next year. Edmunds isn’t immune from injury, but he has shown to miss minimal time when he does suffer an injury. I’m not so concerned about his risk to be injured, more so if he does get injured, how it affects the defense as a whole. 

Matt Milano 

Appeared in 11 games, 3 postseason games.

Milano was the victim of unfortunate circumstances dealing with injuries including:

  • Right hamstring strain, Week 1, missed 1 game.
  • Left pectoral strain, Week 4, missed 2 games, returned to play and then placed on IR for 3 games following Week 8.

His pectoral strain significantly hampered his ability to tackle and prevented from using his overall abilities, really only appearing on obvious passing downs before he went on injured reserve. Fortunately, pectoral strains are not a recurring issue unless there is a similar mechanism of injury such as poor tackling or weightlifting. 

I am more concerned about the hamstring strain as he does now have a history dating back to his rookie year dealing with the strains. Hopefully with a normal training camp he can ramp his body up appropriately to avoid the lower body injuries. 

Tyrel Dodson 

Appeared in 10 games.

Dodson at times flashed potential during his time on the field as he filled in admirably for Matt Milano, but simply was not as effective. Another factor that limited his effectiveness was the fact that he dealt with two injuries, one that cost him a significant chunk of the season including:

  • Neck strain, Week 1, missed 0 games.
  • Right hamstring strain, Week 6, went to IR, missed 6 games. 

The big concern for Dodson was the hamstring strain, injured on a punt return in the 3rd quarter. Hamstring strains can widely vary in terms of length of time missed and his appeared to be much more severe than perceived. The team knew quickly that this was a significant strain as he was put on injured reserve immediately following the game. Fortunately, injured reserve was a minimum of 3 games and the extra time off allowed Dodson to fully recover, limiting his chances to re-injure later on.

Unfortunately, when he returned, he wasn’t much of a factor on defense, playing mostly special teams He was ultimately declared inactive for all 3 playoff games as the health of Milano and Edmunds improved. Dodson has an excellent chance to make the 2021 roster and while I am concerned about another hamstring injury, it appears he had the ability to fully recover, limiting his future injury risk.

Tyler Matakevich

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

A linebacker in name only, most of his contributions came on special teams with the exception of Weeks 15-17 where he got a total of 61 snaps on defense. He suffered no publicly reported injuries and there is little concern heading into this season regarding his availability. Ideally, he doesn’t show up on defense other than garbage time at the end of a blowout. 

AJ Klein

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

After a rough start to the season as he attempted to fill in for Matt Milano, Klein settled into his role, eventually garnering AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his play against the Chargers in Week 12. 

In addition to his accolades, Klein only suffered an ankle injury in the preseason that didn’t impact his abilities on the field. Outside of a core muscle repair earlier in his career, Klein has had a relatively unremarkable injury history and I don’t expect that to change heading into 2021. Ideally, he doesn’t see the field often due to the availability of Edmunds and Milano.

Andre Smith

Appeared in 12 games, 3 postseason games. 

Another solid depth piece, Smith originally came to the Bills via trade with the Carolina Panthers at the end of the preseason for a 7th-round pick. He saw little playing time on defense and suffered no publicly reported injuries. He did have several notable injuries in college but has since been able to stay relatively healthy in the NFL. I expect that trend to continue into 2021.

New to the roster:

Tyrell Adams

Adams finally broke out in a big way last year with the Texans, racking up 125 tackles and 2 sacks following several years of trips to IR and occasional playing time. Adams has a vague injury history, but was able to appear in all 16 games last season for the first time in his career. It was also learned recently that when Adams signed with the Bills originally in 2017, he failed his physical due to nerve damage from a stinger suffered during a shoulder injury. 

It isn’t a given that he will get through the season injury free, but he could be a great depth option if he can get through training camp in one piece.

Mike Bell

Another player the Bills have had their eyes on for a while with several prior stints, he comes in without any publicly known injuries. He is still a long shot to make the roster, but could finally grab a spot on the practice squad with a strong training camp.

Joe Giles-Harris

Another training camp or potential practice squad player, Giles-Harris comes in with minimal injuries but will have to avoid injury in order to stick around in 2021.

Marquel Lee

Lee comes to the Bills with several ankle injuries during his time with the Raiders and didn’t play in 2020 due to surgery. He has had enough time to fully recover from the ankle surgery but having a year off of football could limit his abilities to make the roster. 

Not returning:

Darron Lee

Appeared in 2 games.

A former first-round pick, Lee saw game action in Week’s 10 and 12 only on special teams, recording one tackle. He didn’t suffer any reported injuries and has since moved onto the Las Vegas Raiders.

Del’Shawn Phillips

Appeared in 2 games.

I felt bad for Phillips as he battled a quadriceps strain all season and barely played. He managed to play in 7 special teams snaps in Week 1 against the Jetsafter surprisingly making the roster. It wasn’t clear what side he injured but he sat out for 3 games before being placed on injured reserve. 

He came back in Week 9 against the Seahawks before appearing in 7 more special teams plays, once again exiting with a quadriceps injury. He went to injured reserve for a second time, ending his season. The specifics of the severity have not been revealed, but he was healthy enough to sign with the Jets in the offseason. I wish him the best of luck.

Deon Lacey

Appeared in 5 games.

