2020 Week 8 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

The Bills are banged up, but so are the Patriots. Who will win the injury bowl?

It’s Patriots week! The two times during the season where the Bills play the New England Patriots, a team that has spent two decades tormenting the Bills. But the winds have shifted as they do so often in Orchard Park, this time, in favor of the Bills. The Patriots enter this contest 2-4, the Bills 5-2 with a chance for Buffalo to lock down the AFC East at the midway point of the season. One thing that could stop that is the ever growing list of injuries. Despite the Bills avoiding any in game injuries, there were six new injuries to the report which makes determining who will play all that much tougher. Below is the multitude of injuries.

Ok OUT

G Cody Ford (Right knee)

Ford was ruled out Friday morning during Sean McDermott’s press conference. He appears to be dealing with a right MCL sprain suffered in the loss to the Chiefs. I had said this was a 2-3 week injury and thought he would be best served to get a stint on IR.

The team elected to not go that route and he appears to be trending to try and play in Week 9 despite not practicing the past two weeks. We will see what happens following the Patriots game.

CB Josh Norman (Left hamstring)

Norman misses his 5th game now due to his balky left hamstring injury suffered in training camp. The severity of this latest injury is not known but considering this is the same side and a re-injury, the team is making sure he is absolutely 100% before trotting him back out onto the field.

Defensive backs are already at a higher rate to suffer hamstring strains and then add in the previous injury, this makes for a rough season for Norman. Hopefully he can resume practicing next week.

QUESTIONABLE:

G Brian Winters (Knee)

Winters appeared back on the injury report again with a knee injury though it isn’t clear when he suffered the injury. He played in 97% of snaps indicating that this may not be serious. While it’s not know which side is injured, he did show up on the injury report following the Raiders game with a knee complaint then.

He is an older player that plays a very physical position; he may need the rest from time to time and this may be more of a load management issue. While he is questionable, he did practice in full on Friday which is a good indicator that he should play. I would hope that he rotates with G Jon Feliciano or whoever else plays.

DT Vernon Butler (Groin)

Butler was a surprise on the injury report with a groin injury that wasn’t readily noticed on film from Sunday. He was a DNP for 2 straight days after being limited Wednesday.

Credit: wnyurology.com

While he is an interior line player at defensive tackle, I believe it would be hard for him to generate any power to shed blocks or quickly change direction to tackle a back in the running lane. He has already dealt with a hamstring injury this season and would be best served to sit this one out.

S Micah Hyde (Concussion)

Hyde was eventually diagnosed with a concussion following his bone crushing hit on Jets WR Breshard Perriman. It’s not certain he suffered the concussion from this hit, but it’s a very strong guess. He likely developed symptoms later on, sending him into the concussion protocol.

He was out at practice this week but stayed off to the side on the exercise bike, indicating he was in Stage 2-3. He is listed as questionable indicating the team may try to have him pass the protocol in time for the game Sunday.

Credit: NFL

I don’t anticipate he plays based on the fact that concussions take some time to heal. Literature suggests it takes on average 10 days to return but we have seen players return quicker than that and in other cases much longer. I’m also not certain how he goes through live football reps to ensure he doesn’t have any symptom reproduction afterward as part of the protocol as he didn’t practice this week.

There’s always a chance he could pass the evaluation, but it would be a truly impressive to pass through this quickly. I say he misses this contest.

DE Jerry Hughes (Foot)

Hughes made a surprise appearance on the injury report this week with a foot designation. Despite the injury, he was a terror on the field as he garnered AFC Defensive Player of the Week. With the lack of specifics of what he did to the foot, it’s hard to say what he’s dealing with. Looking back, he has played with far worse injuries and still produced. He has yet to miss a game in a Bills uniform; I don’t expect that to change Sunday.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Knee)

Jefferson also made an appearance on the injury report with a knee ailment. Like most of the injuries, it’s not clear when he suffered the injury, making specifics difficult to discuss. Considering he practiced in full on Friday and with the likely inactive coming for Butler, I’m leaning towards Jefferson playing.

