Bills Injury Review Week 2- Giants

Will this week’s injuries affect the Week 3 matchup against the Bengals?

Another Sunday, another game, another win! The Bills move to 2-0 on the season with a complete 28-14 win over the New York Giants. The game was never really a contest with the exception of when the Giants scored first for which the Bills answered with 21 points. Like last week, injuries remained at a minimum. Below are the injuries in Sunday’s win. 

As expected, WR Andre Roberts (quad), CB Taron Johnson (right hamstring) & TE Tyler Kroft (foot) all did not play Sunday. Roberts & Johnson are still dealing with the respective injuries that have held them out of practice all week. It’s possible both can return but will have to practice in full this week to have a chance. Kroft continues to trend in the right direction; he should be ready Week 3. 

 

RB Frank Gore (head)

The veteran back took a hard shot to his head and right shoulder which led to a trip to the blue injury tent with a minute left in the 1st quarter. He was evaluated for a concussion in which he was cleared. He shouldn’t have any lasting issues and considering how long he has played, he understands what he needs to do to recover this week, likely with a veteran rest day. 

 

OT Ty Nsekhe (knee) 

Nsekhe suffered what appeared to be a left knee injury midway through the 2nd quarter. The play that he was injured on appeared to have him slip and possibly cause a contusion to the area. He was able to sit out briefly before continuing the established rotation between him and rookie Cody Ford. Nsekhe did deal with a knee “tweak” during the preseason but this is likely unrelated. Something to watch but not much thought should be put into this. 

 

DE Darryl Johnson (neck) 

The rookie end suffered a neck/upper back injury late in the 3rd quarter. He was attempting to complete the tackle and had his neck snapped back before falling to the ground. He was tended to the trainers before able to walk off under his own power. Later, he was observed having his neck assessed by one of the medical staff before returning to the game. 

He likely suffered a generalized neck sprain that appears to be mild at best. He may be dealing with more soreness and limited range of motion in the following days but as long as he keeps the area loose, then he should be alright for next week. He may deal with other issues later on but more information would need to be known before discussing further. Right now, at worst he misses 1 game.

 

RB Devin Singletary (left hamstring)

The shifty back suffered a left hamstring strain following a run to the outside late in the 4th quarter. He took a hard step with his left leg and hobbled out of bounds with obvious limping back across the field. Considering the heat and fatigue, either cramping or a mild Grade 1 hamstring strain is the culprit. He was ruled out for the rest of the game but considering the game was nearly finished, it was a smart move. 

Considering this is a hamstring, it’s unknown how long he’ll be out. HC Sean McDermott noted that he is day-to-day at Monday’s press conference. If this was truly cramping, he shouldn’t have any issues and be able to practice in full for the week to play on Sunday. If this is a true hamstring strain, it could be anywhere from 1-3 games he could be out. The hamstring can tighten up overnight, limiting him more than the original injury did Sunday. However, Wednesday & Thursday’s practice will be a true litmus test for Singletary to whether he suits up Sunday. 

 

Overall, the Bills should have several players return from injury & if Singletary is unable to go, Gore & Yeldon will carry the load. As the season progresses, the slowly cooling temperatures will only help with the early season strains and dehydration issues. However, the temperature for Sunday’s game is predicted to be at 82 F, which doesn’t help at all. This team continues to show excellent depth to overcome these injuries and move to 3-0 over the Bengals. 

Week 2 Bills Injury Preview- Giants

Assessing the latest injuries to Levi Wallace, Tyler Kroft, Andre Roberts, & Taron Johnson

The Bills head back to the Meadowlands for a Week 2 matchup against the New York Giants in hopes for a fast start to the season. Already, they are without several key players that are nursing injuries. However, these injuries are minor in comparison to teams around the league but still significant enough that this may give the Giants an advantage. 

OUT

WR Andre Roberts (quadriceps)

Regrettably, he has already been ruled out for Sunday’s contest. He is still dealing with a quadriceps injury which frankly, is a mystery. To date, there is no known video that shows what happened with Roberts or any details explaining what he did. He played in every preseason game with the exception of the 4th game with no known injuries during that time. He was able to participate in practice on Labor Day and this is likely when he suffered his injury. 

