Bills Season Injury Review- Safety

Read the latest Bills season injury review at the safety position and what the outlook is for 2019.

Training camp inches closer and closer and the end of season injury reviews near! Today’s review of the safety position will go into the injuries from last season at the safety position, new faces including recent signings & who has the ability to make the roster.

First man up is S Dean Marlowe. The veteran safety has been a mainstay in Sean McDermott’s defense since his days in Carolina. Marlowe’s time in Buffalo has been infrequent, a result of being placed on the practice squad, called up due to injury, cut; rinse and repeat. His stat line is as follows: 2 games with 1 start accumulating 1 pass deflection, 5 total tackles, 4 solo, 1 assisted. As Marlowe has been brought in as needed, he may find himself looking outside following training camp. However, he may be a quick signing based on injury needs as the season progresses.

Next up is S Rafael Bush. The longtime veteran safety has demonstrated an ability to be an effective plug and play piece in the event of injury. His stat line for 2018: 15 games played with 7 starts, 1.5 sacks, 40 total tackles, 30 solo, 15 assisted, 2 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits. Injury wise, he suffered what looked to be an AC sprain or shoulder contusion while attempting to tackle Packers RB Aaron Jones. He did miss the next game as a result but didn’t suffer any further injuries through the year. Bush was slated to come back and compete for a depth spot at the safety position, but retired on July 19th, days before training camp was to begin. Unless he changes his mind, Bush will be walking away on his own terms.

S Siran Neal is the next player assessed during this positional review. The versatile safety out of Jacksonville State saw limited playing time during the 2018 season but made his presence known when he was on the field. Neal appeared in all 16 games with 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack, 11 total tackles with 10 solo, 1 assisted, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 QB hit. In addition, he avoided any known injuries. Neal is a strong candidate to make this roster again and should continue to develop into an excellent depth piece in the event starters go down.

S Jordan Poyer continues to outplay his contract every year since arriving 2 seasons ago and will be due a hefty raise when his contract is up. Poyer has been incredibly durable during his time in Buffalo, only missing 1 game over the last 2 years. Last season, he appeared in all 16 games recording 4 interceptions with 6 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 2 sacks, 100 total tackles with 73 solo, 27 assisted, 9 tackles for loss, and 3 QB hits. Poyer managed to only sustain a right finger injury during the 1st Dolphins game, but did not miss anytime. Poyer will continue to hopefully produce and earn his next contract in a Bills uniform.

Finally, S Micah Hyde rounds out the players returning from last season. Like Poyer, Hyde has also been incredibly durable over the past 2 seasons, missing only one game during that time frame. Stat wise, Hyde appeared and started in 15 games, recording 2 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, 1 fumble recovery, 58 total tackles with 41 solo, 17 assisted, and 1 tackle for loss. Injury wise, Hyde suffered a groin injury while trying to cover TE Jimmy Graham during the 1st quarter in the Packers loss. He simply performed a football move, rotating his hips to keep up with Graham and tweaked the hip adductor. He did miss the next game but was able to come back and play the rest of the season without further complications. Hyde comes back to lock down the other safety position with continued lock down coverage in 2019.

New faces to the team include 6th rd draft pick S Jaquan Johnson and veteran S Kurt Coleman. While Hyde & Poyer are once again occupying the starting spots, there is a lot of talent behind them that can step up on the event one of them go down. It’s likely that Hyde, Poyer, Johnson, Neal, and even Coleman make this roster. Marlowe could be cut but brought back immediately as needed. Overall, the Bills secondary continues to be one of the healthiest & strongest groups on this team to help bring the Bills defense even higher.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Season Injury Review- Defensive Backs

Breaking down the 2018 injuries and players who suited up for the Bills and what to expect in 2019.

Training camp is less than a week away! As the opening day nears, a bullish outlook on the secondary is the general consensus after the excellent play the last two seasons. The only weak spot is CB2 in where there was a carousel of players throughout the season due to injury which led to inconsistent play. Today’s post will review the injuries from last season, impact they’ll have on this season, and new faces added to the mix.

First up is CB Phillip Gaines. The veteran corner appeared in 7 games, starting 6 accumulating 2 pass deflections, 30 total tackles, 24 solo and 6 assisted with 1 tackle for loss. Gaines also suffered a dislocated elbow during the loss to the Chargers. As a result, he missed 1 game. Gaines was cut in early November due to his inconsistent play where he later signed with the Browns. He won’t be back and the cornerback position will be better without him.

Next up is CB Denzel Rice. The 4th year back has bounced around the league, most notably playing in 8 games with the Browns last season. Rice was a late-season addition to the roster in which he appeared in 4 games and completed 2 tackles. As he came in late and with little consistency sticking with a team, it will be a long shot for Rice to make this team unless he has an amazing camp along with injuries to other players.

CB Lafayette Pitts has shown to be a somewhat dependable player though his contributions were felt more on special teams during the 2018 season. Pitts appeared in all 16 games and recorded 9 tackles, 8 solo and 1 assisted. Injury wise, Pitts suffered a concussion when he collided with Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook on a punt return in the 1st quarter. Thankfully, Pitts did not miss any future games and appeared to have no lasting effects. Pitts has a solid chance to make this team due to his previous play over the past 2 seasons but is far from a lock.

