Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Center/Guard

Will Morse, Spain, & Feliciano stay healthy in 2020?

This is Part 6 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 6 consists of the center/guard room.

Players Returning

C Mitch Morse

16 games, 16 starts, 908 snaps, 2 holding penalties

Like most of the other players on the offensive line, Morse is quite tough, not letting most injuries get him down. The Bills free-agent prize of 2019 had high expectations coming to him following a solid career in Kansas City. Regrettably, he brought with him some notable injuries including a long history of concussions. That history continued to follow him to Buffalo along with some other smaller issues that thankfully did not cost him anytime.

Below is Morse’s known injuries:

    • Concussion

Morse suffered a concussion on a rather innocuous hit early in training camp. The time spent in the concussion protocol was extended due to his extensive previous injury history. As a result, he missed the entire preseason and all the contests as he slowly worked his way through the protocol. 

Towards the end of the preseason, it was revealed that Morse cleared the concussion protocol just prior to the cut-down day and was cleared for the regular season. There is the thought that the team purposely did not rush him through the protocol to ensure that he was fully healthy, but that also meant that he was not allowed to speak to the media while in the protocol, thereby reducing the stress of coming to a new team.

    • Right ankle

Morse suffered a right ankle injury when RB Frank Gore kicked him by accident as he ran up the middle in the 2nd quarter of the Titans game. He played a few more snaps that game before sitting out the entire 2nd half as Feliciano took over center duties. Considering all the injuries the Bills were dealing with prior to the bye, they did not want to risk the health of a starting offensive lineman. 

    • Right 5th digit hand

This injury was the result of engaging his Broncos defender before falling down to the turf, landing on his right hand. He came up grabbing the pinky area running to the sidelines. He was observed on the sidelines the rest of the afternoon with the finger buddy taped to the ring finger, even practicing snapping with QB Matt Barkley. Due to the Bills taking care of business, Morse was once again not needed for the rest of the game. 

    • Right ankle

Morse once again suffered a right ankle injury, this time when Patriots DE John Simon fell on the back of his foot late in the 4th quarter during the second meeting with New England. He was assessed by trainers and did not return to the game despite the Bills still having a shot to win the game. It was later reported that had the Bills had another drive, he would have been able to return which indicated that the injury was not severe. 

Overall, Morse was relatively healthy once he got past his preseason concussion. The finger and ankle injuries are just a byproduct of the position he plays and is not concerning moving forward into 2020. Morse has had 4 documented concussions and there is a concern for a fifth. Looking back at the article from Buffalo Rumblings, players who suffer 3 or more concussions are 3x more likely to suffer another one. Morse is in that danger zone; hopefully, the augmented training camp may reduce his chances for a 5th head injury. 

G/C Jon Feliciano

16 games, 16 starts, 947 snaps, 2 holding, 2 false starts, 1 fumble recovery

Feliciano truly is a warrior. He started all 16 games, was called upon multiple times to play center when Mitch Morse went down and overall was a mauler. He quickly established himself as an anchor at the guard position which really helped solidify the line to ensure consistency. Through all this, he played with multiple injuries that would sideline most players.

Feliciano’s injuries below:

    • Left shoulder rotator cuff tear

Feliciano went down with a left shoulder injury at the Bills home scrimmage at the beginning of August last year. He was done with the practice for the night and at the time, it was not known what he was dealing with. It appeared to be minor and it quickly became a non-issue.

Fast forward to January following the playoff loss, it was revealed that he suffered a rotator cuff tear which required surgery to repair. It’s quite possible to play through a partially torn rotator cuff but the pain at times would be incredibly difficult to manage. According to this most recent video on Twitter, this is confirmation that Feliciano is fully healthy & ready for training camp. This likely indicates that he had the partially torn rotator cuff & he should not be limited in any way.

    • Neck

He suffered what appeared to be a whiplash injury during the 1st quarter of the Bengals game where he got hit from the side by Bengals DT Geno Atkins and slammed into Mitch Morse. He finished the 2-pt conversion before ending his day, getting downgraded to out. He was observed leaving the stadium in a neck brace which worried some people but he ended up getting through practice and playing against the Patriots the next week.

    • Right lower leg

This injury was the result of friendly fire, courtesy of Dion Dawkins falling on Feliciano when he was attempting to make a tackle off the interception thrown by Josh Allen. He did not miss a snap following a defensive play series and was able to return to finish the game. 

Feliciano is yet another lock to make this roster but the big question mark will be whether he will be 100% with his rotator cuff repair. I am leaning towards him being ready to go due to having access to excellent medical care along with the injury likely a partial thickness tear. If he is not ready for training camp, he will be afforded the time to get his shoulder into shape for the regular season.

G Quinton Spain 

16 games, 16 starts 1063 snaps, 2 holding, 2 fumble recoveries

Spain became a valuable contributor to the Bills offensive line, far outplaying his one-year contract. Fortunately, the Bills rewarded him with a 3-year deal following the offseason, ensuring that he will be with the team for the foreseeable future. Along with stellar play, Spain was fairly healthy throughout the season, allowing the offensive line to remain consistent.

Spain’s injuries below:

    • Thumb surgery/ankle contusion/foot soreness

These injuries are lumped together due to occurring all within a short timeframe during training camp & OTA’s. Spain had injured his thumb severely enough that it required surgery which limited him during OTA’s. At the time, I had thought he either suffered a skier’s thumb injury in where the UCL ligament tore or if he suffered a fracture which required surgery to reset the bone. He was eventually able to be ready for training camp & did not have any known issues moving forward.

His foot soreness was reported early on in training camp but did not appear to be much of an issue as he was still playing through it. He suffered an ankle contusion as the result of RB Frank Gore stepping/kicking Spain during a routine play in the preseason and was, unfortunately, a victim of friendly fire. 

    • Foot

Spain showed up later on the injury report with a foot designation following the win over the Dolphins in the first game, though little was known what caused his issue. There wasn’t any mechanism of injury and this did not appear to be a chronic issue requiring multiple weeks on the injury report. 

Spain will make the roster in 2020 and he appears to be in even better shape than last season as evidenced by the picture below. He should continue to make an impact at the position and as long as he stays healthy like he did last season, he will be able to make another significant difference in the offense.

G/C Spencer Long

14 games, 174 snaps

Long, a six-year NFL veteran saw a considerable drop in his snaps compared to his previous seasons playing for the Jets & Redskins due to the presence of C Mitch Morse. He only got considerable playing time in 3 games with most of his other playing time on special teams. Despite the limited playing time, he still suffered several injuries.

Long’s injuries below:

    • Right knee

Long was limited early in training camp with what the team described as “knee soreness”. He had a compression sleeve & a hinged knee brace while on the bike. He may have suffered a minor knee sprain but he has also had previous knee issues dating back to his time with the Redskins. It was not something that appeared to limit him as the season progressed.

    • Ankle

He suffered an ankle injury late in the week prior to the first Patriots game which ultimately caused him to miss the game. During this timeframe, the team was dealing with a variety of injuries, and having Long out did not help things. It was not known which side he injured or how he suffered the injury.