There isn’t a ton of injuries that a player can sustain to his quadriceps. There can be strains & contusions and to a lesser extent, tendinitis. Considering the practice consisted of stretches and individual drills, he either suffered a strain trying to slow down or sprinting. He may have also suffered a contusion which wasn’t reported at the time. Either injury that occurs, it’s possible he could be out for 2 weeks and it wouldn’t be unreasonable. 

What’s interesting is that he isn’t even out in pads or a red practice jersey; he was observed in sweats during Friday’s practice. That doesn’t bode well for someone trying to return quickly. Something more may be going on than we know right now. 

CB Taron Johnson (hamstring)

The undersized cornerback suffered a possible right hamstring strain attempting to keep up with Jets WR Jamison Crowder early in the 3rd quarter during Week 1. He was unable to return and later had an MRI the next day. He has since been ruled out for Sunday which was expected as he hasn’t practiced all week. He was seen with a red practice jersey on Friday which indicated that he is improving but far from ready. Don’t be surprised if he misses 2 games before returning. 

QUESTIONABLE

TE Tyler Kroft (foot)

Kroft was limited all week and is questionable to play this weekend. He continues to increase his workload as he works to return to fully playing. Don’t expect him to suit up this Sunday as he hasn’t had 3 full days of practice and his conditioning may not be up to par either. Once he gets through a full week of practice, then he will be likely to play. Expect him in Week 3.

CB Levi Wallace (right ankle)

Wallace threw a scare into the Twitterverse when he went down on a 1-on-1 drill late in practice Thursday. Close up video review showed that he tried to keep close with WR Zay Jones before turning his hips, attempting to pivot on his right foot and fell down. At most, it appeared to be a minor low ankle sprain that didn’t limit him in Friday’s practice. He did have it wrapped up to assist with swelling and pain but appears to be full go. Considering the Giants receiving corps is depleted, Wallace may be able to keep up with them. If he suffers a setback or needs a break, CB Kevin Johnson can step in. 

 

Overall, it’s already known that Johnson & Roberts are out with Kroft also likely not to play this weekend. Despite losing Taron Johnson as a starter, the biggest loss continues to be Roberts in the return game. Considering S Micah Hyde is still returning punts indicates that Roberts is sorely needed. Ideally, injuries continue to be minimal and the Bills escape Week 2 with a win to move to 2-0.

Bills Injury Review Week 1- Jets

How serious is Johnson’s latest injury?

The Bills make me wanna shout! Yes sir, indeed they did with a thrilling 17 point comeback to seal a 17-16 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. Despite 3 rather subpar quarters of football, QB Josh Allen rallied in the 4th quarter & went 8/10 with 102 yards and a TD to seal the deal. Wins like this indicate that this may be a team that doesn’t roll over when down in years past. The Bills won’t win every game in this fashion, but defeating a division rival to start the season is key in the march to the playoffs.

The only notable injury sustained in Sunday’s win was CB Taron Johnson (hamstring). The 2nd year cornerback suffered a hamstring strain early in the 3rd quarter with 12:58 left on a 2 & 10 play in which Jets C Ryan Kalil was called for hands to the face. Replay doesn’t show Johnson in the TV view & an alternate angle only shows him briefly running over the middle going left before coming up with what looked to be a painful hop.

Reviewing All-22 footage, the sideline view is the only instance where the injury can be observed. Johnson was tasked with covering WR Jamison Crowder in the slot. Crowder runs forward & then to his left up the middle with Johnson keeping pace with him. This occurs for about 25 yards & the injury occurs about when the play shows to be whistled dead.

It appears that Johnson is beginning to decelerate or slow down causing the hamstring to eccentrically contract. An eccentric contraction is when the muscle lengthens under load. In this case, running forces the hamstring to contract but lengthen while stepping forward and trying to slow down. Considering he was going full speed, this is most likely the cause. The video angle is tough to determine but it looks like his right hamstring is the side affected when he came up hopping.

Johnson was later interviewed by ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques in which Johnson reports he felt a pop as he was running. He was scheduled to have an MRI Monday to determine the severity.