CB Ryan Lewis marks another returner from 2018. Lewis was a waiver claim from the Patriots and had an immediate impact on the field early in the season. However, he must have drawn the ire of the coaching staff as he was inexplicitly benched shortly after his debut and received sporadic playing time thereafter. Lewis appeared in 7 games, starting 3, notching 3 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, 15 total tackles with 12 solo and 3 assisted. To note, a majority of those stats came in the 3 games he started before his benching. Injury wise, Lewis suffered a concussion during the 2nd Jets game which caused him to miss the remaining 3 games of the season. Considering his doghouse status and concussion at the end of the year, things do not bode well for Lewis. It is unlikely that the concussion will affect him this year, but he will also have to have an outstanding camp to make the 53.

One of the Alabama UDFA darlings, CB Levi Wallace makes his appearance. Wallace replaced Lewis midway through the season and never looked back. He appeared and started in 7 games with 3 pass deflections, 37 total tackles with 24 solo, 13 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 QB hit. While at times Wallace was inconsistent as he made the jump from CFB to NFL, he was able to remain healthy and show he could lock down the CB2 position. Wallace did suffer an ankle injury during the 2nd Jets game in where his ankle bent oddly as he was attempting to tackle the ball carrier. However, he did not suffer any long term issues and is a near-lock to make the roster barring any surprising performances by others.

2nd year CB Taron Johnson shows up and he made quite the impact as a rookie in 2018. He appeared in 11 games, starting 2 with 1 interception, 3 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 42 total tackles, 34 solo, 8 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 QB hit. For a rookie coming from a small school, that is an impressive stat line. What makes it even better is the fact that he suffered a torn labrum early in the season opener against the Ravens. He missed the next game but played the entire season with a damaged shoulder before being shut down after the Bills were out of the playoff hunt. I have detailed his injury and recovery at Buffalo Rumblings for those interested. Johnson may be at risk to re-injure next season but still overall low risk. He is certain to make this roster barring any season-ending injuries in training camp.

Finally, CB Tre’Davious White rounds out the group. The stellar 3rd year back out of LSU has really made a mark in the past 2 seasons with the Bills, but hasn’t quite got his dues from the national media. As he continues to play, I expect his stature to grow and be more well known. Regardless of national media perception, opposing teams are certainly aware of what White brings to the table.

He played in 16 games with 16 starts, accumulating 2 interceptions, 8 pass deflections, 54 total tackles, 44 solo, 10 assisted, and 1 tackle for loss. While he was stellar on the field, having minimal injury also did not hurt either. White suffered an ankle injury during practice prior to the Titans game which he did not miss. Unfortunately, he suffered a head injury in the season finale over the Dolphins where he was later downgraded to out. While no official information was released indicating concussion, precautions were still taken to ensure his health. If he was indeed diagnosed with a concussion, this would be the 2nd one of his professional career in as many seasons. White is a player that any coach can put in writing as a starter, the only concern will be who will be playing opposite him.

New faces this year include CB EJ Gaines who was with the Bills in 2017 as a key cog during the playoff run, CB Kevin Johnson, and CB Cam Lewis. All with the exception of Cam Lewis will have a legitimate shot at making this team. We know White, Wallace, and T. Johnson will make the roster, good shot that K. Johnson & Gaines round out the CB position. Pitts & R. Lewis also have a shot but injuries are always the great equalizer at the end of the day, so only time will tell how the cornerback position fleshes out.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Season Injury Review-Linebackers

Read up on the returning & new faces of the LB corps going into 2019 including how injuries may impact them.

As training camp approaches, optimism is high for the linebacking corps in 2019. The spotlight is placed on this unit due to the lack of availability in 2018 that was apparent as key injuries occurred. During the off-season, Brandon Beane made it an effort to find more talent in order to create competition at the position in the event that starters go down. Today’s post will review the injuries from 2018 and if it will impact 2019.

First up is LB Corey Thompson. The rookie UDFA out of LSU appeared in 6 games with 1 start. During his playing time, he was able to rack up 1 forced fumble, 14 combined tackles, 8 solo, 6 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit. Injury-wise, he suffered a minor ankle injury during the loss to the Patriots. Thankfully, this was not an injury that appeared to be serious and does not have any repercussions going into 2019. However, Thompson will have a difficult time making the roster with all the additional depth and will have to make his mark on special teams to have a chance.

Next up is LB Deon Lacey. The veteran linebacker appeared in all 16 games with 0 starts, completing 7 combined tackles, 5 solo, 2 assisted. Most of Lacey’s playing time was spent on special teams where he did not appear to suffer any injuries but he will once again have to fight tooth and nail to earn another spot on the 53 man roster for 2019.

LB Julian Stanford makes the list as another primary special teams contributor from 2018. He appeared in 13 games with 1 start. He accumulated 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 15 tackles, 13 solo, 2 assisted, 1 tackle for loss. While his contributions appear to be more versatile compared to his other special teams’ counterparts, he still is also not a lock to make the roster. Injury-wise, he suffered a broken nose during the last preseason game which caused him to miss the season opener. He also missed the last game of the season due to what appeared to be a high ankle sprain during the loss to the Patriots. This isn’t an injury that lingers but he will still have to fight in order to make this roster in 2019.

Next up is the ageless LB Lorenzo Alexander. Despite his age and time in the league, Alexander continues to produce, appearing in 16 games with 8 starts. During the season, he recorded 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 6.5 sacks, 74 combined tackles, 55 solo, 19 assisted, 11 tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits. On top of his stellar play, he continues to avoid injury through his rigorous recovery routine during the season. He is coming back to the team in 2019 as he is an incredibly vocal leader and will still prove to be valuable on both defense and special teams.

