Bills Season Injury Review- Running Backs

Assessing the 2018 Bills injuries at running back & roster changes for 2019.

The 2018 Buffalo Bills running game didn’t scare people or dictate games as it did several years ago which led to the offense to be rather one dimensional and easy to game plan against. Without LeSean McCoy producing as the engine of the offense, this put the pressure on the passing game which was severely limited secondary to the lack of weapons available. As a result, the team finished 9th in the NFL with 1984 yards total, 15 TD’s, and 4 fumbles. Despite finishing in the top 10 in rushing, the Bills RB’s were oft injured throughout the season and along with an inefficient offensive line, stunted their production greatly. This lack of effectiveness may be a precursor to what is to come next season with how the stable of backs looks in Buffalo.

There were a total of 5 backs that suited up for Buffalo this season including: RB LeSean McCoy, RB Chris Ivory, RB Keith Ford, RB Marcus Murphy, and FB Patrick DiMarco. To note: Taiwan Jones is listed as a RB but nearly all of his contributions to the team came on special teams. As a result, he will be addressed at a later time. Despite so many backs that played for the Bills this season, the leading rusher was QB Josh Allen with 631 yards and 8 TD’s alone. Without Allen, the numbers look drastically different: 1353 yards and 7 TD’s which would have put them 31st in the league. It would be assumed that whoever was under center would have put up their own respective rushing yards, but nowhere near the number that Allen produced.

The first back to assess is RB Keith Ford. The rookie UDFA out of Texas A&M was signed to the active roster in mid December after spending all season on the practice squad. He appeared in 2 games, starting 1 while amassing 21 attempts for 79 yards for 0 TD’s along with 5 targets in the passing game for 3 catches and 21 yards. While Ford’s stats did not jump off the page, he also managed to stay healthy during his two game stretch. He did suffer what appeared to be a mild inversion sprain to his right ankle during the Lions game, but he was able to quickly return after getting taped up and had no ill effects the week after against the Patriots. Despite his limited play, he appears to have found a home in Buffalo next season pending his continued progression as a running back. I would like to see him either on the practice squad again or as a depth piece in the rushing game.

The next back is FB Patrick DiMarco. The 8th year back didn’t do much this season and as a result, did not suffer many injuries. His 2018 stats were as follows: 1 attempt for 9 yards, 4 targets for 3 catches and 62 yards with 0 TD’s. These aren’t exactly eye popping statistics for an offensive captain. Most of DiMarco’s playing came on special teams and he was able to appear in all 16 games as a result. The only injury he sustained was an ankle injury during a punt return in the win over the Lions. He did appear on the injury report later that week but did not miss any time. Despite his leadership role, one has to really wonder if the money that he is getting paid is worth his production. As the team has built their culture, he may be a cap casualty going into next season. He is fine injury wise but in my opinion, not worth the money.

RB Marcus Murphy made his mark as the 3rd down back and on special teams this season with a very strong preseason before coming back down to earth once the regular season started. Murphy struggled with punt and kick returns early on, lessening his role on special teams before his season ended prematurely due to injury. His stat line this year: 11 games with 1 start for 52 rushes for 250 yards, 19 targets for 11 catches and 26 yards with 1 fumble. He missed one game against the Packers due to a rib contusion sustained in the Vikings win. Murphy managed to stay healthy until the Lions game when he dislocated his left elbow late in the 2nd quarter. Unfortunately for him, his season was finished as a result. Normally, dislocated elbows are not season ending but as he only had 2 games left in the season, he would not have been ready to play. Had the Bills been in the playoff hunt, he would have probably stayed on the active roster, but this wasn’t the case this season. His elbow injury should heal fully and not have any complications moving forward. Overall, his injuries were minimal and are not going to have any lasting impact going into next season. He has a very good shot to make the team again, but he will have to fix the mistakes from 2018 in order to have a job in 2019.

RB Chris Ivory served as a back up to McCoy this season and overall did not produce at a level equal to his pay. His stat line is as follows: 13 games played, 1 game started, 115 rushes for 385 yards and 1 TD. In the passing game, he had 21 targets for 13 receptions for 205 yards and 1 fumble. In addition to the lack of production, Ivory suffered a mild foot sprain in the Colts game that did not force him to miss anytime but did affect his production shortly after.

