2020 Week 10 Bills Injury Review- Cardinals

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

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

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

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

DE AJ Epenesa (Concussion)

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

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

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

CB Dane Jackson (right knee)

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

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

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

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

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

WR John Brown (right ankle)

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

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

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

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

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

Other injury thoughts:

DT Justin Zimmer (right elbow)

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

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

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Photo Credit: DraftKings Nation

2020 Week 10 Bills Injury Preview- Cardinals

Will Hyde and Ford suit up with their respective ankle injuries?

Things are finally trending up for the Bills on the injury front! While the list is still long, the players are getting healthier which is incredibly important heading into the bye next week. If you look around the league, many teams have long injury lists, but how those injuries have affected those teams’ records is interesting. Some have kept marching along and others have been decimated as a result.

Fortunately, the Bills are in the former group as they prepare to head out to Arizona to play the 5-3 Cardinals. A win Sunday would put the team as just the 8th team in franchise history to go 8-2 through 10 games according to fellow Bills content creator Circling the Wagons podcast. All those but one reached their respective league championship game. The one that didn’t in 1988 still made the AFC title game.

That’s some great information to look fondly back on. But before we start counting the chickens before they hatch, check out the injuries below. 

OUT:

RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring)

Jones misses his second game of the season with a hamstring strain suffered in the win over the Patriots. With how the team has managed the hamstring strains since Sean McDermott has been coaching, for Jones to miss 2 games is no surprise. 

It’s possible that Jones could have been a candidate for IR, but considering the bye is next week, the team can use that to their advantage and avoid roster moves. Hopefully, he comes off the report following the bye. 

QUESTIONABLE:

G Cody Ford (right ankle)

Ford was limited in practice all week with an ankle injury sustained in the win over Seattle midway through the 1st quarter. He later appeared on the sidelines, potentially able to play but never returned. By video, it appears he suffered a low ankle sprain when he got clipped by Zack Moss during the play. 

The fact that he was limited all week says that he can potentially play Sunday if he needs to. He may still be dealing with swelling and pain in the area, making him more of a true game-time decision. I suspect that he plays and allows the Bills to field the offensive line group that they haven’t been able to produce as originally envisioned for Week 1 (Dawkins, Ford, Morse, Feliciano, Williams). If he doesn’t play, then this may be out of an abundance of caution and using the bye week to get healthy.

S Micah Hyde (ankle)

Hyde suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice that left him limited and he did not practice Friday. While he is questionable, it may truly be a game-time decision whether he plays Sunday. We do not have specifics of the injury, only a timeframe of when it occurred. Frankly, I do not like the DNP designation on Friday. Those typically don’t bode well to play Sunday’s from my past observations of the injury report.

To note, he did have left ankle injuries in Week 1 and Week 3 of which he was able to play through. It’s not known whether he injured the same ankle again or if it is the other side. I’m not certain he plays Sunday, but I would be glad to be wrong. 

INJURED RESERVE:

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadricep)

Phillips lands on IR again, this time ending his season with a quadriceps injury. It appears that this is the same injury that he suffered in Week 1 against the Jets, went on IR, and then potentially injured again against the Seahawks. 

It appeared that he had suffered a strain in Week 1, but this seems to be an injury that Phillips cannot get past. His 2020 season consisted of 14 special teams plays over the two games. He goes to IR which ends his season as he has already had one trip to short-term IR. This opens a coveted roster spot for several possible players to be called up for depth.

ACTIVE: 

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Another week, another Josh Allen sighting on the injury report with this shoulder injury. We have seen his play appear to be affected by the shoulder injury with his follow through and ability to throw the deep ball. We have also seen the level of bracing change from a shoulder harness to a brace to kinesotape for stability. This is now 6 weeks he has been on the report. The team obviously won’t tell us the specifics, but we continue to watch and see what’s going on with his play. 

WR John Brown (left knee)

Brown continues to work through the knee injury sustained in practice that caused him to miss the Week 5 matchup against the Titans and re-injured against the Chiefs. Sunday against the Seahawks appeared as though he was finally back on track with a stat line that matched his 2019 levels. He continues to work through these nagging injuries and will hopefully get healthy enough following the bye to become the WR2 that the team envisioned at the beginning of this season. 

