2020 Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Preview- Colts

Will Beasley & Diggs play Saturday?

The playoffs are here! The Buffalo Bills HOST the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday at 1:05 pm. 25 years is a long, long time between playoff football games in Buffalo. While we all can’t be there, the few that can be will represent us well. Regardless of where everyone may be watching the game, it should be an exciting game, and the chance to advance in the playoffs for the first time since 1995 would be surreal. 

On top of all the excitement, the Bills are fairly healthy heading into this game, with only several concerns with the wide receiver corps. Below is all the injury concerns heading into Saturday’s game and additionally, a breakdown of the Colts injuries heading into the game. 

QUESTIONABLE

WR Cole Beasley (left knee)

At least when Sean McDermott says week-to-week, he means it and has been fairly consistent with that phrasing since coming to Buffalo. However, it is unknown whether Beasley will play Saturday after only practicing once in the past two weeks. He was limited during Thursday’s practice and was observed going through light exercise/jogging and stretching, not stressing the knee at all.

There is no video present of running, jumping, or cutting at full speed to indicate how he will perform. While he doesn’t need the practice, it is concerning whether he was available for the offensive game plan installation. I simply don’t know if he plays. On one hand, it’s the playoffs, if you don’t win, you’re done. But does the team want to risk aggravating his injury and losing him for the remainder of the postseason?

If Beasley does play, I would expect he has difficulty running his routes to the right and having to cut on a dime to that direction having to push off the left knee. I would also expect him to have difficulty with jumping and getting yards after the catch to move the chains. In addition, he would be going up against one of the best slot corners in the NFL in Kenny Moore. Going up against a healthy slot corner with Beasley not being 100% makes me question whether it’s worth getting him out there. Can he tough it out and play? Absolutely, but it doesn’t mean it may be the best option.

The team has expressed confidence in Isaiah McKenzie filling in for Beasley if needed. While McKenzie doesn’t do what Beasley can do, he is still healthier which may be more effective in the short term. But it’s the playoffs, Beasley is a competitor, he wants to play, that’s a given. Just whether he is able. I have detailed my thoughts on the possible injuries he is dealing with here. I also went into detail on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino Friday if you’re looking for any more nuggets of information. 

What this will come down to is: Does the team believe they can perform without him like they did last week? Or will a less than 100% Beasley be more effective than McKenzie in the slot? If I had a gun to my head, I believe that the Bills can win without Beasley for this week especially against elite competition in the slot defensively, and get a healthier version of him in the divisional round. If he plays, fantastic, if he doesn’t, it may be the right decision in the long run.

WR Stefon Diggs (Oblique)

There was a lot of concern with Diggs’ oblique that popped up on the injury report Tuesday. He was limited Tuesday, did not practice Wednesday, but did have a limited practice on Thursday. He is questionable, but it doesn’t mean that he won’t be dealing with some discomfort. To understand what he is dealing with, read below.

Credit: Centenoschultz.com

The obliques are a part of the abdominal muscles positioned on the outside portion next to the “six pack” we all know. They are positioned on both sides connecting to the xiphoid process which is the pointed bottom portion of the sternum and connect down to the upper portions of the hip including the iliac crest, the bony portion of where our waists are located and about where most people’s pants sit. All these abdominal muscles make up what is known as the core. These muscles provide protection to the inner organs and function to flex and rotate the trunk. There are internal and external obliques but we would not really be able to identify which obliques he injured nor is it important to this discussion.

Due to not identifying when or which side he suffered this injury on also limits knowing which side is limited. There was a report that he was grabbing at his side during warm-ups but he was still quite effective during the game and only came out after the half. He also did suffer a late hit from Christian Wilkins during the 2nd quarter that resulted in brief worry for a concussion or other injuries such as this oblique injury, but it is not clear that this is when this injury occurred either.

The only other Bills player that has publicly sustained an oblique injury during Sean McDermott’s tenure is former guard John Miller. He suffered an oblique injury against the Jaguars in 2018 and ultimately missed a game. However, Miller did not practice and was ruled out for the game against the Dolphins. Miller was on the offensive line, bending forward, twisting his upper body, and pushing against large humans while staying upright took an immense amount of strength.

Diggs has the ability to avoid taking hits to the area, minimize the need for blocking, and can generally reduce strain on the area due to his position. He may be slightly limited in which way he turns, how he takes a hit, how he fights for extra yards. He does have a lot of pain management interventions available to him from the team and ways to manage this so he can get through the day. He is the main component of the offense and to lose him for Saturday would be a huge loss. However, he has said he’s fine, he’s been limited two out of the three days, I believe he will play and be quite effective.

To gauge an idea of whether Beasley or Diggs plays based on practice reports from this season, check out the tweet below. 

ACTIVE 

G Jon Feliciano (Left knee)

Feliciano appeared on the injury report following his left leg getting rolled up on just prior to the first Bills touchdown of the day Sunday. He came up limping but did not leave the game. The fact that he practiced in full indicated that it was not a big concern and should be ready to go Saturday. 

TE Reggie Gilliam (Knee/hamstring)

After missing the last two weeks with knee and hamstring injuries sustained against the Patriots, Gilliam appears ready to make his playoff debut. He practiced in full all week and doesn’t appear to be a question mark heading into Saturday. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (Ankle)

Like Diggs’, this ankle injury was not clear on when it occurred or how severe it is. He also does not have a game day designation which is excellent to see considering he may see increased snaps due to Cole Beasley potentially being out. 

