2020 Week 16 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Will Johnson and Nsekhe play?

Well, this is a fantastic turn of events! The New England Patriots, 6-8 and eliminated from the playoffs. The Bills, 11-3, winner of the AFC East and a playoff spot locked up. This is a welcome change from the last 20 years and is a chance to kick the Patriots while they’re down on national TV. 

While a game against the Patriots is never a guaranteed win, the Bills have shown that they can play with and beat anyone in the NFL. On top of it, the Bills are incredibly healthy compared to the Patriots who listed roughly 40% of their active roster on the injury report. Below is the Bills injury concerns heading into Monday night and a rundown of all the Patriots’ injuries. 

OUT

TE Reggie Gilliam (Knee/hamstring)

Gilliam is interesting because he was designated as probable with a knee injury during the game but eventually returned. It appeared he injured his left knee when he got hit from behind on kickoff with 6:28 left in the 2nd quarter but later returned. He shows up on the injury report with the knee and hamstring and hasn’t practiced all week. His last appearance in the game was with 8:02 left in the 4th quarter when he lined up as a fullback on a run play; there wasn’t a clear mechanism of injury.

He has since been ruled out for Monday’s game but it’s possible that he aggravated his hamstring injury from Week 13 at some point in the game. Since the playoffs are locked up and he has become a core special teamer, he may finally be giving it the rest it deserves. As Gilliam is designated a tight end and plays special team, there could be a one for one swap for Tyler Kroft considering Kroft has played a decent amount of special teams so far this year. 

QUESTIONABLE

S Jaquan Johnson (Right ankle)

Seeing Johnson practice after two full weeks off is promising after he had his right ankle taken out late in the Steelers game. I had thought he suffered a high ankle by the way he got hit from the outside. The fact that he practiced in a limited fashion this week is promising. 

Looking back at the others who have had similar practice designations through the week, the team has been all over the place. We have seen players not practice all week but play Sunday in the case of Andre Roberts, players practice in full but are ruled out on game day such as Vernon Butler, and everything in between. Those that have followed exactly what Johnson did indicates that he will play. He is a vital special teams player; it would be expected that he plays considering Gilliam is out.

T Ty Nsekhe (Groin)

I don’t know what to make of Nsekhe. This was his first extended time playing this year with 30 snaps on offense following mostly special teams snaps during the year. Reviewing the film, there wasn’t anything obvious as to how he would have injured his groin.

Nsekhe did leave practice briefly on Wednesday but later returned but has been DNP all this week except Friday when he was limited. Things certainly aren’t trending towards him playing which is concerning due to the fact that he replaced Daryl Williams last Saturday. Thankfully, the team does not have a designation for Williams which allows them to find a different depth option.

ACTIVE 

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

I’m not sure which joint is still bothering him to be on this injury report, my guess is his ankle. He didn’t wear a brace on the right leg and was running all over without hesitation. This may be more of a formality but this injury isn’t a factor from what we can see with his mobility. 

WR Stefon Diggs (Left foot)

Diggs foot injury was concerning at first until it was reported that it wasn’t overly worrisome. I had thought that he might be limited this week, but fortunately he has practiced in full every day. He may still be dealing with some pain but his foot getting stepped on won’t affect his performance Monday night.

DE AJ Epenesa (Not injury)

Epenesa is on this injury report due to being evaluated for a head injury late in the game Saturday. He was ruled to not have a concussion but apparently since that designation was not made before the end of the game, this designation indicates that there was a potential injury that was cleared. Otherwise, no issues for Monday. 

WR Andre Roberts (Low back)

Roberts has been limited all week with the exception of Friday in which he practiced in full. Considering he is such a vital part of special teams, it was expected that he did suit up since it isn’t ideal that Micah Hyde returns punts. It’s great Hyde is available but to have a Pro Bowl-caliber return man that specializes in trying to flip the field is better. The hope is that he was dealing with general pain or spasms that have since calmed down. 

CB Tre’Davious White (Neck)

White suffered a stinger in the game on Saturday, went out briefly and then came back to finish the game. He has suffered stingers before and for several weeks last season, he dealt with a neck injury, though it did not affect his availability at the time.

He did practice in full this week indicating this isn’t a big issue; it is possible that he is dealing with some general soreness in the neck with certain movements or it is possible that he is still dealing with some occasional numbness/tingling in the neck/arm that isn’t affecting his abilities. If that’s the case, I’d expect him to continue getting treatment to manage his complaints and be ready for Monday. 

T Daryl Williams (Groin)

Williams was the big concern to miss Monday’s game due to exiting shortly after halftime during the Broncos game. The research has shown that he could be out 8-20 days which initially after the injury, seemed like he wasn’t going to play against the Patriots. However, he has practiced all week with a limited designation which indicates that the groin strain isn’t as severe as initially thought. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

T Ty Nsekhe

TE Reggie Gilliam

DE Trent Murphy*

*If John Brown is activated. 

WR John Brown (Right high ankle sprain)

I also expect that John Brown will be recalled from IR back to the active roster and get some playing time to get ready for the postseason. The team has until 4 pm on Monday to make this designation. This squad is quite healthy in the big picture, though most of these guys are banged up and dealing with smaller injuries to varying degrees. 

The Patriots will be without Stephon Gilmore and likely Julian Edelman, both of whom didn’t play in Week 8 when the Bills last played them. Besides that, 20 players were listed on the injury report with limited participation by all and carrying a questionable designation. 

If you want gamesmanship, this is it right here folks. I can say with 100% certainty that 13 of the 20 players listed will play. As for who won’t, that’s anyone’s guess besides Bill Belichick. A small part of me wants to speculate who plays and who doesn’t, but that exercise would be fruitless. If this had serious playoff implications or was a playoff matchup, I’d dig into this, but I’m not going to let Bill Belichick waste any more of my time. He’s already given nearly 20 years of misery to this fan base. 

I do expect the Bills to go 4-0 in December to sweep the Patriots for the first time since 1999. If they do, this will be their highest win total since 1993 and will be the 6th time that they have achieved 12 wins or better in franchise history. I want to continue to see the Bills maximize their offensive firepower as they inch closer to the playoffs to win their first playoff game since 1995 and complete a deep playoff run. Enjoy the moment, Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Week 15 Bills Injury Review- Broncos

How serious is Diggs’ foot injury? What is the latest on Williams, White, and Roberts?

The Buffalo Bills are the 2020 AFC East Champions! That is incredibly satisfying to type, say/hear, read. I’d imagine that tasting a cold Labatt Blue at a tailgate bonfire would give you the final senses of enjoying what this means. It’s been a long 25 years and is another step towards the ultimate goals of a Super Bowl championship for the franchise. Division titles may not be that important to other franchises, but the Bills are not like other franchises. They are the Buffalo Bills, a team with a goal, and division titles with home playoff games are the building blocks.

While the Bills took care of business 48-19 over the Denver Broncos, there were numerous injuries that certainly had the fan base worried on Twitter. Not all the injury news is bad, but there are quite a few heading into Monday night against the New England Patriots. Below are all the publicly known injuries from Saturday.

TE Reggie Gilliam (knee)

Gilliam suffered a knee injury sometime in the 2nd or 3rd quarter and was initially ruled probable to return. It’s not clear when he suffered the knee injury or what he exactly did. My suspicion is that he injured it on a special teams play and was tended to by trainers on the sidelines. The camera angles were awful on special teams Sunday which made finding this injury very difficult. 

He ultimately returned to the game and this doesn’t appear to be a significant issue moving forward. 

TE Dawson Knox (stinger)

Knox left the game briefly for the second time in two weeks with a stinger but was able to return. I had said last week that there was a slight concern that if this occurs again, this could pose a problem or signify that something more is going on, however, there is not any definitive facts to support this at the time. 

It’s not clear when he suffered the stinger, my guess is when caught a long pass with 3:08 left in the 2nd quarter. He was out there until the 2-minute warning but there isn’t a definitive time when he suffered the injury. 

Like last week, I am not certain that he will show up on the injury report with this. Stingers are typically transient and the fact that Knox ended up returning support that this isn’t serious. He does have extra time to rest as the Bills don’t play until Monday night.

OT Daryl Williams (groin)

The injury to Williams may be the most concerning of the bunch due to his position and type of injury. This injury occurred sometime early in the 3rd quarter on the second touchdown run by Josh Allen. It isn’t clear when he suffered the injury, either with 11:32 or 11:05 in the 3rd quarter. The play with 11:32 had Williams lateral stepping and externally rotating his legs which is a classic mechanism to injure the groin in keeping up with his block to keep Josh Allen clean and did not appear labored getting through the next play. The next play was the second Josh Allen rushing touchdown where Williams was in a pile of bodies as Allen snuck in on the right side.

Credit: TeachMeAnatomy.info

Williams did not return and veteran Ty Nsekhe played admirably through the rest of the game in place. I have noted that groin injuries are difficult to determine on film unless it is blatantly obvious.

Credit: WNYUrology

Per the research, Williams could be out anywhere from 8-20 days with the average time off of 14 days and return to play pain free within 3 week. The overall re-injury rate is 8% once returning to play. I don’t see him playing Monday night unless his practice report says otherwise. 

At this point, let him rest and get ready for the playoffs. This also allows Nsekhe to get some needed reps in case injury occurs in the postseason.