However, the big injury appeared to his left shoulder injury. He suffered this injury during the Chicago Bears game during a failed goal line plunge. He suffered what I believed to be an AC joint sprain that game and was unable to return. As a result, he missed the next game against the Jets but was able to return the following week. During the 2nd Jets game in December, he appeared to re-injure the area when his arm got pulled behind him on a run. He left the field favoring his left shoulder and missed the following 2 games despite practicing in full. I believe that he was dealing with pain in the shoulder region which prevented him from absorbing the hits that comes with the position. He was questionable for the final game but did play, having one of his better games of the season. Considering the Bills were also out of the playoff hunt, he may have felt that it wasn’t worth rushing back as he knows that he is on the tail end of his career, having just finished his 8th season. Prior to the season ending, HC Sean McDermott noted that Ivory’s injury was something that required rest in the off season which indicates that this was an injury that was not serious to require surgery.

AC joint sprains typically take several weeks to heal based on the severity of the original injury. I believe what happened to Ivory was that he suffered the AC joint sprain, he was able to come back mostly healed and then re-injured the area, worsening the original injury. Typically AC joint sprains do not require surgery but will require rest and proper rehab. As for 2019, this is not something that will affect him next season and he should return as his contract is not terrible and he provides stability at a weak position.

Finally, the bell cow RB LeSean McCoy. The veteran back had the worst season of his career totaling 14 games played with 13 starts for 161 rushes for 514 yards and 3 TD’s. He also added 46 targets for 34 receptions and 238 yards through the air. McCoy’s struggles could be blamed on several factors such as the off field drama with his ex-girlfriend that is still working through the courts, a subpar offensive line, and playing in his age 30 season which we have seen many running backs take a step back in their production. McCoy also dealt with several injuries that slowed his effectiveness this year.

McCoy saw groin, broken rib cartilage, left ankle sprain, concussion, and hamstring injuries this year. None of these injuries were serious on their own but cumulatively added up. He injured his groin in the preseason but was able to be available for the season opener with no lasting effects. McCoy then cracked his rib cartilage due to C Ryan Groy falling on him towards the end of the play during the Chargers game forcing him to miss one game. This was an injury that was very slow to heal and forced him to play through pain with his production varying. He was able to then play 3 games without further injury before suffering an ankle sprain and concussion on the 2nd play in the loss to the Colts. He thankfully did not miss any games afterward due to having extra time to work through the concussion protocol to be cleared in time for the MNF game. McCoy’s final injury came early in the 2nd Jets game in which he pulled his hamstring and was unable to return. As a result, he missed the next game but was able to return for the final 2 games.

Looking at these injuries, he did not have effective blocking to move the ball as he had in past seasons. The small injuries accumulated throughout the season meant that he was never fully healthy which only made things more difficult to be effective. Fortunately, all these injuries will heal in the off season and should have no lingering issues going into 2019. While he did have the worst season of his career, I believe that he will have a bounce back year in 2019 with a rebuilt offensive line and show why he is still one of the top backs in the NFL. There are some rumblings that he could be a cap casualty but GM Brandon Beane has committed to him and I expect that he will keep his word unlike previous regime’s.

This is one position that needs some serious love over the next few seasons. The position itself chews and spits out players regularly with running backs having the shortest career’s in the NFL. While there is a veteran presence, turnover will be important for 2019 and beyond. I expect McCoy and Ivory to return with Ford staying on the roster in some capacity. Murphy has a shot to stay on the roster but will have to prove his worth and battle in preseason like he did last year. As a fan, I do not see any benefit to having DiMarco come back outside of the leadership role he has, but considering veteran presence leadership is thinning out, he may stick around. It is very possible that the front office spends some draft capital to find a running back to be the heir apparent to McCoy, allowing a rookie to develop. 2019 may very well be a bridge year to 2020 and beyond to reshape the running game and further develop the offense.

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!!

