Bills Preseason Injury Preview- Vikings

Breaking down the latest injuries heading into the preseason finale.

The Bills close out their preseason schedule with the possibility to go 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. While preseason success is not indicative of regular & postseason accolades, the fact that the Bills are able to take their depth and stay competitive is excellent to see. The 4th preseason game is where guys make their last push to show the coaching staff why they need to make the roster and may benefit only several guys. Today’s post will review all injuries but focus on guys who are on the bubble that could likely play Thursday.

Ruled out: C Mitch Morse, DE Jerry Hughes, OL Ty Nsekhe, CB Taron Johnson, OL Quinton Spain, CB Tre’Davious White

All those listed above are likely starters and would have no benefit to playing in a meaningless game.

Morse is still working through the concussion protocol.

Hughes is dealing with a right hand/wrist injury.

Nsekhe is dealing with a knee injury.

Johnson has had a groin strain.

Spain has a foot/ankle injury.

White a quad contusion.

All of these would likely not cause problems during the regular season. However, the spotlight is brighter during the preseason & concerns are heightened. All should be ready for Week 1.

Questionable:

Conor McDermott: concussion

McDermott still appears to be working through the concussion protocol with no official word that he has been cleared. He has been participating in full padded practices which is always a good sign. If he plays Thursday, then that will indicate that he’s cleared & his one last shot to show why he needs to be on the final 53.

CB Cam Lewis- concussion

Lewis suffered a hard hit in the win over the Panthers 2 weeks ago & was removed from the sidelines with a neck immobilizer. He has since returned to practice in a red jersey but like McDermott, if he is not cleared, he may be forced to sit on the sidelines and wait for an IR designation or injury settlement.

TE Kyle Carter- knee

Carter suffered a knee injury in the win over the Lions last Friday. There was not a clear play when it happened, but he may want to play through in order to have a shot to get some extra game film out there. I am unsure whether he is eligible for practice squad still, but tonight will be possibly one last shot for him.

RB Senorise Perry- quadriceps

Perry, once a virtual lock for his special teams prowess is now looking outside in at the 53. He was dealing with a minor ankle injury that he played through in Friday’s game but was later limited by a new quadriceps injury. Like the others, it isn’t clear when this occurred, but he has been unable to practice since then. Depending on the severity of the injury, it is unknown if he will suit up tonight.

WR Robert Foster- turf toe

Foster has been battling a turf toe injury all spring & summer which was confirmed recently. He was limited with mandatory mini camp, appeared to be full go during the early parts of training camp before being hobbled again by the toe. Turf toe is notoriously difficult to fully heal and can linger all season at times. I believe that Foster was fully healthy coming into training camp and then tweaked it 2 weeks ago. He should make this team but may play tonight to ensure his spot.

TE Dawson Knox- hamstring

It appears Knox has his hamstring issues behind him as he was able to play last game without issue. He also did not appear to have any setbacks this past week during practice. He may play tonight to get the reps which I believe will be beneficial in his development but should only see the early part of the game and get out after the 1st quarter.

TE Jason Croom- hamstring

Croom dug a hole that he just can’t get out of with his hamstring issues from the past few months. Recent information came out indicating that he tore his hamstring back during spring practices, worked his way back before re-injuring himself at the beginning of training camp. At times, he has looked awesome in practices, but appeared to have a setback last week which prevented him in playing Friday. Whether he plays tonight is anyone’s guess; his best chance may be to play tonight and get some game film out there in the hopes that someone takes a chance on him or that he comes back to the Bills practice squad.

Released/Injured Reserve

P Cory Carter- knee

Carter was dealing with knee soreness which put him behind in the punting competition over the past 2 weeks. Ultimately, he fell behind too far and was cut. As he had knee soreness and not an outright injury, the team did not owe him an injury settlement and he was free to pass through waivers to find a new home.

OT Deā€™Ondre Wesley- knee

Wesley was injured late in the win over the preseason, he was able to return but was out for the Lions game. There is not clear video available indicating what he injured, but it was enough that the team gave him an injury settlement to go elsewhere when he is ready to play.