LB Tremaine Edmunds arrives next on the list with a solid rookie campaign but at times had injuries which limited his ability to fully showcase what made him a 1st round pick in 2018. His stats are as follows: 15 games, 15 starts with 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, 121 combined tackles, 80 solo, 41 assisted, 5 tackles for loss, 7 QB hits. While he was incredibly productive as the quarterback of the defense, injuries certainly impacted the ability to maximize his potential.

Edmunds suffered a concussion early in the season during the first Patriots game on MNF in where he collided with FB James Devlin and caused him to miss the next game against the Bears. Edmunds also suffered injuries to his right leg and low back during the season. The right leg injury was due to the foot getting caught in the turf and being hit by a falling body which could have caused some serious damage if he was falling the other way but thankfully he just tweaked things. He also suffered a back injury during the win over the Lions which did not cause him to miss anytime but he was labored in his movements following the hit from OL Frank Ragnow. None of the injuries were serious outside the concussion, but Edmunds has a lot of work to do to improve off his rookie season in 2019.

Finally, LB Matt Milano rounds out the linebacker group from the 2018 season. Milano was on pace for a Pro Bowl season appearing in 13 games with 13 starts accumulating 3 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 sack, 78 combined tackles, 52 solo, 26 assisted, 12 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits before injury struck. Reviewing all his injuries, Milano suffered a head injury during the first game against the Jets. Considering he had the bye week right after the game, it was unknown if he was officially diagnosed with a concussion, but it was not something that appeared to cause any long term issues.

Unfortunately, Milano’s season was cut short with a gruesome ankle injury in where he broke his fibula as the result of QB Sam Darnold falling onto his ankle and Milano getting hit from behind. There was and still is much concern regarding how he is progressing in his rehab which I have detailed in my article with Buffalo Rumblings. He should be 100% going into the season and this is supported by his full participation in OTA’s. He is another component that will continue to shore up the linebacking corps in 2019 and take the defense to the next level.

New faces to the team include 5th round draft pick LB Vosean Joseph, UDFA’s Tyrel Dodson & Juwan Foggie, and FA Maurice Alexander. It’s likely that L. Alexander, Milano, Edmunds, Joseph, and M. Alexander all make the team with Dodson, Thompson, and Foggie possibly making the practice squad as they still have eligibility. As for Lacey, he still has a shot to earn a roster spot but as he is a veteran, there may be cheaper options on special teams. This will be a strong corps regardless who makes the final roster as McDermott has a penchant for linebackers and safeties on special teams. The top half of the linebackers is set, the bottom half will be fun to watch!

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

An Interview With Bills LS Reid Ferguson

I sat down with Bills LS Reid Ferguson, discussing his preparation each week, off-season regimen, and injuries during his career.

I had the fortune to sit down with Bills LS Reid Ferguson last month to ask him some questions regarding his origins as a long snapper, his injuries, preparation and recovery after each week, off-season training, and some fun questions at the end. If you haven’t figured out already from his other media appearances, Reid is a well-spoken, down to earth person who enjoys many things outside of football and does a lot of charity work including advocating for diabetes. Reid was gracious enough to give me some of his time to share his thoughts for everyone.

Give the readers a brief background on where you’re from, education, and how you became a long snapper.

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Credit: foxsports.com

Reid Ferguson
Age: 25
Hometown: Buford, GA
Position: Long Snapper
College: LSU
Degree: Sports Business & Sociology ‘15
Bills Jersey: #69

In 8th grade, the guy ahead of me got hurt, I was playing DE and TE, the center and snapper got hurt, I wasn’t playing much on defense or tight end, I really wasn’t playing at all, my Dad said, the guy got hurt, why don’t we give it a shot, see if it’s a way to get you snaps on the field.

My dad did the same thing playing baseball, telling me to try catcher, I played the position, I wasn’t very good, but I understand where your dad was coming from saying that.

In your high school/collegiate/pro football career, have you had the misfortune to deal with any serious injuries?

I have been able to avoid serious injury for the most part. I have been fortunate to also avoid any concussions.

Any moderate/nagging ones you had to work through?

My thumb, senior night in high school, I was playing offensive line and went for a block, the thumb went back and the muscle pulled off the bone on my non-dominant hand. I was out for 4 games, had to have surgery with a pin inserted to stabilize the fracture but I was able to come back and snap in the semi-final and state championship game later that season.

Other than that, I haven’t had any nagging injuries during my time with the Bills, I haven’t missed any games, nothing even notable, just sore after a game. I’m definitely fortunate. It’s silly for me to think that I can go an entire career without something happening, but as you get older, it’s something you just gotta work to prevent more than anything, if it happens, it happens. Every coach tells you the same thing, if you played scared, you’re going to get hurt; Gotta play fast.

Did you learn anything about your body or yourself during your thumb injury?

It was a long time ago, It was only 4 weeks, I just remember it going by pretty fast and remember it sucking knowing I couldn’t be out there playing in the playoffs even knowing that I could run and everything.

In your NFL career, how do you manage injuries if they do occur during the season?