His workload may be reduced on special teams with Andre Roberts taking punt and kickoff returns, but McKenzie has clearly shown the ability to be effective when called upon. I doubt that he has any noticeable drop off in play from last week other than a decrease in total touchdowns.

Colts Injury Report:

OUT

T Will Holden (Ankle) 

While Holden is the backup right tackle, the loss of him leaves the Colts very thin at the tackle position in general. They’ve already lost Anthony Constanzo to season-ending ankle surgery and lost his backup La’Raven Clark to a torn Achilles right after. 

They are down to their 3rd string tackle Chaz Green and anyone backing him up will be coming from the practice squad or playing out of position. The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to sack Phillip Rivers 5 times, who is dealing with an injury of his own, so he can be pressured. The Bills could potentially use part of that game plan for success. 

CB Rock Ya-Sin (Concussion) 

He hasn’t practiced all week due to the concussion and anyone that doesn’t practice prior to a game doesn’t play in nearly every instance I’ve seen. TJ Carrie will replace him at CB2.

QUESTIONABLE

DT Deforest Buckner (Ankle)

He originally injured his ankle a few days before Christmas on the 17th, played through it, and has had some great games including a 3-sack performance days after the injury. He either had a high ankle from getting his heel hit or a bad inversion ankle sprain; either or it hasn’t stopped him.

The fact that he is that far out from the original injury and continues to play indicates that he will play Saturday and I would expect that he still gets his numbers.

ACTIVE 

QB Phillip Rivers (Turf toe)

Rivers has been working through a nasty turf toe injury that will require surgery following the season. Despite the injury, he has still been effective in leading the Colts to the postseason as the 7th seed. 

With Rivers continuing to deal with this injury, this could be an opportunity to pressure him in the pocket due to his inability to scramble along with the general immobility he is known for. If the Bills defense can prevent Rivers from hitting his first and second reads, this may allow the Bills to sack and hit Rivers all day. He will already be under pressure due to the left tackle position, his blindside, is manned by Chaz Green, a career journeyman.

CB TJ Carrie (Ankle/shoulder)

Not much is known about Carrie with his respective injuries but he is starting in place of Rock Ya-Sin and according to Joe Marino, he has been a better performer over this season than Ya-Sin. This may only be significant if Carrie goes down with an injury and they lack a backup suitable to keep up with the Bills wide receiver corps. 

RB Jonathan Taylor (Shoulder)

Taylor will be playing and look to build off his performance over the Jaguars last week despite dealing with a shoulder injury. There aren’t any specifics regarding what he did and the fact that he doesn’t have a game day designation indicates that he will be ready to go. 

S Khari Willis (Concussion)

Willis practiced in full coming off a concussion indicating that he has cleared the protocol and will be available Saturday. 

Bills Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

WR Cole Beasley

DE Trent Murphy

TE Tyler Kroft

A Bills playoff game at home where it is supposed to be just above freezing and sunny could work in Buffalo’s favor. They didn’t have to travel, they sleep in their own beds, they are used to the weather here. The Bills are favored at -6.5 which isn’t the biggest line this weekend, but half of the games are expected to be closer in the score.

This will be fun to watch. A talented Buffalo Bills team that is hot entering the playoffs with Pro Bowl and All-Pro talent at multiple positions, a potential MVP at quarterback, and a winning mindset. Despite former Bills quarterback and now Colts head coach Frank Reich returning to town, I don’t believe he brings the magic from “The Comeback” into this game. The Bills should win this one and kicking off a deep playoff run. Enjoy the moment, it’s what we’ve been waiting for the past 25 years!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

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 14 Bills Injury Preview- Steelers

Will Feliciano and Roberts be effective Sunday night?

It seems like it’s deja vu for the Bills heading into this week. No no, I’m not talking about 2020, that’s simply Hell at this point. I’m talking about the Bills having the ability to clinch a playoff spot (albeit, with some help) on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers as they did last season. Despite the Steelers owning an 11-1 record, things can and do change quickly in the NFL which means that a stellar record such as that doesn’t assure a win.

The Bills are a team on the rise and must take care of business again on a national stage. They also need to secure this win if they want to lock up the AFC East and potentially have the opportunity to obtain the number one seed. This is a very exciting time as a fan and the fact that the team is getting healthy as the final stretch approaches is fantastic! Below are the Bills’ injuries for Sunday night.

OUT

S Jaquan Johnson (ankle)

Johnson appeared on the injury report after not being noted when it occurred Sunday. Reviewing film, this occurred with 3:44 left in the 4th quarter on a punt return. Johnson tried to double back up to tackle the returner before getting taken out by Tyler Matakevich, hitting his right ankle. Johnson didn’t get up immediately and the camera panned away from the field, preventing further views of Johnson’s reaction or if he required assistance to get off the field.

Looking at limited video and angles available, Matakevich hits Johnson from the outside and strikes his right ankle. I do worry about a high ankle sprain due to the foot being planted in the turf, placing the foot into dorsiflexion with eversion due to the hit from the outside. Add in the fact that he has not practiced this week may shed some light on the severity. 

This will be something to watch in the coming weeks with the possibility of sending him to injured reserve if the injury is as bad as I fear. 

