Week 4 Recap- Falcons

Breaking down the Bills latest injuries including thumb fractures, surgical approaches, and long term outlook.

This is a Bills team that continues to impress so far into the 2017 season. The defense is looking better than ever, Tyrod Taylor is moving the ball well, and serious injuries continue to be at a minimum. The Bills pulled out a solid win against the defending NFC champions, winning 23-17. These Bills look good, but I am not getting my hopes up yet. This happened in 2008 and 2011, both of which became lost seasons.

Unfortunately, with a hard nose win, comes some tough injuries which does affect how the next few weeks play out. A total of 4 players went out with some significant injuries that some will miss extended time. LB Ramon Humber and WR Jordan Matthews are out with broken thumbs, also known as the first metacarpal, the portion of the thumb that is highlighted as the broken area in the picture. Reports indicate that both will have surgery with Matthews requiring a pin to hold the fracture in place. There are not reports that Humber will require the same technique which may indicate a different type of fracture which may affect healing time.

fr_metacIllustration 1: Credit: http://www.mdguidelines.com/fracture-metacarpal-bones

While there are multiple ways to break a thumb and various ways the bone can break, the surgical options are fairly straight forward. For Matthews’, he will require a pin or “K-wire” which is inserted into the bone to hold it in place while it heals, which typically takes 3 weeks until it can be pulled out. A small piece of the wire sticks out of the skin and is protected to reduce infection. This is called a Bennett’s type approach. He may require this surgery due to a portion of the bone that has become fractured and requires stabilization to ensure proper healing.

Humber’s surgery may take the approach known as a Rolando’s type approach due to the nature of the break. Humber may have had several small breaks in the first metacarpal requiring a surgical approach to bring together all the various pieces together using a plate and screws to secure the area while it heals. Considering that the surgical area will be sewed shut, it is possible to have a cast placed over the area and continue playing. To better understand the difference between the thumb surgeries, please check out this link. While it does have basic drawings, it is the best resource that makes understanding the differences easily.

Next up is S Colt Anderson with a broken forearm. Any of my readers, please tell me what the Bills see in this guy? He continually gets hurt and I personally fail to see the value in him being on the roster. However, he suffered a broken forearm and has since been placed on IR. Typically, an injury such as this is sustained due to a direct blow to the arm such as during blocking or hitting the arm against a helmet. It is unknown which bone he broke in his arm, but he will require surgery which typically places a rod and screws to stabilize the area to ensure that it heals properly.

Finally, E.J. Gaines suffered a pulled groin on a hard tackle after changing direction in the 4th quarter and left the game. As of now, it is unknown how severe the injury is, but if it is similar to Shaq Lawson’s injury, then he should recover well. He was able to walk off on his own power and did not need any immediate attention which may indicate a mild strain. To understand further what the groin is and how it affects the football player, check out this article.

Expect to see Gaines at worst miss the next game, but considering he has more time than Lawson to recover, it’s possible for him to play in some fashion Sunday. Depending on the severity of the Humber fracture, he could come back after the bye and play in a cast while he continues to heal. Matthews on the other hand, makes his money using his hands and will require a longer recovery time because of this and the nature of the surgery. He will come back at some point during the season, but I wouldn’t expect him to come back until the Saints game on November 12th. This will give him at least 4 weeks to recover and then with the Jets playing the Bills on Thursday night, no sense in rushing him back and gives him an extra week to recover.

To make up for these losses, the Bills signed WR Philly Brown, S Trae Elston, and S Shamarko Thomas, moving S Colt Anderson to IR and releasing S Robert Blanton and DE Eric Lee. The Bills continue to make moves to keep the depth at a premium and sign players who know the system, allowing for a smaller learning curve.

Continue to check back for updates and any new injuries. These Bills may be real, let’s see how real they can get! Go Bills!!

Lawson’s Gimpy Groin

Assessing Shaq Lawson’s latest injury and impact for Sunday’s showdown against the Atlanta Falcons.

It was reported that Shaq Lawson injured his groin in practice Thursday and is now a game time decision for Sunday against Atlanta. Lawson has been on a tear this season in limited action, totaling 10 tackles, 2 sacks, nearly equaling his output from last year. He has begun to live up to draft expectations coming out of Clemson in 2016 and is a reason why the Bills defense has returned to top form this season.

As Lawson is a game time decision on Sunday, it would be better to understand what a groin injury is and how it affects his play. The groin is a series of muscles that attach from the lower hip in the hip crease to the inside portion of the thigh. These muscles assist in bringing the leg to midline, flexing the hip up, and internally/externally rotating the hip. These actions are vital to the actions of the defensive end with regards to shuffling, running, and pivoting. This is typically seen when trying to run down a player or having to stop suddenly. This can also be seen during eccentric contraction of the adductors which is seen during blocking and shuffling along the line.

groin_injuries.jpgIllustration 1: Credit: physioworks.com.au

Lawson reports that his groin is sore and that he will be alright. Despite a positive outlook from Lawson, it is still beneficial to understand how the groin is injured. Typically, the groin muscles are injured when the individual is sprinting or changing directions quickly. As this is a soft tissue injury, there are various grades that the muscle strain can be broken down into to assess severity based on location and mechanism of injury.

Grade 1 involves an injury to the area due to overloading the area, causing microtears and weakening the anchor point, causing pain and inflammation. This is usually a week-to-week injury and if rehabbed properly, should not be an issue long term. The injury typically is seen more in the muscle belly, which is the meaty portion of the muscle. Pain may be felt in the inner thigh or in the groin itself if the muscle is overloaded.

Grade 2 involves a partial tear to the muscle belly or attachment point leading to an inability to walk normally, much less perform the duties of the position. This injury takes longer, anywhere from 4-8 weeks based on severity and must be managed conservatively. Typically, injuries closer to the attachment points can become more chronic and lead to extended time missed. This is due to the nature of the muscle having to pull on the anchor in order to function properly. If the anchor point is not secure, pain and ineffective use of the muscle continue to occur.

Grade 3 typically involves tearing of the attachments closer to the femur, which is known as the distal insertion points. Commonly, the muscle is torn partially or fully away from the bone, leading to surgical intervention. These type of injuries do not happen often, but as with any muscle injury, can occur.

It is not known what caused Lawson’s injury, but it is certainly significant enough to cause him to be a game time decision. I believe that Lawson’s groin injury is a Grade 1, supported by the remark that it is sore and that he will be alright. An athlete knows his body best and barring any re-injury during warm ups, should play Sunday. There is always the risk to increase the severity by playing through, but with proper stretching and warm ups, along with the continued limited snap count, Lawson should be fine. Considering that Lawson has been playing up to the level we expected when drafted, it will be beneficial to have him pressuring Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense. This is a winnable game if the Bills play to the level they did last week against a very good Broncos team. Continue to check back for updates and further analysis regarding Bills injuries, GO BILLS!!