Cryotherapy has been a big addition to my recovery process. Now that the facility has one, I do it almost every day. That helps me in recovery, but also, I feel that it helps me sleep better. I don’t have any problems sleeping; it gives me a deeper sleep. I wake up feeling better the next day. It helps a lot, especially after a night game. The chiropractor also helps out a lot in regards to treatment. I’ll see the team chiropractor on Wednesday’s and Sunday’s before the game. Just minor adjustments. During training camp, when we’re hitting it, going really hard every day, I use the NormaTec boots every day to help flush the legs a little bit in between a lift and practice or post-practice. I also stay hydrated, I try to drink as much water as I can.

The cryotherapy makes the biggest difference and then sleep, resting. A lot of guys my age that play in the league, I think don’t rest as much as they should. I think they underestimate that early in their careers. I think I’m a little ahead of the game. Just trying to get an adequate amount of sleep, got to fit it in where you can.

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Credit: homeceuconnections.com

Author’s note on Cryotherapy and NormaTec boots:
Cryotherapy is generally known as using cold temperatures to aid in injury management and recovery. The general mechanism of cold is to reduce inflammation and pain in an injured area. Cold therapy promotes blood vessel constriction which reduces the inflammation response that is a protective measure of the body following injury. If this phase can be shortened, then return to function can occur sooner.

With cryotherapy tanks, an individual is placed into a standing tank for 2-3 minutes where subzero cool air is passed over the skin for several minutes, dropping the temperature of the skin temporarily to achieve a systemic cold response. This cuts down on time spent recovering by addressing the entire body at once and reduces the risk of frostbite under proper supervision. To read more, click here.

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Credit: cryofreezeoh.com

NormaTec or pneumatic compression boots are air-filled compression sleeves that assist with milking out excess fluid in a joint/limb. These are commonly seen in lymphedema patients but are incredibly useful for athletes as well.

During strenuous activity, lactic acid builds up as glucose, which is fuel in the body, oxidizes down into pyruvate which turns into lactate. Lactate levels rise faster than the body can process it and begins to settle in the muscles. The presence of lactic acid acts as a protective measure of the body to prevent overworking and tissue breakdown. While this is an important function of the body, minimizing buildup reduces soreness after activity and will allow for a more effective and quicker recovery via the use of the boots.

The purpose of the NormaTec boots is to move excess fluid out in a uniform manner. The sleeve increases in pressure distally or furthest from the body and alternates increasing pressure as it moves up the leg. This is similar to squeezing the bottom of the toothpaste tube, working all the excess towards the top. The pneumatic compression works lactic acid and wastes out of the muscles and back into the circulatory system to be processed and filtered out of the body. To read more, click here.

Between the NormaTec boots and cryotherapy, these are designed to reduce the body’s response to strenuous activity and aid in recovery to maximize future function.

How do you prepare for your job each week knowing that you do not have a long snapping coach or is there resources for you to work through difficulties you experience?

Each special teams coach is a little different, some know more than others. It really depends on the relationship between the kicker and the coach or the punter and the coach and how much they want to get information from the coach. If the specialist doesn’t want information from the coach, they usually make it known. The coach may watch film, but not be overly aggressive and teach or fix problems. It all just depends, some specialists like feedback wherever they can get it, they like having two, three, four pairs of eyes on their craft. Someone may see something that they’re not catching. Most special teams coaches aren’t familiar with how we operate, they’re more familiar with kickers and punters. A lot of the work comes on our own. I would say it’s more of a player by player preference.

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Credit: Gettyimages.com

You have gotten to this level, you know what you need to do, it’s more of a figure it out by yourself. You also went to the Chris Rubio long snapping camps, have you ever contacted him for advice?

He still does camps around the country and does private lessons, but he lives out in Idaho, so he’s hard to get to. I’ve reached out to former snappers and current snappers to get tips here or there. Asking guys after games, like what do you do with your feet when getting ready for a field goal snap. Do you scoot your feet up a little? If you extend your arms out a little further, you can get more pull on the ball? Things like that. Every guy is willing to help each other out.

Now that you have finished your 3rd pro season, how have you shaped your off-season program? i.e. what do you focus on, how do you keep in shape? What services do you seek out?

Usually, after the season, I take 2-3 weeks off and just chill. After that, I start getting back into working out twice a week with CrossFit because it’s something different for a couple weeks. During training camp and the regular season, we’re up here doing similar workouts, so it breaks it up in the offseason. During this time, I won’t be snapping until late February. Then, I’ll start snapping once a week for 2 weeks, ramping that up. Once March hits, I’ll increase my workouts to 3 times a week and incorporating some running. I’ll then progress my snapping to 1-2 times a week and begin focusing on getting my weights back up, working on agility drills, and then that’ll take me into 3-4 days a week. I always take the weekends off, Saturday’s and Sunday’s. I’m a big believer in that.

As for recovery, I still do cryo 1x/week at home as it can be expensive and I’ll go to the Chiropractor every couple weeks. I also used to work as a Chiropractic Assistant in the spring of 2017 back home and got affiliated with my chiropractor that way and as a part of my recovery process. I also do incorporate Yoga sometimes. I do a lot of stretching on my own at my house. That’s a huge part of my job, staying as flexible as I can be. Makes a huge difference.

Do you try to avoid high-level activities in the offseason like long distance biking, mountain climbing, distance running?

Yea, I try to avoid that for the most part. So I work out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Take Wednesday as an off day. So when I was back home, my girlfriend came in and I did an active recovery day, took a hike up Stone Mountain, mile up, mile down, nothing too strenuous. Just something to get out and enjoy.