WR Andre Roberts (low back)

The versatile return man suffered a low back injury sometime in the 3rd quarter, though it isn’t obvious when he suffered the injury. He was only noted as having a low back injury when the team reported it after Micah Hyde began returning punts in his place. It was initially thought Roberts was benched due to his muffed catch which resulted in a Broncos score, but the injury ended his day.

On his last return before going out, he was tackled by 3 different Broncos players and appeared to take a good shot to the low back. This could be a simple contusion, back spasms, or something else not known without further examination.

He will be one to watch on the injury report whether he practices at all this week. He does have the extra time to rest with the Monday night game but this is going to be a wait and see. 

CB Tre’Davious White (stinger)

The veteran cornerback scared the fan base when he went down briefly following a routine tackle on Tim Patrick in the 4th quarter. 

On review, I had no idea what he had injured because the hit seemed so routine and clean. Looking at where the trainers were looking at and how he hit, it looked to be the right shoulder area where he suffered the stinger. 

He did suffer a stinger on what appeared to be the left side last year in the Steelers game, but last year’s stinger doesn’t appear to have any correlation with this most recent one. White must have hit just right that he sustained the injury but was able to quickly return. He should be fine to play unless he has persisting symptoms for which he would likely end up on the injury report. 

CB Levi Wallace (right ankle)

Wallace is an interesting injury. He suffered an ankle injury shortly after White went down with his stinger. He ran down the field and then came back to try to scoop the ball up off the turf as it was dropped for a possible interception by Taron Johnson. He didn’t appear to roll it or sustain any visible injury. He did take an extra step onto his right leg when trying to reach down for the ball, possibly jamming up his ankle a little bit, but he quickly returned to the game.

For those thinking he re-injured his ankle from the Raiders game, it was his left ankle which ultimately sent him to IR for 3 weeks. This doesn’t appear to be anything long term and the extra time off should do well for Wallace to play Monday. 

DE AJ Epenesa (head)

Epenesa went to the sidelines under protest to get evaluated for a head injury while trying to avoid a late hit with 5:46 left in the 4th quarter. He flipped over Drew Lock and hit with his right shoulder and head on the turf. 

The team did not announce that he was in the concussion protocol during Monday’s press conference. The in game checks are precautionary and part of the concussion protocol, but it does not appear that he has entered it at this point. Wednesday will be telling if he shows up on the report with anything at all. 

DT Vernon Butler (left ankle)

During the same play that Epenesa got injured, Butler had his left ankle rolled up on moments before as the defense attempted to contain Drew Lock. Butler required an assessment by the training staff on the field and missed several plays but was able to return. 

He may have tweaked the ankle, but appeared to avoid serious injury as he played the rest of the game. I question if he even shows up on the injury report. 

WR Stefon Diggs (left foot)

This injury may be the most worrisome injury at least from a social media standpoint from Saturday. Diggs was quietly carted to the locker room with a foot injury late in the 4th quarter. 

He came back out on the cart with his left shoe off and hopping around on the sidelines leading to a lot of speculation as to what happened. Fortunately, I found what he did and when he suffered the injury. 

This occurred with 7:16 left in the 4th when Diggs was engaged with his block on a Zack Moss run to the right. Diggs disengages and while attempting to get out of the way of the play, gets his left foot stepped on. He immediately began to limp around briefly before setting up for the next play. During that play, he took several steps but did not try to be actively engaged in the play possibly due to the pain.

Diggs later left the field and then refined as mentioned earlier. By video, this seems like he got cleated on the outside portion of the foot and he should be fine. The reports coming out after the game were optimistic and Monday’s press conference only reinforced that news. 

Since this is more of a pain issue, I would not be concerned with Diggs being limited or even DNP Wednesday and Thursday. The team has off Friday for Christmas and then practices Saturday. Even if he’s limited every day, I’d still expect him to play Monday.

Overall, the Bills are in decent shape despite all the injuries from this game. The only ones I want to watch closely are Williams, Roberts, and to a lesser extent Epenesa. It would not alarm me if there were a few extra names on the injury report in addition to what’s in the article today. 

The Bills have the division locked up but can still fight to maintain the 2nd seed which will guarantee them 2 home playoff games and even 3 if the Chiefs get knocked off. They currently have the tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost unexpectedly to the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. 

I would hope the Bills can begin to rest some starters but I don’t expect everyone to sit right away. This is a Bills team that is smart with their sports medicine and will not jeopardize health to maximize winning. These next few weeks are all about taking care of business and hitting the playoffs hot so Buffalo can get a long awaited deep playoff run. There is still a lot of football to play and it’s great knowing the Bills took care of business. 

Top Photo Credit: DraftKings Nation

2020 Week 12 Bills Injury Preview- Chargers

What’s going on with John Brown? How serious is Cody Ford’s knee injury? Will Tommy Sweeney be alright?

Welcome back everyone! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and got a lot done on the bye week. The Bills benefited greatly from the bye, significantly reducing the number of names on the injury report. In turn, a shorter injury report alters decisions on who needs to play and who needs to rest. Below are the injuries and updates. 

OUT

WR John Brown (Right ankle)

Brown continues to be limited with a right ankle injury sustained in the Week 10 matchup against the Cardinals. This initially appeared to be a medial eversion ankle sprain. He did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday, was projected to not practice Thursday due to Thanksgiving and did not practice Friday. Ultimately he was ruled out before Friday’s practice. 

On Locked on Bills, I was more bullish on Brown playing coming off the bye due to him frequently taking rest days early in the week. I also referenced this Instagram post below that he is making progress with his ankle injury.

On top of that, he did have the week off which could have improved the ability to heal. If this is a medial eversion ankle sprain, Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake had a similar injury which caused him to miss 2 games but he came back to play effectively. Brown could have hypothetically come back following the week off and continue to build off his recent progress. 

I had noted in the postgame review from the Cardinals game that he could miss 1-2 games based on the injury and that he now appears to be trending towards that. I will admit that seeing the Instagram post did give me some false hope with the idea that he could suit up faster, but such is the power of social media.

However, if this ankle is worse than originally thought and it could be or it presents more like a high ankle, then he could be out longer. He could potentially be out next week against the 49ers and questionable against the Steelers. This has been a miserable season for John Brown but the hopes is that he can get right when it really counts.

Update: Brown has since been placed on IR.

G Cody Ford (right ankle/knee)

Ford continued to work back from his latest injury suffered against the Seahawks in Week 9. At the time, it appeared as though he suffered a low inversion ankle sprain when he was clipped from behind by Zack Moss on the scoring play by Tyler Kroft

However, it was reported Friday that Ford would be out for the season with a torn meniscus. It was confirmed that he suffered the injury in practice but it did not specify which side he injured. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network stated that he would be out 3-4 months with a full recovery. I agree with that timeline and outlook.

I have detailed out meniscus injuries in the past which you can read here. Looking at Ford’s previous knee injury from against the Chiefs, I have not found any correlation that shows that previous MCL injuries increase the risk for meniscal tears. A previous MCL injury could increase knee laxity but not associated with meniscal injuries. There is research to support knee laxity contributing to future meniscus tears when associated with previous ACL injuries, but that is more due to the rotational component of the knee that the ACL helps stabilize during movement.

Credit: Physio-pedia.com

This discussion is all based on the idea if he tore the meniscus in the right knee which has not been confirmed. If he suffered this on the left side, then this is a moot point. But I feel it is important to note the possibilities Looking back at his college injury history, there is nothing to suggest that he had previous meniscal issues either. This repair decision is a far better option than trimming or removing pieces of the meniscus because that would contribute to further knee degeneration and possibly a shorter career. If you want to remember what the effects of meniscectomies are, recall former Bills tight end Charles Clay.

Update: Ford has since been placed on IR.

ACTIVE

DE Mario Addison (knee/veteran rest)

Considering Addison is a veteran on the wrong side of 30, it’s not surprising that he shows up on the injury report with a vet rest day. He is also listed as a knee injury which hasn’t been a known issue since prior to Week 4 when he injured it in practice. 

He played in 67% of snaps which was tied with Jerry Hughes for the team lead for defensive end snaps. This may be more of a chronic issue though it’s not known which side he is dealing with. Unless more details are known, this will continue to be monitored with overall little concern. 

DE AJ Epenesa (Concussion)

Epenesa suffered his first documented concussion in Week 10, quickly getting ruled out midway through the game. He quickly entered the concussion protocol and working through the system until getting cleared following Wednesday’s practice. 

His recovery fits the timeline seen for a concussion and there is hope he avoids further injury for the remainder of the season. 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

Jones appears ready to return following a hamstring strain suffered against the Patriots on a kickoff in the 3rd Quarter. He has missed two games plus the bye to recover which has fit the timelines we see for hamstring strains. 

He has had a multitude of injuries over his career and to see him deal with another one isn’t really all that concerning. I had thought that Brandon Beane wanted to get whatever was left in the tank and that may be the case. As he practiced in full, he will be expected to return and contribute on special teams. 

TE Dawson Knox (Hamstring)

Knox was a surprise showing up on the injury report in his first game back from COVID. He played in 70% of the snaps but was generally ineffective. This hamstring injury was not noticed on film and the fact that he’s practicing in full after a week off tells me that it was minor in the first place. Hopefully Knox can put it together in the next few games to show he’s worth keeping around next season. 