 

 

 

Week 17 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins II

Assessing the latest Bills injuries prior to the final game of the 2018 season & Kyle Williams final game.

The final game of the 2018 season is upon us! Another season of Bills football is nearly complete and the final pages of a storied career will be written Sunday by DT Kyle Williams. Bills Mafia knows by now how Williams announced his retirement on Friday after 13 years in the NFL. It is only fitting to see that Kyle is able to have one last home game in Buffalo, in front of his most diehard fans, and against a division rival. Williams has not only been able to survive 13 years of up and down football here in Western NY, but he has managed to produce at a high level, and been an absolutely excellent representative of what a Buffalo Bills player should be. Because of his presence on the roster over 13 years, I believe his demeanor and work ethic will rub off on some of the newer guys, helping pave the way for the great heights that the team aspires to achieve. It’s a shame that Kyle will not be able to reap the rewards of the next few seasons pending idealistic outcomes, but he will be able to look back and see the groundwork he laid for it to happen. I suspect that he will be at peace knowing he brought a unique part of the puzzle to a franchise ready for a winner. Forever in our minds will be that moment in Miami when Kyle picked up his boys as he realized his dreams of finally going to the playoffs materialized. I know I can speak for all Bills fans when I say how much we will miss his presence on the field every Sunday. Thank you Kyle Williams for giving it your all during your time here in Buffalo.

Today’s post will dive into the injuries going into the season finale. Already ruled out is WR Deonte Thompson (toe) & LB Julian Stanford (ankle). In my last article, I detailed my thoughts on each injury and why they were unlikely to play Sunday. I believe that Stanford suffered a high ankle sprain and Thompson suffered turf toe or plantar plate injury. These injuries are not season ending in themselves, but considering the timeline for recovery is greater than one week and they did not practice, their season is effectively over. If the Bills were in the playoffs, there is a chance they would stay on the active roster and attempt to heal. Instead, it appears the team decided not to place them on IR and sign two new players for one game. Both should make full recoveries for next year.

Those questionable include RB Chris Ivory (shoulder) & CB Ryan Lewis (concussion). Ivory has practiced in full this past week which is typically a good indication of playing on Sundays. In addition, HC Sean McDermott stated that Ivory was looking in good shape for playing this week. I still believe he has an AC joint sprain and will need time and rest to recover fully in the offseason.

Lewis is still working back from the concussion sustained in the loss to the Jets and as a result, missed the past 2 games. He has been limited the past 2 weeks in practice and is questionable for Sunday. It will be up to the independent neurological consultant to determine if he is cleared to play. He is truly questionable for Sunday, however, since he has not had a full practice yet, the chances of him playing appear to be slim.

I expect Ivory to suit up for the final game of the season and Lewis to miss. As for inactives, that always appears to be difficult based on personnel needs but I am surmising that QB Derek Anderson, OL Vladimir Ducasse, Thompson, Stanford, and Lewis to be inactive along with two other players that will probably be healthy scratches.

Overall, it should be a very competitive game between two clubs who have nothing to play for besides pride. I do expect the Bills to use the friendly weather at home along with motivation to win in Kyle Williams last game to close out the 2018 season.

Continue to follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at http://www.bangedupbills.com for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 16 Bills Injury Review- Patriots

Read the latest injuries to Julian Stanford and Deonte Thompson following the loss to the Patriots.

The Bills came into the Patriots game with a lot of hope that this was going to be the beginning of the end of the dynasty. While the pass defense did hold Tom Brady in check, the run defense did not do their part and offensively, never really got going. The only upside to the 24-12 loss is that the carnage of the past two weeks injury wise appeared to simmer down and allow the Bills to play with a mostly healthy roster of what’s left. Today’s post will dive into the injuries and what they mean going forward into the final game against Miami.