Lacey, a familiar face after spending the 2017 and 2018 season with the Bills, suffered no publicly reported injuries. He filled in on special teams only but was available as linebacker depth while Edmunds and Milano were working through their injuries. Lacey has since gone back up to the CFL, signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

2021 Injury Expectations:

This defense is going to ride or die based on the health of Edmunds and Milano. It was unfortunate that each dealt with injuries that prevented them from playing to their fullest abilities, but they still managed to produce and get healthy when it counted. The depth behind those two appears to be far more experienced than last season with an anticipated lesser drop off in quality of play. Injuries will happen to this group, especially the top two, but the team should not be in dire straits as they were at times last season. 

2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Defensive Tackle

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Defensive Tackle room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Brandin Bryant

Appeared in 1 game.

Appearing in only 7 defensive snaps during Week 8, Bryant spent most of the season on the practice squad due to the updated practice squad rules. He did not suffer any publicly known injuries and has been relatively healthy during his professional career. He may continue to be a break glass in case of emergency due to injury if he finds himself on the practice squad again.

Vernon Butler

Appeared in 14 games, 3 postseason games.

After coming over from Carolina as a former first-round pick, the Bills continued to kick the tires on his potential, signing him to a 2-year contract. While the defensive line in general rotates to keep fresh, Butler didn’t make much of an impact during his time on the field. Whether that was scheme or talent that led to his lack of production, several injuries didn’t help his case. Injuries include:

  • Hamstring strain, preseason, missed 1 game in Week 1.
  • Groin strain, Week 7, missed 1 game.
  • Left ankle injury, Week 15, missed 0 games.
  • Quadriceps injury, Divisional round, missed 0 games.

Looking back at Butler’s known injuries, he doesn’t have a prior history of soft tissue injuries such as the strains listed above. There could be a number of factors that led to this, but they seemed to follow him all year. All the strains listed above are cause for concern heading into this season. A recurrence of any of those could really hamper his ability to make the team.

If he fails to make the team, he has a dead cap hit of $3.5 million but the team would save paying him $5.3 million, netting a savings of $2.1 million. It’s better than nothing, but the hope is that Butler can produce anywhere close to where he was in his final year in Carolina and avoid some of the nagging injuries that can linger into this season.

Star Lotulelei

Sat out 2020 due to COVID-19.

Don’t know what you got until it’s gone. The glam metal band Cinderella sang those words 33 years ago and they still ring true today. That’s the theme with Lotulelei who sat out last year due to COVID-19 concerns. 

During a routine echocardiogram in 2013 during the NFL Combine, it was found that he had a low ejection fraction of 44 percent which is the portion of fluid pumped from the heart during each contraction; normal values vary between 55 and 70 percent. This was concerning as a low ejection fraction could eventually lead to heart failure or issues with conditioning, not something that high level athletes would be able to perform with. This was the result of a viral infection that resolved itself and he was eventually medically cleared.

Considering he had one viral infection affect his heart and ultimately cause his draft stock to slide, Lotulelei wasn’t going to take any chances by playing this season. While not publicly acknowledged, his concerns were likely later validated by tight end Tommy Sweeney’s myocarditis diagnosis after contracting COVID, hence the opt-out. 

Injury wise, the biggest concern I have is acclimation injuries after a year off of football. It appears as though he has been staying in shape, but I expect the team to monitor him closely to prevent him from overworking and missing further time.

Justin Zimmer

Appeared in 12 games, 3 postseason games.

The well-traveled journeyman appeared to have found a home in Buffalo, validating the talent that the front office saw in him. His biggest play of the year may have been the game-saving forced fumble on Patriots QB Cam Newton at the end of Week 8, but he was a factor all season and earned every snap.

He only suffered a groin strain during the Wild Card game against the Colts but did not miss anytime. The fact that he produced so much last season and has a fairly clean injury history bodes well for his chances to make the roster in 2021, but is far from a guarantee. If he does make the roster, I have little concern from an injury perspective, but his talent may determine his fate.

Ed Oliver

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

For a player that is expected to have a breakout 3rd season with the Bills, he must avoid injury to have them consider picking up his 5th year option following the season. He dealt with several injuries that likely had some effect on his performance, but not having a strong one-tech defensive tackle to eat up blockers limited Oliver’s ability to get into the backfield. Injury wise:

  • Sore hip, preseason.
  • Right knee contusion, possible hyperextension, Week 2, missed 0 games.
  • Ankle injury, Wild Card, missed 0 games.

The only concerning injury from Oliver’s season was the right knee injury when his leg was in the air and collided with another player, causing a direct contusion and hyperextension to the knee. He was dealing with swelling later on, requiring the knee to be drained and wearing a hinged brace afterward. His production did dip the following week, but the effects of the injury did not hamper him for long. 

I have little concern for injury from Oliver as he has Lotulelei returning in the one-tech spot, allowing Oliver to get into the backfield and be the dominant defensive tackle that he was drafted to be in 2019.

Harrison Phillips

Appeared in 12 games, 3 postseason games.

After returning from a left ACL tear in early 2019, Phillips took even longer to return to pre-injury form, declared inactive several times throughout the season. He stepped up his game in the final quarter of the season and playoffs, showing the type of player that he was drafted to be in 2018.

He didn’t suffer any publicly reported injuries but he is proof that a decline in performance after an ACL tear does exist. He is still within the 2-year window to suffer a re-tear of the ACL, but he is on the very back end of that timeline. I do not have concerns he will tear, especially since his original injury was due to a direct contact of the knee versus the more common non-contact mechanism of injury.