CB Josh Norman (Illness)

Honestly not sure why Norman is on the injury report. He’s been cleared off the COVID reserve list and he’s practicing in full. Things like this will have me digging into the intricacies of the injury reporting in the offseason to understand designations like this. 

TE Lee Smith (Illness)

Smith was a DNP Friday due to illness which is why he was on the injury report but that doesn’t appear to be affecting his availability for Sunday. As he has been used sparingly this year, this may not matter but for posterity, I must mention. 

DE Jerry Hughes (Back)

Hughes showed up on the injury report with a back ailment that limited him Wednesday but was projected as full on Thursday and practiced in full on Friday. I’m not certain regarding the specifics as to what he was dealing with but until he has multiple DNP’s or is ruled out prematurely due to an injury, I have faith he will play and continue to produce.

Other Thoughts

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder) 

Allen is finally off the injury report following 6 weeks of full participation from the original shoulder injury. I can say for a fact we have seen more severe injuries get minimal to no time on the injury report. Case in point: Jerry Hughes wrist/groin, Jon Feliciano left shoulder rotator cuff tear, Zay Jones/Taron Johnson torn labrum; those are just off the top of my head. 

Either Josh Allen had fully recovered from his shoulder ailment or it is finally at a point where it is no longer an issue. This is something I still continue to watch in his runs, throws, and what he wears on the shoulder. At this point in the season, if these guys can produce and win games, then that’s all the matters because everyone is hurt in the league. It’s a harsh reality, but it is what it is for those that play in the NFL.

TE Tommy Sweeney (Myocarditis)

Tommy Sweeney never had a chance in 2020. He started off on the PUP list due to a possible stress fracture, spending the entire season on there before getting exposed to and contracting COVID.

Once cleared, he continued to work out but may have been having some issues with his endurance which likely led to a consultation with a cardiologist. Regrettably, he was diagnosed with myocarditis, the first known NFL player afflicted with this condition as the result of COVID. 

Myocarditis is a condition in where the heart muscle itself becomes inflamed, this can also affect the electrical system of the heart as well. This can be the result of a virus, fungi, or bacteria among other things. The problem with inflammation of the heart muscle compared to skeletal muscle is that the heart muscle does not have the regenerative properties that regular muscle has. There is some research that shows some recovery can happen, but at a very slow rate. This is why heart attacks are so tough to come back from, the heart muscle is damaged and does not heal as effectively as skeletal muscle.

So is there damage to Sweeney’s heart? I’m not certain of that and I hope not. But he possibly had been having issues with working out after getting COVID which led to the consultation. The hope is that they caught it early enough and prevented any damage from occurring. Research shows that he will have to stop activities from 3-6 months to allow things to recover fully.

If he were to work through this or had a severe case, he could have suffered heart damage, irregular heart beats, or heart attack/strokes. It is a terrible situation for Sweeney but at least he can access some of the best medical care available to ensure that he can return for 2021. It is far too early to tell how this will affect him but any delay in training could impact him for next season. This will be something to continue to monitor. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

WR John Brown* has been placed on IR

TE Lee Smith

DT Harrison Phillips

RB T.J. Yeldon

G Cody Ford* has been placed on IR

There are currently 52 players on the active roster. Transactions may occur later today which can affect the number of inactives.

Looking at the other side, the Chargers are dealing with their own injuries including the potential return of running back Austin Eckler from a Week 4 hamstring injury. This could drastically change up their running game which has been a point of weakness for the Bills in defending the run. The Chargers will already be without Casey Heyward, Melvin Ingram, and Uchenna Nwosu which the Bills could exploit offensively. Despite their record, they are still a talented team and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had shown he was worth the first round draft pick earlier this year. 

Biased view but I believe the Bills have what it takes to win simply due to overall talent and health. The opportunity to stack wins before playing the Steelers will only help in case COVID hits again or an untimely injury occurs, potentially costing the team a win. A reminder: this is the last regular season game at 1:00 pm on Sunday as the team either plays in prime time or on Saturday the remainder of the season. Simply a result of a successful football team. We’re in the final stretch of the season and I’m looking forward to a potentially deep playoff run to start off 2021.

Top Photo Credit: Bills Wire USA Today

2020 Week 10 Bills Injury Review- Cardinals

Is Brown and Jackson alright? What’s going on with Morse?

The football gods giveth, they also taketh. The Hail Mary pass from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins was truly something else. Those are the kind of plays that demonstrate why the Cardinals traded for him and gave him a big contract extension. I understand he isn’t making those plays week in and week out, but to know you’re never out of a game because a player like him can’t be discounted. Bills fans saw the exact same thing with Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs for the go-ahead touchdown just moments before. 

The loss sucks, but sometimes that’s just how things are. For every loss like the Cardinals, we can get a win as we did against the Rams. The Bills are still 7-3 heading into a much needed and deserved bye week with the ability to get a lot of key players back very soon and others to get healthy. I understand that after years of suffering through the drought, we want every win, we want the ability to leave no doubt in our minds who is the better football team in the NFL. I would also rather take this loss now and have a deep postseason run when compared to the Ravens 14-2 record last year and getting bounced in the divisional round of the playoffs. 

As we head into the bye week, there are several new injuries to monitor that may impact the injury report next week.

DE AJ Epenesa (Concussion)

Epenesa missed the second half of the game due to a concussion possibly sustained with 3:32 left in the 2nd quarter when he took down Kyler Murray from behind to set up 4th down. The play below shows how Epenesa attempted to knock the ball out of Murray’s hand as he took him down, regrettably slamming his head into the turf. He stood up quickly and appeared to be momentarily unsteady before walking off to the sideline motioning to his head. 

He was quickly taken to the locker room for further evaluation of a head injury where he was later ruled out with a concussion. He will enter concussion protocol as does every other NFL player, but time will tell how long it will take him to return. According to what I could find from his injury analysis this summer, this is Epenesa’s first publicly documented concussion. 

There is potential he could move through the protocol quickly, but no guarantees either. Fortunately, he has the bye to work through things to get right for the Chargers game.

CB Dane Jackson (right knee)

Jackson went down with a right knee injury tackling Christian Kirk in the 3rd quarter. He completed the tackle and rolled over, holding his right knee. It’s still not clear what he did to the knee even on the film below. I had initially thought he suffered a hamstring strain as he extended his leg out to grab Kirk, but I’m not certain that is the case. 

It’s very possible he hit the knee on the ground as both he and Kirk were falling. There is also the possibility that Jackson got a cleat to his knee, though slowing down the film, I personally couldn’t see anything. Jackson was observed later on the exercise bike appearing to keep the knee loose to prevent any potential swelling which also dissuades me from considering a hamstring. 

Jackson did return in the final moments of the game as DeAndre Hopkins caught the game-winner. Either Jackson gutted it out because the coaching staff knew he was the best option over Daryl Worley or the injury wasn’t as significant as originally thought. I am going to go with the latter in this case. 

I am also not certain that Jackson will show up on the injury report next week for two reasons. While he is continued to be used as a regular call up or COVID replacement call up, he is not officially on the active roster. Practice squad players are not placed on the regular injury report released through the week. Sometimes they are acknowledged as former Bills offensive lineman Evan Boehm was earlier this season, but I do not believe the team has any obligation to publicly release these details. 

If Jackson gets signed to the open roster spot available due to Del’Shawn Phillips going to IR, then Jackson could be on the injury report. I also don’t believe that the injury is serious enough without more information to determine that he will be on the report.

WR John Brown (right ankle)

Brown suffered yet another lower-body injury, this time on a 24-yard catch midway through the 4th quarter. The play was ultimately negated due to a Brian Winters holding penalty, but Brown made a great catch before coming down hard on his right ankle. Per Sean McDermott, Brown tweaked his ankle.

In the video below, you can clearly see that Brown lands on the right foot, the ankle bows inward before the rest of Brown’s momentum drags him down to the turf, lifting his heel up off the ground before being officially downed.

I had initially thought of an MCL sprain due to how he fell and the valgus angle with the knee pointing inward as he fell, but his medial ankle took the brunt of the injury it appeared. From the video alone, it looks to be a medial eversion ankle sprain, similar to what Tre’Davious White suffered last week. I would say this one was more severe when comparing the two, but Brown may have escaped a worse fate.

When the ankle bows out like that, there isn’t a lot of room for the ankle to move outward, potentially leading to a fracture of the lateral malleolus. However, Brown was able to walk around later under his own power on the sidelines indicating that not to be the case and the fact that the team said he tweaked the ankle. Right now, it seems as though he suffered a medial eversion ankle sprain and may need some time to rehab. 

Thankfully he has the bye next week to allow him at least a full week off to allow for healing. There’s potential that he shows up on the injury report with the ankle injury, but we will have to wait and see. At worst, there is the possibility that he misses 1-2 games which include the Chargers and 49ers games which appear winnable without him. However, there is also a very good chance he suits up against the Chargers and plays if the injury is mild. Next week will tell us much more.

Other injury thoughts:

DT Justin Zimmer (right elbow)

I bring Zimmer up because I noted that he had a hinged brace on his right elbow that I had not noted before Sunday’s game. Looking back at game footage, he has had a brace on the area going back to Week 7 against the Jets. The reason it wasn’t noticeable then was due to the fact that he would wear a sleeve over the area or had a long sleeve shirt on, downplaying the brace.

