Welcome back everyone! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and got a lot done on the bye week. The Bills benefited greatly from the bye, significantly reducing the number of names on the injury report. In turn, a shorter injury report alters decisions on who needs to play and who needs to rest. Below are the injuries and updates.
WR John Brown (Right ankle)
Brown continues to be limited with a right ankle injury sustained in the Week 10 matchup against the Cardinals. This initially appeared to be a medial eversion ankle sprain. He did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday, was projected to not practice Thursday due to Thanksgiving and did not practice Friday. Ultimately he was ruled out before Friday’s practice.
On Locked on Bills, I was more bullish on Brown playing coming off the bye due to him frequently taking rest days early in the week. I also referenced this Instagram post below that he is making progress with his ankle injury.
On top of that, he did have the week off which could have improved the ability to heal. If this is a medial eversion ankle sprain, Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake had a similar injury which caused him to miss 2 games but he came back to play effectively. Brown could have hypothetically come back following the week off and continue to build off his recent progress.
I had noted in the postgame review from the Cardinals game that he could miss 1-2 games based on the injury and that he now appears to be trending towards that. I will admit that seeing the Instagram post did give me some false hope with the idea that he could suit up faster, but such is the power of social media.
However, if this ankle is worse than originally thought and it could be or it presents more like a high ankle, then he could be out longer. He could potentially be out next week against the 49ers and questionable against the Steelers. This has been a miserable season for John Brown but the hopes is that he can get right when it really counts.
Update: Brown has since been placed on IR.
G Cody Ford (right ankle/knee)
Ford continued to work back from his latest injury suffered against the Seahawks in Week 9. At the time, it appeared as though he suffered a low inversion ankle sprain when he was clipped from behind by Zack Moss on the scoring play by Tyler Kroft.
However, it was reported Friday that Ford would be out for the season with a torn meniscus. It was confirmed that he suffered the injury in practice but it did not specify which side he injured. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network stated that he would be out 3-4 months with a full recovery. I agree with that timeline and outlook.
I have detailed out meniscus injuries in the past which you can read here. Looking at Ford’s previous knee injury from against the Chiefs, I have not found any correlation that shows that previous MCL injuries increase the risk for meniscal tears. A previous MCL injury could increase knee laxity but not associated with meniscal injuries. There is research to support knee laxity contributing to future meniscus tears when associated with previous ACL injuries, but that is more due to the rotational component of the knee that the ACL helps stabilize during movement.
This discussion is all based on the idea if he tore the meniscus in the right knee which has not been confirmed. If he suffered this on the left side, then this is a moot point. But I feel it is important to note the possibilities Looking back at his college injury history, there is nothing to suggest that he had previous meniscal issues either. This repair decision is a far better option than trimming or removing pieces of the meniscus because that would contribute to further knee degeneration and possibly a shorter career. If you want to remember what the effects of meniscectomies are, recall former Bills tight end Charles Clay.
Update: Ford has since been placed on IR.
DE Mario Addison (knee/veteran rest)
Considering Addison is a veteran on the wrong side of 30, it’s not surprising that he shows up on the injury report with a vet rest day. He is also listed as a knee injury which hasn’t been a known issue since prior to Week 4 when he injured it in practice.
He played in 67% of snaps which was tied with Jerry Hughes for the team lead for defensive end snaps. This may be more of a chronic issue though it’s not known which side he is dealing with. Unless more details are known, this will continue to be monitored with overall little concern.
DE AJ Epenesa (Concussion)
Epenesa suffered his first documented concussion in Week 10, quickly getting ruled out midway through the game. He quickly entered the concussion protocol and working through the system until getting cleared following Wednesday’s practice.
His recovery fits the timeline seen for a concussion and there is hope he avoids further injury for the remainder of the season.
RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)
Jones appears ready to return following a hamstring strain suffered against the Patriots on a kickoff in the 3rd Quarter. He has missed two games plus the bye to recover which has fit the timelines we see for hamstring strains.
He has had a multitude of injuries over his career and to see him deal with another one isn’t really all that concerning. I had thought that Brandon Beane wanted to get whatever was left in the tank and that may be the case. As he practiced in full, he will be expected to return and contribute on special teams.