Those ruled out prior to the game were CB Ryan Lewis (concussion), RB Chris Ivory (shoulder), and TE Charles Clay (healthy scratch). Lewis is limited but still working through concussion protocol; there is a realistic chance that he is able to play next week if cleared. Ivory is still dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him out the past 2 weeks. He is able to practice in full but still questionable which makes me believe that pain and shoulder function appear to be the main limiting factors. I still believe he’s dealing with an AC joint sprain that he keeps re-aggravating. It is quite possible he is dealing with a torn labrum, strained/torn rotator cuff, or nerve issue, but if he was dealing with the previously mentioned issues, the team would want to get surgery done in order to have him be healthy in time for training camp as he still has one year left on his deal. Thankfully, the team has reported that he should be in good shape this week which indicates that he may be ready to play the season finale.

As for TE Charles Clay, it appears the writing is on the wall. There is a strong youth movement on this team and Clay has not been producing. While his availability would have been beneficial on Sunday, he still has not produced to the level that his contract dictates. He does have a spotty injury history plus his age does not make him a viable candidate to finish out his contract and the team take a cap hit. Pending other offensive weapons availability, he may be inactive for the season finale.

Those injured on Sunday included LB Julian Stanford (ankle) and WR Deonte Thompson (right toe). LB Julian Stanford (ankle) sustained an injury to his ankle on a punt return with 5:50 left in 1st quarter. Upon video review, there is concern for a high ankle sprain as he was hit from behind and a body fell onto his right leg with foot in eversion or turned out. However, video is very poor and there were not any additional angles at time of writing. Considering he was questionable, eventually downgraded to out with the team reporting an ankle injury makes me believe the injury is more severe than an inversion sprain. There has not been any additional reports that state that he suffered any fractures, but it appears his season may be done even with a mild high ankle sprain. It was reported that he would not practice Wednesday which indicates that he is not going to IR but his availability will be determined by practice this week.

WR Deonte Thompson (toe) suffered a toe injury with 11:10 left in 3rd quarter. Thompson sustained the injury attempting to catch a pass when DB Johnathan Jones tackled him early, falling on his feet before Thompson took another step in vain to catch the ball. Thompson came up and began hopping on his left leg before going down to take his right shoe off. He was later taken into the medical tent and the sideline reporter initially reported a right ankle injury that was taped up. However, he was unable to return for the remainder for the game. The team later designated him with a toe injury. There are several possibilities for injury including turf toe, plantar plate injury, midfoot sprain or fracture. The most likely ones are turf toe or plantar plate. This is supported by the fact that the team taped up the area and he tested it out which indicates that a fracture or midfoot sprain was likely ruled out.

The mechanism of injury also supports either injury due to Jones falling on his foot as he was running forward, placing his toes into hyperdorsiflexion. In the event of turf toe, this is when the great or big toe is placed into hyperdorsiflexion with a force placed through the heel, pushing the toe past its normal limits. These are unfortunately common in football players and would greatly affect Thompson’s ability to push off during walking/running and make pivoting very difficult.

There is also concern for a plantar plate injury as the mechanism is similar in presentation to the turf toe. The difference is that this affects the attachment point that connects the plantar fascia to the metatarsals which are the smaller toe bones of the foot. To understand why this is possible a quick understanding of the plantar fascia must be understood. The plantar fascia connects from the heel to the bottom of the toe bones or metatarsals and acts as a lever when we walk/run to allow us to have a rigid area to push off effectively. As the medial arch elongates due to weight bearing, the plantar fascia tightens and becomes rigid to allow effective push off and prevent the feet from flattening out further. The plantar plate acts as a bridge between the plantar fascia and bones and also acts as a transverse attachment to prevent the foot from splaying out during push off.

It is difficult to identify which injury occurred without more information or physical examination. Both injuries would present with immediate pain/swelling with palpation, loss of range of motion, possible deformity if injury is severe along with bruising. Either way, it would be difficult for Thompson to play this upcoming game unless either injury is very mild. Reports indicates that he was not practicing Wednesday. In the event that Thompson is unable to play, this might allow WR Ray-Ray McCloud to get one more shot to prove his worth to the team before the season is over. They also have WR Di’Mari Scott, WR Victor Boldin Jr, along with WR Cam Phillips and WR Tanner McEvoy on the practice squad if Thompson goes to IR. To note, Thompson was dealing with an Achilles injury earlier in the week but that issue would not have any bearing on this most recent injury.