CB Cam Lewis (Left wrist)

Lewis is still battling with a wrist injury that saw him active last week but not play. He was limited all again this week and is questionable. He continues to have the club on his hand which has me believe this may be more than a sprain. He may have fractured a bone in his wrist and simply needs time to heal. If he is looking at a fracture, it could be a 4-10 week timeframe for things to fully heal in there. Without further details, hard to elaborate.

For Sunday, he could sit out which I think is the smart move or he could once again be active but play only in the case of emergency. I envision him sitting this one out.

Update: Lewis has since been placed on IR.

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano was limited all week in a red practice jersey which seemed to worry some members of Bills Mafia. He is designated as questionable but I fully expect him to play Sunday. His pectoral tear is still healing up and will not likely be fully healed until after the bye. He only played in 33% of the snaps on obvious passing downs illustrating his restrictions at the moment. I had thought that could be a possibility in my Buffalo Rumblings article.

He was likely limited due to the team not wanting to have him go through full practices and possibly re-injure the area. He doesn’t need to practice tackling, he needs to work in the game plan. I expect his snap count to increase this week but still rotate with LB AJ Klein to prevent further re-injury.

ACTIVE

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)

I continue to highlight Allen’s presence on the injury report because he clearly did something to the shoulder as evident with the shoulder brace. He’s going to continue playing through it but we’ve seen him have less scrambles and more designed runs or stay in the pocket. I still believe he injured the labrum or the rotator cuff. He continues to practice and play, but there is concern that he re-injures it at some point with a hard hit.

WR John Brown (Left knee)

Brown continues to battle through numerous injuries from earlier this season, but finally appears back on track to play Sunday. Three full days of practice indicates that he will play and with the Patriots potentially without CB Stephon Gilmore, Brown may have himself a day against a weakened secondary. He is still healing from the numerous injuries, but appears healthy enough to play.

WR Isaiah McKenzie (Ankle)

McKenzie only played in 20% of the offensive plays from Sunday but still managed to walk away with an ankle injury. As you see a theme here, there are no specifics on the exact injury as to what he’s dealing with. He did not have a game day designation meaning he will play and hopefully be effective.

Other injury news:

CB Levi Wallace (Left ankle)

Wallace is eligible to return from IR following his ankle injury in the Raiders game. He has missed the last 3 games and is in his practice window where he does not count against the roster.

Looking at the video, he’s moving around fairly well but still having some trouble going to his left and pushing off that side. As he is in the practice window, the team is not obligated to give an injury report or participation designation to him.

If this were a playoff game, I say he can play. While this is an important game, the Patriots are beat up themselves which means the Bills can afford to let Wallace rehab another week before returning to the field.

Update: Wallace has been activated from IR.

G Jon Feliciano (Right pectoral tear)

Feliciano is making his long awaited debut for the 2020 season after tearing his right pectoral muscle while weightlifting shortly after training camp started. I had speculated that he would return after Week 8, he returns before. He is wearing a shoulder harness as I suspected he would and I do not believe he plays the entire game.

I would expect that he rotates in on the line and gets his feet wet as he works back into game shape. He had told reporters that he wanted to come back sooner but they stopped him to essentially protect him from himself. The team made the right move in this case.

If I were the training staff, I would work him in over the next 3 games and then let him play the full games following the bye. He will be 4 months out at that point and while he can still continue to heal, he will be at a much lower chance to re-tear the area.

Housekeeping:

The Bills have activated TE Lee Smith off the COVID/Reserve list. The team elevated LB Andre Smith to the active roster, cut and re-signed LB Deon Lacey to the practice squad. The team is also in the process of signing former Jets and Chiefs LB Darron Lee to the practice squad.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm
CB Cam Lewis* IR
DT Vernon Butler
S Micah Hyde
RB TJ Yeldon
CB Josh Norman
G Cody Ford

While the Bills continue to battle through the numerous injuries, the Patriots are dealing with their own. On top of all the COVID opt outs, they will also be without WR N’Keal Harry and WR Julian Edelman due to a concussion and knee injuries respectively. There is a possibility their top CB Stephon Gilmore missing the game due to a knee injury. DT Carl Davis has also been ruled out with a concussion.