Considering Johnson felt a pop, this was the muscle tissue tearing as it does when a strain occurs. How much tearing indicates the graded severity. Reports indicated he was able to walk under his own power to the locker room.

On the knowledge that he felt a pop, he was able to walk off, & he was dealing with a groin injury during the preseason, my initial assumption is that he suffered a Grade 1 or mild Grade 2 strain. This may have been a compensation injury due to the groin not fully assisting in slowing the speed down. Based on this information, I suspect that he misses at least 1-3 games, possibly more if the injury is more severe than I theorize.

If Johnson is unable to go as expected, CB Captain Munnerlyn or CB Lafayette Pitts may be an option to bring in for a short stint. He is a veteran with minimal injury history & understands the defense. He may be best suited for this over S Siran Neal who appeared to be at times a liability when having to fill in for Johnson.

Besides Johnson’s injury, WR/KR Andre Roberts missed the opener with what sounds like a quadriceps strain. He was able to practice last Monday which consisted of stretches and individual drills. He then missed Wednesday & Friday’s practices, ruling him out. Quad strains typically require stretching, rest, and light strengthening along with ramping up activity as tolerated. The team may have been cautious in holding him out to avoid further problems.

TE Tyler Kroft continues to work back from the broken foot sustained in OTA’s without any apparent setbacks. There are several clips of him over the past 2 weeks working through drills without any compensation. I believe that he has to get up to game speed & conditioning which may take another 2 weeks which could put him at the home opener barring any setbacks.

Outside of those injuries, the only other issues I saw were QB John Allen having to scramble and take several hard hits with one appearing to faze him for a moment early on. While his legs are a weapon, the Jets knew this & keyed in to reduce his chances. While scrambling is great to have, opening himself to injury is not ideal.

Overall, it was a great win & minimal injuries. The next two weeks of Giants & Bengals may provide some early key wins for momentum going into the Patriots Week 4 showdown. Considering the Patriots added in WR Antonio Brown to their stables of WR Josh Gordon, WR Julian Edelman, & WR Phillip Dorsett, the Bills will have to be at their healthiest to keep the playing field level.

If an injury does occur, the Bills finally have depth at each position that will allow them to still play effective football until starters return. This team is finally built for depth, hopefully, the depth keeps the ship afloat. 

Preseason Review & Week 1 Bills Injury Preview- Jets

Reviewing the starters preseason injuries & Week 1 injury preview.

Week 1 is days away & the Bills appear to be healthy after a successful preseason. Despite the team reporting that the roster is mostly healthy, several players are still dealing with the effects of the preseason. Below is a list of players who have suffered injuries through the preseason. This is broken into 3 tiers to identify severity level and what to watch out for in the coming weeks.

Minor but noteworthy:

LB Corey Thompson- Groin

Thompson missed the Panthers as the result of a groin strain suffered during the Colts game. Groin injuries can linger if not addressed with rest & rehab. Considering Thompson is a backup & special teams contributor, the likelihood of re-injury is low.

WR Zay jones- Back soreness/hamstring

According to video, Jones appeared to be working through general back soreness early in camp. This was concerning as he had missed minicamp with undisclosed reasons. It was later revealed that he had been dealing with a hamstring issue that did not get re-aggravated during the preseason.

Jones was able to play a various positions during the preseason & played late into games. As a result, there is always concern that he could suffer an overuse injury. Hydration along with proper warm up will can reduce the chances the hamstring flares up.

S Micah Hyde- Neck

Hyde battled a neck injury early in camp, causing him to miss the Colts game. Looking back now, it appears that he suffered a mild strain. This isn’t likely to be a chronic or recurring issue, but still worth taking note. As he’s such a vital part of the secondary, any injury to Hyde is worth watching.

OG Quinton Spain- Thumb surgery/ankle contusion/foot soreness

Spain has battled several injuries since signing with the team in free agency. He first suffered a thumb injury which required surgery. Once training camp began, he dealt with foot soreness early in camp which forced him to miss some time. He appeared to be on the mend & play well until he got stepped on by RB Frank Gore during the Lions game.