Even though you are not out on the field as much as your teammates, how do you stay focused mentally and physically, ready for when you are called upon?

That’s a good question. It’s not easy, but it’s not super hard. It is important to be locked into the situation to the game, whatever may be happening like a pick 6 where we would have to run out there and execute. You have to always stay ready. There are definitely lulls in the game that you feel. From a routine standpoint, every time we get the ball on offense, I do two punt snaps to get the rhythm back. Every time we cross the 50-yard line, I start getting in some short snaps for field goals. I’ve been doing that for a long time.

What is one part of your lifting routine that people would be surprised that you focus on for the specifics of long snapping?

I do a lot of ankle movements, stretching, and neck strength, I focus a lot of my neck. I focus on lats (latissimus dorsi). Being able to pull the ball through. I also focus on ankles, Achilles having to bend down so much, that’s huge for me.

Can you elaborate on the neck strengthening?

I do weighted, resistive movements, holds directionally, press ups against holds. This is part of the fine tuning; secondary stuff to help me get ready.

Do you ever do bridging for neck strengthening?

Bridging?

Like you see in wrestling, front bridges, back bridges. Touch your ears, nose, back of the head. You should ask Coach McDermott about that. He knows a thing or two about that.

Moving on, do you take anything into preference/consideration with your helmet or cleat selection? Or just what fits your comfort level?

They press us to use a helmet that’s above a certain grade. I’ve been using the same helmet for a couple years. It’s a solid helmet. Cleats wise, I use what’s most comfortable. Nike stopped making the cleats that I liked, so I switched to Under Armour. As for shoulder pads, pretty much stay the same as they’re specially made for snappers. There are no pads near the armpits to get the full range of motion.

That’s it for the main questions, now I have some general questions to wrap up the interview.

It’s been brought up in the past that you work with your brother with Type 1 Diabetes. When was he diagnosed?

I have to think about this one, about 2010-2011, I think he’s had it for about 8-9 years.

He’s obviously been able to transition to high school to college football to play at a D1 level with his condition.

Yea, he’s crushed it, I’m extremely proud of him to be able to do that, it’s not easy.

In the past, you’ve done some advocating for diabetes in Washington D.C., tell me more about that.

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Credit: billswire.usatoday.com

We did that last offseason, and then the past 2 years, I have done the “My Cause, My Cleats” for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. During the advocating, we were focusing on more research and funding for that trip. I also go to do hospital visits, charities, fundraisers with my brother around Atlanta and just trying to stay involved. I’ve done most of my advocating for Type 1 Diabetes due to my brother Blake, but both of my grandmas have Type 2, so it’s definitely on the radar.

You have a dog named Buck, he’s a Goldendoodle. Tell me about him.

He’s 8 months old. He’s been a good companion and doesn’t bark much. He’s pretty low maintenance.

Any favorite places you like taking him?

There have been some parks back home in Atlanta, but the weather has been so bad up here in May, I don’t want to take him anywhere where it’s going to get super muddy. I want to take him over to Knox Farm in East Aurora sometime when it dries up. That’s where I have been recommended to go.

I also recommend Chestnut Ridge Park if you like hiking, plus it has the paved trails to avoid the mud.

You enjoy soccer, you mentioned that Chelsea is your favorite team. How did you end up becoming a fan?

They had a couple players that I liked watching when I first started following, and it’s kind of just stuck with me. I started watching 2013-2014, that’s when I got hooked.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Buffalo?

Ooooo, Pearl Street, love Pearl Street.

What’s your favorite dish?

The pizza is really good. I also like the roast beef sandwich is really delicious.

Have you had the six cheese bow-tie pasta?

No, is it good?

It’s excellent, had it at banquets and my wedding reception, it’s worth trying next time you go there.

Is there anything that I didn’t cover that you want the readers to know or anything that I didn’t ask?

Nothing comes to mind, I believe that I covered everything that pertains to me.

I would like to thank Reid for taking the time to sit down with me and discussing his life in the NFL. Next time you’re watching a Bills game, focus on the special teams play including long snapping. There is far more complexity that goes into the position than one may initially think and there is a reason that long snapping is a special teams necessity.

If you liked this interview and want to support Reid, you can follow him on Twitter @SnapFlow69. You can support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation by donating anytime at the link for JDRF. You can also donate during the “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign during the NFL season when Reid dons a pair of cleats advocating for JDRF.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Season Injury Review: Defensive Tackles

Assessing the 2018 Bills injuries at the defensive tackle position.

OTA’s are nearly done and mandatory minicamp is approaching! This week marks the end of Phase 3 of organized team activities in which the Bills slowly ramp up incorporating game plans and molding each unit towards success in 2019. One group that experienced a high turnover from 2018 is the defensive tackle position. Only 2 players and 2 practice squad players come back to training camp that will be relied upon to pressure QB’s and disrupts the offensive line in order for the rest of the defense to do their job.

The first player reviewed is DT Robert Thomas. The journeyman saw time in 2 games early in the season, appearing in the loss to the Chargers, followed by the win over the Vikings. He was then cut and resigned to the practice squad later in the year. He did not record any defensive stats or suffer any injuries. As he has bounced around the league from the Redskins, Dolphins, and Giants, he will have an uphill battle to climb in order to make the roster in 2019.