Going into the final game of the season, the Bills host the Miami Dolphins in the friendly confines of New Era Field with favorable weather conditions suited for the Bills. I believe the Bills can overcome the special teams mistakes of the first meeting resulting in a loss, finding a way to win, and finish 6-10. The team can then move into the offseason focused on how to find the best players in both free agency and the draft in order to build the team that is envisioned to compete for division, conference, and Super Bowl titles.

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and glad that you all made it to the end of another disappointing Bills season. Continue to follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at http://www.bangedupbills for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 16 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Assessing the rash of Bills injuries prior to the Week 16 matchup against the New England Patriots!

The end of the season is rapidly approaching and the Bills roster is showing its cracks. The Week 16 injury report is quite lengthy and while there are positives coming out of this week, the players are clearly hoping to get through these last two games despite giving it their all for Coach McDermott. One player who will be giving his all for another 2 years is QB Matt Barkley who signed a 2 year extension which will give the Bills an effective veteran backup to QB Josh Allen as he matures. Today’s post will review all the injuries with greater clarity and determine how these injuries affect Sunday’s game.

A total of 11 players found their way onto the injury report, 6 alone from this past game. All the players listed are available to play besides CB Ryan Lewis (concussion) ruled out and RB Chris Ivory (shoulder) ruled questionable. However, each week at Banged Up Bills, we will still assess the injuries sustained from this week and how it will affect Sunday’s contest. First up is FB Patrick DiMarco (ankle) who suffered an ankle injury during a punt return in Sunday’s game. I had originally thought that he suffered a thigh/knee injury but it appears as though he tweaked his ankle as a result. As he was able to return to the game Sunday plus practice this week doesn’t concern me in his performance this Sunday or worry for long term issues.

K Stephen Hauschka (back) was able to practice in full this week after being limited all last week with his performance still clearly limited. This was most evident when the Bills were forced to punt early in Sunday’s win despite being in Hauschka’s normal range. He was still able to complete kickoffs and extra points but the team currently doesn’t have faith that he is able to make the long kicks right now. I still believe that he is dealing with a hip pointer injury which is essentially a contusion to the area. He may also still be dealing with back soreness following the hit which will affect his kicking motion secondary to the muscles pulling on the painful area when planting and kicking. This is an injury that takes time along with stretching and slow resumption of activity in order to heal properly. As he was practicing in full this week, there is hope that he is healed enough that he is able to resume making the long kicks that has allowed him to be one of the best in the NFL.

RB Chris Ivory (shoulder) continues to deal with a re-aggravation of his left shoulder injury originally sustained in Week 9 and then aggravated against in Week 13, forcing him to miss last game. I have suspected that he suffered an AC joint sprain that was healing but after the re-aggravation, this set him back in his recovery and may continue to limit his participation in Sunday’s contest. He was able to practice in full last week but still missed the game as a result. At this point, my guess is that he is still dealing with pain with direct contact along with limited range of motion in that shoulder, restricting his abilities to effectively carry and catch the football. He could receive interventions to assist him with pain, but if he continues to demonstrate instability in the region, the pain interventions will only make it more difficult to listen to his body if he re-injures the area. Right now, rehab and rest will get him back to normal in the off-season. If he continues to injure the area further, surgery may be required and those rehabilitation procedures are not fun to go through. Ideally, he would benefit from rest, but considering the Bills only have 3 “healthy” running backs on the roster, he may not be afforded the ability to rest. He is truly questionable and without further information, it is very difficult to determine whether he will play.

CB Ryan Lewis (concussion) is still working through the concussion protocol and appears to be in Stage 4 with light football activity participation as determined by the limited designation. He has since been ruled out and may be available for the season finale.

RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) continues to work back from his hamstring strain from 2 weeks ago and appears to be moving quite well in the video provided by Josh Reed. Shady has also indicated that he is ready and able to play Sunday. He is a player that despite the down season he has had, will still want to go out and give it everything he has especially against a hated divisional rival to end the season.

WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle) appears to still be recovering from the cramping episode from Sunday that appeared much worse than the eventual diagnosis. While he is listed as an ankle, this may still be the ankle/calf region as its very possible he is dealing with soreness to the area along with activity specific pain, preventing him from going full speed. As he practiced in full, I expect him to play Sunday but it is clearly evident that the long season has been taking it’s toll.

DE Trent Murphy (chest) apparently suffered a non-descript chest injury in Sunday’s win over the Lions. He did not appear to require assessment from the trainers nor indicate anything was wrong. He may have sustained a contusion to the area from a hard hit or suffer a minor strain to his pectoral muscle as he engaged offensive blockers. While chest muscles are very important to defensive ends, practicing in full gives support to the notion that he will play Sunday.

TE Logan Thomas (hamstring) missed last week’s game with the same injury. He was able to practice in full the past 2 days and appears to be fully healed at this time. Most strains we have seen all season have taken the player roughly 1 game to rest and recover from and Thomas is no exception. Thomas, along with TE Jason Croom, have to be available to assist TE Charles Clay in the passing game in order to keep the ball moving against the Patriots. Expect Thomas to play Sunday.

LB Corey Thompson (ankle) also suffered an ankle injury on the same play as DiMarco. He got tied up with a Lions defender and limped off the field, eventually returning. Similar to DiMarco, he was able to return to the game and practice in full this week which indicates that this was a minor injury and should be good to go Sunday.

WR Deonte Thompson (Achilles) was listed with an Achilles injury Thursday, having practiced in full. He was not listed on Wednesday’s injury report which indicates that he may have suffered this injury during Wednesday’s practice. As there is no video and he practiced in full, this appears to be a minor strain which may limit Thompson from pushing off effectively and decelerating. However, he should still be able to stretch the field and provide QB Josh Allen another target downfield.

Finally, DT Kyle Williams (back) suffered a back injury during some point on Sunday. He was DNP Wednesday, Limited Thursday, and Full on Friday. As there does not appear to be any conclusive video of the type of injury that he sustained or any assessment by training staff, it is quite difficult to identify the specifics. All I know is that the only way Kyle Williams misses a game is if he breaks something. Otherwise, he will be playing Sunday in hopes of putting a hurting on QB Tom Brady.

One interesting omission from the injury report is RB Keith Ford (ankle). Ford injured his left ankle late in the 3rd quarter which forced the Bills to get creative with the playbook as all the RB’s were out, leaving them with DiMarco and Allen in the backfield. Ford’s injury did not appear to be serious as he was not on the injury report which means he will be available Sunday. There is potential that he is the backup to McCoy in very possible event that Ivory is unable to play.

While this was a lengthy article for injuries, most appear to be relatively minor with most of the players expected to play through these ailments. At this point in the season, every guy is aching and hurting, requiring limited participation just to get through the week. While us Bills fans would love for them to still be playing for the playoffs, the recent rash of injuries would make it very difficult to compete with some of the high powered offenses come playoff time. The hope is that the back up’s playing now will get invaluable playing time to bolster depth going into next season with everyone expected to come back healthy.

The prevailing thought going into Foxboro is that the Patriots are finally starting to show cracks in their dynasty having lost 2 straight. A third loss would be unprecedented with the Patriots and send them to a rare 6th loss on the season and a spot in the Wild Card round where they have typically not fared well in season’s past. The Bills did play relatively well in their previous game on Monday Night Football in October’s loss, but, it’s still the Patriots. If the Bills play lights out defense and QB Josh Allen is able to move the ball effectively to his new weapons Foster and McKenzie, anything can happen. I would love to see the Bills win and send Tom Brady packing, but I do not know whether this will be the game or next season. We all see the end coming for the Patriots, we just don’t know when it will get here.

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

Week 15 Bills Injury Preview- Lions

Analyzing the latest Bills injuries prior to the game against the Detroit Lions.