This appears to be a bruise to the area that control the foot arch and help to push off during running. These muscles will also be effective in pushing forward to hold during blocking. For Spain, this shouldn’t be a long term issue. The only limitation will be if pain is still affecting him at that time. This shouldn’t be a problem for Week 1, but we don’t know every single bit of info that goes into the decision.

WR Andre Roberts- Quadriceps

Roberts suffered a quadriceps injury sometime during Monday’s practice. McDermott reports that he day-to-day which bodes well for his availability for Sunday. Considering that practice was stretching and individual drills, I suspect that he suffered more of a quadriceps strain. This could have been during a routine drill, stopping suddenly, or jumping for a ball. Without video or specific injury information, my assumption is that he will play Sunday and is out of precaution to ensure that he is healthy.

Worried but should be alright:

CB Tre’Davious White- Quadriceps contusion

White suffered a quadriceps contusion in the Lions game that initially appeared to be worse at first glance. After the injury, he was observed moving around on the sidelines without much difficulty and has since been able to practice without restriction. The quad contusion actually protects him from further injury at the moment as he may not have 100% function, but he won’t be able to push past it and overwork it. This isn’t something that typically lingers either, needs rest and proper healing.

TE Dawson Knox- Hamstring

Knox missed most of the preseason with a hamstring strain suffered early in camp. Hamstrings are tricky as even though they heal, they can be re-injured if the muscle group maxes out & fails. This is the problem as the player may feel good and then suffer a setback. I hope that Knox doesn’t have any further issues, but it’s far from a guarantee.

CB Taron Johnson- Groin

Johnson’s groin in itself isn’t the biggest concern, but rather his past injury history & his style of play. He missed the 2nd preseason game with the groin injury, but was able to play without apparent issues in the 3rd game. Groin issues can reoccur, especially with the positional demands of the cornerback position. However, with his torpedo type tackles and smaller frame, he may suffer further injuries this season unless he puts some finesse on his game to allow him to stay healthy.

G Spencer Long- MCL sprain

Long missed early parts of the preseason with what was described as “knee soreness”. However, he was seen with a compression sleeve followed by a hinge knee brace that provides lateral support to the knee which indicates he may have suffered a mild MCL sprain. These heal up quite well and as Long is a lineman who works in small spaces, he doesn’t rely on the MCL for cutting as much as a RB or CB would need. He shouldn’t have issues from this injury.

OT Ty Nsekhe- Knee sprain

Nsekhe is another player who suffered a “tweak” in his knee that caused him to miss parts of the preseason. On what the tweak is, hard to say without a mechanism of injury or further details. Considering his age and experience in the league, this may have been more precautionary. He, like Long, works in small spaces and should be able to perform his job without difficulty.

Can play, concerned for further issues:

WR Robert Foster- Turf toe/shoulder

Foster had an emergence last season after getting cut early on before changing his attitude and becoming a favorite target of QB Josh Allen’s. Foster was dealing with a shoulder injury early in camp that didn’t limit him but the turf toe that he has battled in the spring returned. Turf toe is a sprain of the great toe joint which is essential for push off during walking & balance. This is essential for sprinting as most of Foster’s activity is short bursts and pivots. He will most likely need a stiff sole or orthosis to restrict movement in the toe and frequent rehab to heal the injury & to prevent it from getting worse. He should be able to play Week 1, but he is coming in not quite 100%.

DE Jerry Hughes- Ankle/R hand/wrist

Hughes dealt with an ankle injury that limited him early in training camp but didn’t appear to be a factor during preseason games. It may have been general ankle soreness but more of a veteran rest injury. As for his wrist, he has worn a brace on the right side but hasn’t missed practice. It appears he injured it sometime during the win over the Panthers. Reviewing game film didn’t reveal any specific instance of injury. Having the wrist in a brace will limit his ability to hand-fight to get inside but shouldn’t affect the ability provide pressure. Wrist sprains in itself aren’t too concerning & should remedy within the next week barring any new information.

OT Conor McDermott- Concussion

While McDermott has been cleared from the concussion protocol, there is always a greater chance that he could suffer a future one later this season. From what I have found, this is his only documented NFL concussion, but his college career regarding injury is unknown. As he is a reserve player, the chances for concussion are less but still present.