Prior to the hinged braced, he was wearing a compression sleeve on the area in the Chiefs game. If he had suffered an injury, it’s not publicly known and he still appears to be playing well. I have seen a lot of linemen wearing various bracing on their arms and legs to likely manage general complaints and provide some stability to the area as they play. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse did not play despite being active for Sunday’s contest. It was termed as coach’s decision by Sean McDermott. Jon Feliciano played the entire game at center in his place. There are some possible theories that I have behind why Morse ultimately did not play that I will address below.

Due to several other injuries and open roster spots, Morse may not have had the ability to be a healthy scratch. However, they could have scratched Morse and had Cody Ford active and not play. They have had injured players active before and not play.

The Bills may have also wanted Jon Feliciano to get more reps at the center position as he acclimates back to game action. McDermott did state that they are going week-to-week with offensive lineup combinations and wanted to get another look at them. But Feliciano is better suited at the guard position from what we’ve seen.

His risk to sustain another concussion following this most recent one is higher, but I have not found an exact number that says a person is at X% more likely to suffer another concussion within X days/weeks from the last one after full recovery. He’s at greater risk to suffer another concussion, just like he was prior to the latest head injury. I also see this study and say it has some value, but the research is nearly 20 years old, I do question how accurate it is now.

There has been speculation that Morse needed extra rest and to use the bye along with not playing in order to make sure he’s healthy. Looking at the NFL return to play concussion protocol, from my interpretations, once you pass through the NFL concussion protocol, you are cleared for play. There isn’t any gray area when it comes to this decision. Either you are cleared or not. Extra rest would not necessarily reduce his risk even further.

There are concerns for second-impact syndrome and post-concussive symptoms. I can say with some confidence that neither are in play here. If he was to have the second-impact syndrome, that would imply that he was not fully healthy as he tried to return. That would go against how the protocol’s purpose. The same thing goes for the post-concussive syndrome. If he was still having symptoms, he doesn’t pass through the protocol. Even if he suffered another concussion in warmups, they would have reported it, similar to when Quinton Spain had his foot soreness as a surprise inactive.

The only reason I can consider is that Morse is a veteran player, I am sure he is dealing with the effects of a physical season and it’s possible that McDermott wanted to give him the day off to preserve him for the playoff push. Not allowing Morse to play also eliminates a chance to sustain another concussion or injury in general. However, if a player is healthy enough to play, he was per the concussion protocol, then he should have played. I don’t believe Morse was benched either.

Bottom line, he was deemed healthy per the concussion protocol, he should have played based on that logic. If McDermott wanted to give him the game off, then he probably should have made him a healthy scratch, they have done that in other games for other players when it did not matter. If they wanted to avoid Morse suffering a further injury, then you inactivate him. Extra rest from a head injury could make sense, but not when applying it to the NFL concussion protocol.

Overall, the Bills head into a much-deserved bye week with the ability for most of the team to address some of their injuries as they prepare for the final stretch. There are a lot of injuries to fix along with a lot of game strategies including the anemic run game. Hopefully, there is more news that comes out regarding these injuries and more over the next week and the injury report will be something to watch with regards to how many players are on it and who is on it. I hope the Bills enjoy their week off as they prepare for the final stretch of the season.

Top Photo Credit: DraftKings Nation

2020 Week 9 Bills Injury Preview- Seahawks

Proceed with caution, this is a long one.

The 2020 NFL season is truly something else. Lately, I cringe a little every time the injury report gets released. There’s a lot of names on that list. It’s at times dizzying to look and see that over 25% of the roster is injured to the point that they may not be available to play Sunday.

Over the past few years, there have been bouts where they have dealt with numerous injuries from week to week, but they have not had this level of injuries for this long of duration since HC Sean McDermott took over in 2017. As always here at Banged Up Bills, every injury is detailed out below to give an idea of the specifics and availability for Sunday’s game against Seattle. 

OUT 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

Jones is dealing with a hamstring strain that appears to be on the right side. He suffered this during kickoff following the second touchdown that put the Bills up 14-6. He was sprinting full speed and the hamstring just appeared to be overworked and it went. 

With how the team handles hamstrings and his positional demands, I do not anticipate him playing Sunday. He would need at least a week off if not more before he could return. It wouldn’t surprise me if he missed the next two games and then used the bye to get some extra rest. His loss on special teams will certainly be missed, but this isn’t something that he can gut out like he has so many other injuries.

C Mitch Morse (Concussion)

Morse suffered a concussion on the 3rd play of the 1st quarter and had to exit the game, quickly receiving the diagnosis. His long history of concussions dating back to his rookie year is well known and this is now his 5th publicly reported documented concussion. 

He was seen on the sidelines working out with training staff indicating that he is at least in Stage 2 of the protocol Wednesday and Thursday. Friday he was seen in a red non-contact jersey indicating Stage 3, very possible Stage 4.

Considering concussions take on average 10 days to return from and add in the fact that Morse has taken longer to return from a concussion, he was not expected to play Sunday. I see a scenario where he misses the next two games and uses the bye to get fully right before fully returning. He could play against Arizona if he clears the protocol, but only the team and he will know which path he wishes to take.

Morse has said that he can only worry about what he can control. He’s going to do everything in his power to return quickly but safely in order to help the Bills during the second half of the season. 

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral)

Milano did not practice this week after playing the last two games. He hasn’t exactly been playing perfect, but he has had to wear a shoulder harness to prevent stressing the healing area. It’s not clear whether he aggravated the injury on Sunday or if they are just trying to manage the injury efficiently. Friday’s press conference appeared to imply that they are trying to rest him as much as possible while allowing him to play as needed. 

My thoughts originally were that they were trying to preserve him for the week to play on Sunday’s. That now does not appear to be the case. It has been a month since he suffered the injury and while the area is healing, playing in a football game the past two weeks hasn’t exactly accelerated the healing process.

I didn’t get the perception that he did suffer an aggravation on film, but we don’t know what the team knows. I can say with 100% certainty that he did not fully tear the area, otherwise, he would have been sent to have it repaired. You can live with a fully torn pectoral muscle in certain cases but not if you want to play NFL football.

It’s also important to note that the last two games have been against AFC East opponents which are more significant for the playoffs instead of the upcoming NFC games. Since the Bills won both games and the NFC games don’t hold as much weight for playoff seeding as a divisional game, it would make sense to rest Milano for this game. 

As he is not playing Sunday, this is the decision that was likely made with the team, training staff, and Milano together to ensure he’s healthy for later in the season. It will be interesting to see if newly signed LB Darron Lee makes an appearance due to the massive struggles of LB AJ Klein last week.

Update: Milano has been placed on IR.

CB Josh Norman (Hamstring)

Norman’s season continues to be a struggle for the veteran corner to stay healthy. He still continues to work through the same hamstring that he originally suffered in the preseason and then aggravated in practice two weeks ago. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to when he returns. My hope is that he takes the time he needs and is healthy for the final stretch. 

RB TJ Yeldon (Back)

I have absolutely no idea what Yeldon could be dealing with. He doesn’t have a publicly known history of back issues and he didn’t play in Sunday’s contest. This ailment either occurred during practice or this is an injury that the public isn’t aware of. As he is rarely active, this is a non-factor for Sunday. 

QUESTIONABLE

TE Dawson Knox (Calf)

Knox has had a rough season this year. He has been dealing with a concussion, a hamstring strain, a calf strain, and now COVID. It’s very possible that Knox’s calf is fully recovered from the original injury sustained against the Titans. On average, it takes about 17.4 days to return to play which is just under 3 weeks. Knox passed that window in terms of recovery time and is questionable to play.

The bigger concern will be how he responds following having COVID. Every day we are still learning the effects the virus has on the body and Knox is not immune to those effects. Right now, I hope that he can come back and just play before we get into considering how much of an offensive threat he can be. Due to the uncertainty of how COVID affected him, I want to say he won’t play, but with the number of injuries all over, he might be forced into being active on game day.

DE Darryl Johnson (Knee)

Johnson continues the trend of mystery injuries from Sunday’s game and it’s difficult to speculate the details. He did practice in full on Friday which was a great sign but was still ruled questionable. Considering DE AJ Epenesa was inactive last week, they could switch these two out. The only reason to play Johnson is his special teams contributions. He is a core special teamer whereas Epenesa has only played any special teams the past two weeks. It may just depend on how Johnson feels Sunday.

DT Vernon Butler (Groin)

Butler is moving in the right direction with a full practice on Thursday and Friday following a limited practice on Wednesday. When he exactly injured the groin against the Jets is not known, but the fact that he is able to return after one game indicates it was not that serious. This may come down to how he feels on game day, but the weather is supposed to be warm and dry, potentially lessening the risk for poor footing, leading to aggravation due to slipping. 

The Seahawks rushing attack will be limited due to the possible absence of RB Chris Carson and RB Carlos Hyde. With the addition of Butler, this will help stymie the run game to limit the weapons available for QB Russell Wilson and give the Bills a chance at slowing the offense. 

G Cody Ford (Right knee)

There is hope that Ford can suit up against the Seahawks on Sunday after missing two games with a likely right MCL injury. He did practice in full on Friday which is typically a good sign to play on Sunday. The team continues to have depth at the offensive line to patch things together, but returning Ford would be huge to help maintain consistency for the run game and pass protection.