He will need a big season to have the team consider a contract extension, but he has demonstrated his abilities as a leader and his play at least keeps him in consideration. 

New to the roster:

Eli Ankou

He comes to Buffalo following several stops around the league with few injury concerns. He doesn’t have an easy road to the roster, but could end up on the practice squad unless injuries occur. 

Treyvon Hester

Hester comes to the Bills after bouncing around the league with minimal injuries but had torn labrums in each shoulder while in college. He can’t be discounted from making the roster, but could be a good practice squad candidate especially with how the practice squad and injured reserve rules will stay in place for 2021.

Not returning:

Quinton Jefferson

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

Already moving onto the Raiders, Jefferson was quickly cut more so due to his contract and lack of production compared to his pay. 

He dealt with foot, knee, hip, and ankle injuries through the season, not missing games, but never quite being fully healthy. He was supposed to be the versatile player that could play inside and outside but never consistently showed those abilities to stick around. 

2021 Injury Expectations:

Like the defensive end position, this group as a whole is relatively healthy. Concerning players include Butler due to the various strains he dealt with last year and Lotulelei having a year off. The entire defensive front can thrive under the right circumstances and if they can stay healthy. 

2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Defensive End

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Defensive End room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Returning:

Mario Addison

Appeared in 15 games, 3 postseason games.

Addison, an aged veteran amongst a youth movement at the defensive end position, dealt with very few injuries last year. This is possibly why he was able to return despite a drop off in production from his time in Carolina, but also to help guide the development of others around him. 

Besides a knee injury that appeared prior to Week 4 and Week 12, Addison was able to stay very healthy. The details or which side were not available, but considering he did not miss any time indicates that they were not serious in nature. He does have a lengthy injury history, but not one that has forced him to miss many games over the years. I have little concern for him from an injury standpoint as he attempts to keep his starting job.

AJ Epenesa

Appeared in 14 games, 3 postseason games.

Coming off an offseason in which there was no time to prepare with OTA’s, Epenesa got off to a slow start in his defensive snaps before picking things up in the second half of the year. The only injury he suffered was a concussion in Week 10 in the 2nd quarter that forced him out of the remainder of the game.

He was able to avoid missing any further time due to the well-timed bye, but that was the only publicly reported injury. It is important to note that he was evaluated for a head injury against the Broncos, but found to not have a concussion.

The concussion was the first known injury dating back to his freshman year of high school when he suffered a broken leg. I have no concerns regarding Epenesa injury wise, though I would expect his risk of injury to increase with his snap count.

Jerry Hughes

Appeared in 15 games, 3 postseason games.

Hughes, the proverbial iron man, saw his consecutive games streak end when he was declared inactive for the regular season finale against Miami. While it was a smart move to rest the veteran end, he has also played through a multitude of injuries that would stop other men. Injuries this season included:

  • Calf strain, Week 2, missed 0 games.
  • Foot injury, Week 7, missed 0 games.
  • Back injury, Week 8, missed 0 games. 

Looking back at each injury, there wasn’t detailed information on each injury, but further shows how durable Hughes is despite his age. He has played through countless injuries and has yet to miss a game due to injury. I am concerned about all the mileage on his body, whether he suffers an injury and things snowball from there, but he has not shown he is near the cliff just yet. I expect him to be healthy and productive until he simply isn’t anymore.

Darryl Johnson

Appeared in 15 games, 2 postseason games.

Johnson, a special teams centric contributor, has significant competition and will have to fight to justify staying around on the roster in 2021. Fortunately, he does not have a lengthy injury history which will only stand to help him fend off competition. The only injuries he suffered were:

  • Knee injury, Week 8, missed 0 games.
  • Knee injury, Wild Card round, missed 1 game.

Details are also scarce for each injury as to what side it was on or if this was the same injury, causing an inconvenience for those tracking and determining the severity of each injury. He doesn’t have a concerning list of injuries dating back to college, but he will have to flash on special teams to find a job on the active roster in 2021.

Mike Love

Appeared in 1 game.

Love spent the entirety of the 2021 season on the practice squad other than an appearance in the regular season finale against Miami to let Jerry Hughes rest. 

He suffered no publicly reported injuries but coming off a preseason pectoral tear in 2019 cost him a lot of reps to show why he should be considered for at least a practice squad spot. He will have to make the roster before I have concerns for him, but considering his lengthy injury history, I worry an opportunity may slip through his fingers. 

Bryan Cox Jr

Appeared in 1 game.

Cox’s season has already likely ended with a left Achilles tear suffered in OTA’s that required surgery. It is highly unlikely that he is able to return but it is not totally out of the question if the Bills have another deep playoff run. 

New to the roster:

Boogie Basham

A steal in the 2nd round of the 2021 draft, Basham comes to the Bills with few injury concerns and a ton of versatility to play inside and on the edge. Besides acclimation injuries such as a calf or hamstring, his history does not suggest that he will be at risk for any injuries. 

Efe Obada

Another product of the Carolina pipeline, Obada had several injuries last year including a back, shoulder, and knee injuries that did not force him to miss any games, but were the first known injuries of his time in the NFL. 

I have no concern for him from an injury standpoint, more so whether his talent can help him find a job in Buffalo this season. 