Looking at the questionables besides Gilmore, there are a lot of significant names on that list. They are one team that is quite possibly as beat up as the Bills are.

Despite all the injuries on both teams, the Patriots still have Bill Belichick. He has been at this a very long time and will adapt his game plan to whatever he has available and may very well still be competitive. I will not count out the Patriots until the clock strikes 0:00 in the 4th quarter with the Bills having more points than the Patriots.

I am expecting the Bills to win this game because I believe they are the better team, but if the Bills struggle early like they did the past few games, this could spell trouble in securing the AFC East crown. With the weather expected to be poor, wet and windy conditions may lend itself to reducing injuries. The Bills need to get through this game with minimal injuries and get to the bye in order to make a deep postseason run.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills

2020 Week 2 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins

Will the LB corps survive without Milano & Edmunds?

We knew that injuries during the regular season would be increased due to the lack of preseason, but injuries are taking their toll greater than most Bills fans would like. The big talking points of the week was Josh Allen running the ball along with the injuries to Matt Milano & Tremaine Edmunds. 

We will let the talking heads and Twitter debate the abilities of Josh Allen in the rushing game, but you’re here for the injury breakdown. 

There have been several new developments this week with the injuries that will be described below. The one thing that I want to impart to the readers is how drastically different doing this job is this year. What I’m seeing is not that the injuries change, we are seeing an increase in frequency that was expected, but in how the Bills are using the Injured Reserve designations and Practice Squad call ups. 

We are seeing injuries would normally be played through or that wouldn’t require extensive time missed get that IR designation or missing the game altogether. I have several theories on their roster management in how it pertains to each player, but this will continue to take time to get adjusted to interpreting properly. Make sure to come here for the latest Bills injury impressions.

OUT

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds has been an interesting injury to assess this week. He injured it while trying to tackle Jets WR Jamison Crowder on the 69-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter. The only contact that he made was with the ground falling into the turf. His right shoulder hit the turf hard with his arm close to his body. He played in the extra point play but didn’t appear in distress.

He was assessed in the blue medical tent for a while, later coming out without pads, signifying his day was done. Later in the locker room, he didn’t have any ice, bracing, slings, anything to allude to the severity of the injury.

He then practiced in a limited fashion in mostly individual drills Wednesday and Thursday. Typically limited practices translate towards a player likely suiting up on Sunday. Edmunds was ruled out Friday morning even before practice took place. 

Either this injury is way more severe than we thought, which is entirely possible. Instead of the contusion/minor AC joint sprain, there still is the possibility of a labrum or rotator cuff tear. That is a scary proposition, but if the labrum is torn, I expect to see bracing used next week on the right shoulder. This was not something I observed this week from video available below.

You can also use bracing for a rotator cuff tear, but it is not necessary as we saw with G Jon Feliciano last year. I have thoughts that the shoulder is still a painful shoulder contusion. This is something that he could have played through, but the team is allowing him to be fully healthy and miss a winnable game instead of laboring through the next few weeks with it. If it’s worse, then maybe a trip to the IR would do him good now that it’s 3 weeks in duration instead of 8 weeks. 

The fact that the coaching staff did not get the opportunity to get preseason looks at their other guys may have played into this decision as well. If they know they can be without him, then they can get their backups some of the vital game time reps that they needed to improve as players. Add in the practice squad call ups in with both LB Deon Lacey and LB Andre Smith available, why wouldn’t you want to protect your top assets with other guys who can at least fill in for the time being?

Until we get more information, I don’t believe my eyes are deceiving me. I wonder if this is more of the coaching staff maximizing the new roster rules to a competitive advantage.

LB Matt Milano (hamstring, possibly right)

Since his injury on Sunday, he has been a long shot to play. He had 3 straight DNP’s which usually equate to being ruled out for Sunday. I’ve seen various percentages for return to play, anywhere from 13-18 days on average for a Grade 1 hamstring strain, but Milano would not have fit that timeline anyway. He will miss Sunday, but his absence can be withstood as Miami still doesn’t appear to be a threatening team yet. The hope is that the hamstring was truly minor and he can return next week against the Rams. That’s a big hope for me right now. If not, a matchup in the desert against the Raiders may be more likely.