C Mitch Morse- Concussion

Much has been said about Morse’s concussion including the moment when he sustained the injury back in late July. He has since cleared the protocol and returned to practice, but this is now his 4th documented concussion. It’s unknown if he will have further issues this season or if he has another concussion, only time will tell.

TE Tyler Kroft- R foot fx

Kroft has been working back from a fracture in his foot suffered during the first day of OTA’s back in the spring. Despite staying on the PUP all preseason, he made the 53 man roster and has been limited in practice though appearing to take part in individual drills. Video has shown the ability to push off the foot with conviction and pivot to turn up the field in the videos shown below. It appears that he will be ready soon, it may be a conditioning limitation at this point until he is fully ready to go. We may see him as soon as Week 3 for the home opener.

Despite the above mentioned players, outside of Roberts & Kroft, the team is actually very healthy. Understand that it will not stay this way, but there are several teams such as the Bengals who have been decimated by injury before Week 1. This can be a special year, the health of key players mentioned above will determine the course of the season.

Bills Preseason Injury Preview- Lions

The Bills may be cautious with injuries, but they are on the mend heading towards Week 1.

Friday marks the 3rd preseason game of the 2019 season against the Detroit Lions. The team continues to improve the overall health but remain cautiously optimistic on several players.

The 3rd preseason game is typical the dress rehearsal for the presumed starters, but time on the field may be abbreviated. Considering the number of star players around the league going down with senseless injuries, the Bills may keep it to several drives to minimize the risk. Below is several players to watch for in Friday’s game.

Ruled Out:

C Mitch Morse- concussion

The fact that Morse is not playing is not a surprise. The Associated Press’ John Warwow has reported that the team has been precautionary in dealing with his concussion.

What this implies is that the team and Morse jointly decided that he would take his rehab slow despite the possibility that he could have come back to full practices sooner. I am not certain this approach would be available in the regular season, but considering that this is his 4th documented concussion, this is the right approach now. They had the time available to ensure his health & prevent a second concussion that could prematurely end his season.

OL Conor McDermott- concussion

Like Morse, McDermott is dealing with his own concussion. Thankfully, he appears to be moving through the protocol quickly. No announcements have been made whether he has been cleared, but considering the depth issues on the offensive line, not playing Friday may be his best chance to make the roster if further injury along the O-line occurs.

CB Cam Lewis- concussion

Lewis is still working through his own concussion that appeared to be much worse than originally anticipated. If you recall, he was placed in a neck immobilizer following his hit in Friday’s game. He has not been seen at practice which indicates he is likely in Stage 1-2 of the protocol. The Bills could still place him on IR if they wanted to, but may wait to see if he recovers to play in the 4th game.

P Cory Carter- knee soreness

Despite working back from last year’s traumatic ACL tear in the preseason, Carter will miss Friday’s game. The team has described knee soreness as the reason for his absence. It is not known which knee is bothering him. My hope is that it is his kicking leg, but if it is his plant leg, that could be concerning as this was where the ACL tear occurred. Once more information is known, a better prognosis can be identified.

OT De’Ondre Wesley- unknown

Wesley continues to be dealing with an injury that has not been divulged as of Friday. The original injury was sustained in last Friday’s game but he was able to return shortly after. Looking at video, he walked off with about 2:30 left in the 3rd quarter appearing to shake out his right wrist/arm. Watching the play before, he didn’t appear to do anything out of the ordinary which makes identifying an injury extremely difficult. Without further information, he will remain an unknown.

Questionable:

CB Taron Johnson- groin

Johnson suffered what appears to be a minor groin strain following the first preseason game. He was able to play in the 2nd game without issue but considering the nature of the injury, the team may keep him out to keep him healthy for Week 1.

WR Robert Foster- toe

Foster appeared to jam his toe during practice on Monday. He was seen applying ice to the area following practice according to The Athletic’s Matthew Fairburn. If this was his big toe, this may prevent him from effectively pushing off, reducing his explosiveness during running & cutting. This isn’t exactly described as turf toe, but if he continues to work through the injury, it could worsen into a turf toe or another ailment. He may sit as a precaution, but if the injury was truly minor, he may play.