DT Adolphus Washington was unceremoniously cut, leaving town after an overall disappointing career during his time in Buffalo. The former 3rd round pick appeared in the season opener for Buffalo, recording 2 tackles before being waived where he was later picked up by Cincinnati where he played sparingly for the rest of the season. He did not suffer any injuries during his time in Buffalo and won’t be returning to the team as he was yet another member of the previous regime that Beane & Co. removed.

Next is DT Kyle Peko who was a practice squad member all of last season. He did not get activated for any games, as a result, did not accumulate any stats or suffer any known injuries. Like Thomas, he will have a tough time making this roster unless he really shows something special in camp.

DT Harrison Phillips worked through a promising rookie season, appearing in 16 games, racking up 1 fumble recovery, 35 total tackles with 20 solo, 15 assisted, and 2 tackles for loss. He was the only defensive tackle on the team this season that played in every game and did not suffer any known injuries. While most of the fan base expects him to be the next Kyle Williams, right now he is just Harrison Phillips hoping to build off a promising rookie season. He is a lock to make the roster and Bills Mafia may riot if he’s cut/traded.

The other Phillips on the team, DT Jordan Phillips was a mid-season signing after he was cut by the Miami Dolphins. The former 2nd round pick appeared in 12 games, obtaining 1 fumble recovery, 19 total tackles, 12 solo, 7 assisted and 2 tackles for loss. Phillips also did not suffer any known injuries and re-signed in Buffalo for a one year, prove it deal that will allow him to get his 2nd contract if he plays effectively as a rotational/depth piece. He is a near lock to make the roster barring injury. 

Moving to the heavy hitters of the D-Line, DT Star Lotulelei appeared in 16 games with 17 total tackles, 10 solo, 7 assisted, and 1 tackle for loss. While he is one of the higher paid players on the team, many wondered why he produced so little. He was a big body that took up space in the middle and allowed others on the D-Line to do their job more effectively. The fact that he was relatively healthy didn’t hurt at all either. Injury-wise, he only suffered a back/neck injury which I believed was a trapezius strain in the preseason against the Panthers. He did not miss anytime as a result and that appeared to be an injury that healed up well without any long term issues as evident by appearing in all 16 games. He is a lock to make the roster and will provide leadership and act as a transition piece as the defensive tackle position gets younger.

Finally, the Bill of all Bills, DT Kyle Williams. While there have been many more skilled players to put on the Bills uniform, few played with the heart that he showed every week, year in and year out during his 13-year career. While he never won a Super Bowl or many team accolades, he really provided the leadership needed to get through some of the drought years and helped instill the new coaching regime’s message which had an immediate impact, making the playoffs for the only time in Williams’ career.

Stat wise, Williams appeared in 16 games with 16 starts, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 5 sacks, 35 total tackles, 22 solo, and 6 tackles for loss. He also appeared on the offensive side of the ball during his last game, hauling in 1 catch for 9 yards. Injury-wise, he suffered a Grade 1-2 MCL tear in his right leg during the preseason game against the Browns. Williams also suffered another injury to his right knee during the win over the Titans that appeared to be a contusion and he only missed 1-2 series before returning. Finally, he dealt with a back injury late in the season against the Lions, but did not show any signs of slowing down the last 2 games of the season. If he wanted to come back for another season, the coaching staff would welcome him back with open arms, but Williams does not appear to be a man who wavers on his decisions. He is finished, he can rest, and he can walk away knowing he gave everything to the Buffalo Bills. I wish him well in his retirement.

Overall, the defensive tackle position will have a lot of turnover, leading to fresh faces as the position gets younger. Only Star Lotulelei, Harrison Phillips, newly drafted DT Ed Oliver, and quite possibly DT Jordan Phillips make the roster for next season. While there may be others who make the roster including DT Quindarius Thagard, DT Robert Thomas, and DT Kyle Peko, this doesn’t appear to be a position that has many surprises going into training camp or the regular season.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

 

 

Phase 3 OTA Week 1 Recap

Assessing the latest injuries following the first week of Phase 3 of OTA’s.

In an offseason that appeared to be going well for the Bills with lots of new faces, a promising outlook, and possible long lasting stability, a jarring reality set in on Day 2. Tuesday brought a wide variety of injury news, some good, mostly bad that puts worry into every Bills fan even though it is May.

The most serious injury of OTA’s came in newly signed TE Tyler Kroft (foot). Unfortunately, he suffered a foot fracture on the first day which will require surgery. Regrettably, this is the same foot that he fractured last year that cost him 11 games. According to Ian Rapaport, this will sideline him for up to 3-4 months. While this is bad news, it’s not totally awful. The 3-4 months recovery timeline tells us several things. This tells us that this injury wasn’t as serious as it could have been. This rules out a Lisfranc as a conservative recovery would be 6 months.

We know that it’s not trauma or a stress fracture as trauma most likely would have been reported and a stress fracture wouldn’t require immediate surgery. This leads us to several possibilities. He could have had an avulsion fracture in where a portion of the bone is pulled away from the bone. He could have a metatarsal fracture in any of the long toe bones of the foot. Or he could have a Jones fracture.

Considering he injured the same foot last year, had surgery, and then fractured again, I am leaning towards the Jones fracture. It’s a surgery that requires stabilization with a screw, it has a known failure rate after the first surgery, and the timeline fits with the reported recovery time. The mechanism of injury is similar to an ankle sprain which can be rather innocent when dealing with positional drills, someone tweaks their ankle, steps funny, pushes off differently. Kroft most likely woke up the next day having issues, had imaging, and found out the bad news.