ACTIVE

WR Andre Roberts (Achilles)

Roberts only played in 7 snaps, all on special teams Monday night. In fact, he only really had two plays with the ball where he actually ran. One was a 1st quarter kickoff he brought out for 25 yards that was followed by a routine tackle. The other, a 21-yard punt return early in the 2nd quarter.

The punt return is possibly the only play where I believe he could have strained his Achilles. He caught the ball, stepping back hard onto his left foot, eccentrically loading the leg to push off of before accelerating forward. He dodged and weaved through traffic before being brought down at the 31-yard line. 

Credit: SouthEast Podiatry

He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but practiced in full on Friday, but as a veteran, his body may need more rest than recovery from actual injury at this point in the season. He did not have to exit the game for the injury which indicates that this may be more of a minor strain overall. I don’t anticipate this injury to affect his abilities to perform, but will be something to monitor.

G Jon Feliciano (foot/left knee)

Feliciano officially showed up on the injury report with a knee injury along with the foot injury from last week. There are still no specifics regarding the details of the foot injury in which he played 100% of the snaps against the Chargers. As for the left knee, he did get hit in the left knee/thigh area by 49ers defensive tackle Kevin Givens which led to his brief exit followed by his return. He eventually left the game again but that may have been due to the team being up by so much at that point.

By video, it still appears to be a contusion that he can play through. It was somewhat worrisome that he went from full participation on Wednesday to limited on Thursday, but Friday was a full practice and he does not have a game day designation. Overall, he should be able to perform for Sunday night. 

DT Quinton Jefferson (hip)

Jefferson was another surprise addition to the injury report this week with a hip injury. He did play in 44% of the defensive snaps which is slightly lower than his regular playing time, but this may have been due to Harrison Phillips being activated and less due to the injury. It was not clear on film where he suffered his injury and what he exactly did at all.

I did find two possibilities but far from assured this is when the hip injury occurred. The first instance came late in the 1st quarter where he fell hard onto his left hip trying to get into the backfield. The second instance came with 7:05 left in the 4th quarter on the Tre’Davious White interception play. These are the only two instances where he fell hard onto his hip, possibly causing a contusion.

If he suffered some type of groin injury or hip flexor strain, this would be very difficult to find on film without more information. Jefferson did trend upwards this week from a DNP to limited to full on Friday indicating that he may have needed more rest than recovery from injury. If he exits the game Sunday night, this could be an area of concern to look into further.

QB Josh Allen (right knee/ankle)

Josh Allen is simply a tough player. He has battled through injury and adversity this season as he continues to rack up AFC player of the week award, his 3rd such honor this season. His passing ability was not hampered, evident with 375 yards and 4 TD’s. It is important to note that he rushed only 6 times for 11 total yards which supported my theory that he would be limited in his mobility.

Reviewing the box score, he only ran out to his right on passes and only ran to his right or up the middle. He never attempted to stress the right knee and ankle by running to his left unless he was flushed out of the pocket. Whether this was by design or coincidence, that will not be known. Heading into the Steelers game, I would expect that his mobility will increase but not be back to 100% yet with his body now two weeks removed from the original injury. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

TE Tyler Kroft

S Jaquan Johnson

DE Trent Murphy

The Bills certainly have an advantage over the Steelers in the injury department with Pittsburgh dealing with ailments to several key positions including linebacker and cornerback depth.

At linebacker, the Steelers have already lost Devin Bush and Bud Dupree to season-ending ACL tears and are now down a backup, Robert Spillane to a knee injury, likely an MCL sprain. He did not practice all week and this could force Marcus Allen, a converted safety into starting. Add in the fact that Vince Williams was a high-risk COVID exposure and will not play leaving the Steelers linebacking corps extremely thin.

At cornerback, Steven Nelson will play with a knee injury but his counterpart Joe Haden will not due to a concussion from Monday. This forces rookie James Pierre into starting which could really make for a great mismatch for the Bills wide receivers.

The Bills can certainly win this game. They have the talent to do so. The Steelers are a well-coached team and an NFL team doesn’t get lucky and stumble to an 11-1 record, no matter the circumstance. This will still be a hard-fought game but the Bills have the advantage due to lack of injuries and greater depth available. 

Heavy on the bias, but the Bills do have what it takes to win this game. If they don’t, I’d expect it to be close, showing the Bills can keep up with the AFC’s best. Make sure you get all your chores done and possibly get a nap in, it should be an exciting game Sunday night.

Top Photo Credit: Bills Wire-USA Today

2020 Week 5 Bills Injury Preview- Titans

Which of the questionable players will suit up?

Heading into Tuesday’s unusual matchup against the Tennessee Titans, the Bills are fairly beat up with injury designations already determined on Saturday afternoon. While the injury list looks dire, things actually aren’t all that bad. Check out the details below. Let’s hope this game gets played & put in the rearview mirror.

OUT

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano has since been ruled out for Tuesday’s contest which isn’t a surprise considering he did not practice all week.

Milano is coming off what appears to be a left pectoral strain. Based on the literature, it’s no surprise that he will be out for the short term. In my article at Buffalo Rumblings, I had detailed that he would be out at least 2 games and potentially more. The fact that he hasn’t been placed on IR also hints at the timeline the team thinks he may return sooner than later.