TE Dawson Knox & Jason Croom- hamstring

Knox is already cleared to play Friday according to reports. He had said on One Bills Live that he felt that the training staff took him real slow with his recovery. However, he feels great and ready to go. There is always a chance he could re-injure the right hamstring but far from a guarantee.

Croom on the other hand, continued to sit out practice this week despite getting into pads last week. It is unknown if he had a setback, but missing a 3rd game would certainly sink his chances to make the roster.

DE Jerry Hughes- Hand/wrist

Reports indicate that Hughes was practicing on a limited basis due to injury. Specifically, he was observed wearing a brace on his right hand during practice. Looking at film, there were several instances that he had fallen down to the ground or roughly engaged with offensive lineman. There was not any specific play that pointed to exactly what is going on. As he is a veteran player and he is wearing something that is supportive to an injured area, this may be precautionary and quickly forgotten. It is difficult to identify whether he will play Friday night.

Remember, this is the preseason, teams don’t have to identify specific injuries, they don’t have to play players if they don’t want, they have more flexibility to preserve the health of players, which leads to overblown worries about player’s health.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. Make sure to follow my work over at Buffalo Rumblings for deep dives on specific injuries throughout the season.

Bills Preseason Injury Preview- Colts

Reviewing all Bills injuries prior to the 1st preseason game against the Colts.

Football is upon us! The first preseason game of the 2019 Bills season is Thursday night against the Colts. While HC Sean McDermott has announced that starters will play the 1st quarter, this doesn’t mean that all potential starters will play. Due to several injuries, the below listed players are either not expected to play or are questionable.

Ruled OUT:

TE Jason Croom & Dawson Knox: hamstring strain

Both tight ends have been out since the beginning of training camp due to hamstring strains. For Croom, this is his 2nd hamstring strain after suffering one during OTA’s in May. Since both have not practiced in full, both are expected to be ruled out. This will give starting reps to TE Lee Smith & TE Tommy Sweeney along with playing time for TE Keith Towbridge, TE Nate Becker & TE Kyle Carter. 

C Mitch Morse- concussion

Morse continues to deal with the after effects of a concussion sustained in the first padded practice of training camp that has caused him to miss nearly two weeks of valuable reps. Even if he is cleared for tomorrow’s game, the missed reps alone will prevent him from effectively playing. 

Considering his concussion history, it would be poor judgement to rush him back into the field which may necessitate the team to keep him out of at least the first 2 games. Based on video, it appears he is in stage 4 of the concussion protocol, but until he is cleared & comfortable with the playcall and pads, he should stay off the field. 

CB EJ Gaines- groin

Gaines suffered yet another injury, this time to his groin while performing 1-on-1 drills during Monday’s practice. Considering the team reports that he will be out a few weeks, he may miss the rest of the preseason while rehabbing. It’s obvious he will not play Thursday. To read more about his most recent injury, check out my article at Buffalo Rumblings.

RB LeSean McCoy- veteran

McCoy will not play against the Colts on a Thursday to avoid injury and ensure that he stays healthy going into 2019. He will play during the Panthers preseason game whereas RB Frank Gore will sit that game and play in the Colts game. This is a smart move and will also let RB Devin Singletary & RB TJ Yeldon touches to see what they have as depth. 

 

Ruled QUESTIONABLE: 

C/G Spencer Long: knee

Long has been in and out of practice the past week dealing with what the team has described as knee soreness. He has been seen wearing a hinged knee brace and compression sleeve indicating he may have sustained a mild knee sprain. Considering the issues that Morse is dealing with now, Long may be forced to play the first quarter in the even that Morse is not ready to start the season. If Long cannot start, then C Russell Bodine will. 

OL Jon Feliciano: shoulder

Feliciano suffered a shoulder injury during Thursday’s practice and appeared to re-injure the area again during the Friday practice at New Era Field. While there is not video or any descriptors of the injury, it is hard to speculate what he is dealing with. Considering the issues with the offensive line, I would expect the team would want to get him reps for a few series in order to see how things get on the field. However, the team may hold him out as a precaution to see how the rest of the linemen look. 