He has had his share of injuries this season and the time off may have allowed him to get right in order to return to the left guard position and provide stability on an ever-changing offensive line. 

ACTIVE 

WR John Brown (Knee)

Brown continues to deal with nagging injuries from the beginning of the season with the foot issues progressing into the calf strain, working up to a likely left knee sprain. Wednesday was most likely a veteran rest day but practiced in full on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully, he can get through the next two games before the bye and finally get off the injury report. 

RG Brian Winters (Knee)

Winters appears on the injury report again with a knee injury; the specifics are not known. He is known to wear a knee brace during games on the right side. He did have a left ACL tear several years ago that I had thought he could be dealing with some arthritic changes, but impossible to confirm at this time. This may be an injury that the team continues to manage conservatively throughout the season as he is an older player. 

DE Jerry Hughes (Foot)

Despite the injury designation, Hughes continues to make an impact at the defensive end position while not missing any time. The injury originally occurred in the Jets game and it did not appear to affect him. He played in 62% of the snaps against the Patriots, roughly his normal snap count and there simply isn’t a lot of information regarding the injury. 

The bottom line, it’s going to take more than a foot injury to force Hughes to miss a game. 

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)

Allen continues to appear weekly on the injury report with a left shoulder injury originally sustained in the win over the Raiders. He also continues to wear a shoulder brace to address likely instability from that injury. He continues to practice in full but there is continued concern that he will aggravate the injury with an ill-timed hit or fall. 

This is something that we will likely get much more information on after the season. This is an issue that will continue to be monitored as he appears on the injury report and continues to wear a brace. 

S Micah Hyde (Concussion)

Hyde worked through the concussion protocol this week following his massive hit on Jets WR Breshad Perriman. He was limited in practice Wednesday but fortunately, practiced in full on Thursday and Friday. Per reports, he has since cleared concussion protocol and will suit up for Sunday to give the secondary a huge boost in containing the Seahawks offensive weapons.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Knee)

This is Jefferson’s second week on the injury report with a knee ailment that originally occurred in the Jets game. There aren’t any specifics regarding what he’s dealing with, but he, like Winters, did have an ACL tear several years ago. It’s possible the grind of the NFL season is wearing on his joints and he is dealing with some generalized arthritic pain following the ACL tear. He played last week and I expect him to play again this week.

G Jon Feliciano (Pectoral tear)

Felicano played in every snap Sunday after missing the first 7 games of the season due to the pectoral tear suffered in training camp. I highly doubt this was the plan due to C Mitch Morse exiting the game with a concussion, but he was pressed into service. Feliciano did note that playing center allows him to stay more protected against future injury, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility. 

I personally don’t like the idea of him playing 100% of snaps again, but he appears to be the best option at this time unless G Ryan Bates got up to speed to take snaps at center this week. He should be eased back in, but according to Feliciano, he is at 97% in regards to his recovery, so he may understand the risks involved and decide to play anyway. This will be something I watch for on Sunday with his playing time.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

CB Josh Norman

LB Matt Milano* IR

RB Taiwan Jones

C Mitch Morse

RB TJ Yeldon

DE Daryl Johnson

TE Dawson Knox

The one upside to this game is that the Seahawks are even more injured than the Bills are. The team will be down both RB’s Chris Carson and RB Carlos Hyde. They will also be without their starting cornerback in Shaquill Griffin and starting guard Mike Iupati. They do note on their practice reports the term load management and resting vet, but most are still working through things. 

Looking at this game, I’m biased, I want the Bills to win, but this is a tough offense. Ideally, the defense steps up as it did against Kansas City despite the loss and slows down the Seahawks just enough that the Bills offense can stay ahead. The team also desperately needs this bye week in Week 11 to get right for the final stretch. 

While COVID did mess with our schedule, it did not result in a bye like the Titans and Steelers received in Week 4. That early bye week may come back to haunt those two likely playoff teams come January. The late bye may make the difference for the Bills. I can stomach a loss, but I would rather take a loss and avoid further injuries than win and lose more key pieces. Survive to fight another day and get to the bye week. This should be an entertaining game with the hopes that the Bills move to 7-2.

Top Photo Credit: BillsWire-USA Today

2020 Week 4 Bills Injury Preview- Raiders

What is going on with Ed Oliver’s knee? Will Zack Moss play Sunday?

The Bills are getting healthy. Despite the injury list being longer than we would all like, several players are set to return & several more are expected to play despite dealing with injury. While the Bills are not fully healthy, they are in a far better position than the Raiders as seen below who are missing many key contributors which may make the Bills job on Sunday far easier. Below are the Bills injuries heading into Sunday’s matchup.

OUT

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (left quadriceps)

Phillips will miss his 3rd straight game following a quadricep strain in the season opener. Originally, I could not find when this occurred but after further review, I found on the All-22 film that he suffered a quadricep strain with 6:48 left in the 2nd quarter on the kickoff following the Bills 3rd score. He ran down the field and appeared to strain his left quadricep, having difficulty slowing down, occasionally hopping it off.

Since then, he has not practiced with the exception of Thursday & Friday in which he was limited. He likely suffered a Grade 2 quadriceps strain which can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to recover based on the already established timeline. His status poses the question, why didn’t the Bills place him on IR since it is only 3 weeks now? That’s a good question. It’s possible that he was trending towards coming back sooner and had a setback or simply did not respond to rehab as expected.

While he only has 7 special teams snaps as a Bills to his name, the team clearly likes him and is keeping him around despite the ability to stash him on IR. I would need to see a string of full practices out of him before I could even consider him to play in a game.

QUESTIONABLE

DE Mario Addison (knee)

Nothing is known about Addison & his knee that popped up on Friday with a DNP. His status is officially questionable. There wasn’t anything in particular on film Sunday that suggested a knee injury. He did exit the game for cramping in what appeared to be his right leg, but this should not cause knee problems several days later.

He did have a knee injury back in 2017 that he didn’t miss any time with, but I do not believe this is connected nor do we know which side. It’s possible that he hurt his knee Thursday after practice, but any specifics are non-existent. I have to assume he doesn’t play based on the questionable diagnosis, but that guess is as good as flipping a coin and calling heads.

RB Zack Moss (toe)

Moss appears to be trending up from a toe injury sustained in the win over the Dolphins in Week 2. He likely suffered a turf toe injury which can be played through but does benefit from some time off. Fortunately, he’s not a bell cow back for the Bills and he can split carries with RB Devin Singletary and if needed, use RB TJ Yeldon like they did last week.

Moss will probably have a stiff sole and possibly tape to prevent excess movement at the big toe so that he can have that explosive first step. If he doesn’t play, then I expect him to be full-go for Week 5. Without more knowledge to sway either way, I’m leaning towards him playing.

ACTIVE

WR John Brown (calf/foot)

Brown continues to be limited with foot issues since the beginning of the season, adding in a calf strain from the Rams game that caused him to miss the 2nd half.

The foot is more of a pain issue and a nuisance more than anything. The calf strain can linger but if he took himself out Sunday in the second half as a precaution and was DNP Wednesday, limited Thursday, and full Friday, it’s likely that he is healed enough.

The team may also be conservative in his approach during practice due to the heat expected in Las Vegas. This could exacerbate a strain if he gets dehydrated, however, they are in a climate-controlled stadium which may neutralize that factor.

Brown also has sickle cell trait which could place his body under extra stress and pain if he overworks his body or becomes dehydrated. This is merely a factor the team has to account for but does not limit his abilities. Sean McDermott appeared fairly confident that Brown would be available Sunday which is a ringing endorsement from a coach who says very little.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds finally was able to practice in full following a shoulder injury in Week 1 that caused him to miss Week 2. He did return in Week 3 and was less than effective with a shoulder harness.

Another week of rest & rehab should do him well & he should improve his play. The hope is that he eventually ditches the shoulder harness which would support the AC joint sprain which makes more sense & is less severe than a labral tear. He’s not 100% yet, but I expect him to slowly continue to improve towards a Pro Bowl level. I will also be watching closely how he engages his tackles and if he accepts more hits to the right side.

TE Dawson Knox (concussion)

Knox is slated to play Sunday following a concussion in Week 2 that forced him to miss the Rams game. He has since practiced in full and only has to pass his independent neurological consult if he hasn’t already. He is at a higher risk to suffer another concussion since he has already had one but playing football, he’s at risk regardless.

T Dion Dawkins (right shoulder)

Dawkins took a hard spill on Sunday as the result of trying to avoid Rams CB Troy Hill, somersaulting over him and landing on his right shoulder. The hope is that this is a contusion and is more pain limiting. There is a possibility that he suffered a minor AC joint sprain, but Dawkins was fairly jovial and hanging around following the win Sunday while not appearing to favor the arm.

One benefit of this being his right shoulder is that he plays left tackle. He will have to engage his left arm more, blocking the defensive end around the edge, allowing Dawkins to keep the end in front of him. He will use his right arm, but he can get through the game a lot easier because of this. I really don’t expect much drop off in the quality of play Sunday.