TE Dawson Knox (Hamstring)
Knox was a surprise showing up on the injury report in his first game back from COVID. He played in 70% of the snaps but was generally ineffective. This hamstring injury was not noticed on film and the fact that he’s practicing in full after a week off tells me that it was minor in the first place. Hopefully Knox can put it together in the next few games to show he’s worth keeping around next season.
CB Josh Norman (Illness)
Honestly not sure why Norman is on the injury report. He’s been cleared off the COVID reserve list and he’s practicing in full. Things like this will have me digging into the intricacies of the injury reporting in the offseason to understand designations like this.
TE Lee Smith (Illness)
Smith was a DNP Friday due to illness which is why he was on the injury report but that doesn’t appear to be affecting his availability for Sunday. As he has been used sparingly this year, this may not matter but for posterity, I must mention.
DE Jerry Hughes (Back)
Hughes showed up on the injury report with a back ailment that limited him Wednesday but was projected as full on Thursday and practiced in full on Friday. I’m not certain regarding the specifics as to what he was dealing with but until he has multiple DNP’s or is ruled out prematurely due to an injury, I have faith he will play and continue to produce.
QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)
Allen is finally off the injury report following 6 weeks of full participation from the original shoulder injury. I can say for a fact we have seen more severe injuries get minimal to no time on the injury report. Case in point: Jerry Hughes wrist/groin, Jon Feliciano left shoulder rotator cuff tear, Zay Jones/Taron Johnson torn labrum; those are just off the top of my head.
Either Josh Allen had fully recovered from his shoulder ailment or it is finally at a point where it is no longer an issue. This is something I still continue to watch in his runs, throws, and what he wears on the shoulder. At this point in the season, if these guys can produce and win games, then that’s all the matters because everyone is hurt in the league. It’s a harsh reality, but it is what it is for those that play in the NFL.
TE Tommy Sweeney (Myocarditis)
Tommy Sweeney never had a chance in 2020. He started off on the PUP list due to a possible stress fracture, spending the entire season on there before getting exposed to and contracting COVID.
Once cleared, he continued to work out but may have been having some issues with his endurance which likely led to a consultation with a cardiologist. Regrettably, he was diagnosed with myocarditis, the first known NFL player afflicted with this condition as the result of COVID.
Myocarditis is a condition in where the heart muscle itself becomes inflamed, this can also affect the electrical system of the heart as well. This can be the result of a virus, fungi, or bacteria among other things. The problem with inflammation of the heart muscle compared to skeletal muscle is that the heart muscle does not have the regenerative properties that regular muscle has. There is some research that shows some recovery can happen, but at a very slow rate. This is why heart attacks are so tough to come back from, the heart muscle is damaged and does not heal as effectively as skeletal muscle.
So is there damage to Sweeney’s heart? I’m not certain of that and I hope not. But he possibly had been having issues with working out after getting COVID which led to the consultation. The hope is that they caught it early enough and prevented any damage from occurring. Research shows that he will have to stop activities from 3-6 months to allow things to recover fully.
If he were to work through this or had a severe case, he could have suffered heart damage, irregular heart beats, or heart attack/strokes. It is a terrible situation for Sweeney but at least he can access some of the best medical care available to ensure that he can return for 2021. It is far too early to tell how this will affect him but any delay in training could impact him for next season. This will be something to continue to monitor.
QB Jake Fromm
WR John Brown* has been placed on IR
TE Lee Smith
DT Harrison Phillips
RB T.J. Yeldon
G Cody Ford* has been placed on IR
There are currently 52 players on the active roster. Transactions may occur later today which can affect the number of inactives.
Looking at the other side, the Chargers are dealing with their own injuries including the potential return of running back Austin Eckler from a Week 4 hamstring injury. This could drastically change up their running game which has been a point of weakness for the Bills in defending the run. The Chargers will already be without Casey Heyward, Melvin Ingram, and Uchenna Nwosu which the Bills could exploit offensively. Despite their record, they are still a talented team and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had shown he was worth the first round draft pick earlier this year.
Biased view but I believe the Bills have what it takes to win simply due to overall talent and health. The opportunity to stack wins before playing the Steelers will only help in case COVID hits again or an untimely injury occurs, potentially costing the team a win. A reminder: this is the last regular season game at 1:00 pm on Sunday as the team either plays in prime time or on Saturday the remainder of the season. Simply a result of a successful football team. We’re in the final stretch of the season and I’m looking forward to a potentially deep playoff run to start off 2021.
Top Photo Credit: Bills Wire USA Today