Greg Rousseau

The prized pick of the draft, Rousseau comes to Buffalo with only a history of a broken ankle his freshman season. He opted out last year due to the pandemic, but besides the acclimation injuries, especially after a lengthy time off, there are no concerns for Rousseau moving forward’

Not returning:

Trent Murphy

Appeared in 10 games, 1 playoff game. 

Murphy was certainly the whipping boy of the fan base, an example of a high priced veteran not performing up to expectations. Despite suffering no publicly reported injuries, he only flashed at times and never regained his 2016 form when he was with Washington.

He continues to not have a home in the offseason as a free agent, potentially waiting for an opening or injuries to occur before signing somewhere else. 

2021 Injury Expectations:

Looking at this group as a whole, they’re very healthy and deep. The big issue last year was getting pressure on the quarterback and finishing the plays. This group still has to prove it, but they will be more successful with their goals as they have shown they miss little time. 

I’m excited for this group to produce and see if they can push the Bills even further in 2021.

2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Tackle/Offensive Line

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Tackle/Offensive Line room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Note: These are all the players on the current roster either designated a tackle or offensive lineman.

Returning:

Dion Dawkins

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

One of the cornerstones of the McDermott era, Dawkins has played in every game since entering the league in 2017. His health has also been remarkable, suffering very few publicly reported injuries. 

The only notable injury that he suffered this season was a right shoulder contusion as the result of tripping over a defensive player in Week 3 against the Rams. He missed several plays and was able to quickly return without a drop off in play. Dawkins continues to be one of the healthiest players on the Bills and there are no concerns moving forward.

Ryan Bates

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

Bates suffered no publicly reported injuries nor was observed to be limited in any way during each game he played last season. Most of his playing time was on special teams, but he did get spot playing time on offense as well. No concerns moving forward with Bates as he further develops his skills.

Jordan Devey

Appeared in 1 game.

Devey only played in 2 snaps all season, Week 7 against the Jets. He had no publicly reported injuries and spent most of his time on the practice squad. He may be a long shot to make the roster, but he has shown the ability to stick around as a depth option and perform when called upon.

Cody Ford

Appeared in 7 games.

Ford has not been able to stay healthy since entering the league in 2019. Despite appearing in all 16 games in 2019, he dealt with a bevy of injuries that you can read about in the link above.

The 2020 season was even worse with injuries including:

  • Left shoulder injury that required bracing, Week 3, missed 0 games.
  • Groin strain, Week 4, missed 0 games.
  • Right knee injury, possible MCL sprain, Week 6, missed 2 games.
  • Right ankle injury, Week 9, missed 1 game.
  • Right torn meniscus, prior to Week 12 during practice, requiring surgery, went to IR.

While bad luck can certainly happen in the trenches as detailed in this article from Sports Illustrated, poor technique or positioning can lead to some of these injuries as well. The specifics of the shoulder injury aren’t known, but the right knee and ankle injuries were the result of getting rolled up on and tripped, respectively.

There aren’t details regarding how he injured the meniscus in practice. The Week 6 injury could have been where he originally injured it and it worsened during practice or it could have been an isolated event. Ford will be fully cleared from his meniscus repair by the time training camp comes around and I have little concern that he will suffer further issues because of that. But the toll of multiple injuries on the body and how it affects other joints is clearly a concern moving forward. 

I hope he is working on spatial awareness on the line, knowing what is going on around him during the play. I anticipate he has been working on picking up his feet to avoid the roll ups or getting caught by flying bodies. He entered the league as a guard, I believe he will stay in the guard position this coming season despite being listed as OL, but he needs consistency at one position if he intends to stay healthy. This year will be a big one for him if he can avoid injury. 

He will be afforded every opportunity to play as he is a high draft pick of this regime. I have many concerns regarding his body’s ability to withstand the carnage that is playing in the trenches. The Bills better have a strong contingency plan in place in the event that Ford goes down with yet another injury.

Daryl Williams

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

After questions of whether Williams could stay healthy and productive following a serious knee injury in Carolina, he has proven just that. The only injuries that he suffered were a left leg contusion against the Seahawks and a groin strain against the Broncos, missing the remainder of the latter.

He has had his share of knee and leg injuries over the years which do come with the position, but he has shown to be durable other than his knee injury in 2018. There is some concern of him getting injured not necessarily due to his risks, but more the loss of consistency seen at both of the tackle positions. The development of Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle will be important to watch as Williams gets older.

New to the roster:

Spencer Brown

Brown, one of the gigantic tackles taken by the Bills in this year’s draft, does bring several notable injuries from high school and college with him, but none since 2017. He has a lot to learn to get up to speed especially after missing last year due to opting out, but outside of unfortunate luck, there is little concern for Brown’s injury risk this year. 

Tommy Doyle

The other tackle taken in the draft, Doyle also comes to the Bills with few injury concerns. He has dealt with his share of injuries including shoulder and foot ailments that have cost him parts of seasons, but no major concerns since 2017. I also don’t have concerns about Doyle heading into this season other than watching his development and getting playing time when available.

Jamil Douglas

Mostly a camp body or depth option for the Bills, Douglas appears to have few injury concerns as he’s bounced around the league the last several years. He could be an intriguing option if injury occurs, but I’m not certain the Bills want him playing for extended periods of time. I’ll be surprised if he makes the roster; a more likely home would be the practice squad.