While he is still a near lock to make the roster, losing him for 3-4 months will allow some of the younger tight ends to get more reps and make the roster. Kroft will likely start the preseason on the PUP list, possibly paving the way to allow someone to get some playing time in place during the preseason. If he is on PUP at the start of the regular season, he wouldn’t be able to return until Week 6 when he is eligible. By then, there could be corresponding roster moves such as injury or insufficient play from other players which may prevent having to cut another TE before the regular season. This designation would also not count against an IR-to-return spot.

Others coming off injury are RB Frank Gore (foot/ankle) and RB TJ Yeldon (groin). There has been a documented injury for Gore at the end of last season which sent him to IR. There has been no known surgeries, but considering that Gore is ancient in NFL terms and these practices are voluntary, it’s an easy out to not participate in drills.

As for Yeldon, he may have tweaked something early on and decided to avoid making things worse rather than trying to go through meaningless drills. For both backs, there is no concern moving forward unless new information comes to light.

Many became worried with the revelation that both newly signed C Mitch Morse and WR Cole Beasley required core stabilization surgery, better known as a sports hernia repair. This is the same type of injury that infamous Bills CB Vontae Davis suffered 2 seasons ago. I detailed his injury when he originally signed with the team, make sure to click the link above for more information. While there is concern that they may not be ready for Week 1, it was revealed that they had their surgery several weeks ago with a general recovery timeline of roughly 12 weeks.

Both could certainly come back sooner than that based on the amount of damage in the region, but having surgery in April gives them a return to full ability in July. These injuries do unfortunately happen considering the positional requirements throughout the season but are able to play through. While there is always concerns for complications, the return to play rate is ~90% for NFL players, I do not expect anything less for Morse and Beasley.

Others nicked up include S Rafael Bush (groin/shoulder) and CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Bush was seen wearing a red non-contact jersey alongside Johnson, but considering these workouts are voluntary, he may be just be cautious as he was dealing with a groin injury last season, according to research by Nick Wojton. Bush also did suffer a shoulder injury last season that may have lingered to the point where he didn’t want to risk anything and could be the true cause of why he was sitting out OTA’s.

Johnson is coming off his labral repair and has made excellent progress to this point. Considering he is 5.5 months out from surgery, he is able to participate in drills but contact is not advised yet, he’ll be ready come training camp. To read more, please check out the article here from Buffalo Rumblings.

Rookie WR David Sills V (hamstring) suffered a hamstring strain in rookie mini camp, these injuries occur despite the best preventative methods out there. He just needs rest and rehab. TE Jason Croom (undisclosed) was seen walking with a trainer, dealing with something, but no further information has come out regarding what he injured.

Finally, C Russell Bodine (shoulder) did not participate in OTA’s as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. I had noted last year that he was wearing a compression sleeve later in the season. He most likely had a shoulder debridement, possible subacromial decompression. This would be similar to what Panthers QB Cam Newton had recently. The procedure would smooth down any arthritic changes in the shoulder or trim back the acromion which could cause impingement leading to weakness, pain, and possible further complications with the rotator cuff if left untreated. He is also coming off a broken fibula requiring surgery that appears to fully healed. Regarding both injuries, he will be fine for camp and this is not worth any further words.

Players that suffered injuries last season that practiced in full were LB Matt Milano (ankle), P Corey Bojorquez (shoulder), and P Cory Carter (knee). Milano is coming off his gruesome fibula fracture with dislocation practicing in full. He appears to be on schedule and working back into football shape as expected.

Bojorquez suffered a torn labrum last season on his bonehead fake FG attempt, he was practicing in full and his shoulder won’t give any issues as he likely had surgery in October and he doesn’t take the regular contact or use the shoulder in a way that Taron Johnson would.

Carter is coming off his ACL tear that cost him all of 2018 due to a direct blow to the knee. He is roughly 9 months out from surgery and should be cleared to resume full activities. There is less concern for him returning from the injury than we saw last year with DE Trent Murphy.

Despite all the doom and gloom of Tuesday, there are still positives to take away as they still have 3 months before a meaningful snap is taken. All will be fine. We will also get to see more action on the 28th which will give us some glimpses into what the mandatory minicamp participation will be like. I believe most of these injuries will not be mentioned in June.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Post Draft: UDFA Signings

Assessing the injury histories of the Bills UDFA signings and their injury histories.

Even though the Bills addressed a lot of needs through the draft last weekend, they were far from done, signing a slew of undrafted players to nearly fill out the 90 man roster. Today’s article will review the injury histories of each UDFA and whether they have a shot at making the roster come the regular season.

First up is QB Tyree Jackson out of University at Buffalo. The familiar face was reportedly one of the first players signed following the draft and appeared to be a priority for the front office to begin developing future signal callers. This is a far cry from past regimes that were looking for a quick fix through free agency or hoping to hit in the draft. Injury-wise, he was relatively healthy through his college career despite being a mobile QB. He did suffer a knee injury in 2017 that caused him to miss 4 games. Specifics were not given on the injury but considering the timeline, his mobility, and lack of reports indicating further complications lead me to believe he suffered an MCL sprain. This is not an injury that typically lingers and is supported by the fact that he played in all 14 games last season.