Long was otherwise fairly available but got most of his snaps at guard due to the emergence of Jon Feliciano playing at center as needed. Long has a great shot at making the roster but if he is not in the team’s plans, the Bills can move on from him with a minimal financial penalty. 

G Ike Boettger

2 games, 54 snaps

Boettger continues to be a depth piece on this offensive line where he has been too good to expose to the practice squad, but not good enough to get meaningful playing time. Only appearing in 54 snaps all season with a majority of his time in the regular-season finale. He did not suffer any known injuries during his limited play. 

Considering he knows the playbook & has continuity in the room, he has a shot at making the roster or could be a valuable trade asset especially in the abnormal training camp of 2020.

New to the roster

G Marquel Harrell

Coming from Auburn, Harrell demonstrated the ability to play against elite competition in the SEC. He also comes to Buffalo with his health intact which may play into his favor as he attempts to make the roster. His injury history is detailed here at Banged Up Bills. He has a long way to make this roster, but Brandon Beane’s ability to identify talent may land him on the practice squad or a roster spot down the line as the front office has been known to bring back talent as it’s needed. 

G Evan Boehm

Boehm is a well-traveled man who has suffered a variety of injuries during his various stops in the league. He demonstrates versatility playing at both guard and center which may help him find a spot on the roster, especially if injuries occur. Read his injury history at Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Outlook

A lot will be riding on the health of Morse, Spain, & Feliciano, all locks to make the roster. All had outstanding play despite dealing with various injuries. If one of them goes down, there is depth at the tackle position that could move over to guard or a reserve lineman could step up to play until the starter returns. 

Along with the three previously mentioned locks, I see the possibility of either Boettger or Boehm making the roster, Long as a possibility, though he could be an excellent trade piece as Feliciano has shown how good he is when asked to fill in at center. Harrell is a long shot and may find himself on the practice squad, especially if the rosters get expanded due to the pandemic. This is a strong group of players that could make or break the effectiveness of the firepower at the offensive skill positions. 

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Offensive Tackle

Will Ford & Nsekhe come into 2020 healthy?

This is Part 5 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 5 consists of the offensive tackle room.

Not Returning

OT LaAdrian Waddle

Waddle was a Buffalo Bill barely in name, having gone through OTA’s & 2 weeks of training camp before an awful quadriceps tear ended his 2019 season. 

This occurred on a routine practice drill in which Waddle took a step and went down hard, injuring his right leg. He had surgery shortly after suffering the injury and was done for the year. While he was best suited as a swing tackle, the depth on the offensive line for 2020 indicates that he will not be returning. He has yet to find a home this offseason. 

OT Conor McDermott

McDermott appeared to be a favorite of the. Ills coaching staff over the previous two seasons. He was too good to be exposed to the practice squad, but never good enough to garner any playing time on the field. 

During training camp with the Bills, McDermott suffered a concussion during the win over the Panthers. This head injury, unfortunately, cost him a chunk of the preseason, finally playing against the Vikings. 

He then spent the first month of the season with the Bills, not seeing any action before getting waived to make room for WR Duke Williams. Unfortunately, N.Y. Jets needed offensive line help & grabbed him off waivers. He ended up playing 7 games with them and appears to be staying. 

Players Returning

OT Dion Dawkins

1 reception, 1 yard, 1 TD, 16 games, 16 starts, 1016 snaps, 3 holding, 3 false starts, 1 fumble recovery

Dawkins had a bounce-back year in 2019 that firmly established himself as the franchise left tackle. As evident above, Dawkins was durable, not missing any games and showing versatility in the offense, catching a TD pass. He has quickly become a leader in the locker room as this young core continues to develop.

As for injuries, Dawkins has been incredibly healthy during 2019 and relatively over his career. There were no instances of known injuries & he proved to be a valuable anchor in a supremely improved offensive line. He is a lock for this roster in 2020 & while his lack of injuries does not prevent him from suffering future ones, he does not have anything known that may restrict him this fall. 

OT Ty Nsekhe

10 games, 1 start, 359 snaps, 1 holding, 4 false starts

Nsekhe didn’t quite have the 2019 season he wanted to. As an aging veteran, he split snaps with rookie Cody Ford through the season to help reduce the burden as Ford transitioned to the NFL. Unfortunately, Nsekhe suffered several injuries which forced the rookie into action more frequently than the coaching staff likely wanted. One particular injury cost him nearly half of the season.

Nsekhe’s injuries below:

    • Knee tweak

He suffered a knee sprain towards the end of preseason that kept him out of the final game that was described as a “tweak”. It was not known which knee he injured and it did not prevent him from playing Week 1.

    • Left Knee

Nsekhe suffered another knee injury, this time in the win over the Giants. He injured it during the 2nd quarter where he slipped and fell on the knee. He required some time to sit out but was able to return to play to finish the game. The one thing that was never established was whether this was the same knee from preseason and if it was a re-injury or a new occurrence.

    • Right ankle

The veteran lineman suffered yet another injury, this time against the Bengals where he was bull-rushed backward, appearing to ham the right ankle. Like the knee injury, he was able to return to play in that game, getting 83% of the total snaps offensively.

He returned to play in the Patriots game the next week, re-injuring the area again, though it was not clear when he suffered the re-aggravation or it was the same side. He once again split snaps with Ford at the position and finished out the game. 

This ankle injury became so tough to deal with that Nsekhe ended up missing the following week against the Titans. He was unable to practice that entire week and sat out as injuries started piling up just prior to the bye week.

Regrettably, this is not the last instance of ankle injuries for Nsekhe.

    • Grade II-III Right low ankle sprain

Nsekhe was not finished with injuries for 2019 when he injured his right ankle yet again. This time midway through the 3rd quarter. His foot was caught from behind by a Dolphins defender, landing on the back of his heel, forcing the ankle to roll under violently.

He was in obvious pain and was quickly put on a cart for imaging and acute pain management. The initial thought was that he dislocated and fractured his distal fibula, but tests came back negative and was determined that he suffered a severe sprain.

Looking back over his early-season struggles with the ankle, it’s possible that the ankle injury could have contributed to this, but it may have also saved him. There was no way that Nsekhe could have prevented getting his ankle rolled on as bad as it did. But the previous laxity in the area along with the heel sliding out on video replay may have allowed the ankle joint to take the brunt of the forces rather than his distal fibula breaking. Check out the video of the injury below.

Nsekhe ended up missing 5 games due to that injury and while he looked healthy enough to play, his troubles were not over. A more detailed timeline of the ankle injury can be found at Buffalo Rumblings.

    • Right ankle

Nsekhe suffered yet another injury to the right ankle in the season finale over the Jets. Similar to his previous injury, he had a Jets defender fall on the back of his foot which took him down to the ground. He was observed wearing an ankle brace which helped support the area and limits inversion/eversion movement. His shoe also fell off during the play which prevented his foot from getting caught in the turf. As a result of that injury, his day was done in a meaningless game.

Looking back on all the injuries Nsekhe suffered during the season, it’s incredible that he continued to play. His knee injuries are not all that concerning and didn’t appear to cause him issues later on. However, it’s evident that his right ankle will be a big concern moving forward. It is not known whether he had surgery to the area, but it is expected that he required rehab to the ankle to tighten and strengthen it back up.

The risk for a re-injury for a lateral ankle sprain is as high as 80% in athletes which isn’t surprising considering the demands of the position. The re-injury to the ankle alone wasn’t a huge deal early on in the season. The fact that he missed 5 games with the severe ankle injury is the concern moving forward. 

It would not surprise me at all if Nsekhe continues to battle ankle issues. Prior to 2019, he did not have any documented NFL ankle injuries, though his path to the NFL was unusual, so it’s expected that there is an incomplete public record. Ideally, he rehabbed his ankle, will have bracing, and come into the season healthy. There is concern that he now has chronic ankle instability due to the repeated ankle injuries of 2019. The downside of that is he will be more likely to suffer an injury to the area. The upside is that if he does, he will miss time, but he may not miss as much time due to the laxity of the joint. This is similar to what Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette deals with dating back to college.

OT Cody Ford

While Ford is a lock to make the roster heading into 2020, he is one player that got beat up a lot during his transition to the NFL. Splitting time with Ty Nsekhe as he adjusted, Ford held his own at times as the season progressed, but several injuries could have made that transition more difficult. 

Listed below are Ford’s known injuries:

    • Concussion

Ford suffered a concussion following the win over the Titans in Week 5. Like many other players that got injured in that game, the bye week was timed well to allow everyone to recover. Ford likely was a beneficiary of the bye week as he did not miss any games with the concussion, able to progress through the NFL concussion protocol on a tight timeline.

    • Left elbow

Ford injured his left elbow late in the loss to the Eagles during Week 8 where he had his medial elbow struck while trying to maintain a block. While there are bumps and bruises during each play, this injury lingered for the rest of the season indicating that Ford may have injured his UCL, similar to the injury Josh Allen suffered in 2018. 

Due to Ford not having to throw the ball and repeatedly stress the area, the team was able to put a brace and wrap on the area to protect it while he continued to play through the season. He essentially missed the next week against Washington, playing only special teams with Ty Nsekhe getting all the offensive snaps. How much it restricted him could be up to discussion when reviewing film from last season but it certainly didn’t help make his job any easier.

    • Right trapezius/neck strain

In the regular-season finale against the Jets, Ford came off the field grabbing at his right neck/trapezius area following a play where he took on a Jets defender before losing the battle and getting hit into Spencer Long. This could have presented more like a minor whiplash injury which required some brief rest, but Ford was eventually able to return.

    • Right shoulder surgery

Following the conclusion of the season, Ford quickly had shoulder surgery on his right side with little information available. My thoughts can be found at Banged Up Bills, but he either had a rotator cuff or labrum repair based on the timeline and position he plays. He is a player who should be healthy coming into training camp, but may not quite be 100% as the season starts. 

OT Ryan Bates

8 games, 78 snaps

Bates proved to be valuable to the Bills this past season despite not playing a lot. After coming over from the Eagles during a training camp trade, he quickly found himself on the roster as insurance in case injury occurred. 

He only played in 78 snaps during his rookie year over 8 games, most of those games in the second half of the season, but his versatility is valuable as he can play every position if needed. He did not have any known injuries during 2019 & his versatility along with health suggests that he has a strong case to make the roster in 2020.

New to the roster

OT Trey Adams

Adams is an incredibly unique player in that he has the ability to play at a first-round talent level. However, his injuries are documented throughout his time at Washington. Stinger, herniated discs, torn ACL, hamstring strain. Along with a poor combine performance, he went undrafted and signed with the Bills. 

To understand his injury history, go read the article over at Cover 1. At the time, this was a purely objective analysis of the player & his injuries. For a briefer, more Bills-centric view on Adams, check out the article at Buffalo Rumblings.

Adams has a legitimate shot to make the team. If he stays healthy in this truncated training camp, he could find a home on the 53 man roster. It’s possible that he drops to the practice squad, but there is concern losing him to waivers. 

There has been discussion of putting Adams on PUP or IR and stashing him there all season to allow his body to acclimate to the NFL. Since he suffered these injuries during college football, he would be put on the Non-Football Injury list instead of PUP.  As for IR, the Bills have been known to get creative to hold onto their guys, but Adams would have to have a documented injury that could prevent him from playing, allowing them to hold onto him that way. Never want to wish injury on a player, but also want to protect all your assets.

OT Daryl Williams

The Carolina connection is strong! Williams is yet another former Panther to come up north to help bring the Bills to the promised land. Regrettably, Williams also comes with several notable injuries that have cost him considerable playing time over the years including all of 2018. His versatility on the offensive line and ability to return from the 2018 injury indicates he may still have something left. To read more about the torn right MCL & dislocated patella from 2018, check it out at Buffalo Rumblings.

Williams isn’t a lock to make the roster, but he’s a pretty close one. He could be an excellent trade candidate if the Bills suffer an injury elsewhere or could just be excellent depth at a strong tackle position. Even if he doesn’t grab a tackle job, his versatility allows him to move to guard in order to find a home for 2020.

OT Victor Salako

Salako is a well-traveled man who like McDermott mentioned above, is good enough to stick around on teams but not good enough to play. He is likely a camp body but does have health on his side as evident by this injury review at Banged Up Bills

OT Brandon Walton

Walton, a UDFA out of FAU, comes to the Bills as a developmental piece following the 2020 NFL draft. He doesn’t carry with him any serious medical injuries & he does have familiarity with RB Devin Singletary from their time together. Due to the depth at this position, Walton may have a better shot at the practice squad as he adjusts to the NFL. You can read his injury history here at Banged Up Bills

OT Garrett McGhin

McGhin is a familiar face to the Bills going through training camp with them last year before an ankle injury led to an injury settlement release. He eventually found a home in Carolina where he got some playing time before another ankle injury ended his season on IR.

In the Buffalo Rumblings article, it goes into further detail regarding the thoughts on the injury and impacts it may have in 2020. McGhin may have more of an issue cracking the depth chart than worrying about previous injuries in order to make this roster.

Outlook for 2020

This tackle position is a deep position and may stay deep even with the threat of premature roster cutdowns due to the ongoing pandemic. Dawkins, Ford, Nsekhe, Williams and Bates are likely to make this roster due to previous experience. There is a strong chance that Adams makes the roster due to the potential; this will be determined if he has a strong preseason & the team cannot risk exposing him to waivers. 

McGhin has a chance at the roster but will more likely find himself on the practice squad along with Walton and if Salako has eligibility and upside left. The two big question marks heading into 2020 will be the health of Ford’s right shoulder and Nsekhe’s right ankle. If both are ready to go, then the depth chart is set. If they are not ready or have setbacks, expect Williams, Adams, or McGhin to find a bigger role on this team. Tackle is such a vital position that the Bills have begun to lock down, but setbacks at either position on the line could result in unfavorable outcomes on the offense.

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Tight End

Will this be Knox’s breakout year?