QUESTIONABLE

WR John Brown (Left knee)

Brown has been battling calf and foot problems all season, none of which have been serious enough to miss any time. Brown did appear to tweak something on the left side as shown in the video below.

Per the injury report, he is dealing with a knee injury now. While there is video of the injury, it’s hard to discern what he exactly did. In the video, he planted his left foot and pushed right before taking another step and then began hopping in pain.

He took several hard steps on his left leg to turn back to the right to catch the pass. His knee appeared to bow out on the next step, but it’s possible he could have tweaked the MCL or inside knee ligament on the prior step, felt it, took an uneven step which where we saw the bowing out, and then the final hopping off the field.

Credit: PTHealth.ca

If this injury was in isolation, I would say he’s alright to play especially with the few extra days off. But considering he’s dealing with foot & calf injuries, he may be best suited to take a week off. May come down to how he feels. This is one position where the team has healthy depth.

G Cody Ford (Groin/left shoulder)

Ford is battling a groin strain apparently suffered in the Raiders game. Sean McDermott did note that Ford was battling through some things during the Raiders game. I believe he was referring more to the left shoulder which could be anything at this point. There is nothing definitive on film & would need more information for a specific injury. There is a possibility that he’s dealing with a rotator cuff issue or labral injury due to the brace, but something to monitor.

As for the groin, also not sure when he injured it which makes it difficult to determine how it will affect him. The one upside is that playing on the interior part of the line; he will not have to use as much lateral movement or sprinting which can reduce strain on the area. If he doesn’t go, then G Quinton Spain would likely get the start.

RB Zack Moss (Toe)

Moss continues to be limited with a toe injury that appears to be turf toe. He was potentially able to play Sunday against the Raiders, but he ultimately did not suit up.

He has missed the last 2 games which fits in the timeline for a turf toe. The hope is that he returns for Tuesday’s game with a few extra days rest & is more of a factor than RB TJ Yeldon. Considering all the questionable players & that he practiced in full leads me to believe he will play.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (Left quadriceps)

Phillips has returned to practice & began practicing in full which is an excellent sign for the special teams linebacker. He has missed the last 3 games following a quadriceps injury that appeared to be a strain by video.

I expect most of his playing time to be on special teams once again unless he is called upon to play on defense if injury occurs. I also expect that he will continue to be slowly worked back in as he acclimates to not playing football for nearly a month.

Update: Phillips has since been placed on IR. The team promoted LB Deon Lacey in his spot.

WR Andre Roberts (Ankle)

There is no information on Roberts other than he injured his ankle. Nothing on film indicates that he suffered an injury and nothing in the media reports indicate the type of injury he is dealing with. The fact that he hasn’t practiced all week isn’t a great sign either.

The only two instances I could find for a possible injury came in the 1st quarter. The first was a right end around where Roberts lost 3 yards when he was flipped upside down by S Johnathan Abram. The other, three plays later, when Roberts caught a 6 yard pass to the left and was taken down by CB Nevin Lawson.

He had his left ankle get clipped on the first tackle and on the second, he was twisted down. Hard to identify if this is when he hurt his ankle or what the exact injury could be.

This will be something to monitor as the season progresses.

CB Tre’Davious White (Back)

This has been a mystery. White played in every defensive snap on Sunday & has been fairly durable throughout this season & career. He has not practiced this past week & it’s not clear whether he is even at the facility.

Watching film from Week 4, he appears to move well around the field and is not labored or slow to get up. As this is a back injury, these are harder to identify the injuries as there is typically not bracing or specific movements that are limited by the injury.

More information would be needed in order to identify what he’s dealing with. I could list a bunch of injuries & conditions, but trying to identify this injury is like throwing a dart in the dark at the dart board. The only reason that he could possibly be questionable after not practicing is if it’s a pain related issue where the team is hoping that things can calm down before Tuesday. But even that doesn’t narrow things down.

I have heard severe people say that he got his money & is not playing as hard anymore or that he is attempting to opt out because of the COVID concerns with the Titans with the team saying he has a back injury. Sure, there’s always that possibility that he is phoning it in now that he got paid. If he was, then that was a poor decision by the team to sign him to an extension. If he is not trying anymore, that’s on him. I don’t believe the Bills want guys on the team like that. I personally don’t believe this to be the case.

The COVID concerns are real, but to have the team say he has a back injury in order to keep him away from the facility, that’s a stretch. They could list him with an injury, we do see guys on injury reports often every week and don’t appear to have anything wrong. If I recall, Tom Brady was notorious for that with his right shoulder.

But to fake an injury would go against the competitive balance & intention of the injury report. To use it to cover up for something else makes me think the NFL wouldn’t take too kindly to that.

Right now, I am going with the fact that he has a back injury, details are not available, and the hope is that it isn’t serious. If he doesn’t go, the team has CB Dane Jackson they can call up for depth.

G Brian Winters (Right knee)

Winters appeared to injure his right knee on the same play that Josh Allen injured his shoulder. He fell hard on the right knee and was labored upon getting up and trying to get back into the play.

It appears to be a generalized contusion, but considering he hasn’t practiced in the past week, there’s potential it could be other things. He could have injured the bursa which is a fluid filled sac that helps lubricate the joint. A direct blow to that could cause inflammation to the area, limiting range of motion.