As for Jackson’s future in Buffalo, I expect that he’ll make the practice squad, soaking up what it means to be an NFL pro with the possibility of moving up to a backup role with the Bills or getting scooped up by another team to develop. Still, an excellent signing by Buffalo to identify future talent.

Next is WR Nick Easley out of Iowa. The productive WR out of the Midwest spent only 2 years with the Hawkeyes compiling 103 receptions for 1024 yards and 9 scores. During his 2 years, he suffered a collapsed lung with broken ribs during the regular season finale but recovered well enough to play in their bowl game which is incredible due to the pain alone of broken ribs. In 2018, he dealt with several nagging injuries for which I could not find specifics but he did not miss any games as a result. One article from 2017 revealed several injuries he stated that he had dealt with over his collegiate career included: turf toe, ankle sprains, two concussions, and a severe high ankle sprain from high school. The ankle sprains could have been something chronic over the past year in which he suffered a sprain but quickly recovers due to the scar tissue already present. However, most of these injuries are unfortunately common injuries players sustain but can vary in severity with regards to games missed. I am not certain that these injuries mentioned are what he dealt with this last season, but merely opens a window into what he played through. Future injury concerns moving forward, the broken ribs/lungs are not concerning but the concussions and ankle injuries can cause further worry as previous concussions increase the risk for future concussions. In addition, the ankle injuries could become chronic if not rehabbed properly, leading to more frequent injuries due to instability.

Considering he had to work his way up from Iowa Western Community College to D-1 football to the NFL, he has shown the ability to work and tough it out. While I don’t know how he will fit in with the WR corps, he may be someone who could sneak onto the roster with special teams play and an excellent training camp.

OL Blake Hance our of Northwestern demonstrated that during his time in Evanston, he was incredibly durable at a violent position. He at one point made 35 consecutive starts until an ankle injury forced him to miss one game early in 2018. Overall, he played in 51 out of a possible 53 games for the Wildcats demonstrating his health. He is yet another player that the Bills have placed a priority on with regards to avoiding major injury during college and being available. Considering the academic reputation that Northwestern has, he could be an intelligent developmental player on the practice squad that earns roster consideration in the future as the Bills continue to mold their offensive line.

Another local player that the Bills picked up as a UDFA was CB Cam Lewis out of Buffalo. It’s always said, you can never have too many cornerbacks. The Bills certainly understand this as it seems like while they have talent at the position, if an injury occurs, the quality of play goes way down and finding a CB4 that can be consistent has been challenging for this regime. While Lewis may not be the answer, he may be someone they can develop if he shows promise in training camp. He could also be someone that they put on the practice squad or cut but keep close by in the event of a shortage of defensive backs. Injury-wise, he did deal with several while in college but nothing that is likely to become a problem at the next level. In 2017, he dealt with a broken thumb and forearm that caused him to miss 5 games. In 2018, he suffered a leg injury which forced him to miss the Army game, but no specifics regarding the nature of the ailment could be found. This could have been something as simple as a contusion, pulled calf muscle, etc. that necessitated rest.

LB Juwan Foggie out of UNC-Charlotte continues the trend of effective, healthy players that the Bills have targeted in the draft. Foggie appeared in 47 games over his career, appearing to avoid injury which is remarkable in itself. As there are no injury concerns, he could be another player that sees practice squad time with an effective training camp or cut and brought back if injuries mount.

WR David Sills out of WVU appears to be an incredibly sneaky signing by the Bills during the UDFA period. The former QB turned WR has been a hot topic in past years, famously being given a verbal scholarship offer by then USC HC Lane Kiffin when he was 13. Unfortunately for Sills, he broke a knuckle on his throwing hand during his junior year of high school which altered his throwing motion which led to the position change. During his time at WVU and El Camino College, he did not suffer any reported injuries which is remarkable considering how much physical demand is required at that position. Sills will have a tough climb up the depth chart at WR, but could make noise with a great training camp and may warrant a roster spot to avoid losing him altogether.

LB Tyrel Dodson out of Texas A&M declared for the draft as a junior but that decision appeared to be short-sighted as he was not drafted and will have to work even harder to get an NFL roster spot. While has productive during his time in College Station, the one thing that he has going for him was that he did not suffer any major injuries. The only injury that can be found was in 2018 he suffered a minor sprained ankle against Ole Miss for which he did not miss any games. While the linebacking corps can always use extra depth, Dodson may be another player who makes an NFL training camp and nothing further.

Finally, K Chase McLaughlin out of Illinois rounds out the UDFA signings. McLaughlin was the 2018 Big Ten Kicker of the year, hitting 4 of 6 FG’s from 50+ yards out. As he is a kicker, special teams players are typically not known for getting injured and he was no exception. While K Stephen Hauschka continues to produce at a high level, he has begun showing his age along with suffering an injury last year due to a blindside block. I do not believe that McLaughlin will seriously challenge for the starting kicker role. However, the competition will certainly help keep Hauschka on his toes to produce.

Overall, these UDFA signing’s show some promise but are relative long shots to make the team. Bills fans know all about UDFA’s making their mark in the league with LB Lorenzo Alexander spending nearly 15 years in the league along with CB Levi Wallace and WR Robert Foster eventually making the roster and producing despite their starting position as a UDFA. This will be an exciting group to watch through training camp who can make their presence known. I believe at least 1-2 of these guys will find their name on the Buffalo Bills roster come 2019.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!