This is Part 4 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 4 consists of the tight end room.

Players Returning

TE Jason Croom

Spent 2019 on IR with a right hamstring injury. 

Croom has been an interesting case. He was too good to cut outright but not good enough to bring back up to the roster. He missed most of training camp due to a nagging hamstring injury. He ended up playing in only the 4th preseason game against the Vikings, grabbing 2 catches for 27 yards.

Surprisingly, he made the 53 man roster and then was immediately placed on IR which gave the team the ability to call him back up later if there were other injuries. Fortunately, the Bills were incredibly healthy last season and his services were not needed. 

Reports later came out that he tore his hamstring during spring practices and just wasn’t able to fully get healthy, immediately re-injuring the hamstring again. It has been a year since Croom injured his hamstring and there haven’t been any reports stating that he isn’t healthy. There is a chance he could reinjure the area again, but the time off from football along with rest and proper rehab should reduce that. The only possibility of this becoming an issue again is if he hasn’t been keeping up with conditioning. Training camp will quickly reveal if Croom is 100% again.

TE Tyler Kroft 

11 games, 3 starts, 14 targets, 6 receptions, 71 yards, 1 TD

Kroft did not have the season anyone envisioned for him coming from Cincinnati in the offseason. His production simply did not meet the contract he signed. He dealt with several injuries that really prevented him from contributing in a meaningful way. 

Below is his injuries:

    • Right foot fracture

In 2018, he missed 11 total games dealing with a broken foot, likely a Jones fracture which required surgery. He managed to get through the offseason before getting to Phase 3 of OTA’s where he broke the same foot again on the first day. He eventually spent all of training camp on the PUP list before getting activated to the 53 man roster on cut down day as he continued to work back into shape.

    • Left ankle sprain

As Kroft was rounding into form and preparing to play against his old team in Week 3, he sprained his left ankle during a routine practice. While the ankle sprain wasn’t much of an issue, it held him out an additional 2 weeks until he made his season debut against Miami in Week 7.

Kroft never got the reps needed with Josh Allen in order to be successful & allow him to become a weapon in the offense. While the foot fracture was a fluky thing, once the screw is removed following a re-fracture in a Jones fracture repair, the injury doesn’t appear to be recurrent. What this means is that he is unlikely to suffer another similar injury to the area. 

TE Dawson Knox

15 games, 11 starts, 1 rushing attempt, 9 yards, 50 targets, 28 receptions, 388 yards, 2 TD’s

Knox quickly became a favored target in the offense despite coming out of Ole Miss with little production. During his rookie season, he nearly eclipsed the entirety of his college production. He managed to put together a solid season despite dealing with several injuries along the way, including one that cost him most of training camp. Knox was overall fairly available, only missing the final regular-season game against the Jets due to resting for the playoffs. 

Knox’s injuries:

    • Hamstring

Knox suffered a hamstring injury early on in training camp during routine drills. This injury cost him the better part of a month, later returning to play in limited amounts against both the Lions and Vikings in the preseason, not getting any catches during this time. While it did appear that the hamstring was a Grade 1 due to some of the progress observed, a rush back to the field was not in the cards for Knox until he was 100% healthy.

    • Knee

He was dealing with some “knee soreness” prior to the second matchup against the Dolphins down in Miami. This injury did not hold him out from playing or appeared to affect him in any way. At the time, I had thought maybe he was hitting the proverbial “wall” due to the increased level of competition along with a longer season when compared to college football. The injury did not show up again later that season & appear to affect his play.

Like Croom, there is concern that Knox could re-injure his hamstring strain. There is reason to believe that Knox has taken extra steps to ensure that he comes to training camp in shape and will be more diligent in preparing his body to reduce his injury risk.

TE Tommy Sweeney

6 games, 1 start, 13 targets, 8 receptions, 114 yards

Sweeney was the less-heralded other tight end selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. He didn’t have the same impact that Knox has in his first year with the Bills, but Sweeney also did not have any known injuries. While he was inactive most weeks, he did appear in a handful of games early on as TE Tyler Kroft worked his way back into the lineup. Once Kroft returned, Sweeney was expendable and was not called upon until the regular-season finale against the Jets. 

TE Lee Smith

16 games 5 starts, 5 targets, 4 receptions, 31 yards, 1 TD

Smith is about as durable as they come. He didn’t miss any games and also did not appear to suffer any known injuries. While he wasn’t very productive in the offense, he continued to excel as a blocking tight end and as a leader in the locker room. As Smith increases in age, he will eventually be phased out, but as long as he continues to be a leader and effective blocker, he will be hard to beat out for a spot on the team.

TE Nate Becker

Becker spent the 2019 training camp with the team after getting cut by Detroit prior to training camp. He did not survive training camp cuts and was later signed to the practice squad where he sat for the remainder of the season. He did not appear to suffer any known injuries. To read more on Becker’s previously known injury history, click here.

2020 Outlook

The tight end room is not an area where major injuries happen. A foot fracture, ankle sprain, and a pair of hamstrings make up the entirety of the injuries to the position. None of the injuries appear to be chronic or likely to recur in 2020. While Knox & Smith are locked to make the team next year, Sweeney still appears to be a strong shot to make the roster again. Croom better produce at a high level & show the team that he has something from 2018 to indicate to the team that he plans on sticking around. 

Unless Becker somehow unseats Smith by dramatically improving his blocking skills, the lineup will likely be Knox, Smith, & Sweeney for 2020. The tight end position for the Buffalo Bills is not a sexy one at all, but it hopefully will become a position that grows in importance as Josh Allen improves his game. 

 

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Wide Receiver

Some concerns going into 2020.

This is Part 3 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 3 consists of the wide receiver room.

Not Returning

WR Zay Jones

5 games, 2 starts, 18 targets, 7 receptions, 69 yards

Jones had an uneventful 2019 season with Buffalo, quickly losing his place as the top receiver from 2018. Unfortunately, 7 receptions for 69 yards in 5 games won’t cut it on most teams in the NFL. He was quickly traded to Oakland for a 2021 5th round pick to salvage his career. Injury wise, Jones battled several injuries this past season with a hamstring that kept him out of minicamp followed by some back soreness early in training camp. During the regular season, he dealt with a shoulder injury that limited him prior to the Patriots game but did not appear to affect his play. As he moved on from the Bills, he is just another player to have graced the halls of One Bills Drive.

Returning

WR Robert Foster 

13 games, 2 rushing attempts, 29 yards, 18 targets, 3 receptions, 64 yards 

Robert Foster is incredibly perplexing. Here is this UDFA that made the team out of training camp in 2018, was cut, resigned to the practice squad, and then resigned to the active roster. From there, he tore it up down the stretch and appeared to show his value to the team. Come 2019, he was merely an afterthought in the offense as seen in the stats above.

In addition, Foster suffered several injuries that didn’t help his cause which made 2019 an overall down year for him. Below is his injuries:

    • Left Turf Toe

The season did not start well for Foster, suffering a left turf toe injury during spring practices that he appeared to re-aggravate shortly into training camp. He battled through this injury for much of the preseason and was never quite 100% heading into the regular season. He battled with the turf toe into Week 1 before it apparently got well enough that it was no longer listed on the injury report. Without the big toe to push off of during running, he would not have had the ability to get a strong push off at the line of scrimmage or get up to speed.