Before I can be sure of a true timeline, he will have to have at least 1 full practice but would do better with 2-3 before I could say he’d be out there. If he continues to miss & be limited, then it was likely more severe and he’s looking at 3+ weeks, similar to what the team has done in the past. There is a possibility that he goes on IR which Sean McDermott had alluded to in Friday’s press conference, but now it’s too early..

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Phillips is out with a quadriceps injury after missing 3 straight practices. He only played in 7 special teams plays according to snap counts. He did not appear in the game again following the kick-off which resulted in a touchback following the score that sent the Bills to a 14-0 lead. On broadcast, the camera pans towards the location of the ball, unfortunately away from the Bills running down the field. For All-22, that play does not exist. For whatever reason, there were glitches and delays for All-22 this week and that play may have been a casualty. 

Until he resumes practicing and getting full practices in, we are left to guess the injury and when he returns. Considering this was a touchback, this leads me to believe it may have been more of a quadriceps strain sprinting or slowing down rather due to the lack of contact. This could also be from a previous play that he could not continue to play though. I didn’t see any major contact for him, but some injuries are virtually impossible to spot on film.

ACTIVE

WR John Brown (foot)

Everyone was quite worried about Brown missing practice Wednesday with a foot ailment. Little information is known other than Stefon Diggs had no idea he wasn’t at practice. 

Brown could have had some general soreness from Sunday due to getting actual game reps, he could have had it stepped on, he could be dealing with plantar fasciitis with sudden overloading of the tissues due to the loss of reps from preseason. There could be a Morton’s neuroma where a nerve in the foot between the metatarsals is irritated, leading to pain. 

He could have strained some of the musculature in the foot, he could have stubbed his toe at home, there’s just so many possibilities that it’s impossible to pinpoint without Brown or the team noting what he’s dealing with. 

Film review didn’t show anything definitive but he may have been limping a little after plays in the 4th quarter. Could have been fatigue, could have been the foot, but there was not anything definitive on film to suggest an injury. 

He did practice in full on Thursday and Friday, not receiving an injury designation for Sunday. This will be one to watch in case he has issues later. Right now, I don’t have any reason to believe that this is a huge concern. He will be someone to watch closer on Sunday. 

WR Vernon Butler (hamstring)

Butler missed last week with a hamstring strain despite being questionable. While the weather is supposed to be much warmer and still wet, the extra week to recover along with full practices all week only made him more available. I’m excited to see how he will perform. There is still concern he could re-injure the hamstring, but after 3 weeks since the original injury, the risk continues to lessen, but not eliminated. Keep in mind, every injury is unique and responds differently to treatment.

LB Tyrel Dodson (neck)

Excellent to see Dodson cleared to play for Sunday following exiting the game late with what we now know was a neck injury. Looking back, he may have suffered a generalized neck strain or whiplash when he completed his tackle. There may have been more soreness and limited movement rather than outright damage. 

He is taking over starting for Tremaine Edmunds on Sunday which will be a huge test calling out plays for the defense. This is his opportunity to show why the team stuck by him last year following his domestic violence issues last year and keeping him on the roster this year. 

DE Jerry Hughes (calf)

Hughes was a surprise addition to the injury report Thursday with a calf ailment. He was limited on Thursday but able to practice in full on Friday. He may have had some calf soreness that he missed some drills for, leading to the limited designation, he may have injured it Thursday, little is known. 

This is yet another soft tissue ailment that we expect to see early in the season. With the calf, I am slightly worried about his ability to explode off the line with that first step and get around the edge. He might have a little less explosion, but to the casual fan, may not be noticeable.

Whatever it is, Hughes will play through it, we saw that last year with his wrist and groin. Right now, I consider this to be something to note, like a timestamp, in case issues occur later. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (hamstring)

Like Hughes, McKenzie was limited Thursday but with a hamstring. He may have been feeling something and pulled himself out or injured it the day before. Considering he is cleared for Sunday makes me think it’s not a glaring concern. 

But hamstring strains don’t just disappear. We will have to watch if this is recurring. I also did observe last year that despite an injury, players were still active but played little or not at all due to the Bills not being able to field a full roster otherwise. I don’t believe this to be the case, but sometimes injured players have to be active. 

