Bills Season Injury Review: Defensive Tackles

Assessing the 2018 Bills injuries at the defensive tackle position.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- DT

Breaking down the defensive tackle position injuries from this season.

Today’s post will begin the defensive side of the ball with review of injuries over this past 2017 season. There were a total of 6 players that played defensive tackle this season with varying results. Those players were Marcell Dareus, Adolphus Washington, Cedric Thorton, Rickey Hatley, Jerel Worthy, and Kyle Williams.

First up is DT Marcell Dareus. The 7th year pro saw minimal playing time during his 8 games in Buffalo suffering hip and ankle injuries, the latter which forced him to miss the Denver Broncos tilt. During the 7 games he played, he recorded 3.5 sacks, 24 tackles, and assisted in 15 additional tackles. Prior to that, Dareus had dealt with other soft tissue injuries, off the field issues/suspensions, and uninspired play which led to his eventual trade to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 6th round pick halfway through the season. The 2011 3rd overall pick did produce at times while he was in a Buffalo uniform, but after he got his second contract, he appeared to shut down and be content with what he had accomplished. Due to his contract and falling out of favor by not “trusting the process”, it will be a cold day in hell before he dons another Bills uniform.

Next up is DT Rickey Hatley. The rookie saw time in what may be possibly the biggest two games in recent Bills memory, playing in the season finale recording 1 tackle. He recorded 2 tackles and assisted on another in the playoff loss to Jacksonville. Hatley did not make much of a mark during his brief stint in Buffalo and while his contract comes very cheap, the front office brass will have to determine whether he warrants additional time with the Bills next season.

Another player that had a shorter stay with the Bills is DT Jerel Worthy. During his 5 game, 1 tackle, 4 assisted tackle stint, Worthy sustained a significant concussion at the end of the preseason which forced him to miss the first 3 games. This was followed by a thumb injury which did not cause any missed time. Unfortunately, once finally getting healthy, the Bills cut him in mid November and he has been out of a job since then. Despite being a former 2nd round pick, Worthy has not shown the ability to be a starter in the NFL, but did show the ability to be a depth player in the preseason. Unless he gets signed to another team, he could be a nice camp body going into next season.

DT Cedric Thorton is the next player to see time at the position during the 2017 season. Thankfully, he did not suffer any injuries during his season here and was able to start 3 games recording 2 sacks, 18 tackles, and 9 assisted tackles in a backup role. He is currently a free agent that the Bills have not signed back to another contract and may be another camp body option for depth going into next season.

DT DeOndre Coleman rounds out the depth players at the DT position. The 4th year pro saw time in 6 games recording 3 tackles with 4 assists during the 2017 season. Coleman also dealt with a knee injury late in the season which did not affect his availability. As he is a free agent, do not expect him to come back unless he is invited back as a camp body.

Approaching the returning performers on defense, DT Adolphus Washington comes up with a healthy season under his belt. The 2nd year pro saw time in 15 games with 10 starts totaling 1 sack and 22 tackles with 11 assists. As he is still on his rookie contract, he should be on the team for next year barring any off season issues such as his water park incident from last year. However, if he does not improve his play, he may not get a second contract in Buffalo under this new regime.

Finally, DT Kyle Williams makes his appearance on this list. The heart and soul of this team finally saw the playoffs after a long 12 years in the trenches and while on the downside of his career, still performed effectively providing 3 sacks and 21 tackles with 20 assists. The big man also saw time on offense during a memorable 1 yard TD plunge during the regular season finale against Miami. During the 2017 season, Williams dealt with a multitude of injuries but did not miss any time. The 12th year pro dealt with thumb and groin injuries along with appearing on the injury report nearly every week requiring rest days. While he is not as effective as he has been in past seasons, he will still be invaluable as a mentor to the younger players and an excellent transition piece as the Bills search for his replacement both at the DT position and as a leader. Expect Williams to deal with several injuries next season with plenty of rest days to get him through his final season.

Additions to the team include DT Star Lotelelui signed from the Panthers help shore up the D-line. While the starters may be nearly set, depth will continue to be addressed in the draft and in camp to find young hungry players ready to make their mark. Continue to check back with Banged Up Bills for the latest updates and articles on the Buffalo Bills. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook and on Twitter @BangedUpBills. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!