DE Mike Love- pectoral

Love appeared to injure his pectoral muscle sometime during Lions game. He was able to play most of the game up to about 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter. There was no clear mechanism of injury which makes identifying his injury difficult. As of now, he will be on the Bills IR for the season unless he reaches an injury settlement before cut down day on Saturday. I have no idea which way the team will lean, but his salary is guaranteed if he’s on IR, so it’s likely he stays with the Bills and focus on himself for next season.

Overall, the Bills have most of their roster filled out with several roster spots up for grabs. It may not be the prettiest game, but it’ll be one last audition for most of the players on the field. Regardless of tonight outcome, we will have our 53 man roster Saturday.

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 Season Injury Review- Defensive Backs

Breaking down the 2018 injuries and players who suited up for the Bills and what to expect in 2019.

Training camp is less than a week away! As the opening day nears, a bullish outlook on the secondary is the general consensus after the excellent play the last two seasons. The only weak spot is CB2 in where there was a carousel of players throughout the season due to injury which led to inconsistent play. Today’s post will review the injuries from last season, impact they’ll have on this season, and new faces added to the mix.

First up is CB Phillip Gaines. The veteran corner appeared in 7 games, starting 6 accumulating 2 pass deflections, 30 total tackles, 24 solo and 6 assisted with 1 tackle for loss. Gaines also suffered a dislocated elbow during the loss to the Chargers. As a result, he missed 1 game. Gaines was cut in early November due to his inconsistent play where he later signed with the Browns. He won’t be back and the cornerback position will be better without him.

Next up is CB Denzel Rice. The 4th year back has bounced around the league, most notably playing in 8 games with the Browns last season. Rice was a late-season addition to the roster in which he appeared in 4 games and completed 2 tackles. As he came in late and with little consistency sticking with a team, it will be a long shot for Rice to make this team unless he has an amazing camp along with injuries to other players.

CB Lafayette Pitts has shown to be a somewhat dependable player though his contributions were felt more on special teams during the 2018 season. Pitts appeared in all 16 games and recorded 9 tackles, 8 solo and 1 assisted. Injury wise, Pitts suffered a concussion when he collided with Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook on a punt return in the 1st quarter. Thankfully, Pitts did not miss any future games and appeared to have no lasting effects. Pitts has a solid chance to make this team due to his previous play over the past 2 seasons but is far from a lock.

CB Ryan Lewis marks another returner from 2018. Lewis was a waiver claim from the Patriots and had an immediate impact on the field early in the season. However, he must have drawn the ire of the coaching staff as he was inexplicitly benched shortly after his debut and received sporadic playing time thereafter. Lewis appeared in 7 games, starting 3, notching 3 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, 15 total tackles with 12 solo and 3 assisted. To note, a majority of those stats came in the 3 games he started before his benching. Injury wise, Lewis suffered a concussion during the 2nd Jets game which caused him to miss the remaining 3 games of the season. Considering his doghouse status and concussion at the end of the year, things do not bode well for Lewis. It is unlikely that the concussion will affect him this year, but he will also have to have an outstanding camp to make the 53.

One of the Alabama UDFA darlings, CB Levi Wallace makes his appearance. Wallace replaced Lewis midway through the season and never looked back. He appeared and started in 7 games with 3 pass deflections, 37 total tackles with 24 solo, 13 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 QB hit. While at times Wallace was inconsistent as he made the jump from CFB to NFL, he was able to remain healthy and show he could lock down the CB2 position. Wallace did suffer an ankle injury during the 2nd Jets game in where his ankle bent oddly as he was attempting to tackle the ball carrier. However, he did not suffer any long term issues and is a near-lock to make the roster barring any surprising performances by others.

2nd year CB Taron Johnson shows up and he made quite the impact as a rookie in 2018. He appeared in 11 games, starting 2 with 1 interception, 3 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 42 total tackles, 34 solo, 8 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 QB hit. For a rookie coming from a small school, that is an impressive stat line. What makes it even better is the fact that he suffered a torn labrum early in the season opener against the Ravens. He missed the next game but played the entire season with a damaged shoulder before being shut down after the Bills were out of the playoff hunt. I have detailed his injury and recovery at Buffalo Rumblings for those interested. Johnson may be at risk to re-injure next season but still overall low risk. He is certain to make this roster barring any season-ending injuries in training camp.