    • Right shoulder

Also during training camp, he suffered a right shoulder injury that didn’t appear to hamper him but is something to note. It was later described as shoulder soreness, but considering the physicality of the game, any injury can certainly make even the routine tasks more difficult.

    • Groin

During practice prior to the Week 4 matchup against the Patriots, Foster injured his groin during a routine practice which led to him missing both the Patriots & Titans game heading into the bye week before he was cleared to play against Miami. It’s not certain that his previous turf toe issues would have led to the groin, but it’s a possibility and didn’t help his case playing in the offense down the stretch.

He will have to improve his worth on offense and continue to impress as a gunner on special teams. He will have to maximize his health along with anything else the team asks of him in order to make the roster in 2020. 

WR Cole Beasley 

15 games, 10 starts, 106 targets, 67 receptions, 778 yards, 6 TD’s

Beasley really made the most of his first season in Buffalo, quickly becoming a great option for Allen in the slot in order to move the chains. In addition, he stayed relatively healthy, the benefactor of his time in the league, knowing how to take care of his body. 

Injury wise, Beasley didn’t deal with much and the injuries he did had are listed below:

    • Right knee

He suffered a right knee injury during the Bengals game, getting tangled up with his defensive counterpart and falling to the ground. He missed several plays but quickly returned indicating it wasn’t serious, likely a contusion.

    • Ankle

Beasley showed up on the injury report for the week following the loss to the Patriots but did not miss the Titans game. There wasn’t any real information regarding the ankle injury or even which side it was on. Looking back even now, it’s hard to say what he was really dealing with.

    • Left ankle

He ended up hurting the other ankle in the win over the Broncos when he got his ankle kicked out from under him while attempting to block for RB Devin Singletary. He was in obvious pain and was tended to by trainers, but was able to walk off briefly before returning later in the game to score a touchdown.

Overall, Beasley continues to stay healthy and a valuable contributor to the offense. He gets dinged up here and there but there are not any long term concerns moving forward in 2020.

WR Isaiah McKenzie 

15 games, 8 starts, 8 rushing attempts, 49 yards, 39 targets, 27 receptions, 254 yards, 1 TD

McKenzie is in a unique situation in which he was at times productive as an offensive threat, but never at times consistent to be a game-changer. He appeared in 15 games, inactive for the Eagles game, and suffering minimal injuries. 

Below is McKenzie’s injuries from 2019:

    • Ankle

He showed up on the injury report just prior to the first Patriots game with an ankle injury that was not apparent on film. He was questionable for the Week 4 matchup but ended up playing in only 1 offensive snap.

    • Left knee

McKenzie appeared to hyperextend his knee hauling in a pass when he had a defender fall on his leg. He was able to get up under his own power and limp off the field before the half but was able to return to finish the game.

McKenzie better hope for a perfect training camp plus several injuries in order to make this roster. He may be a better candidate to get traded as the likelihood that injuries occur around the league due to the shortened offseason due to the pandemic. 

WR Duke Williams 

4 games, 3 starts, 19 targets, 12 receptions, 166 yards, 1 TD

Fan-favorite Duke Williams came down from the CFL and the fan base became enamored by the long shot to make the roster. He eventually did make the roster and caught the game-winning touchdown against the Titans but was quickly relegated to the inactive list after 3 total games. He played in the regular-season finale and the playoff game with mixed results, leading to questions regarding his future.

Williams’ injuries below:

    • Right shoulder

Williams injured his right shoulder while catching a pass going out of bounds playing against the Dolphins during the first meeting. According to video, it appeared as though he suffered an AC joint sprain which had him limited in practice the following week and highly unproductive against the Eagles.

    • Left low ankle sprain

He hurt his ankle in the playoff loss to the Texans in which he stepped awkwardly out of bounds, appearing to hyperextend his knee. Upon further review, he suffered a lateral low ankle sprain which took the brunt of the forces through his body rather than a more dreaded knee injury.

Williams still has the talent to play in the NFL. The big question will be whether he will be with the Bills or another team. He is talented, but it’s not known if he’s talented to stick with arguably the best top 3 wide receiver group in the league. His injuries overall aren’t ones that carry over into the regular season, but he will need to stay healthy in order to have a shot.

WR John Brown 

15 games, 15 starts, 2 rushing attempts, 7 yards, 115 targets, 72 receptions, 1060 yards, 6 TD’s, 1 pass, 1 completion, 28 yards, 1 TD

John Brown can really do it all. After spurning the Bills in 2018 for the Ravens, he came to Buffalo on a one year deal and quickly became a favorite of Josh Allen’s. Brown’s versatility to stretch the field, get involved in both the running and passing games made him invaluable in offensive game planning. He appeared in all regular-season games besides the meaningless season finale. 

On top of that, Brown was healthy as seen below. 

    • Groin

Brown suffered a minor groin injury that appeared following the Titans win that wasn’t apparent on film. He showed up on the injury report but did not miss any games as a result. He did have the benefit of having the bye week to recover from any issues he was having but it didn’t appear to be an issue down the stretch as he continued to be highly productive.

Brown is a lock for the team in 2020 and the groin injury he suffered likely healed up on its own. There is a chance he could suffer another groin injury in the future, but that would be more on the nature of his positional demands rather than a chronic injury. 

WR Ray-Ray McCloud

McCloud is a familiar face that returns to Buffalo for the 2020 season after spending 2019 with the Carolina Panthers for 6 games after getting claimed off waivers following training camp. He got most of his work on special teams before getting waived and picked back by Buffalo for the practice squad. 

Considering McCloud was a draft pick of this regime, they like to hold onto their own, but he may have a lot of men to fight against for a roster spot, more likely a practice squad position. He didn’t suffer any known injuries and his availability & experience may be the reason he finds a job in 2020.

WR Nick Easley

Easley spent the entirety of the 2019 season on the practice squad and did not appear to suffer any known injuries during weekly practices. While he continues to be a developmental player, his path to the roster continues to be limited due to the depth

New to the roster

WR Stefon Diggs

In March, the Bills shocked the football world and traded for the disgruntled Minnesota wideout in a deal that some called overpayment and others stating it was the right move. As the 2020 NFL draft played out, it appeared to be the right move as Diggs comes with far more experience and a readiness to contribute compared to rookies having to get up to speed. 

In addition, Diggs also comes to Buffalo with minimal injury history which is detailed out in the article at Buffalo Rumblings

WR Gabriel Davis

The 4th round pick out of UCF followed the trend of the Bills drafting players with no injury concerns or that would require rehab during the pandemic. As a mid-round pick, Davis has virtually assured a roster spot and will greatly benefit from learning under some of the veteran receivers in the room, not forced into playing often early on. To read up on Davis’ injury history, check out the article at Buffalo Rumblings

WR Isaiah Hodges

A 6th round pick out of Oregon State, Hodges also comes to the Bills with little injury concerns and a legitimate chance to earn a roster spot, if not a practice squad spot. To read up on Hodges injury analysis, check out the article at Buffalo Rumblings.