For what it’s worth, after that rough loss to the Jets marred by numerous injuries, the injury report for the upcoming game against the Lions is relatively short. Granted, we are missing several starters over the past 2 weeks with CB Taron Johnson, C Russell Bodine, and LB Matt Milano all going to IR with their respective injuries. These are the kind of injuries that if suffered earlier, could have scuttled a promising season had the Bills had several games go their way. However, these injuries only allow these and other on IR to recover appropriately in time for next season. Today’s post will assess the injuries going into Sunday’s tilt against the Detroit Lions.

Already ruled out is CB Ryan Lewis (concussion). Lewis is still working through the league concussion protocol and as he is DNP, he is still in stage 1-2 of the protocol. However, we typically do not see most concussions clear this quickly and Lewis will miss Sunday as he continues to work through the concussion protocol.

Those questionable are K Stephen Hauschka (hip), RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring), TE Logan Thomas (hamstring), and RB Chris Ivory (shoulder). Hauschka has already been ruled available to play Sunday by coaching staff and has been sitting out all week to rest in order to be ready. Thankfully, his skill set does not require constant practice which allows him to get the treatment he needs in order to be 100%. Why he is questionable may be just how the injury list designates how you rule someone based on practice participation.

Things are looking promising for McCoy as he was reported participating in individual drills which is an excellent sign for his overall recovery. However, he is still limited which indicates that he is not able to participate in the entirety of practice and does not appear to be ready for Sunday. As he is a 30 year old running back with a lot of yardage on his legs along with one of his roughest seasons in his career, it would not make sense to get back out there quickly to play for a lost cause. He may be ready but he would be better served taking a week off and coming back against 2 divisional opponents to leave his mark on the 2018 season going into 2019.

Thomas may have tweaked his hamstring in Thursday’s practice which led him to report the injury but as he practiced in full Thursday but limited Friday doesn’t bode well for his availability Sunday. As there is not video of what exactly happened, it is hard to speculate whether he will play. Hamstrings are tricky and this may truly be up to Thomas on whether he feels he can perform. Considering it will be cold and the injury is relatively fresh, it may not be wise to try and playing unless he had a good warm up and feels loose.

Ivory exited the game this past Sunday and did not return after falling to his left shoulder hard after an 8-yard run. I believed that he suffered a re-aggravation of his AC joint sprain originally sustained against the Bears. As he is practicing in full, this is an excellent sign in the likely event that Shady is unable to play. However, he was still ruled questionable. Frequently, if someone has practiced in full all week, they are always good to go for Sunday. My only theory that I can formulate is that he was able to participate in practice going through plays and drills but still dealing with pain in the shoulder. Whether he plays may be whether he feels he can absorb the pounding that a running back takes during a game. If Ivory is ruled inactive, the Bills still have RB Marcus Murphy and newly signed RB Keith Ford to handle the run game.

Those cleared to play or Sunday are TE Jason Croom (groin) and QB Derek Anderson (concussion). Croom required a week off after tweaking his groin possibly late in the game against the Dolphins. As he practiced in full this week and was not made a game time decision, expect him to participate fully and potentially take Thomas’ snaps if he is unable to play.

Anderson is finally cleared from the concussion protocol after 7 weeks of not playing or fully practicing. He is expected to be the 3rd string QB and continued mentor to QB Josh Allen. Anderson has been an enigma for the Bills this season. He came in halfway through the season, started 2 games, suffered a concussion during Monday Night Football, and then has been out since. Now, having post-concussion symptoms for this long is not abnormal overall. I have personally worked with patients that have had post-concussion symptoms for months after the initial injury. We have also seen other examples of players dealing with post-concussion symptoms for long duration’s of time, most famously Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. So, its possible that he was dealing with recurring symptoms but my concern was why was he still on the active roster? He will not supplant QB Josh Allen as a starter; QB Matt Barkley is the backup, which leaves Anderson as a body taking up a roster spot. The only theory that I could come up with is that Anderson was still dealing with post-concussion symptoms and still on the active roster for the sole purpose to help prepare Allen each week. If he had been placed on IR, then he would have been able to be around the team but not participate in practice in any form according to IR rules. I suppose having Anderson available during practice to critique Allen during practice acting as a psuedo-coach to assist QB coach David Culley. Regardless of reasons behind his recovery, the important thing is that Anderson is finally healthy, can appear in another NFL game if the opportunity arises, and can finish out the season on hopefully his terms.