S Micah Hyde (left ankle)

Hyde sprained his ankle going in for a blitz Sunday and rolled it engaging the Rams tackle. Low ankle sprains are painful but easily played through with bracing or tape. My only concern is if he continues to re-injure the area that he misses time. I’m not all that concerned about damage in the short term, it’s easy to manage, but he is an older player and continues to require occasional days off to recover.

DT Quinton Jefferson (foot)

Little is known about Jefferson other than that he’s an older player with a previous Jones fracture from last season. He did have foot soreness in the preseason and is dealing with this again. There are other possibilities such as the plantar fasciitis that John Brown could be dealing with or that Jefferson had his foot stepped on.

This is something that I’m aware of but not concerned about right now, but something to monitor as the season progresses. I will be looking for patterns on the injury report and if he begins to miss snaps/games. For Sunday, he will be good to go.

DT Ed Oliver (right knee)

Oliver’s knee injury appeared pretty innocuous during Week 2 when he attempted to trip the offensive player, getting hit directly at the knee and then hit on the shin.

He was limited Wednesday due to the knee continuing to bother him followed by a DNP Thursday. This sent out a lot of concern to the masses thinking he wouldn’t play, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network indicated that it was a bruise and that the knee was structurally sound. But considering the DNP’s on Wednesday, this was probably done to stagger all the various players out. He likely hyperextended the knee during the original hit which led to the brace, but overall it does mean that the knee is sound as the knee does have some leeway with extension.

However, this picture above began making the rounds late Friday evening which makes me believe something more is going on. Clicking on the picture below, you can see that there is a bandage of Oliver’s medial right knee. Considering this is the location that he was hit, I got to wonder if he got his knee drained due to excess swelling.

This is a common procedure and the knee would be drained in that area. This picture highlights how severe the bruising may actually be. If you compare the right versus left calf, you can also see less definition on the right calf as compared to the left which would further show overall swelling in the knee and lower leg. I reached out to several Bills fans who have greater expertise in those areas and supported my thoughts. Really appreciate their input!

I wouldn’t be surprised to see both a compression sleeve on the knee and hinge brace for support Sunday. This will be something to monitor in the coming weeks.

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

Norman is slated to return to the active roster following a 3-week stay due to a likely Grade 2 left hamstring strain suffered during the first week of real training camp. He appeared on the mend but had a setback at the end of August, forcing him out of practices prior to Week 1.

He has since returned to practice Wednesday and has not been on the injury report. As of publication, he has not been activated, but the Bills waived CB Cam Lewis, later re-signing him to the practice squad. Considering the position and roster move, it appears a foregone conclusion that Norman will make his debut with the team Sunday. I expect him to work into a split role with CB Levi Wallace to keep the Raiders off balance and to help him adjust to game speed.

Ideally, the time off helped reduce his risk to re-injure the hamstring, but it is not completely absolved. Hopefully, he can find the fountain of youth and rekindle some of his stellar play from his days in Carolina.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm
DE Mario Addison
OL Ike Boettger
RB TJ Yeldon
TE Lee Smith
LB Del’Shawn Phillips

There doesn’t appear to be any surprises for the inactives, more personnel inactives than injuries besides Phillips & Addison. Based on my thoughts that Addison doesn’t play, that allows both DE Darryl Johnson & DE AJ Epenesa to get out there as they have been inactives in past weeks.

The Bills are far healthier heading into this game than the Raiders and I believe more talented. The injuries that we do have are on the mend which can help continue to develop depth in place until the starters are healthy. This is a game the Bills expect to win as they have much greater competition farther ahead, making each week more important than the last. Despite the early injuries, the rust appears to be shaken off and ideally, the quality of the defense continues to improve in order to support the hot start by the offense.

Top Photo Credit:

Chris Benoit Facebook/Nate Mendelson Twitter

2020 Week 3 Bills Injury Preview- Rams

Make sure to scroll down to the players you’re interested in. It’s a long one.

Heading into Week 3, we got a long injury report here folks. But the Bills have been through this before. They have quality depth and the ability to call up practice squad players that have been in the system before rather than street free agents who don’t know the system. 

While there are a lot of players in today’s report, everyone is still adjusting to the regular season with hitting, conditioning, and getting back into game shape. This is where some preseason games are beneficial to prime their bodies rather than going from 0-100. Ideally we see this drop off as the season progresses. But until then, this week’s injuries are below. 

OUT

RB Zack Moss (toe)

Moss was ruled out of Sunday’s matchup due to a toe ailment suffered in Sunday’s win. This was likely the result of the catch & run midway through the 4th quarter. He eventually returned to the game later, albeit briefly before the game finished. 

Based on the designation of a toe, it sounds like it could be turf toe. There are other possibilities such as a fracture, but he was observed off to the side on the exercise bike and doing individual activities.

PTEducator.com

Turf toe is an injury where the big toe is suddenly hyperextended due to a fall or some other force such as a tackle when the foot is planted into the ground that pushes it past its normal range of motion. Like any other joint in the body, this too can be sprained. The risk for this can be increased with flexible shoes which reduce support around the area of the foot.

Any other toe injury can be conservatively managed and isn’t a problem even in day to day life. But the big toe is vital to walk a heel toe gait pattern; strike with the heel, push off on the toe. The toe is even more vital during running as sprinting is done up on the balls of the feet, placing further stress on the toe. 

The timeline for a turf toe injury can be 2-4 weeks or even more based on severity. Look back at Packers WR DaVante Adams last year for reference. Due to the demands of the big toe, especially with high end athletics, it can be easily re-injured if not managed properly. This is something that can linger for weeks and limit production. 

He is obviously missing this week and potentially next week. Once he returns after the area has had a chance to heal, he can use a stiff sole to help reduce toe extension during push off and taping/bracing to support the area. He may lose some explosiveness after coming back, but if he gives it proper time to heal, then he may be fine. It will be important not to rush back because then he will lose that first step explosiveness and top end speed if he cant push off his toe effectively.

It’s important to note that he had a toe injury back in 2016 during his freshman year at Utah. It’s not certain that it was a turf toe injury, but he missed 2 games as a result. The injuries are not directly related as we don’t know specifics or even side l along with the time span in between. But if this is another bout of turf toe, he may be able to understand his body better and rehab more effectively. I expect TJ Yeldon to get a rare crack at the game day roster. Remember, he’s a 3 down back according to Brandon Beane.

TE Dawson Knox (concussion)

Knox is out with a concussion following Sunday’s win. He has since had 3 straight DNP’s at practice and right now appears to be at about Stage 3 due to participating on the exercise bike and drills. He will now have to go through football specific drills and a full practice without symptom reproduction before he can be cleared by the neurologist. 

It’s rare that a guy is able to return from a concussion in a week’s time and hopefully he can return for Week 4. There were a lot of people who sent video of hits he sustained to the head that game. I do appreciate every one of you for doing that, but it is nearly impossible to diagnose a concussion on video alone unless the individual has been knocked unconscious. Let’s hope he’s back for Week 4.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Phillips continues to be out with a quad injury sustained in the season opener over the Jets. He has not practiced since then and video does not exist of the injury that he sustained on special teams. 

This is appearing to be more of a quadriceps strain and literature for quadriceps strains is more limited than hamstrings, but from what I found, timelines are similar to that of hamstrings. There’s a possibility that this could be a tendonitis as well, but that is something that can be played through more than a strain.

It’s important to note that WR Andre Roberts missed the first two games of the season last year with a quadriceps injury. This may be the same course of action that the Bills take with Phillips or this could be an injury that we don’t have all the facts on yet. We continue to wait and see. 

QUESTIONABLE

LB Matt Milano (hamstring)

Milano has been able to practice in a limited fashion all week after missing Week 2 with a hamstring strain. Hamstrings can take 13-18 days on average to return to play, but his injury may have been truly minor; a term that I’ve come across is “niggle”. I believe Milano had a niggle. 

Could he benefit from another week off? Sure. But if he’s feeling good and he can play, then I can live with that. He is questionable, but a hamstring is not an automatic out for 2-3 games. Some guys can come back the next week, others take much longer. We are seeing that with the setback with CB Josh Norman & this shows that each hamstring is unique. With how practice has been this week, he is still 50/50, but I’m leaning towards him playing Sunday. 

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds has been tricky for me these past 2 weeks. I initially had him as a contusion, possible AC joint sprain. Then he missed the last game which leads me to believe he may have had more of a SC joint sprain or bruised rotator cuff. I’ve studied the film, watched his practice and without a physical examination, I am stumped.

This could be Occam’s razor and I’m overthinking this. The fact that he has had a red non-contact jersey for the last two weeks is concerning, but that may be more to prevent further injury. He may have benefitted from the week off and be ready for Sunday. 

From what I’ve seen, it’s very possible he plays. Especially with the benefit of his skill set against the Rams, it’s an important game to get up for. He’s also 50/50, leaning towards seeing him playing. 

CB Taron Johnson (groin)

Not much is known about Johnson. He has a long history of injuries dating back to his rookie year with the shoulder labral tear followed by a hamstring strain last year. Now he has the groin strain which isn’t great for a defensive back with all the cutting & pivoting he has to do as part of his position. 

He did not exit the game and was a full participant on Friday which is a good sign. However, groin strains, like many other soft tissue injuries can linger and cause problems later. We do have depth at the position, he will probably play, but considering Johnson’s penchant for injury, he may be best served to sit this one out. 