There are other possible injuries that he could have suffered but without more information, hard to establish a timeline. Considering the team has a bevy of offensive lineman, he could afford to sit this week.

INJURED RESERVE

CB Levi Wallace (Left ankle)

This move was a possibility but not certain as low ankle sprains can be played through, depending on the severity. Unfortunately for Wallace, he appears to have suffered a Grade 2 low ankle sprain early against the Raiders. This is due to the fact that he was placed on IR on Wednesday which requires a 3 week stay indicating a timeline for severity.

Credit: Medium.com

According to this picture sent in by a fellow Twitter user, Wallace appears to be off crutches and the swelling in the left ankle looks minimal. However, there is still likely instability due to the ligaments getting stretched out from the injury.

What we also don’t see in this picture is if he is on crutches and he put them down for the picture. We also don’t see how much weight he is putting through his left foot. Both feet could be down but he could be leaning more to the right to off weight the leg. Whatever he’s doing, he can rest for the next 3 weeks now that CB Josh Norman has returned from IR.

ACTIVE

WR Cole Beasley (Left foot)

Beasley continues to battle with numerous injuries including previous injuries to his thumb and hip. After being limited in practice earlier this week, Beasley was a full participant which signifies that he is healthy enough to play. The extra days off will certainly help his foot to heal further which will allow him to make those cuts over the middle effectively and use his speed to work around the field.

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Allen practiced in full every day despite the left shoulder designation from Sunday’s injury. The injury designation officially notes that he does have an injury and that it could affect his ability to play. The concern is that he has either an AC joint sprain, rotator cuff injury, or labral tear.

He did have a brace on for Wednesday’s practice and kinesiotape on for Thursday’s practice. The hope is that he has the AC joint sprain & it’ll heal on its own. My worry still remains that he had more damage in there as mentioned above. I would anticipate to see some bracing on for Tuesday regardless of the injury.

As the season progresses, the injury will become more clear if he takes further hits to the shoulder or if he continues to wear bracing.

Inactives:

LB Matt Milano
TE Lee Smith
G Brian Winters
QB Jake Fromm
RB TJ Yeldon

A bye week would be beneficial like it was last year at this time, but the Bills are not due for one for some time. These kinds of weeks will really test the depth at each position and the training staff’s ability to get each guy ready. It is important to note that a player may be active but may not get much play, only available for depth if needed. The team was forced to do this several times last year.

While the Titans are healthier as evidenced by the list below, they also have not had the ability to practice as a team in the last 2 weeks, unless you could the unauthorized practices after their facility closed. They also still have a number of players on the COVID reserve list.

Even if they’re healthier, I would be concerned about in-game injuries due to the sudden ramping back up of game play. I do not wish injury on anyone, but there is a greater risk. That along with not having the ability to fully implement their game plan may help be an equalizer in the game.

Remember, this is a team that was an AFC finalist last year. This team is no slouch. I would expect the Bills to win because I am biased and believe we have the better team. But if they lose, they are a worthy opponent. I’d like to see a win, but more importantly, minimal injuries as the Bills prepare for a short week against the Chiefs in Week 6 at home.

Top Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

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

WR Andre Roberts Injury Profile

#18 Andre Roberts

Position: WR
Height/Weight: 5’11”/195 lbs.
College: The Citadel
Year joined Bills: 2019
Acquired: Free Agency via Jets

College Injuries:

TBD

Pro Injuries:

2010 Cardinals:

Shoulder injury, Preseason, missed 1 game

2011 Cardinals:

No publicly reported injuries.

2012 Cardinals:

Ankle injury, 2 separate incidents on injury report, Preseason, missed 0 games Week 12, missed 1 game

2013 Cardinals:

Quadriceps injury, Preseason, missed 0 games.

Knee injury, Week 10, missed 0 games.

2014 Cardinals:

No publicly reported injuries.

2015 Washington:

Quadriceps injury, Week 5, missed 0 games.

Thumb injury, Week 6, missed 0 games.

Ankle injury, Week 9, missed 1 game.

Knee injury, Week 12 , missed 6 games, sent to IR.

2016 Detroit:

No publicly reported injuries.

2017 Atlanta:

No publicly reported injuries.

2018 Jets:

Back injury, Week 8, missed 0 games.

2019 Bills:

Quadriceps injury, Preseason, missed 2 games.

Foot injury, Week 16, missed 1 game.

2020 Bills:

Ankle injury, Week 4, missed 0 games.

Achilles injury, Week 14, missed 0 games.

Low back injury, Week 15

General links:

2020 Bills Injury Preview- Wide Receivers

2020 Bills Training Camp Injury Preview: Special Teams

How different will the unit look in 2020?

This is Part 12 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 12 consists of the special team’s room.

Not Returning

RB Senorise Perry

11 games Offense: 3 attempts, 3 yards, 1 target, 1 reception, 1 yard

Special teams: 6 combined tackles, 5 solo, 1 assist, 1 kick return for 2 yards

Perry didn’t do much in 2019, even on special teams. This was his primary role and he spent time on kickoffs & punts, accumulating little to no stats. Numbers don’t make the player, but to be a body on the field offering little competitive advantage along with little use in the offense. He didn’t suffer any known injuries, but it’s clear why the Bills moved on from him. For 2020, he will be calling Tennessee home. 