Once again, something to note and reference in case of injury later.

Inactives:

LB Matt Milano

LB Tremaine Edmunds

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

G Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

QB Jake Fromm

Final thoughts:

It’s easy to worry about all the soft tissue injuries and the linebacker corps. This was going to happen when the preseason did not allow guys to prime their bodies to game time action. The Bills also have a lot of depth available to withstand most of these injuries. They have also been churning the bottom of the roster and practice squad bringing in free agents weekly, trying to find out who else they can bring in if further injury occurs. 

The Bills are still in great shape heading into Sunday with the Dolphins not having starting linebacker Elandon Roberts out with a concussion. DE Clayton Fejedelem is doubtful with a pectoral injury and WR DeVante Parker is questionable with a hamstring. 

A doubtful designation isn’t a great chance to play and considering the weather mentioned above being warm and wet, I don’t believe Parker plays, especially after injuring last Sunday. If he does play, then I expect him to be limited and increase the potential for this to linger all season. Not the best idea for your top receiving option.

The Dolphins are better than the Jets, but this is an opportunity for the Bills offense to take control now that the defense is not at full strength. With the rain, I expect to see some injury incidence reduce due to the poorer footing, but the risk isn’t totally eliminated. I expect a Bills win and hopefully to write a much shorter article postgame.

2020 Week 1 Bills Injury Review- Jets

How serious is Edmunds & Milano’s injuries?

The Bills showed up and did their job. That’s the most important take away of Sunday. But there were several injuries that really had the fan base shook up, specifically at the linebacker corps. There were also some concerns about the Bills ability to pull away in the second half, letting the Jets get back into the game, albeit briefly. Below are the injuries & severity.

S Micah Hyde (left ankle)

Hyde went down late in the first quarter while attempting to change directions to bat down a Sam Darnold throw & came down with a lower leg injury. Video isn’t the best, but an explosion of rubber pellets as Hyde jumped from the turf shows him attempting to bat the ball to his right. He came down and was having issues with his left ankle, hopping off briefly before returning. He later had it heavily taped up for the second half.

He may have tweaked the ankle just prior to jumping by quickly changing directions. It appeared it was more of a pain issue than anything else because he was moving fairly well the rest of the game. This appears to be a garden variety sprain, whether its lateral or medial, based on how he was jumping, possibly medial. This could change though with other video angles. This is probably not an injury that will end up on the injury report; he may feel the effects of it for a few games but it’s not something that typically causes long term issues despite his position unless he suffers a re-injury which I am not concerned about. 

LB Matt Milano (right hamstring)

Milano was a surprise addition to the injury report during the game with a hamstring due to him being shown on the sidelines talking to trainers and then walking slowly into the tunnel later. The initial incident wasn’t apparent until going back to the game footage. With just under a minute left in the 2nd quarter, Milano managed to tackle Jets WR Jamison Crowder out of bounds with his body swinging towards the sidelines as he took down Crowder. He attempted to stay on his feet, keeping his right leg up, landing in a half kneeling position. Considering he was trying to stop the forward momentum, it’s possible this is when he injured the hamstring trying to stop. This may be more of a proximal strain, which means that it’s closer to the buttocks.

The other possibility is the next play where he once again took Crowder down but the tackle doesn’t appear to suggest that he would have strained the hamstring on this play. He may have felt it starting to tighten up and pulled himself out. 

Considering the game was just about out of hand, it appeared wise to pull him out of the game. This was also an opportunity to get some of the backups vital reps that they simply did not get during the preseason. 

He has since been classified as day-to-day and it’s very possible that Milano misses the next game against Miami. He could return as soon as after 1 game or could miss 2-3 based on severity. Once he strings together some limited and full practices, then we will know how severe the injury was and when he will return. If I had to pick a game to miss, I’d be alright with this one. I’d expect LB Andre Smith to be called up from the practice squad for Sunday. 

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

The entire fanbase grew really concerned when Edmunds went to the injury tent midway through the 3rd quarter following the Crowder TD. He fell hard on his right shoulder while trying to make the tackle. He was in on the extra point but didn’t have to do much in the backfield. 

He had to remove his shoulder pads to receive a full assessment, eventually going to the locker room before returning without his pads. Based on video, it looks like he suffered a hard fall onto the shoulder. His arm wasn’t out to brace the fall, he didn’t require immediate attention and he did not require any wrap or sling on the shoulder. 

He was also observed later in the locker room with the arm at his side but not supported or in obvious distress. He may have fell hard onto the shoulder and it simply be a contusion or it could be an AC joint sprain. 

A contusion is more pain limiting, same goes for a mild AC joint sprain. He could get an injection for the AC joint if it’s bothering him next week but it’s something that can be played through.

There are other possibilities such as a labrum tear or rotator cuff sprain, but that won’t be known without further information. The only way we know if there is greater damage is if he’s wearing bracing or reports stating otherwise. 

Right now, it appears that Edmunds dodged a bullet and is currently day-to-day. 

LB Tyrel Dodson (not specified)

Dodson was the last linebacker to go down with an injury though it isn’t quite apparent what he was dealing with. From the video, it appeared that he simply got the wind knocked out of him trying to complete the tackle. He was down while trainers tended to him but he was able to get up under his own power. This may have been more of a scare due to the lack of depth at the position by that point, but unless more information is released, this doesn’t appear to be of any concern. Once again, he is also day-to-day.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Little is known about Phillips, reports came down shortly after Hyde’s ankle injury that he was questionable to return with a quadriceps injury in the 2nd quarter. It is not readily apparent on broadcast when he suffered the injury. Typically I’ve seen quad injuries as either a strain or contusion. This is just a very meaty portion in the upper leg that can absorb some contact. He has since been listed day-to-day. I believe practice will tell more of his availability for next week. 

Injury Roundup:

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

A lot changed from my last article when Norman was ruled out of the game to when he was placed on IR. Fortunately the rules are different and allow a player to return after 3 weeks rather than the normal 8 weeks. Had this occurred in a normal season, the team likely doesn’t make this move. 

He will have the time to rest & rehab at this point. If this hamstring was more of a Grade 2, then 6 weeks total is more appropriate for him to return closer to 100%. It must be noted that Grade 2 hamstrings can take up to 8 weeks to fully heal. If it was a Grade 1 with reaggravation, then he could also get healthy within the timeframe which could be the more ideal situation. I am concerned for re-injury regardless of each scenario. We will have to see when he gets reactivated & his practice participation to when he can realistically play.

DT Vernon Butler (hamstring)

Butler was held out of the season opener likely as a precaution due to the weather since the rain could have exacerbated the hamstring. He did practice in full last week which is a great sign, but this also likely means that he should be able to play next week in Miami. The big thing for Butler will be to stay hydrated in order to avoid a re-injury due to the heat.

Final Thoughts:

Each injury in itself wasn’t all that concerning when isolated, but seeing 2 out of 3 starters and 4 of 6 total linebackers go down with injury is expectedly scary. All with the exception of Milano should return to play Sunday. Despite the team being conservative with hamstrings, there may be a possibility that Milano suits up. Impossible to determine until the practice report comes out later this week. Even with these injuries, the Bills still have excellent depth to overcome these brief deficits as they head into Week 2 against the Dolphins.

Photo Credit: AP

LB Andre Smith Injury Profile

#59 Andre Smith:

Position: LB
Height/Weight: 6″0’/240 lbs.
Age: 23
College: North Carolina
Year joined Bills: 2020
Acquired: Trade with Carolina Panthers

College Injuries:

2015 Freshman year:

No publicly reported injuries

2016 Sophomore year:

Torn pectoral muscle, played entire season, had surgery in offseason.

2017 Junior year:

Left knee mensical tear, Week 2, missed 10 games.

Pro Injuries:

2018 Panthers:

Hamstring strain, side not specified. Originally injured during NFL Combine, re-injured during first preseason game, then re-injured Week 5, missed 3 games.

2019 Panthers:

No publicly reported injuries.

2020 Bills:

No publicly reported injuries.

General links:

Buffalo Rumblings Andre Smith Injury Profile