There appears to always be surprises for preseason games but as they are generally a waste for starters to play, it is expected that others will sit as a precaution. There are many others Bills players listed with ailments but do not appear to be limiting as all have practiced over the last week without issues. 

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Season Injury Review- Special Teams

Reviewing the injuries at the special teams unit & what the 2019 version may look like.

Training camp is here! After nearly 8 months of waiting, the Bills break for training camp on Thursday & we are one step closer to having meaningful Sunday’s again. Today’s article marks the finale of the positional reviews for the 2018 season. Special teams bringing up the rear and rounding out the remaining Bills players on the roster.

First up is LS Reid Ferguson. The now veteran snapper has made a nice home for himself in Buffalo, appearing in every game the last 2 seasons while not missing a snap and avoiding injury. While there are not many stats for long snappers, he did accumulate 3 total tackles, 2 solo, 1 assisted. He will be coming back this season as the most consistent special teams player and look to improve on their performance from last season.

P Matt Darr appeared in 5 games this past season, punting the ball 20 times for 809 yards. He also did not suffer any injuries but his time with the team was solely due to the injuries and inconsistencies at a normally stable punter position. Darr has since moved onto the New York Jets for the 2019 season.

P Colton Schmidt had two stints with the team, winning the job coming out of training camp before getting cut in favor of Bojorquez. However, Schmidt did get re-signed to the team for 3 games after Bojorquez went down with injury. He was able to make 16 punts for 676 yards during his brief time in Buffalo and avoid injury. He is currently a free agent but unlikely to return to Buffalo this coming season.

P Cory Carter missed all of last season with a torn ACL suffered in the Browns preseason game. This was the result of a Browns player running into Carter’s leg after he got the punt off, he was unable to land safely on his plant leg, the knee hyperextended and the ACL tore. Carter spent all of last season on IR but the team appeared to like him enough to bring him back to compete for the starting job this season. To note, he was the only Bills player to suffer an ACL tear last season.

Moving onto P Corey Bojorquez, he suffered a torn labrum during the Tennessee Titans game in which he attempted a botched fake field goal. While he was attempting to throw the ball, he was tackled and the force of his fully flexed arm led to a labral tear. He was able to play several more games before being shut down and sent to IR. Bojorquez appeared in 8 games, totaling 45 punts for 2028 yards & 1 block. He appears to be fully healthy coming into this season and should have a healthy competition with P Cory Carter for the starting job.

Next man up is RB Taiwan Jones. While he is listed as a running back, his mark was made on special teams. He appeared in 6 games, mostly returning punts until he suffered some sort of neck injury against the Houston Texans. I have reviewed film countless times and was unable to identify what the injury was. Whatever he was diagnosed with, he was sent to IR for the season but has since signed with Houston to bolster their special teams in 2019. To note, he did suffer a rather gruesome gash on his head as the result of a muffed punt against the Chargers where he took a direct hit from a helmeted player. Thankfully, he did not suffer a concussion and as far as we know, no lasting issues with the head wound.

Finally, K Stephen Hauschka rounds out the special teams unit. He appeared in all 16 games finishing 22/28 for a 78.4% FG percentage completion which is an all time low for the veteran kicker. He also made 25/26 extra point kicks for a 96.2% completion. However, to provide context, Hauschka was not the same kicker after he got blindsided by Jets DE Henry Anderson after a blocked FG on the last play in the 2nd half of the first meeting with the Jets. I had originally thought he suffered a hip pointer injury which could make kicking very difficult & painful which certainly affected his effectiveness the rest of the season. Looking back, there is reasonable questions on whether the Bills should have brought a different kicker in while Hauschka healed. But, as Hauschka is a veteran, he has learned how to take care of his body and with time and rest, this should not affect him going into this season. However, if he starts to slip, they team may want to move in a younger direction.

Overall, I expect Hauschka & Ferguson to be on the 2019 Bills roster with a fierce battle at the punter position taking place. Technically, Hauschka does have competition with UDFA K Chase McLaughlin, but it would take a horrendous preseason for McLaughlin to unseat the veteran. This should be a much improved unit with new ST coach Heath Farwell taking the reins and improving the overall special teams units in order to overcome the shortcomings that cost the Bills games last season.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!