2020 Outlook

This is a deep position on the roster. Brown, Beasley, Diggs, Davis, & Hodges all should make the team out of training camp. McKenzie and Williams have a shot at unseating one of the players listed above with a stellar training camp. McCloud & Easley also are capable of making the roster but are more suited for the practice squad as they have become projects of this team. As for Foster, he could make this team if he finds his 2018 form, and if he stays healthy. Both are big ifs. The best part about this is that if anyone does go down with an injury, there is another guy to step up that at least knows the system. 

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Running Back/Fullback

The RB/FB room is full of youth & leadership. Can it produce in 2020?

This is Part 2 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 2 consists of the running back/fullback room.

Not Returning

RB Frank Gore

16 games, 8 started, 166 attempts, 599 yards, 2 TD’s, 16 targets, 13 receptions, 100 yards

The future Hall of Famer ran towards football immortality with his latest stop in Buffalo in 2019. While he is not the bell cow back he once was, he still provided an excellent change of pace for rookie RB Devin Singletary. Gore was able to carry the load early on but his age and the season caught up with him as Singletary took more of the load. 

In addition, Gore was excellent at avoiding injury, only taking a shot to the head early in the season in the win over the Giants. He was evaluated by the medical staff and eventually returned, but that was all that could be identified injury-wise. As Gore has moved onto the Jets for 2020, his absence is hopefully replaced by a more effective back. 

Returning Players

RB Devin Singletary

12 games, 8 starts, 151 attempts, 775 yards, 2 TD’s, 41 targets 29 receptions, 194 yards, 2 TD’s, 4 fumbles

Following his first season in the NFL, Singletary lit up the Bills running attack despite playing in the season as Frank Gore began to wear down, establishing himself as the feature back as the Bills only 3/4ths of the team’s regular-season games. He progressed in the second half of the march towards the playoffs. In addition, he managed to stay fairly healthy despite a hamstring strain early in the season.

    • Left hamstring

Singletary suffered a hamstring strain while trying to pick up additional yardage late in the 4th quarter against the Giants. His day was done and as a result, missed the next 3 games and 4 weeks in total due to the bye week. While hamstring strains are not totally preventable, he did not have a recurrence of the injury later in the season.

There is concern that he could suffer another hamstring strain later, especially while ramping up to the regular season, but the fact that he is doing work now according to Instagram states that he will be at lower risk rather than if he was sitting on his couch all offseason. It also helps that Singletary is used to a high workload coming out of college which helps him to avoid injury as he does not risk overworking his body to meet the demands of the NFL.

RB TJ Yeldon

6 games, 17 attempts, 63 yards, 15 targets, 13 receptions, 124 yards 1 fumble

Yeldon wasn’t much of a factor during the season, playing in the first 5 games following a string of inactive designations before playing in the season finale against the Jets. Yeldon did not appear to suffer any known injuries but the lack of play was far more telling of his talent than availability. 

GM Brandon Beane has described Yeldon as a 3-down back, but in this current Bills offense, Yeldon is lucky to get on the field for even one down. The lack of injuries may play well to where he can be traded in case of other needs on the team or can slide into a backup role in the event of an injury in the running back room.

FB Patrick DiMarco

16 games, 4 starts, 3 attempts, 7 yards, 7 targets, 5 receptions, 41 yards

DiMarco, a special teams captain, once again had more emphasis as a leader in the locker room and on special teams than he did in an offensive role. The stats above clearly indicate that. In addition, he also suffered several injuries that were overall minor.

    • Concussion

DiMarco was a surprise addition to the injury report following the loss to the Patriots early in the season. He was able to play the entirety of the game but likely had concussion-related symptoms following the game, leading to him entering the protocol that week. He was limited during practice that week but was able to return to play the following week against the Titans.

    • Right ankle contusion/sprain

DiMarco also suffered a right ankle contusion/sprain during the first Miami game in which he had a flurry of bodies come down on his ankle, dropping him to the turf. Fortunately, his toe was pointed down and this allowed his ankle to avoid a high ankle sprain due to getting locked into eversion and dorsiflexion. He was able to resume playing, albeit likely hurting.

DiMarco is at risk to suffer another concussion in the future, but this appears to be a mild one. This doesn’t reduce his risk any more than it is now but is something to watch as training camp nears.  

RB Christian Wade

Wade, the former rugby star converted to NFL running back, spent his time on the practice squad last season as an international exemption. While he did flash during the few times he touched the ball in the preseason, he was far from ready to see action in a meaningful NFL game. He did not suffer any known injuries.

New to the roster

RB Zack Moss

A physical back out of Utah, Moss takes the place of the departed Gore. While Moss does have a variety of injury concerns, he comes to the Bills healthy and also used to a heavy workload, thereby reducing his risk to suffer overuse injuries as he transitions to the NFL. His detailed injury analysis can be found at Cover 1 and also at Buffalo Rumblings.  

RB Antonio Williams

Williams, a former back that played for both Ohio State & North Carolina, comes to the Bills as a UDFA. He enters the NFL fairly healthy with only a hamstring strain to his name while at Ohio State. You can read his full injury analysis here at Banged Up Bills.

FB Reggie Gilliam

Gilliam, the Toledo special teams standout, finds himself squarely behind DiMarco at the fullback position. One thing that Gilliam has over DiMarco is fewer miles on his body and far fewer injuries. However, experience and a captain’s designation still get DiMarco places in the NFL. Read up on Gilliam’s injury analysis at Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Outlook

The only locks on the team are Singletary, Moss, & DiMarco. Strong cases can be made for Yeldon & Wade, though Wade has a spot on the practice squad barring an unbelievable training camp. Williams & Gilliam are longshots, but an injury could help them find a roster spot in Buffalo. Both have strong cases to make the practice squad, but with how the practice squad rules change due to the new CBA & Covid-19, this could mean they still have a shot. 

The RB room is incredibly young & cheap which allows the Bills to maximize production while putting money elsewhere in their attempts to make deep postseason runs. Both Singletary & Moss are used to heavy workloads which in turn should help keep them available barring any freak accidents. Overall, there are no concerns as a group moving forward. 

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Quarterback

How healthy is Allen going into 2020?

This is Part 1 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 1 consists of the quarterback room.

Players Returning

QB Josh Allen

16 games, 16 starts, 461 attempts, 271 completions, 58.8%, 3089 yards, 20 TD’s, 9 INT’s, 38 sacks, 5 GWD, 109 attempts, 510 yards, 9 TD’s

Allen had several small injuries during the 2019 season that did not force him to miss any games but did at times put his availability into question. As the stat line above shows, he was able to grow as a passer during his second year at the helm. Unlike 2018 where he missed a chunk of time due to his elbow injury which allowed him to learn the game, 2019 was his time to input all that he had learned into both individual and team success.