ACTIVE

WR Cole Beasley (hip/right thumb)

Beasley is active despite dealing with two separate injuries. The hip is not all that concerning, it could be more of generalized hip soreness or bruising due to the fact that he had several hard falls during his catches on Sunday. 

However, the injury I am more concerned with is his right thumb injury. He had it heavily taped in practice on Thursday and was in visible pain when catching the ball. 

He may have suffered a mild/moderate thumb sprain, also known as skier’s thumb. He could have fell on the thumb during one of his catches, forcing it into extension and abduction. He could also have gotten it tangled up with a defender, it wasn’t clear on film. He’ll be able to play & still be effective, but with how hard Josh Allen throws and the injury, I hope we don’t see a drop or two due to the pain and resulting weakness in the thumb region. This will be something to monitor on Sunday. 

DT Ed Oliver (right knee)

Oliver suffered his knee injury as the result of a leg block that fortunately was not flagged on Sunday. During replay, his knee gets struck by the Dolphins offensive player and then his shin strikes the player again once the leg kicks forward.

It initially appeared that he suffered a shin contusion which would have been more pain related. But since he struck the knee, it forced the knee into hyperextension. What’s beneficial is that the leg was swinging freely and not in a fixed position. There was some stretching of the knee capsule and overall pain, but structural damage to the area appears non-existent save for maybe bruising due to the hit itself. Fortunately, the knee does have several degrees of hyperextension available in the human body, giving the knee some pliability to reduce the risk of injury. 

He was spotted by The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia wearing a knee brace at practice. I asked Joe for clarification on the type of brace and he said that it appeared to be more hinge like. This would support that his knee was hyperextended and that he is wearing the brace for support. These braces don’t outright prevent injury, but the idea is that the side supports do lock out in full extension and if he were to get hit directly over the knee, the brace would take the forces of the hit and lessen the impact on the knee itself. In addition, the side supports limit medial/lateral movements so if they get hit from the side, the entire leg goes down rather than the valgus force that we see in ACL and MCL tears.

It will be interesting to see if he plays Sunday with the brace on or if this brace was simply used to help give him some confidence with the knee during practice. If you look closely, fellow DT Harrison Phillips wears one as well when he plays following his ACL tear last year. Overall, I don’t believe Oliver’s quality of play will be affected by the knee injury nor is he at a higher risk to suffer further injury due to Sunday’s hit.

CB Tre’Davious White (shoulder)

Virtually nothing is known about White’s shoulder ailment that had him limited at Wednesday’s practice. He is getting older, he’s a highly paid player who knows he’s valuable to the team, this may have been more of a maintenance day than anything. I could not find anything specific on film to support a shoulder injury and he was able to practice in full Thursday & Friday. I can’t even speculate what he could be dealing with because there is no mechanism of injury. Right now, this is a wait and see approach. 

He did deal with a neck injury last year that caused him to wear the red non-contact jersey for about 2 weeks last year but he did not miss any games or appear to have his play suffer as a result.

WR John Brown (foot, possible plantar fasciitis)

Brown popped back up on the injury report this week with what the team described as “foot soreness”. He was on the injury report last week briefly with the same issue. The fact that he is able to practice in full certain days and then has to be limited others indicates that this may be more of a chronic issue which I believe is plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a tough band of fascia that connects from the heel to the balls of the feet. This acts as a shock absorber and helps keep the structural integrity of the foot intact during walking and running. This effect is known as the windlass mechanism. This allows the foot to stay rigid as the foot goes into push off moving from stance to swing phase. If we did not have the plantar fascia to help keep the foot rigid, then the big toe would not have the leverage to push off as effectively and drive the entire foot forward.

ChoosePT.com

The area of the irritation of the plantar fascia is at the base of the heel, where the fascia originates. Microtears occur due to overuse or excessive running which appears to be in the case of Brown. This appears to be more of a problem this year than other years because of the change in training camp with less ramp up time. If he wears shoes that are not supportive, this could cause the foot to excessively pronate which means the foot rolls inward when walking versus maintaining support during heel toe walking. The overpronation would pull on the plantar fascia during push off using the windlass mechanism and the excessive running could cause microtears, causing inflammation.

Functionally, he will not be greatly affected by this, but it is a painful condition to deal with. He likely wakes up in the morning and has difficulty bearing weight through his foot due to the tissue tightening up throughout the night, making those first few steps during the morning painful. He can rehab to stretch the calf, Achilles, overall improve the range of motion in the ankle and big toe mobility to take stress off the area. He can also get injections to help manage the pain, but this is not something the doctors like to do often because too many injections can increase the incidence for rupture of the affected tissue. These rates are fairly low, but injecting and numbing pain is not an effective solution to manage a condition. It can be an intervention that assists with taking care of a problem, but not the only solution. 

It’s possible that Brown battles with this off and on throughout the season, using rest days and rehab to address the matter. As a treating Physical Therapist, I have found plantar fasciitis to be a stubborn diagnosis, but this does not mean that Brown will not be able to overcome this. The team does have a lot of interventions with the possibility of cupping, laser therapy, acupuncture, injections, iontophoresis with medication, stretching, using night splints, strengthening, taping, footwear modifications, among others. There are far worse injuries that can be played through, but plantar fasciitis is still a troublesome injury. This sounds all doom and gloom, but he will be alright.

Final thoughts:

The team is banged up. This is why I believe some preseason games are good to get the live reps out of the way rather than going from practice and limited contact to full blown games. Even if the starters were playing for two series a game in the preseason, it helps them acclimate slowly to game speed versus full speed right away. The Bills have been through this before with the lengthy injury report. The tweet below shows how things looked last year prior to the Titans game and how things look going into Week 3. 

You’ll also notice that the team does a fairly good job of dealing with injuries in that they don’t become a chronic issue. The training staff likes to address the injury, give it time to heal if possible, and then return to play. We are not seeing the walking wounded out there like some other teams around the league. 

I did note last year that injured players may have been active, but their snap counts significantly reduced in that particular game to prevent further injury. Two instances I can think of were WR Isaiah McKenzie during Weeks 4 & 5 last year and G Cody Ford during Week 8. This team has a plan to get guys healthy and have them available if needed, but not to rely on the walking wounded to play a full game. 

It’s also important to note that CB Josh Norman was observed on the exercise bike this week as he prepares to hopefully get activated from IR following Sunday. He may still not be 100%, but he can begin practicing with the team as they have a 21 day window where he doesn’t count against the roster. If he’s ready, they can activate him, if he’s not, he can be shut down and go back to IR. He can also just stay on there longer and activate his window later, so it’s not certain that he will begin practicing next week.

The same can be said for G Jon Feliciano. Coach McDermott even came out and said that he didn’t want to put guys out there that weren’t ready. Feliciano had said he wanted to come back by Week 4, but I have maintained that he would benefit coming back closer to Week 7 or 8 where he could be more effective. This will be something to continue to monitor.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB Zack Moss

TE Dawson Knox

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

OL Ike Boettger

DE AJ Epenesa

The team will get through this. Years past, injuries would have decimated a promising season, see the 2011 Bills. But the team has quality depth and lots of experience to withstand some of these bumps and bruises. I would grow more concerned if we get a rash of season-ending injuries like in 2011. This is still a talented roster despite the Rams coming to town. Hopefully next week, this report will be a little shorter.

Top Photo Credit: WKBW

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Defensive End

Will Hughes continue to stay healthy & productive?

This is Part 7 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 7 consists of the defensive end room.

Not Returning

DE Shaq Lawson 

15 games, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 6.5 sacks, 32 combined tackles, 21 solo, 11 assisted, 13 TFL, 18 QB hits

Lawson finally had his breakout year after being drafted as a 1st round pick back in 2016 that forced the Bills to make a business decision on whether to keep him in 2020. Fortunately for Lawson, he was allowed to walk in where he signed a sizable contract with the rival Miami Dolphins in the hopes of building off his career year. 

He was able to have a stellar year by not having to deal with many injuries which was a stark change from previous seasons. In fact, his only injury was a left hamstring strain late in the Patriots loss just prior to the playoffs. He got up from celebrating a tackle for loss and appeared to tweak the hamstring. It appeared to be minor & forced him from the regular-season finale, but allowed him to play in the playoffs. For his sake, hopefully, he is able to continue to stay healthy & develop as a player. 

Players Returning

DE Jerry Hughes

16 games, 16 starts, 3 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery, 4.5 sacks, 23 combined tackles, 14 solo, 9 assisted, 6 TFL, 9 QB hits

Jerry Hughes is a beast. Simply put, he is a player with a high motor and gives everything he has to the Bills in order to be the best. This includes playing through multiple injuries that would sideline most players. 

Below is Hughes injuries:

    • Right wrist ligament tears

Hughes suffered a right wrist injury early in training camp, possibly in the victory over the Panthers in the preseason. It wasn’t reported as much and he played the entire season with a cast/brace on the wrist, never appearing on the injury report.

Following the season, he announced that he had played through torn ligaments in the wrist which landed the Bills in hot water momentarily. They were cleared of any wrongdoing and Hughes eventually had surgery which was detailed here. He should be fully healthy for the season regarding his wrist. To read more on the wrist injury, check out the article at Banged Up Bills.