Bobby Hart

While Hart has shown the ability to be healthy which has likely kept him employed, his chances to make the team will hinge on his play. He has no injury concerns, having shown some stability in playing 3 seasons each with the Giants and Bengals. I hope to only see Hart play in the preseason or if he makes the roster, in emergency situations. 

Not returning:

Ty Nsekhe

Appeared in 15 games, 3 postseason games.

Suffering only a groin strain in Week 15 for which he did not miss any games, Nsekhe began to show his age this season, barely playing in any offensive snaps with the exception of 41 percent in Week 14. 

Due to the emergence of Daryl Williams and Nsekhe’s age, he was deemed expendable and has since signed with the Cowboys in the offseason.  

Trey Adams

Spent season on the practice squad.

Normally, I only list players who appeared in a game, he did get called up in Week 17, but he did not play. However, Adams was rated as a former first-round prospect before injuries in college dropped his draft stock. He was a highly sought-after UDFA following the draft and it appeared as though he could be a developmental project. 

However, Adams decided to retire after one season for unknown reasons. Whether he decided pro football wasn’t worth it or had other plans for his life, the option to play is still there if he changes his mind.

2021 Injury Expectations:

Outside of Cody Ford, the outlook is actually fairly good. There is established, dependable talent at each starting tackle position and overall healthy depth on the offensive line with a mix of youth and veterans. Cody Ford is the only red flag of this group and while the team is not ready to write him off, he must improve his game to avoid injury. He has had some bad luck, but he will need to work with offensive line coach Bobby Johnson to take his game to the next level in order to excel at whatever position he plays but be healthy to maintain consistency for the offense.

2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Center/Guards

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Center/Guard room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Note: These are all the players on the current roster either designated a guard or center.

Returning:

Ike Boettger

Appeared in 12 games, 3 postseason games.

After being declared inactive for the first 4 games of the season, Boettger began seeing his playing time rapidly increase, eventually starting 10 games over the season and playoffs. In addition, he did not suffer any publicly reported injuries, helping to maintain some sort of consistency on the offensive line due to all the injuries.

Boettger is a perfect example of the Bills ability to develop players, having kept him around since 2018, seeing snaps in 6 games before breaking out in 2020. While he is not immune from injury, I have little concern as he has been able to stay healthy since entering the NFL. 

Mitch Morse

Appeared in 14 games, 3 postseason contests.

Still one of the top centers in the league, Morse continues to push forward despite his extensive injury history which includes:

  • Concussion, Week 8, missed 1 game.
  • Left elbow injury, Week 14, missed 0 games. 

Morse has now had 5 documented concussions since entering the league in 2015. He missed the Week 9 contest against Seattle due to the concussion and then interestingly did not play against the Cardinals the next week. It’s important to note that he was active, meaning he cleared the concussion protocol.

Head coach Sean McDermott took a lot of flak for his decision not to play Morse and at the time, I was critical of that decision only because if he was healthy, he should play. I understood keeping him as a reserve lineman during the game, especially going into a bye week, but the decision was very curious with his status as a starter. 

Morse has two years left on his contract and his 2022 dead cap hit is only $3.75 million, compared to $10.6 million in 2021. I am concerned regarding his ability to stay healthy dealing with the concussions. He has not had a season without a concussion since 2017 and every time a player has a concussion, the risks to suffer another one increases. 

It is his body and career, so I understand any decision that he makes, but I see a scenario where he plays in 2021 and the team either let’s him play out his contract in 2022 or cuts him after this season due to the injury history and age. I could also see where they draft a center in 2022, letting Morse groom him for the position. 

They already appear to have Jon Feliciano as a steady backup and potentially Jack Anderson or Ryan Bates as options down the line. Either way, with 5 documented concussions, the Bills must have a plan in place for this season and next.

Jon Feliciano

Appeared in 9 games, 3 postseason games.

Feliciano has dealt with his fair share of injuries over the past two seasons and still has played exceptionally well despite all the pain he was dealing with. Coming off a left rotator cuff repair originally suffered in the 2019 preseason, injuries immediately began within days of starting training camp in 2020. Injuries include:

  • Right pectoral tear, preseason, missed 7 games.
  • Back injury, Week 9, missed 0 games.
  • Foot injury, Week 12, later revealed to be dealing with plantar fasciitis, missed 0 games.
  • Right knee injury, Week 13, missed 0 games.

He has shown his toughness and his ability to play through injury, earning him the Ed Block Courage award as voted on by his teammates at the end of the season. This award exemplifies inspiration, courage, and sportsmanship. After what he dealt with over the past two seasons, I would consider him a worthy recipient.

Fortunately, the pectoral tear I am not worried about as he was able to get through the season without suffering any setbacks. I have not found literature that supports re-injury rates to the area, though it can’t be entirely ruled out. He would be best to not attempt to max out on the bench to limit his injury risk. 

Details about the back and knee injury are vague but injuries to those areas are part of the positional demands. The foot injury was likely later revealed as plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick fibrous band that allows the foot to act as a lever to push off effectively during walking and running. It’s a very painful condition to deal with, especially in the morning. He did reveal that it cleared up after the season, though it could return at any time. This was likely due to ramping back up to full football activities and overuse from going 0-to-100 percent in terms of playing last season.

I have little concern for him entering this season because it’s been established that he will play through most injuries and it will take something significant to sideline him.