Returning Players

LS Reid Ferguson

143 snaps, 0 bad snaps, 1 solo tackle

Captain Ferguson continues to maintain a consistent approach to his job, avoiding bad snaps and effective leadership of the special team’s group. One of the longest-tenured players, having been with the team since 2016, he has helped morph the Bills into perennial playoff participants. He did not suffer any known injuries and considering his position, he should continue to avoid injury and provide consistency at a needed position. 

WR Andre Roberts 

13 games Offense: 2 starts, 1 rushing attempt, 7 yards, 7 targets, 3 receptions, 20 yards, 1 fumble

Special teams: 28 punt returns, 223 yards, 25 kick returns, 664 yards, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery

Roberts continues to bet on himself, year after year on a series of one-year deals that have ended in Pro Bowl nods. He signed a two year deal with the Bills last season but still had the same results as expected.

He comes into 2020 recovering from several injuries that cost him some time, but his ability in the return game made a significant difference in field position & gave the unit an edge where it lacked the previous season. 

Below is Roberts known injuries:

    • Quadriceps

Little is known regarding the quadriceps injury that cost him the first two games of the season. He was able to play through the preseason without issue before showing up on the injury report for Week 1. 

It was not known which leg was affected or how he injured it. Based on the number of games he missed, it was more likely a strain than a contusion. It’s also like he suffered the injury while practicing following the cut-down day. 

He was able to make his Bills debut against the Bengals and didn’t have any noticeable restrictions in his abilities. 

    • Hamstring

Roberts received a punt against the Redskins early in the 4th quarter, kneeling it down to call a fair catch. He got up and began motioning to his hamstring area, indicating that may have tweaked the area. According to reports, it was not specific to which leg he injured and he did not miss the rest of the game. However, important to note as he has dealt with several soft tissue injuries. 

    • Foot

The last injury for 2019 cost Roberts the ability to play his former team in the Jets during the second matchup in the finale. He suffered a foot injury in the Patriots game that was either the result of getting kicked in the right ankle or he stepped funny following a routine play. There wasn’t much information that was known but he took the week off and was able to play in the playoff game.

Roberts will be a lock to make the roster in 2020, but there is always a concern regarding any strains he suffers due to the demands of special teams along with occasional participation in the offense. 

K Stephen Hauschka

16 games 5 for 5 20-29 yards, 7 for 8 30-39 yards, 9 for 10 40-49 yards, 1 for 5 50+ yards, 22/28 FG 78.6%, 30/32 Extra Points 

Hauschka managed to stay healthy this season but did not perform up to his previous seasons. There’s a possibility that age may be finally catching up with him, the back injury he suffered against the Jets courtesy of Henry Anderson, or diminishing skills could have led to his struggles in 2019.

With the addition of draftee Tyler Bass, Hauschka certainly feels his seat growing warmer, knowing that his job is on the line if he doesn’t produce. 

P Corey Bojorquez

16 games 79 punts, 3313 yards, long 67, 1 blocked, 41.9 yards

Bojorquez still continues to struggle with his punting despite his big leg, rocketing kicks down the field. Unfortunately, his consistency leaves a lot to be desired and could be a position that the Bills look to upgrade if he does not perform well in camp. He did not suffer any known injuries in 2019, but like Hauschka, the pressure is on to perform in the preseason with the signing of Vedvik looking to lock down a job for 2020. 

New to the roster

P Kaare Vedvik

Vedvik is known more to Bills fans as the Week 1 scapegoat for the Jets loss which ultimately cost him his job. He bounced around the league last year before finding a home with Cincinnati’s practice squad. 

He decided to switch back to punting in order to prolong his career in the NFL and attempt to take Bojorquez’s job. He comes in with little injury concern, but to read more about Vedvik, check out Banged Up Bills.

K Tyler Bass

The big legged kicker out of Georgia Southern is a rare draft pick by the Bills at a position that has some question marks heading into 2020. He is far cheaper, younger, and healthier than his competition in Hauschka. 

However, Bass doesn’t have the weather and big game experience that Hauschka has which may make this camp battle all the more exciting. To read more on Bass, click the Buffalo Rumblings link. 

RB Taiwan Jones

The Bills cannot get enough of former players. Jones returns to the Bills on a one year deal to spark some life into the special teams game following Senorise Perry’s lack of firepower. 

After spending the 2019 season with Houston where he battled several injuries, Jones returned to Buffalo in order to extend his career. If you go read the Buffalo Rumblings, you will see that Jones has suffered a multitude of injuries along with missing 53 games over his career. He may have come to Buffalo because the training staff can squeeze another year out of him or the front office wants to see what he has left. 

Either way, the Bills are not tied to him financially but if he stays healthy, he could add a new wrinkle to the special teams unit as it continues to rebuild under ST coach Heath Farwell. 

2020 Outlook

This is one unit that could experience significant turnover based on camp battles. The only position that is secured is the returner in Roberts & LS in Ferguson. 

The rest is up for debate based on my guesses being on Hauschka & Bojorquez making the roster, holding off their competition. Bass & Vedvik could end up on the practice squad but unlikely both due to the redundancy and other roster needs. Jones can make this roster if he stays healthy. 

The rest of the unit will be made up of roster depth which should increase efficiency due to the continuity of the overall roster. If the Bills can control the field position & get a vital special teams scores occasionally, this could help propel the Bills deep into the playoffs for 2020.

Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Preview- Texans

What is the status of Nsekhe, Roberts, Lawson, & Wallace?

Well, we’re finally here, the playoffs are upon us! We are moments away from the Bills playing in Houston on Wild Card Weekend for the first NFL game of 2020! The Bills are beat up but still in a better spot than the Texans. While I could detail out every injury for Houston & compare it to how the Bills could take advantage, I may be better off writing the sequel to War & Peace. But if you want to get some detailed analysis of the Texans injuries, check out my latest appearance on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino. I have nuggets on JJ Watt, Johnathan Joseph, Bradley Roby, & Will Fuller V. Make sure to check out the pod below!

Locked On Bills 

If you want to know why Houston DE JJ Watt is able to come back so quickly from his pectoral tendon tear, check out my latest article at Buffalo Rumblings!

JJ Watt’s Unexpected Return

As this blog is a Bills based site, the Bills injuries are below & my impressions of them.

QUESTIONABLE

DE Shaq Lawson (left hamstring strain)

Lawson continues to recover from his hamstring strain suffered late in the Patriots loss but appears on the right track. He has been limited the past week, but with controlled activities, he has looked great on film.

I’ve stated all season that the hamstrings are vital for running & blocking, important responsibilities for a defensive end. It’s not a muscle group that can be babied or managed with certain bracing or necessarily protected. Even with the best rehab & rest, injuries can still occur and Lawson may be a casualty of that. 

He missed the Jets game & would probably benefit from another week off, but considering each game now is single elimination, Lawson should not miss. I have a strong suspicion that he plays.

WR Andre Roberts (foot)

Little is still known about Roberts’s foot other than it cost him another game against the Jets. Matt Parrino of NYUp.com noted that he was taking punt & kick returns in practice, accelerating up the field without issue. Any foot injury would limit sudden acceleration as the toes & foot act as a lever to push off the ground to move forward. 

If he had something such as turf toe, a foot sprain, fracture; there would be difficulty getting up to speed & slowing down. As long as Roberts is able to play Saturday, then it won’t really matter what’s wrong as long as he can add another dimension to the team.

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle contusion)

Nsekhe continues to work back from his right ankle that cost him 5 games this season. He was rolled up on again Sunday & but appears to be working through the injury just fine. This appears to be more of a contusion which was supported by the fact that he’s practicing all week & only has a brace on, the same one that he appeared to be wearing on Sunday.

I feel strongly that Nsekhe will suit up Sunday & will be in a rotation with OT Cody Ford with Ford taking a bulk of the snaps. 

CB Levi Wallace (right medial ankle sprain)

Wallace is the big iffy for Saturday. At the end of the day, he is still dealing with an ankle sprain that requires rest. The part of the ankle he injured was the medial side which is the inside portion of the ankle. The deltoid ligament is the strong inside portion of the ankle that provides stability between the tibia, talus, calcaneus, & navicular. This is the reason why it is so difficult for the inside portion of the ankle to suffer a sprain. If the outside portion of the ankle had the same type of structure, I would imagine we would all run very differently. You can see the makeup of the deltoid ligament below.

Deltoid-Ligament-Structure-location
Credit: medicpassion.com

The next picture below is a great example of how the injury occurred with Wallace with regards to the motion & the area injured. To note, the ligament does not likely tear that severely for Wallace or a fracture sustained as dictated in the picture.

medial-ankle-sprain419
Credit: http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/

If this was a regular-season game, Wallace would surely miss Saturday. Considering it’s the playoffs, I imagine that he will try to suit up with a heavy tape job similar to the one seen below. His major limitations will be pivoting, attempting to stay with his assignments. He will be able to run straight & cut off the left ankle, but forcing Wallace to jump, cut to the right, and backpedal will limit his effectiveness. I expect that CB Kevin Johnson gets the start & majority of snaps with Wallace as a backup or used in certain packages. 

Probable Inactives:

TE Tommy Sweeney

DT Vincent Taylor

S Kurt Coleman

S Dean Marlowe

OG Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

OG Ryan Bates

The Bills are in a great position to win their first playoff game since 1995 & move to the divisional round against a likely rematch with the Ravens. I could see this Bills team make a run like the Jaguars did a few years ago; anything can happen in the playoffs. 

On top of that, the injuries listed today won’t be real factors outside of Wallace heading into next week. There is always the possibility of new injuries, but thankfully the injuries we do have are at positions of depth at OT & CB. 

Regardless of the outcome, you will be hearing from me next week. However, I highly anticipate that I will be coming to you with an injury review & preview heading into the divisional round. GO BILLS!

Top Photo Credit:

USAToday.com

Week 17 Bills Injury Review- Jets

How bad are Wallace & Nsekhe’s ankle injuries?

Good thing that the game didn’t count for anything as the Bills finished 10-6. That 13-6 loss to the Jets was a rough one to watch, bringing shades of the past decade back with backups & fresh players off the street merely competing because there was no one else healthy. On Sunday, that wasn’t the case as Sean McDermott did his best to rest as many starters as he could in order to prepare for the playoffs. Unfortunately, there were a number of injuries varying in severity that will put some player’s availability in question for Saturday. 

CB Levi Wallace (right ankle)

Wallace scared a lot of people when he went down while catching an interception early in the 1st quarter without being touched. He was able to secure the ball before requiring assistance from training staff to get off the field. As with any non-contact injury, the knee is quickly assessed for any ligamentous instability before further evaluation is necessary in other areas. 

It was determined that Wallace suffered an ankle sprain, specifically a medial eversion ankle sprain. I had originally thought that he suffered a mild high ankle sprain as the mechanisms are similar, but he suffered the medial ankle sprain due to the foot being more in a neutral to plantarflexed position pushing off on the toe rather than the dorsiflexed, everted position seen with a high ankle. It is hard to decipher on film & I’m only confident in the medial ankle due to the recent reports. 

Wallace was observed leaving the locker room in a walking boot which is pretty standard following injuries such as this. He is considered day-to-day which usually translates out to missing a week or two. Medial ankle sprains have an incredibly strong ligament known as the deltoid ligament that prevents movement inward which helped reduce the severity of the injury.

We will have to see how he performs in practice this week. If he can’t go, capable CB Kevin Johnson gets the start against his former team. 

S Siran Neal (right side stinger)

Neal suffered a stinger during a tackle during the 2nd quarter where he hit directly over the top of his shoulder on a routine tackle. He was visibly uncomfortable, shaking his right arm out & moving around, trying to shake things out. 

That direct hit caused the stinger due to the sudden shoulder depression pulling on the cervical nerves just enough that he felt it down the arm to need a few plays off. Like Tre’Davious White against them Steelers game, the actual hit wore off & he was able to return. As long as Neal doesn’t continue to suffer these, then this shouldn’t be an issue moving forward. 

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe made his triumphant return after missing 5 weeks with a severe ankle injury in the win over Miami. Nsekhe was slowly reintroduced into the game plan & was rather unremarkable during his play. 

In a stroke of bad luck, Nsekhe went down again in the 3rd quarter with a Jets defender falling on the back of his foot as he went down. Nsekhe was immediately down on the ground rolling around in obvious pain. Trainers quickly came out to assess the ankle & got him off the field for further assessment. 

It was difficult to see what Nsekhe exactly injures as the bodies were in the way, but it’s clear that his ankle was rolled upon. He may have avoided serious injury due to his shoe getting knocked off during the play, preventing his foot from being planted. Nsekhe was also observed wearing an ankle support to limit medial/lateral movement which redistributes the forces away from the ankle. 

The hope that is he suffered a contusion to the area & can work through this injury to be available for Saturday. Some detractors may be out there saying he should have not been playing after coming off an ankle injury. I fully support the coaching & medical staff to allow him to get out there in order to get live reps and allow him to play if he’s healthy. Nsekhe is a veteran, he knows his body & the risks he would take in return to play. It comes down to simply horrible luck & there isn’t much else to be said.

OT Cody Ford (right trapezius/neck)

Ford suffered his own injury later in the 3rd quarter where he appeared to injure his right trapezius or neck. There wasn’t much of a mechanism of injury but Ford came off grabbing at his right trapezius muscle. This muscle connects up to the back of the head, out to the shoulder, and down to the middle of the back. This assists with head extension & shrugging the shoulders.

Trapezius
Credit: Youtube.com

The only possible place that I see where he could have injured this area would be when he took on the Jets defender, lost his block and had his head turned inward to the left & hit the back of G Spencer Long

Ford kept motioning to the area & even pointed to the training staff where his pain was at. He may have overstretched the muscle getting his head forced to the left & hitting Long. He may have also suffered a minor stinger due to the head stopping suddenly. 

Either way, he was able to return and outside of some stiffness & soreness, this shouldn’t limit him for Saturday.

CB Taron Johnson (right ankle)

Johnson was the last injury of the day when he got bowled over by Jets running back Le’Veon Bell. Johnson attempted to square up with Bell & plant his feet, getting knocked backward & injuring the right ankle. The injury occurred when Johnson was trying to keep his foot planted & got pushed, over pronating his foot & placing stress through the medial ankle. 

Johnson was able to walk off with a noticeable limp but was quickly able to begin running on it, even able to return at the very end to ensure that WR Isaiah McKenzie did not have to fill in at cornerback. This is similar to what Wallace dealt with earlier in the game but obviously less severe & less eversion noted at the ankle. This isn’t something that I expect will keep him out for the playoffs. 

Other observations 

Out of the inactives, the only known ones prior to the game were WR Andre Roberts & DE Shaq Lawson with their respective injuries. Having RB Devin Singletary, TE Dawson Knox, WR John Brown, WR Cole Beasley, & CB Tre’Davious White made the most sense being inactive due to how vital they are at their respective positions. 

McDermott & the medical staff did the best with what they could. There are injuries the public isn’t aware of despite my best efforts. There are also strategies in getting other players snaps in case the top players do go down. 

It wasn’t an ideal situation, but the other option was to play the starters & suffer injuries prior to the playoffs. The injuries suffered Sunday are absorbable especially at CB & OT as the team has managed without so far. 

There’s a lot going on this week prior to the game Saturday & it’ll be exciting to see how the Bills stack up against the Texans. This is a winnable game, especially with the defense that has performed all season when asked. If the Bills get beat, it will be because of talent & not because the Bills beat themselves or were too injured.

Top Photo Credit:

DemocratandChronicle.com