    • Ankle

He also suffered an ankle injury around the same time he suffered his wrist injury. He was limited briefly and the ankle was never mentioned again. It was also not known which side he suffered the injury.

    • Groin (core muscle injury)

Showing up on the injury report during Week 7 was a groin injury for Hughes. While groin injuries at his position are not abnormal, the fact that he played through a core muscle injury that later required surgery was. It is common to play through a core muscle injury and have it appear similar to a generalized groin strain. 

Likely, it did not heal up properly and during an exit physical, it was found and needed repair. Most core muscle injury repairs have excellent outcomes and he did get the procedure done at the Vincera Institute outside of Philadelphia where one of the nation’s doctors routinely performs these procedures. Like the wrist, the groin injury should be of no concern moving forward. 

    • Hamstrings

This injury was not listed on any injury reports nor was it a concern during the 2019 season. The only reason this was brought up was due to Hughes mentioning it in an Instagram post noting that his hamstrings were 100%.

He has had previous hamstring strains dating back several years, but none severe enough to have him miss a game. Most of the adductors that attach to the groin where Hughes had his core muscle surgery assist with lateral movement but the adductor magnus in that group has different parts of the muscle. One portion assists with flexion of the hip, the other assists with hip extension, the same motion that the hamstrings perform. 

adductor-magnus-muscle-plain-1
Credit: Yoganatomy.com

This is just a theory, but it’s possible that Hughes was having hamstring issues related to the core muscle injury by aggravating that muscle group during play. This would explain why he said the hamstrings are 100%. There is also the possibility that he did have a hamstring strain that he played through or suffered during the playoff loss to the Texans. 

Hughes is a lock to make the roster but all the years of playing through injury compounded with the demands of the position do concern me that he will begin to decline in production or be forced to end his iron man streak due to injury. 

DE Darryl Johnson 

16 games, 1 sack, 11 combined tackles, 6 solo, 5 assisted, 2 TFL, 2 QB hits

Rookie Darryl Johnson had a solid preseason that prevented the Bills from sneaking him onto the practice squad following cut down day. He made the roster as a 7th round pick and quickly found himself in the defensive end rotation early on. 

Unfortunately, that lack of experience playing in the NFL caught up with him and mistakes began to become apparent. He quickly lost playing time as the season progressed and more of his focus was on special teams. Thankfully, he did not suffer many known injuries which allowed him to get through the 16 game grind.

Below is Johnson’s known injuries:

    • Neck 

Johnson suffered a generalized neck strain/sprain during the win over the Giants back in Week 2. He completed a tackle and his neck was snapped forcefully backward as he was falling. He was attended to by trainers but never showed up on the injury report the following week. 

This appeared to be a minor injury and he didn’t appear limited the rest of the season injury-wise. While Johnson has an excellent shot to make the roster, his spot is far from guaranteed due to the talent brought in this offseason. 

DE Trent Murphy 

16 games, 16 starts, 5 sacks, 36 total tackles, 24 solo, 9 assisted, 9 QB hits

Murphy finally started to come around in 2019 after a trying 2018 in which he admittedly rushed back following his ACL tear when he was with the Redskins. While his numbers don’t exactly jump off the sheet, especially considering the money he is being paid, he is still an NFL-caliber defensive end. Fortunately for Murphy, he had significantly fewer injuries than 2018 which was a strong reason why his play improved.

Below is Murphy’s known injury history:

    • Concussion

Murphy suffered a concussion in the win over the Titans in Week 5. He was attempting to close in on a tackle before he received friendly fire, colliding with Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander. He was evaluated for a head injury and his day was done early in the 4th quarter. Thankfully, he did not miss any time due to the well-timed bye placement.

    • Left shoulder/neck

He suffered a left shoulder/neck injury during the Redskins game when he had a pile of bodies fall upon him when he got sucked into the middle of a routine run play. He required medical assessment in the blue tent but was able to return quickly, indicating it was not a big issue.

Murphy has a great shot at making the roster but has fallen out of favor with the fans due to lack of production when compared to the contact. Trading him would make the most sense, but due to the uncertainty of the upcoming season, he may be beneficial to hold onto in case of injury or poor play by a fellow defensive end. Healthwise, he should not have any major concerns outside of continued concussions which are a risk for everyone playing football. 

DE Mike Love

Spent 2019 on IR with a pectoral injury

Love had a strong end to 2018, appearing in 3 games and realizing his dream of playing in the NFL. 2019 training camp came and Love began to make a strong case why he should make the team out of training camp. Unfortunately, in the 2nd half of the Lions preseason game, Love partially tore his left pectoral attempting to make a special teams tackle. He was placed on IR prior to roster cut down day and had resulting surgery shortly afterward. With the uncertain future of both DE Shaq Lawson & Trent Murphy, it’s very possible that Love makes this squad next season as a key linchpin in the dominating defense. To read more on Love’s injury, check out Buffalo Rumblings.

New to the roster

DE Mario Addison

Addison continues the trend of Carolina Panthers coming up north to work with a familiar system & extend their careers. Addison is older & has been incredibly productive during his time in the league. There is hope that he continues that trend with the Bills as they look to replace Shaq Lawson. On top of that, Addison comes to the Bills relatively healthy with details found at Buffalo Rumblings.

DE Bryan Cox Jr.

Despite the name, Bryan Cox Jr isn’t the same athlete as his father was. A slew of collegiate injuries torpedoed his chances at getting drafted and Cox Jr has had his difficulties finding a consistent spot on a roster. His time with the Panthers allowed him to develop as a professional but he soon found himself on the street before signing with the Browns in 2019. 

Ideally, a new start with Buffalo will allow him to make the team & establish himself as a consistent option at defensive end as the position begins to turn over. To read more on his injuries, check out Banged Up Bills.

DE AJ Epenesa

Epenesa, the first pick for the Bills in the 2020 draft slid down to the 2nd round which provided Buffalo some value in the pick despite not having a first-round selection. He comes to the Bills as a highly regarded end who can demonstrate strong abilities to rush the passer but also move inside to provide pressure up the middle. In addition, Epenesa has virtually no injuries save for a broken leg in high school. To read up on his injury history, check out Buffalo Rumblings.

DE Johnathan Woodard

Woodard comes to Buffalo as possibly his last chance at finding an NFL home. He reportedly tore his Achilles during training workouts several years ago which certainly stunted his growth over time. He has bounced around from Jacksonville to Atlanta to Miami. He eventually stuck with Miami for 2 years before finding a home in Buffalo. For more information, check out this article at Banged Up Bills.

2020 Outlook

The returning talent along with new signings helps pave the way for turnover in the defensive end room. Most everyone comes with some sort of injuries, but the effectiveness of this unit will depend on the cohesiveness of the players along with Jerry Hughes’s health. There is also concern with Addison as he is getting older, entering his age-33 season. 

Hughes, Addison, Epenesa, and either Johnson or Murphy appear to be locked on this roster. If Johnson or Murphy fails to show the team their worth, there is a possibility one or the other could be looking for a new home quickly. Cox Jr, Woodard, & Love all have a shot to make the roster but will have to unseat Johnson or Murphy in order to make that happen. There are little injury concerns moving forward in 2020 with the exception of Jerry Hughes staying intact. If everyone stays healthy & available, this could be a very effective unit. 

Buffalo Bills & NFL Draft Recap

Recapping the past two months worth of work for your reading pleasure.

Hey there Bills fans! After a long hiatus at Banged Up Bills, I am back with content as we continue to navigate this offseason during the pandemic. As I had said in a previous article, I would only be posting if there was breaking news. During that time, I had been feverishly working with Cover 1 writing up injury draft analysis. I have also been writing up injury reviews for Buffalo Rumblings post draft for our newest Buffalo Bills. 

As I write for my own site, Cover 1, & Buffalo Rumblings, it can be hard to track all the work I did unless you scour the Twitter feed on the side of the webpage. So to make it easy, below are all the newest Bills draft picks and free-agent signings for your reading pleasure. I have also included all my Cover 1 articles, two of the current Bills in Trey Adams & Zack Moss. 

Buffalo Rumblings 

DE A.J. Epenesa 

RB Zack Moss 

WR Gabriel Davis 

QB Jake Fromm

K Tyler Bass

WR Isaiah Hodgins

CB Dane Jackson

S Garrett Taylor

OT Trey Adams

FB Reggie Gilliam

 

Free Agent Signings

OL Garrett McGhin

OL Evan Boehm

CB E.J. Gaines

OT Daryl Williams

DT Vernon Butler

DE Mario Addison

DT Quinton Jefferson

LB Tyler Matakevich

LB A.J. Klein

WR Stefon Diggs

RB Taiwan Jones

CB Josh Norman

 

Cover 1

QB Tua Tagovailoa

EDGE Anfernee Jennings

EDGE Terrell Lewis

OT Trey Adams

CB Bryce Hall

OT Netane Muti

RB Zack Moss

S Antoine Winfield Jr.

LB Justin Strnad

LB Markus Bailey

OT Lucas Niang

WR Bryan Edwards

TE Jacob Breeland

WR Laviska Shenault

 

Podcasts

All Things Buffalo Bills Ep.9 

Locked On Bills 4/1/20

Rockpile Report Episode 189

Continue to check back for more injury history reports on the newest Bills signings as we slog through the offseason. Also, continue looking for position injury recaps as training camp approaches.