Finally, CB Tre’Davious White rounds out the group. The stellar 3rd year back out of LSU has really made a mark in the past 2 seasons with the Bills, but hasn’t quite got his dues from the national media. As he continues to play, I expect his stature to grow and be more well known. Regardless of national media perception, opposing teams are certainly aware of what White brings to the table.

He played in 16 games with 16 starts, accumulating 2 interceptions, 8 pass deflections, 54 total tackles, 44 solo, 10 assisted, and 1 tackle for loss. While he was stellar on the field, having minimal injury also did not hurt either. White suffered an ankle injury during practice prior to the Titans game which he did not miss. Unfortunately, he suffered a head injury in the season finale over the Dolphins where he was later downgraded to out. While no official information was released indicating concussion, precautions were still taken to ensure his health. If he was indeed diagnosed with a concussion, this would be the 2nd one of his professional career in as many seasons. White is a player that any coach can put in writing as a starter, the only concern will be who will be playing opposite him.

New faces this year include CB EJ Gaines who was with the Bills in 2017 as a key cog during the playoff run, CB Kevin Johnson, and CB Cam Lewis. All with the exception of Cam Lewis will have a legitimate shot at making this team. We know White, Wallace, and T. Johnson will make the roster, good shot that K. Johnson & Gaines round out the CB position. Pitts & R. Lewis also have a shot but injuries are always the great equalizer at the end of the day, so only time will tell how the cornerback position fleshes out.

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 Post Draft: UDFA Signings

Assessing the injury histories of the Bills UDFA signings and their injury histories.

Even though the Bills addressed a lot of needs through the draft last weekend, they were far from done, signing a slew of undrafted players to nearly fill out the 90 man roster. Today’s article will review the injury histories of each UDFA and whether they have a shot at making the roster come the regular season.

First up is QB Tyree Jackson out of University at Buffalo. The familiar face was reportedly one of the first players signed following the draft and appeared to be a priority for the front office to begin developing future signal callers. This is a far cry from past regimes that were looking for a quick fix through free agency or hoping to hit in the draft. Injury-wise, he was relatively healthy through his college career despite being a mobile QB. He did suffer a knee injury in 2017 that caused him to miss 4 games. Specifics were not given on the injury but considering the timeline, his mobility, and lack of reports indicating further complications lead me to believe he suffered an MCL sprain. This is not an injury that typically lingers and is supported by the fact that he played in all 14 games last season.

As for Jackson’s future in Buffalo, I expect that he’ll make the practice squad, soaking up what it means to be an NFL pro with the possibility of moving up to a backup role with the Bills or getting scooped up by another team to develop. Still, an excellent signing by Buffalo to identify future talent.

Next is WR Nick Easley out of Iowa. The productive WR out of the Midwest spent only 2 years with the Hawkeyes compiling 103 receptions for 1024 yards and 9 scores. During his 2 years, he suffered a collapsed lung with broken ribs during the regular season finale but recovered well enough to play in their bowl game which is incredible due to the pain alone of broken ribs. In 2018, he dealt with several nagging injuries for which I could not find specifics but he did not miss any games as a result. One article from 2017 revealed several injuries he stated that he had dealt with over his collegiate career included: turf toe, ankle sprains, two concussions, and a severe high ankle sprain from high school. The ankle sprains could have been something chronic over the past year in which he suffered a sprain but quickly recovers due to the scar tissue already present. However, most of these injuries are unfortunately common injuries players sustain but can vary in severity with regards to games missed. I am not certain that these injuries mentioned are what he dealt with this last season, but merely opens a window into what he played through. Future injury concerns moving forward, the broken ribs/lungs are not concerning but the concussions and ankle injuries can cause further worry as previous concussions increase the risk for future concussions. In addition, the ankle injuries could become chronic if not rehabbed properly, leading to more frequent injuries due to instability.