G Jon Feliciano (back)

Little is known about Feliciano’s back other than the designation. He has played in 100% of snaps since returning and it’s possible that he has generalized back soreness from getting back into game shape. As he has no designation, this isn’t something I’m concerned about unless he lingers on the report as some of his teammates. 

DE Jerry Hughes (foot)

Hughes has been battling a foot ailment over the past few weeks that hasn’t hampered his abilities to perform. As his snap counts and production have not suffered, it’s hard to identify the actual specifics of the injury. He continues to show up week in and week out since his trade in 2013; I do not expect that to change. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse cleared the concussion protocol Wednesday following his 5th documented concussion in the win over the Patriots. The protocol is there for a reason to ensure players return safely at their own pace. He has cleared protocol, then I would have no reservations about him playing. The chance to suffer another concussion is there, but it has been there the entire time. If he for some reason doesn’t play, it would be deemed a healthy scratch and would likely come at the agreement of Morse, training staff, and the team collectively.

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

With no designation next to his name, Josh Norman returns to the field. This allows the Bills to showcase their cornerback depth for the first time since Week 4 when Norman returned off IR before Levi Wallace got hurt against the Raiders. Hopefully, Norman stays healthy for this game and then uses the bye to prepare for the final stretch of the season. 

While this season has not been what Bills and Norman envisioned, my hope is that he provides needed depth and veteran leadership at the position once the Bills enter the playoffs. I’m excited to see what he and Levi Wallace can do opposite Tre’Davious White for a full game.

CB Tre’Davious White (left ankle)

It seems anytime Tre’Davious White goes down, there is an audible gasp from fans. White has become the heart and soul of the secondary with his exemplary play as he has ascended to the ranks of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. 

He appeared to suffer a medial eversion ankle sprain late in the 4th quarter against the Seahawks. He was in pain on the field before hopping over to the bench to get it taped up, appearing ready to go back in if needed.

He practiced this week with a limited designation on Thursday and full on Friday indicating that this was not going to be an issue. He had also stated to the media that he would play. Despite the injury, he will likely not see any ill effects as he will probably have the ankle taped up and or braced. Arizona has some talented wide receivers and it will be White’s job to lock down whoever it may be, most likely DeAndre Hopkins

G Brian Winters (knee)

Winters appears on the injury report again with a knee ailment. He did exit the game briefly on Sunday with what appeared to be a knee contusion before returning later in the game. While he may have some acute injuries, this may be more of an acute on chronic issue that he continues to battle as the season progresses. 

RB TJ Yeldon (back)

Still, nothing is known about Yeldon’s back injury but he does not have a game status attached to him. This situation reminds me of several years ago when former Bills OL John Miller was on the injury report with an ankle injury for nearly 6 weeks despite not playing. 

Yeldon doesn’t appear to be in the game plans this Sunday and will likely be inactive. However, knowing he is healthy is good to know in the event that either Devin Singletary or Zack Moss goes down in the future. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

S Micah Hyde

TE Lee Smith* active due to TE Tyler Kroft on COVID list

RB Taiwan Jones 

DT Harrison Phillips 

COVID list: Josh Norman, Dean Marlowe, Tyler Kroft, Levi Wallace

Elevated for COVID and PS call ups include Darron Lee, Daryl Worley, Jake Kumerow, Josh Thomas, Dane Jackson

The Cardinals are a talented team but the Bills match up well with them. Looking at the injury report for Arizona, they have several injuries that could impact their ability to match up as well as they have with other teams in the past weeks. Budda Baker is questionable with a groin injury, Kenyan Drake is still working through an ankle injury that you can read more about at The Game Day. Drake may play but I highly question his effectiveness. He may be best served to sit out one more game.

Dre Kirkpatrick their top corner is also working through a thigh injury and Dionte Thompson addressing a knee injury. On top of that, former Bill Jordan Phillips will miss the game with a hamstring strain. 

Even though the Bills are still working through some injuries, at worst they will not have Micah Hyde, Cody Ford, and they are already without Matt Milano. That is far better than the Cardinals potentially missing most of their secondary along with key offensive weapons. The Bills have shown they can plug up the holes required to get by without them for short durations. 

If the Bills play at all how they did last week, they have a very realistic shot to move to 8-2 heading into the bye. These games are incredibly stressful at times to watch but also insanely fun because this team is competitive and every single play means something now. It’s always been fun to be a part of Bills Mafia, but it’s so fantastic to be a Bills fan when they’re finally winning, it’s been worth the wait!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo News