Kelvin Benjamin Injury History

Analyzing the injury history of newly acquired WR Kelvin Benjamin and expectations for the rest of the season.

The Bills continue to shock and astound this fan base! Right before the trade deadline, the Buffalo Bills traded 2018 3rd and 7th round picks for WR Kelvin Benjamin from the Carolina Panthers! Brandon Beane continues to make moves to contend for a playoff spot, which is more than any recent Bills GM has done over the past 17 years. We have had splashy free agents such as Terrell Owens, Mario Williams, Shawne Merriman, and Nick Barnett, but have had to overpaid for aging talent or not gotten the money’s worth out of the talent. One constant remains, no playoff appearances. Time will tell if this Bills team will change that, but there is already greater chance than before.

With the Bills trading for Kelvin Benjamin, this does bring questions. Questions including how he will fit into a Rick Dennison offense, what kind of impact he will have, and what his injury history/risk is. Today’s post will review Benjamin’s injury history and attempt to determine whether he will be the play maker that the Bills expect of him. Or will Benjamin be the 2017 version of Sammy Watkins/Percy Harvin; supremely talented, but oft injured.

According to sportsinjurypredictor.com, Kelvin Benjamin has sustained a series of injuries over his 4 year playing career. Injuries include concussions, hamstring strains, ACL tear, AC joint sprain, and knee sprain. Starting in order, Benjamin’s concussion occurred during the 2014 season from a hit from Vontaze Burfict which knocked him out of the game but was able to return the following week. While concussion are a hot topic among today’s NFL players, the fact that he was able to return quickly indicate that it was mild at best and did not have long term effect. Having a history of concussions does predispose a player to future concussions, but so far Benjamin has avoided a recurrence of this injury.

During the 2015 offseason, Benjamin suffered two Grade 1-2 hamstring strains to both of his legs which kept him out briefly during OTA’s. Hamstrings can be chronic if not managed correctly, but considering the offseason is less strenuous, he was able to heal up with greater ease. Unfortunately, Benjamin’s 2015 season took a turn for the worse as he tore his left ACL during a non-contact drill during training camp which sidelined him for the entire season.

There is a higher risk for ACL re-tear once suffering an initial tear, but depending on surfaces, strength, and conditioning, this can affect rates. According to the MOON study, following two years after initial tear, 4.3% of patients re-tore the surgical graft and 3.6% tore the opposite ACL. This study comprised of more than 2,700 patients who had initially tore an ACL. While there is a risk, it is far from a guarantee that they re-tear. In another study that studied tears from ages 10-25 years, there was a 6 times greater chance that an athlete tore their ACL when compared to a healthy population. This study did factor females in which may skew results as there are no females in the NFL, but does demonstrate a higher risk for re-injury.

Through my personal research found at my previous article, I found that during the 2017 preseason, most injuries occurred to players 3 years and less in league. A majority of the ACL tears also occurred in this age group which can infer several things. This suggests that even though a player may be supremely talented, their bodies are still not physically ready for the NFL game right away. This also indicates that there is a higher risk for agility players to suffer major injury early in their career. Finally, consider that new NFL players coming out of school are 21-23 years old, this falls in line with the trend of ACL tears in young NFL players and in the previously mentioned study.

It was thought that during this season that Benjamin potentially re-tore his ACL during the New Orleans Saints game, but it was later diagnosed that he suffered a knee sprain which appears that he has fully recovered from. Fortunately, Benjamin did not suffer any further damage greater than a sprain and was able to return relatively quickly. Trying to predict the possibility of a prior ACL tear to re-tear or tear in the other knee is still like winning whack-a-mole. The risk is higher, but not absolute. Finally, the only other major injury he sustained came in the 2016 season in which he sprained his AC joint but did not miss any games as a result.

Looking back at all of this, it appears that while there is risk for injury, there is no greater risk than other players at his position. There also does not appear to be chronic injuries that he is coming to Buffalo with which may affect his production. I also pray that he does not suffer a Billsy injury a la Jordan Matthews did in his first practice with the team this season.

Kelvin Benjamin brings a new dimension to the passing game that was lost when Sammy Watkins was traded. He will be able to get the 50/50 balls that Tyrod Taylor throws up, he will be a red zone threat, and take pressure off Zay Jones so that he can continue to learn and grow as a rookie. Further analysis can be found by my friends at The Rockpile Report; I know for a fact that Drew and Chris have some HOT takes regarding the recent moves over the past week. Check out their podcast, you will not be disappointed!

Overall, I like this trade. Kelvin Benjamin does come with some injury baggage, but so has nearly every other player in NFL history. There are hardly any players that miss any time, unless their name is Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, or Joe Thomas. All eventually had serious injuries which affected their career in one way or another which puts into perspective when looking at Kelvin’s injury history. Though the Bills did give up some draft capital, they still have 5 picks within the top 90 picks and cap flexibility to get the players they covet and not sacrifice the future.

This is a true application of “Trust the Process”. Will it end in playoff appearances, division championships, or even dare I say it, a Super Bowl? Who knows. These Buffalo Bills are winning and still in far better position than the Browns or Colts who have tanked in order to get picks; their process has not worked in their advantage when building a championship team.

Continue to check back for further updates including the injury breakdown prior to the Jets game Thursday, post game analysis, and my thoughts on Sean McDermott during the long break before the Saints game. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 7 Recap- Buccaneers

Breaking down the latest on EJ Gaines and Jordan Poyer injuries and following the exciting win over the Buccaneers.

The Buffalo Bills continue to thrill and excite the fan base with a fantastic 30-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! Despite giving up 27 points to the Bucs, the Buffalo defense made key stops including a late fumble recovery by Tre’Davious White to set up the game winning field goal. Buffalo is now 4-2, including 3-0 at home, making Sean McDermott the first Bills head coach to start 3-0 at home. These Bills continue to impress, but key injuries may derail the good times.

Thankfully, the Bills injuries continue to occur at a minimum, but injuries in the secondary may be ill timed with the Oakland Raiders offense coming to life. CB E.J. Gaines suffered a hamstring injury during a tackle on DeSean Jackson early in the 3rd quarter. Gaines was able to walk off on his own power but was unable to return. As reports are minimal at best to avoid giving a competitive advantage to their opponents, Gaines has been listed day-to-day. Based on this report, he may have suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain.

If you recall from my article on hamstrings, this is something that can be managed conservatively and is a week-to-week injury. It’s possible that he may be able to play in time for the Oakland game, but considering that Gaines had a hamstring injury in training camp and is just recently coming off a groin injury, this doesn’t bode well. Unfortunately, these are soft tissue injuries and while can be reduced, they are not fully preventable.

I would not hang the “injury-prone” tag on Gaines though at this time. During each time he has been injured, he has been going all out trying to make the play. I would rather have him go all out trying to make a play rather than a player taking it easy, such as CB Stephon Gilmore, who we dealt with for far too long last season. However, I believe based on all the previous history, he misses next week. As Brandon Beane has been known to do, he has been preemptive, signing CB Tony McRae and releasing WR Kaelin Clay with the uncertainty following the injury.

This signing was also made with the recent injury of S Jordan Poyer. His injury came on the last play of the game in which Tampa Bay attempted their pathetic imitation of the Music City Miracle. They were playing the Bills, you’re not going to fool them twice! Video of the play shows a player hitting Poyer low and Poyer reporting he felt a pop. Based on video, it appears he did injure his right knee, though the injury does not appear to be as severe as it could have been.

During the hit, Poyer was able to begin lifting his leg and turn his hip inward away from the hit, allowing him to deflect some of the force on the knee joint. As he was able to walk off with the trainers, this also indicates that this may be a Grade 1 MCL sprain. Thankfully, this MCL sprain is nowhere near the severity of the Charles Clay injury. I believe there is a better shot at Poyer playing Sunday than Gaines at the moment. This week’s practice will dictate how each player responds to the injury. I believe that the Bills could go without one of these players, but not both.

Finally, WR Jordan Matthews was able to suit up and play, recording 3 targets for 2 catches for 10 yards. While this is not the type of production the Bills had hoped for, this far exceeded expectations considering he is still coming off a broken thumb. It was a stretch that he was able to play this week, it appeared that he was used more as a decoy to help in allowing WR Deonte Thompson to make his mark after being signed off the street earlier last week. Having Matthews return to play gives Tyrod another weapon going into next week’s game against the Raiders.

Despite missing TE Charles Clay and using a less than effective Jordan Matthews, Tyrod Taylor was able to spread the ball around to Thompson, Logan Thomas, Nick O’Leary, LeSean McCoy, and even Zay Jones. Despite missing some top end talent on the roster, the Bills still benefit from the depth at each position which allows for a next man up mentality. I believe this is why the Bills have been able to stay in every game this season and win the close ones such as Sunday’s game. This formula will not work every week, but the Bills have to begin winning the close ones in order to have a shot at turning their years’ long misfortunes around.

The Bills aren’t losing anyone to season ending injuries, unlike many other teams in the league. Depth continues to be a concern, but it is not as though other teams lose their starting player and a Pro Bowl caliber replacement is warming the bench. I believe with this depth and team first mentality, the Bills can beat the Oakland Raiders and move to 5-2 on the season. The Raiders do have a talented offense lead by Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, but if the secondary can get healthy in time, this should limit the effectiveness of the passing game. With how the Bills defense has played this season, I expect McDermott and Frazier to draw up a defensive game plan to limit the Raiders offense.

I know that many Bills fans are still on the edge despite a 4-2 start. The Bills have been here several times in the past with poor finishes. This may be another year in which that’s the case. Experience, injuries, schedule all play a part in the rest of the season. Time will tell how the rest of the season plays out; I will continue to hope for the best, but prepare for moments that remind me why I am a Bills fan. Until then, I will continue to cheer and enjoy the moment. Thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!