Considering he had to work his way up from Iowa Western Community College to D-1 football to the NFL, he has shown the ability to work and tough it out. While I don’t know how he will fit in with the WR corps, he may be someone who could sneak onto the roster with special teams play and an excellent training camp.

OL Blake Hance our of Northwestern demonstrated that during his time in Evanston, he was incredibly durable at a violent position. He at one point made 35 consecutive starts until an ankle injury forced him to miss one game early in 2018. Overall, he played in 51 out of a possible 53 games for the Wildcats demonstrating his health. He is yet another player that the Bills have placed a priority on with regards to avoiding major injury during college and being available. Considering the academic reputation that Northwestern has, he could be an intelligent developmental player on the practice squad that earns roster consideration in the future as the Bills continue to mold their offensive line.

Another local player that the Bills picked up as a UDFA was CB Cam Lewis out of Buffalo. It’s always said, you can never have too many cornerbacks. The Bills certainly understand this as it seems like while they have talent at the position, if an injury occurs, the quality of play goes way down and finding a CB4 that can be consistent has been challenging for this regime. While Lewis may not be the answer, he may be someone they can develop if he shows promise in training camp. He could also be someone that they put on the practice squad or cut but keep close by in the event of a shortage of defensive backs. Injury-wise, he did deal with several while in college but nothing that is likely to become a problem at the next level. In 2017, he dealt with a broken thumb and forearm that caused him to miss 5 games. In 2018, he suffered a leg injury which forced him to miss the Army game, but no specifics regarding the nature of the ailment could be found. This could have been something as simple as a contusion, pulled calf muscle, etc. that necessitated rest.

LB Juwan Foggie out of UNC-Charlotte continues the trend of effective, healthy players that the Bills have targeted in the draft. Foggie appeared in 47 games over his career, appearing to avoid injury which is remarkable in itself. As there are no injury concerns, he could be another player that sees practice squad time with an effective training camp or cut and brought back if injuries mount.

WR David Sills out of WVU appears to be an incredibly sneaky signing by the Bills during the UDFA period. The former QB turned WR has been a hot topic in past years, famously being given a verbal scholarship offer by then USC HC Lane Kiffin when he was 13. Unfortunately for Sills, he broke a knuckle on his throwing hand during his junior year of high school which altered his throwing motion which led to the position change. During his time at WVU and El Camino College, he did not suffer any reported injuries which is remarkable considering how much physical demand is required at that position. Sills will have a tough climb up the depth chart at WR, but could make noise with a great training camp and may warrant a roster spot to avoid losing him altogether.

LB Tyrel Dodson out of Texas A&M declared for the draft as a junior but that decision appeared to be short-sighted as he was not drafted and will have to work even harder to get an NFL roster spot. While has productive during his time in College Station, the one thing that he has going for him was that he did not suffer any major injuries. The only injury that can be found was in 2018 he suffered a minor sprained ankle against Ole Miss for which he did not miss any games. While the linebacking corps can always use extra depth, Dodson may be another player who makes an NFL training camp and nothing further.

Finally, K Chase McLaughlin out of Illinois rounds out the UDFA signings. McLaughlin was the 2018 Big Ten Kicker of the year, hitting 4 of 6 FG’s from 50+ yards out. As he is a kicker, special teams players are typically not known for getting injured and he was no exception. While K Stephen Hauschka continues to produce at a high level, he has begun showing his age along with suffering an injury last year due to a blindside block. I do not believe that McLaughlin will seriously challenge for the starting kicker role. However, the competition will certainly help keep Hauschka on his toes to produce.

Overall, these UDFA signing’s show some promise but are relative long shots to make the team. Bills fans know all about UDFA’s making their mark in the league with LB Lorenzo Alexander spending nearly 15 years in the league along with CB Levi Wallace and WR Robert Foster eventually making the roster and producing despite their starting position as a UDFA. This will be an exciting group to watch through training camp who can make their presence known. I believe at least 1-2 of these guys will find their name on the Buffalo Bills roster come 2019.

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!!