    • Concussion

Injury wise, Allen suffered a concussion during the Week 4 loss to the Patriots in where he was hit by Patriots CB Jonathan Jones. He was hit on the crown of the head on the left side before going down to the turf. He was evaluated in the blue tent and then sent to the locker room for further testing. He missed the rest of the game and was questionable for the following week, clearing concussion protocol in time for Week 5.

    • Left-Hand Injury

Other injuries included a left-hand injury the following week against the Titans. This was the result of his left hand hitting Titans LB Harold Landry III on the follow-through, appearing to injury the metacarpophalangeal joint in the thumb region. He had the bye week to recover and did appear on the injury report prior to the Miami game, but it was not an issue moving forward.

    • Left ankle

Allen suffered a left ankle sprain during the loss to the Ravens in which he was taken down by friendly fire in having C Mitch Morse step on the foot/ankle area attempting to keep the pocket clean. Allen had it wrapped and quickly returned to the game, not appearing to let it bother him the rest of the game or next week. 

    • Right ankle

The final injury of 2019 was a right ankle complaint noted following the playoff loss. Allen was spotted walking across the fieldhouse with an ankle brace on indicating there may have been an issue. There wasn’t any specific incident where he injured his ankle but is always concerning when the face of the franchise is dealing with an injury.

Allen certainly took his share of shots throughout 2019. As he develops as a quarterback and his offensive line continues to gel, this could hopefully reduce his need to extend plays and reduce injuries. 

QB Matt Barkley

2 games, 51 attempts, 27 completions, 52.9% 0 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 2 sacks, 2 rushing attempts, -4 yards

Barkley’s stat line is not impressive which is a good thing when you consider his job is to strictly hold a clipboard and only play in emergencies. Fortunately, he did not suffer any known injuries and returns in 2020 as a veteran backup whose main job is to help prepare Josh Allen & be ready in the event of injury.

QB Davis Webb

Webb has not seen any NFL action since entering the league as a 3rd round draft pick of the New York Giants. He was signed by the Giants and then cut, getting picked up by the New York Jets before sitting on the practice squad for most of 2018, briefly getting called up but not seeing any action.

In 2019, the Bills signed him to the practice squad following the cut down day prior to the regular season. He sat on the practice squad all season, helping prepare Josh Allen every week despite not seeing the field.

New to the roster

QB Jake Fromm

The 2020 5th round draft pick comes to Buffalo via Georgia viewed more of a developmental player with the possibility to improve into a quality backup player in the coming years. Fromm’s known medical history is scant, detailed here at Buffalo Rumblings.

2020 Outlook

Allen returns incredibly healthy and will be the reason the team either succeeds or fails with him at the helm. Injury wise, the only concern he has is the concussion which appeared mild at best. Due to the documented concussion, he is at risk to suffer another one, but as long as he lets his offensive line do their job, the likelihood that he has to extend plays drops which in turn reduces his risk for injury.

Barkley will return as backup & the possibility of Fromm making the team as QB 3 isn’t impossible, but he would need a strong preseason to justify a spot on the 53 man roster. Webb still has a shot at the roster, but he may be once again relegated to the practice squad or finding a home elsewhere in the league if Fromm drops to the practice squad.

This position comes into the 2020 season very healthy & pretty set from a depth chart perspective. The only question will be whether Allen can take the next step towards becoming a franchise quarterback, leading the Bills to NFL glory

2020 FA Roundup: DE Bryan Cox Jr. injury analysis

Can Cox Jr. find a home Buffalo’s DE rotation?

Recently, the only intimidating thing about new Bills DE Bryan Cox Jr. has been his NFL lineage. Yes, the well worn old narrative that his father is former Miami Dolphin & Bills villain Bryan Cox

Besides that connection, there isn’t much to Cox Jr. that inspires a ton of fear as offensive playmakers look to prevent him from doing his job. In fact, injuries have done a better part of limiting his ability to play than talent alone. Cox Jr. has suffered a multitude of injuries that haven’t derailed his career but hasn’t exactly set him up for success dating all the way back to college.

Below are Cox Jr.’s known injuries:

2012: 

Redshirt year.

2013: 

Appeared in 8 games in the defensive line rotation, no known injuries.

2014:

Played in 11 games, starting 10. Following his sophomore year at Florida, Cox Jr. required hip surgery that was described as deteriorating. While I could not find specifics regarding the exact surgery or side affected, it appears that this was possibly a hip labral tear repair.

Due to the lateral movements and pivoting required for a defensive end, this is not unexpected due to the nature of the movements and/or congenital issues that may have been present. He missed the bowl game that year but appeared to return to full health. 

2015:

Appeared in 14 games, starting 13. Did not appear to suffer any injuries.

2016:

Cox Jr. suffered a left thumb fracture, knee tendinitis, and a high ankle sprain which severely limited his ability to be available & certainly derailed his chances to get drafted. 

Outside of the thumb fracture, details are not known as to which side the tendinitis or high ankle sprain occurred. This certainly was a strong reason why he was not selected as an NFL draft pick. 

2017: 

Signed with Carolina as a UDFA. Was limited as a rookie with regards to playing time but did not appear to suffer any known injuries. Appeared in 7 regular-season games and 1 playoff game.

2018:

Suffered an injury during June OTA’s that led to him getting carted off. There were reports that he suffered an ankle injury with others reporting knee. This was the result of getting tangled up with OG Norman Price.

Later reports indicate that he started on the PUP list with some reports indicating that he had surgery with others reporting a high ankle sprain

Based on the timeline & description of the injury from the various reports, it appears that he suffered closer to a high ankle sprain versus some of the other possible scenarios. He could have had surgery to remove bone chips in his ankle, but specifics of that are not known. 

What is also not known is whether this was the same side that he suffered his high ankle sprain on in college. He ended up playing in 11 games over the season with multiple weeks declared inactive.

2019:

Was with Carolina for one game before getting cut, signing with the Cleveland Browns. He appeared in 6 before suffering a hand injury at the end of the season. 

Bills Injury Impact:

Cox Jr. has had a rough time in the NFL, playing in his father’s shadow & not being healthy enough to really dominate. In addition to his arrest while in Carolina, he has had to fight for every opportunity, especially coming out as a UDFA. 

There is little concern regarding any of the previous injuries hampering him as he begins his stint with the Bills. Hip labral tear repairs have fairly straightforward outcomes with rates as great as 80% return to play with other reports pushing past a 90% success rate. The high ankle sprains are concerning but they have been spaced out over time, indicating that he is not returning too quickly. As stated above, it’s not known which side was injured each time which prevents identifying whether there is a risk for recurrence. 

Cox Jr. could make the team as his NFL health is far better than his college health. The high ankle sprains are somewhat concerning, but he does not have repeated back to back injuries. Considering the position he plays in where lots of bodies fall everywhere, he is simply at a higher risk of someone falling on his leg. 

He could make the Bills due to injury or simply outplaying one of the older players in the room or settling in as a depth piece. His roster spot is far from guaranteed, but due to his position, he may have a better shot than others currently on the roster. 

2020 FA Roundup: OT Victor Salako injury analysis

Will 2020 be the year Salako cracks a roster?