Week 5 Injury Breakdown- Bengals

Assessing the latest injuries prior to the showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals and how it affects depth.

The injury list continues to grow for the Buffalo Bills heading into the Week 5 match up against the Cincinnati Bengals. While the only notable players that are sure to be out are LB Ramon Humber and WR Jordan Matthews, there are still many others that are dealing with injuries. Most of these injuries appear to be players getting banged up due to the rigors of the NFL season.

Today’s article will review most everyone that has appeared on the injury list this week and attempt to determine the true severity of each player’s injury. Staring off with players who have not been limited in practice with injuries are as follows: RB LeSean McCoy (wrist), RB Mike Tolbert (thumb), and DT Jerel Worthy (thumb). It was observed that Mike Tolbert injured his hand at the end of the 3rd quarter which led to a fumble that Buffalo recovered. It is unknown how Jerel Worthy injured his thumb, but it was injured enough to appear on the injury report. Both players most likely sustained sprained thumbs which will affect play, but with proper management which may consist of taping for stability or even a wrist brace to reduce risk for further re-injury.

McCoy continues to appear weekly on the injury report due to a nagging wrist injury sustained in the season opener. While he continues to be a full participant, it does worry me that he continues to re-injure this wrist. He has been observed leaving each game briefly due to wrist pain after running the ball. He appears to jam it while cradling the ball, leading to pain and possible weakness. He could tape the wrist or wear a brace, but this limits the ability to cradle the football and effectively block. I expect him to miss some time during the game due to wrist re-injury, but the upcoming bye week may allow him to get the rest he requires to prevent worsening of the injury.

Those limited in practice were WR Kaelin Clay (back), DT Marcell Dareus (ankle), CB E.J. Gaines (groin), OT Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), CB Shareece Wright (back), DE Eddie Yarbrough (thigh), DT Kyle Williams (thumb), S Micah Hyde (knee), and DE Shaq Lawson (groin). Glenn continues to deal with his chronic foot/ankle injuries and Dareus is still recovering from his sprained ankle, which is consistent with this type of injury. Lawson injured his groin last week in practice and missed the Atlanta game.

Kyle Williams thumb injury may be similar to Jerel Worthy’s injury in that it may have been sprained due to the hand fighting that a defensive lineman performs during each play, getting the thumb hyperextended or caught. Williams is tough as nails and won’t let something like this slow him down. Shareece Wright and Kaelin Clay’s back injuries are injuries that not much information is available. This may be something that occurred during practice or something that is nagging. Considering that the spine is made up of bones, ligaments, and tendon attachments, it is quite possible they pulled a muscle, over rotated, or extended; causing pain and difficulty during tackling, running, and changing direction.

Eddie Yarbrough and Taiwan Jones also have little information regarding the nature of their injuries. These may be just contusions and limit the ability to go full speed, but do not concern me about underlying issues. Yarbrough continues to be a diamond in the rough, playing exceptionally well and Jones handles kickoff duties, which affect more game play rather than another body on the sidelines.

Finally, E.J. Gaines and Micah Hyde are questionable along with Cordy Glenn and Shareece Wright. As mentioned last article, Gaines’ groin severity is unknown at this moment, the team may take the approach that they did with Lawson last week and see how he feels going into the game, shutting him down if things don’t feel right. Micah Hyde is dealing with a knee injury that was not noted until Thursday afternoon. It was initially reported that he was dealing with general soreness which has since been narrowed down to a knee issue. This may be as simple as a sprain which he needs to rehab correctly or it may be something worse that the team wants to see how it responds before taking further action. Without video, it is impossible to speculate what specific injury may be ailing him. Losing Hyde going into the Bengals game will be a huge loss in the secondary considering the offensive weapons the Bengals have and several injuries already in the Buffalo secondary.

If this game were to be a non-conference opponent, I expect more players to be out include the above mentioned Glenn, Hyde, Wright, and Gaines. As the Bills would benefit from winning every game, it is more important to win the conference games if it comes down to tiebreakers at the end for playoff seeding. Excluding Gaines, I expect all the players listed above to play. Some of these players may see a limited snap count such as Dareus did last week. It remains to be seen if his snap count is limited secondary to discipline or whether they want to ensure that the ankle heals correctly. I am in favor of limiting snap counts in order to get the best players on the field.

I believe this game is winnable with the way the defense is playing, simple as that. How things play out with the questionable players, along with Ramon Humber’s and Jordan Matthews’ replacements will dictate the quality of play. McDermott and Beane have constantly been addressing depth and finding the type of players that fit their schemes, which in turn should reduce the drop off in quality of play dealing with replacement players.

Continue to check back for injury updates after the game and break down roster depth, injuries heading into the bye, and any injury highlights from around the league. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!