New to the roster:

Jack Anderson

A longshot to make the active roster out of camp, Anderson comes to the team as a 7th-round draft pick from the 2021 NFL draft. Besides a pair of shoulder injuries, one to each side in back-to-back years, Anderson comes in healthy following his junior season. I expect him to find a place on the practice squad and maybe the occasional snaps if called up to the active roster due to injury.

Steven Gonzalez

Gonzalez comes to Buffalo with no injury concerns after being cut by the Cardinals out of camp in 2020 and not catching on with a team. Also a long shot, his performance in training camp will determine whether he has a place somewhere in Buffalo or elsewhere.

Forrest Lamp

Lamp has not been able to stay healthy since entering the league as a second round pick by the Chargers in 2017. A torn ACL with complications and a fibular fracture has defined his time in the league so far. He was able to stay healthy all last season, but how he performs and his health will determine his fate for 2021. I like the signing in that it’s low risk, high reward, but he will have to prove himself before he can make this roster. 

Syrus Tuitele

A UDFA coming out of Fresno State, he comes to the Bills with few injuries, but he will have to have an incredible camp or benefit from the misfortune of others in order to stick around for 2021.

Not Returning:

Brian Winters

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

Winters started in 9 games as an admiral replacement with the offensive line in constant flux due to injuries. He did what the Bills asked of him but he didn’t move the needle either thinking they found a diamond in the rough. 

Injury wise, he suffered a leg contusion in the preseason, a right knee contusion against the Raiders that lingered during practice until Week 8, followed by a knee injury, side not specified, in Week 9. Considering all the offensive lineman the Bills drafted, it only makes sense Winters moves on in free agency, going out to the Cardinals to extend his career.

Quinton Spain

Appeared in 4 games.

Spain reported foot soreness during team warm-ups just prior to Week 5, his only reported injury. Shortly after, he left the Bills unhappy with details of the acrimonious split still not public. He was released and picked up by the Bengals, slogging through the remainder of a disappointing season.

2021 Injury Expectations

Besides Mitch Morse, the outlook is good for the guard position from an injury standpoint. My hope is that Morse does not suffer yet another concussion, but his history doesn’t bode well. The Bills have a contingency plan of at least Feliciano acting as a backup and ideally developing someone else in the wings, but having Morse healthy will be key for consistency along the offensive line, something they sorely lacked last season. 

Most of the established players have some notable injury history, but have proven to be available when called upon. This will be an interesting group to watch in training camp, especially if others that are termed OL such as Cody Ford or Ryan Bates move over to guard to earn a roster spot.

2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Tight End

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Tight End room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Returning

Nate Becker

Appeared in 1 game.

Becker spent his time on the practice squad with the exception of a Week 17 appearance against the Dolphins. He did not suffer any publicly known injuries and will continue to be a good practice squad candidate but will have difficulty in making the roster unless others get injured.

Tommy Sweeney

Spent entire year on IR.

Sweeney missed the entire season due to a broken foot initially in the offseason that eventually required surgery. While the specifics of the surgery have not been revealed, he was on track to return later in the season before nearly the entire tight end room was exposed to COVID. 

Sweeney unfortunately acquired COVID and as part of the screen to ensure that he was able to return, doctors found myocarditis, an inflammation of the cardiac muscle. He was forced to not participate in any form of exercise for 3 months before he could resume getting back in shape to play. He was able to participate in OTA’s and minicamp without restrictions, indicating that he is cleared for the regular season. 

Once myocarditis has been addressed, it is not something that will spontaneously occur again. He has also had over a year to fully rehab his foot injury which should bode well to reduce any chance of re-injury. He will require a strong training camp to justify sticking around on the roster, but Sweeney’s injury luck can’t get any worse than it was last year.

Reggie Gilliam

Appeared in 14 games, 3 postseason games.

The rookie tight end spent time mostly on special teams but found time to line up at tight end and fullback when called upon, even scoring his first TD early in the season. Injuries included:

  • Hamstring strain, Week 12, missed 0 games.
  • Knee injury, possible left knee, Week 15, missed 2 games.
  • Hamstring strain, Week 17, missed 0 games.

Gilliam was able to stay healthy until the final stretch of the season when he suffered the hamstring strain that he played through before suffering the knee injury several weeks later. It wasn’t clear the type of injury he suffered to his knee but it knocked him out for two games. 

Without knowing the specifics of the injury, it’s hard to determine whether this contributed to his hamstring injury in Week 17 or whether the hamstring from Week 12 was re-injured. I am concerned that the soft tissue injuries could linger but with a traditional offseason and preseason could help ensure a proper ramp-up period to reduce the risk. If he can avoid injury, he could make the 53-man roster again.

Dawson Knox

Appeared in 12 games, 3 postseason games.

Knox may be the biggest barrier to himself as to whether he can finally be the game-changing tight end that the Bills saw that he could develop into when they drafted him. A slew of injuries in 2020 really hampered his availability and that has opened the door for others to attempt to steal reps or consistently talk to trade for other tight ends. Knox’s injuries include:

  • Concussion, Week 2, missed 1 game.
  • Calf injury, Week 5, missed 1 game.
  • COVID, Week 7, missed 2 games.
  • Hamstring strain, Week 10, side not specified, missed 0 games.
  • Right side stinger, Week 14, missed 0 games.
  • Stinger, side unspecified, Week 15, missed 0 games.

He was never truly healthy all season and that was reflected in his statistics. The concussion he suffered was the first known one of his career which can’t necessarily be prevented, but something to keep in mind for future seasons.

The calf injury appears to be independent of anything else and while he only missed 1 game solely due to the injury, he tested positive for COVID the next week. This forced him out for an additional two games, helping him to recover from the calf injury.

When he returned, suffering the hamstring strain in Week 10 likely would have forced him out additional time, but the bye week was well timed in his favor. This may have been more of a tweak, but he did have a history of hamstring injuries going back to 2019, causing him to miss most of training camp.

Finally, the stingers in back-to-back weeks can be worrisome if there is additional damage in the neck area, but that is currently not known. I am hoping that he got hit, then the next week it was aggravated before it finally got time to heal. Ideally, these are isolated events and not the start of a pattern.

Looking at everything as a whole, I am concerned for Knox to be injured further in 2021. He will undoubtedly suffer some sort of injury due to his position, but the hope is that he can string together several healthy games like he did in December where he was the most productive. The proper ramp-up period for training camp and off-season work can help reduce the soft-tissue injuries he has had the past two seasons and avoiding any future incidence of concussions or stingers could be the key to unlock his potential.

New to the roster:

Jacob Hollister

Hollister comes to the Bills following several seasons in Seattle and New England with consistent play, but without the stats of a TE1. In addition, he also comes pretty healthy which equals availability especially as Dawson Knox has shown inconsistencies staying on the field. Besides a rough 2018 which consisted of a bruised lung and hamstring strain, Hollister has been healthy. The health of others could make Hollister more valuable or just another guy.

Quintin Morris

Morris has a long way to go to make the roster coming out of Bowling Green as a UDFA, but the lack of an injury history does help him in his quest. Besides a broken collarbone in high school, there is little information on the games he has missed, which have been few. With a strong performance and several injuries, Morris could find his way onto the 53-man roster or at the very least the practice squad due to the overall depth at the position.

Not returning:

Tyler Kroft

Kroft was supposed to be an upgrade at tight end when he came over in 2019 but foot and ankle injuries really hampered his ability to get on the field. In 2020, while he did not get injured, exposure to COVID and a false positive cost him several games along with a reduced role to Dawson Knox. He has since signed with the New York Jets as he continues to extend his career.

Lee Smith

Smith, a veteran leader in the locker room, was effective in his position as a blocking tight end during his second stint with the Bills. He also did not suffer many injuries with the exception of a left knee contusion in Week 14 and a COVID exposure earlier in the season. Lee was later traded to the Atlanta Falcons for a 7th-round pick in the offseason.

2021 Injury expectations

TE1 is Dawson Knox’s position to lose. Simple as that. He must stay healthy and produce, demonstrating that 3rd year leap the team and fan base are expecting. The depth behind him isn’t all that spectacular, but time missed by Knox could allow Hollister to take his snaps and open the door for Sweeney and Gilliam to find a more defined role on this team.

Knox’s health could also see the Bills still look to address the position through free agency or trade if things don’t start off on the right foot. This is one position group that is a weak spot both from a production and depth standpoint, any injury to those that make the active roster could weaken it further. 

2021 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Preview- Wide Receivers

This is the 2021 Training Camp Preview for the Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver room. This will outline every known injury from 2020 and outlook heading into 2021.

Returning:

Cole Beasley

Appeared in 15 games, 3 postseason games.

Beasley, coming off his best season of his career, dealt with several injuries that prevented him from getting to 1,000 yards as a slot receiver. Injuries include:

  • Upper back injury during preseason, went to NFI list.
  • Hip and thumb injuries during Week 2, missed 0 games.
  • Left foot injury, Week 4, missed 0 games.
  • Left partial proximal fibula fracture, Week 16, missed 1 game. 

Beasley was pretty durable, playing through the various injuries listed above and still being effective during the season. None of the injuries above are concerning as the hand and foot injuries were sprains and typically don’t linger. 

Quite possibly the biggest injury was the proximal fibula fracture that he played through during the playoffs, significantly hampering his play in the postseason. Fortunately, this was a rare injury in itself and fractures typically heal without complication, especially since the fact that it was non-displaced. It’s not guaranteed that he won’t suffer further injuries, but his past history is fairly minimal and the fibula fracture should not suffer a recurrence. 

Stefon Diggs

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

Diggs exceeded all expectations not only from a production standpoint on the field but he managed to stay overall healthy, leading to his first All-Pro season. Fortunately, the injuries he did suffer were rather minor:

  • Knee/back soreness, preseason
  • Left foot injury, Week 15, missed 0 games
  • Oblique injury, Week 17, missed 0 games

The knee/back soreness should not be an issue as the soreness may have been getting back into shape and the foot injury was the result of getting his foot stepped on late in the game against Denver. 

As for the oblique injury, there wasn’t a ton of information regarding the severity at the end of the season but he was questionable heading into the Wild Card game. In the offseason, Diggs did note that he played through a torn oblique, a muscle tear is also known as a muscle strain. 

The one thing that isn’t known is which side and how severe the injury was. It also isn’t known whether he required surgery to correct the issue such as a core muscle repair. Diggs has been active this offseason and didn’t miss minicamp which suggests that he did not require surgery. While it is possible to suffer further muscle strains, it doesn’t appear that this should be an injury that lingers into this season or occurs again.

Gabriel Davis

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

The surprising rookie season of Davis was possible due to the fact that he was able to stay healthy throughout most of the season up until an ankle injury slowed him down in the playoffs. Injuries include:

  • Leg contusion- preseason
  • Right ankle injury, Divisional round, missed 0 games.