OT Victor Salako is a well-traveled man. His latest stop is with the Bills and will hopefully be his final stop in his NFL career as he attempts to find a home. He joins a Buffalo team with lots of talent & depth, making his journey even more difficult. However, he has shown the ability to adapt to the ever-changing cuts and demands of each NFL team.

Below is Salako’s known medical history:

UAB 2013-2014:

Played 2 seasons for them appearing in 24 out of a possible 24 games over the two years without any known injuries. He appeared to be on the rise as a prospect before UAB shuttered their program.

Oklahoma State 2015-2016:

Appeared in 26 out of a possible 26 games over his two seasons as a starter with the team without any publicly known injuries.

2017:

Signed as a UDFA by the Philadelphia Eagles following the draft and was a training camp casualty prior to the regular season. He was added onto the practice squad before getting picked up by the Cleveland Browns to their practice squad for the season.

2018:

Signed a reserve/futures deal with the Browns before finding a new home with the New York Giants and was with them through training camp. Following training camp cuts, he spent the season on the practice squad. 

2019:

Salako picked up where he left off with the Giants, making it through the offseason and training camp before suffering a shoulder injury. He was ultimately waived with an injury settlement due to the shoulder injury sustained in the preseason. 

There is little information regarding the shoulder injury with most reports indicating that it was an undisclosed injury. There are no reports on which side or the type of injury. 

He was later signed to the Buffalo Bills practice squad roughly 6 weeks following getting cut by the Giants. This would indicate that the injury was likely minor and that he did not require surgery. He spent the rest of the season with the Bills on the practice squad before signing a reserves/futures contract with Buffalo.

Bills Injury Impact:

Salako has been relatively healthy despite playing in a very physical position. He appears to be on that level of talent where he regularly gets shots at the NFL, but doesn’t stick as an active roster member & is more of a developmental piece. 

Considering the practice squad size was increased following the new CBA, Salako could continue his development at the next level with the Bills for the 2020 season. His health could also play into his favor as some players including G Jon Feliciano & T Cody Ford continue to rehab from their offseason surgeries. 

With Salako being healthy, he could be a trade piece or depth in case of injury as there is little concern for the shoulder injury from 2019. While he doesn’t have the NFL pedigree yet, he has shown the ability to stick around in an NFL locker room. 

2020 FA Roundup: DE Jonathan Woodard injury analysis

Is Woodard healthy enough to make the roster?

DE Johnathan Woodard has not had the NFL career he had envisioned after entering the league as a draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has suffered injuries, several team changes, and the overall inability to effectively show a team what he can do when healthy. 

Below is Woodard’s injury history:

2016:

Drafted in the 7th round by Jacksonville out of Central Arkansas. During his time at Central Arkansas, there is no information available regarding injuries. 

Within a month of getting drafted, Woodard’s season ended before it could begin, tearing his Achilles’ in Jaguars OTA’s. Per the report, he tore his Achilles’ attempting to plant his foot to get past a tackling dummy which resulted in a non-contact injury. 

He had surgery shortly after the injury and was placed on IR for the season. 

2017:

Jacksonville released Woodard and he signed with the Atlanta Falcons practice squad for 2 weeks until he was waived. He was out of football for the rest of the season.

2018:

Signed with the Miami Dolphins and was able to appear in 6 games for them towards the middle and end of the season. During that time, he sustained a concussion which led him to miss the following game against the Lions but was able to return later that week against Houston.  He finally was able to show that he could play at the NFL level and the Dolphins brought him back for the next season.

2019:

Woodard never made it out of training camp, suffering an undisclosed injury which led to him sitting on IR for the entirety of the season before getting cut just prior to Christmas.

2020:

Signed by the Bills to the practice squad and then to a reserve/futures contract following the end of the season.

Bills Injury Impact:

Woodard certainly had his career derailed by his Achilles’ injury and one has to wonder if he ever got his power and explosiveness back which is a common concern following Achilles’ tears. Fortunately for Woodard, the risk to re-tear his surgically repaired Achilles’ is rather low at about 1-2% within 5 years. However, the risk of tearing the opposite side is roughly 5-6% within 5 years which is worrisome, but still odds I’m willing to take if I was a team looking for depth. 

Woodard has already shown he can return to play. Typically, a delay in return to baseline performance takes about 1 year and the following 2 years, there is no change in the difference of performance. Add in the concussion from 2018 and undisclosed injury from last year does make me concerned regarding his availability for 2020. He may just be a camp body, but he better has the training camp of a lifetime in order to make this roster. He could end up on the practice squad due to the rule changes, but his time in the NFL may be limited and this could be his last shot at glory. 

2020 FA Roundup: LB Del’Shawn Phillips injury analysis

Will Phillips find a home in Buffalo?

There is no one correct path to the NFL. New Bills LB Del’Shawn Phillips is proof of that. Originally a Western Michigan commit out of high school, he was academically ineligible which led to Phillips attending Garden City Community College for 2 seasons before transferring to the University of Illinois, playing for 2 seasons before finally getting his shot at the pros.

For someone like Phillips, who was already behind the eight ball coming out, any injury or set back could have meant the end of his dream before it even started. Below is his known injury history from college and NFL.

2015-2016 Garden City Community College:

He played two years for the team, helping them win a national title in 2016, but outside of that, no information can be found regarding injuries or games played. According to the media guide, Phillips was All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2015 and First Team All-Conference during his time in Kansas before moving onto Illinois.

2017:

Upon arriving at Illinois, Phillips began playing spring ball, suffering an ankle injury that forced him to miss most of the spring semester as he transitioned to Big Ten football. Outside of reporting that he had an ankle injury, it is not known about what type of injury, which side, and if surgery was required.

Looking at his Twitter profile, he acknowledges missed time, possibly a month due to the previous picture post. This could indicate that he suffered some type of sprain, but that is only speculative. 

Thankfully, he had the summer to recover and ended up playing in 11 of 12 games, missing only the Minnesota game with a shoulder injury. Like the ankle, little is known other than the fact that he suffered the injury. He was able to come back the following week indicating that it was likely minor. 

2018:

Appeared in all 12 games with no reported injuries. Due to his availability, he ended up leading the team in interceptions with 4 and tied for the team lead in tackles with 95. This culminated in All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors from the media and an Academic All-Big Ten nod. 

2019:

Signed as a UDFA with the Atlanta Falcons before getting cut at the end of the preseason. Phillips later signed with the Bills practice squad in late October of that year before getting re-signed to a reserve deal following the season. 

Bills Injury Impact:

Like many other UDFA’s, Phillips has to show he’s worth keeping around. He has a handful of guys to beat out to even get a shot as a depth option on the 53-man roster. He will likely find a home yet again on the practice squad with the possibility to even play now that the rules have changed with regards to the number of players allowed and the ability to call up two players on game day without having to pass through waivers. 

The lack of injuries for Phillips over the past 3 years bodes well for the possibility to make the team but is far from a guarantee. He will have to have some luck and supreme play in the preseason in order to warrant a roster spot.