The only concerning injury was the right ankle sprain suffered in the win over the Ravens in the divisional round. It appeared as though it was a low ankle sprain but it significantly affected him in the AFC Championship game. This isn’t something that appeared to be a long term issue, it was a poorly-timed injury. I expect Davis to be fully healthy coming into the season.

*To note, it has since been disclosed that he suffered a high ankle sprain, confirmed here in this article at the Buffalo News.

Isaiah McKenzie

Appeared in 16 games, 3 postseason games.

A versatile weapon on special teams and jet sweeps, McKenzie was a player that could do it all and add a wrinkle to the offense that teams at times simply could not account for. In addition, he stayed incredibly healthy throughout the season, only dealing with minor concerns here and there including:

  • Hamstring tightness, practice, Week 2
  • Ankle injury, Week 7, missed 0 games
  • Ankle injury, Week 17, missed 0 games

There are no concerns for McKenzie heading into 2021. It was not clear which ankle he injured each time or if this was a recurring issue, but this was not something that limited him. The hamstring tightness was also something that did not linger and looking back, it was early in the season and may have been precautionary as players were getting back into game shape. McKenzie needs another big season to earn a legitimate contract extension either with the Bills or elsewhere.

Isaiah Hodgins

Spent year on injured reserve.

After suffering a left shoulder injury in college, Hodgins attempted to play through his rookie year with bracing until he injured it in the preseason. He went to IR for several months rehabbing the shoulder before briefly returning during his IR-to-return window around Thanksgiving before shutting him down once again, later to have surgery.

While it was not revealed what procedure he had, it’s likely he required a labrum repair due to the timeline away from the team and the fact that he attempted to play through the injury with a harness. There are concerns he could re-injure the shoulder again, but he will have done everything he can from a rehab and strengthening standpoint to reduce his risk.

Jake Kumerow

Appeared in 1 game.

Kumerow was limited during his time as a Bill, appearing mainly on special teams and catching one touchdown against Denver in Week 15. He didn’t suffer any publicly known injuries.

He’s had his share of injuries in the past, but I have no concerns heading into 2021 if he makes the roster.

Duke Williams

Appeared in 1 game. 

A fan favorite that has cooled since the 2019 playoffs, Williams only appeared in 4 offensive snaps all year in Week 7 against the Jets and spent the remainder of the time on the practice squad. As a result, he did not suffer any publicly reported injuries. His biggest battle will be making the roster; any type of injury or reps missed could cost him a job.

New to the roster:

Tanner Gentry

Gentry enters 2021 with a somewhat clouded injury history from his brief stint in the XFL, but other than an unknown injury, he brings with him a right AC joint sprain during his days at Wyoming. He will also have a tough time making the roster, but talent and not lingering injuries may be his downfall. 

Lance Lenoir

Other than a vague knee injury sustained in the preseason while with the Cowboys in 2019, Lenoir comes to Buffalo with a clean injury history and no concerns for 2021. 

Brandon Powell

Powell appears to be more of a special teams threat, but his abilities may hold him back more so than any recent injury. He had a foot injury last year when he was with the Falcons, but it only caused him to miss one game. Unless more details emerge, there is little concern for injury.

Emmanuel Sanders

Sanders has a very decorated injury history that you can read right here. He has shown the ability to produce but has had several significant injuries including a torn Achilles, high ankle sprain, and meniscus, among other injuries. 

However, Sanders has been able to stay relatively healthy and shown to still produce despite several of the injuries, including the Achilles. He is on a one-year deal which appears to be a very boom-or-bust approach. His injury risk may be tied to the volume of snaps he gets in the offense. I do expect Sanders to have an impact, but nowhere near the production that Diggs, Beasley are capable of producing.

Marquez Stevenson

Besides a broken collarbone and torn ACL his freshman year at Wisconsin, Stevenson has been able to stay relatively healthy over the next several years besides an ankle injury. He is outside the high-risk window to re-tear his ACL but is still susceptible to injury due to the positional demands. He, like many others on this list, may be more limited due to his abilities rather than his injury concerns. 

If any injury occurs, there is plenty of depth not only on the active roster, but also the practice squad and street free agents. The quality in play may drop off but long gone are the days of street free agents playing a majority of the season due to injuries to the primary starters. As a whole, the Bills have a fairly healthy wide receiver room that was unfortunately banged up at the very end of the season.

Not returning:

John Brown

Appeared in 9 games, 3 postseason games.

After having a superb 2019 season, establishing himself as a number one receiver for Josh Allen, Brown regressed due to his reduced role and several injuries. Starting off with what appeared to be plantar fasciitis the first several weeks of the season, this then progressed to a calf injury in Week 3. These two injuries did not force him to miss time but a knee injury suffered in practice during Week 5 forced to the bench. He later returned and re-injured the same knee against the Chiefs the next week.

Finally, Brown suffered a high ankle sprain against the Cardinals that forced him onto IR and out for a total of five weeks. The veteran receiver found a home with the Raiders in the offseason but between Brown’s health and his hefty contract, it wasn’t expected that he would stick around for 2021.

2021 Injury Expectations

There are no concerns heading into the 2021 season with the Bills releasing John Brown, the biggest injury concern from 2020. Each player who produced significantly last year has favorable injury histories that suggest that they will be available besides the occasional minor strain or sprain.