The Bills had been hovering around the 50% mark with regards to players with questionable designation playing but that number has since increased to 66% playing recently over the course of the season. Based on these numbers, I expect that McCoy and Thomas to be inactive with Ivory truly questionable and Hauschka playing. This fits the numbers but these are simply trends through the season and not a prediction model. We will see what happens Sunday.

The Bills should be able to handle the toothless Lions with effective ball control and clock management. If they minimize mistakes on special teams and prevent turnovers, then they have an excellent shot to move to 5-9 on the season. Hopefully the Bills can continue to stay relatively healthy and avoid more season ending injuries over the coming weeks. While these games are meaningless, the overall health of each player is still important going into the off season.

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

Week 14 Bills Injury Review- Jets II

Breaking down the latest Bills injuries following Sunday’s loss to the Jets.

Back to back tough losses really take the wind out of the Bills sails and drops them to 4-9. This was the 3rd loss this season where the Bills had the game in hand but were unable to secure the win. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, we knew that they were going to take a step back this year. However, the mark of a good team is the ability to finish games and beat the teams you should beat. This wasn’t one of those times. Hopefully the Bills can learn from this season and transition into more consistent wins next season. Sunday’s loss also marked one of the most injury riddled days in recent memory and the most since I began this site. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained and what significance they have moving forward.

Starting off with the most serious injury, LB Matt Milano (fibula) suffered an ankle dislocation and fracture late in the 4th quarter at the goal line. This was the result of QB Sam Darnold attempting to dive into the end zone, landing on the back of Milano’s heel, firmly planting the foot in the turf. As the foot is planted, Milano is hit from behind by S Jordan Poyer and Darnold’s body being in the way prevents Milano from falling naturally, instead twisting to the left and snapping his fibula which is the outer portion of the ankle. I had retweeted a rather graphic picture of Milano’s ankle twisted 180 degrees with his heel facing where his toes should be. Thankfully, the tibia, which is the shin bone, was spared due to twisting to the left instead of the right. The ankle broke on what I can only assume based on video is the lower portion of the fibula which is the outside portion of the ankle. There is fairly significant ligament damage based on the twisting but can and will heal up due to the ankle being reduced or put back into place on the field and the ankle will be immobilized for some time due to surgery. Below is a picture of a fractured fibula, though not exactly represented as how Milano’s may look on x-ray.

Ankle Fx Pre-op.jpg
Credit: ankleandfootnorthwest.com

A lot of chatter on Twitter has been discussed over the Bodine injury compared to the Milano injury. Both injured the same bone but the severity is starkly different. Bodine will be back before Milano in regards to healing and normalcy due to Bodine’s fracture was fairly simple; he suffered a break, there was no dislocation or what appeared to be associated damage to the area. He just required surgery to set the bone and stabilize it in order to heal. Milano’s injury was more severe due to the corresponding ligament damage in the area. He will be immobilized and non-weightbearing post surgery, but as a result of the immobilization with the ligament damage, the ankle will become very tight due to the scarring down of the healing ligaments. This limited range of motion this will require further stretching and rehab interventions to address the tightness coming out of the surgery to regain the mobility required for his position. However, the timelines are still similar with rehab and recovery with the difference being weeks vs months in regards to return in comparison to Bodine vs Milano. I still expect Milano to take between 6-9 months to fully recover, but I’ll take the low side of that recovery which makes him possibly ready to participate in OTA’s.

The most comparable Bills injury is that of RB Travaris Cadet who suffered a similar injury late last year but was able to return in time for training camp. The only difference between the two players is that Cadet was a fringe roster player buried on the RB depth chart and couldn’t make the team. However, he was able to return to full health as evidence in his participation in training camp.

The other significant injury is RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring). Shady suffered a hamstring strain during the first offensive series against the Jets and was initially questionable to return, later downgraded to out. He appeared to pull his hamstring on a 6 yard gain right before the first Bills TD by QB Josh Allen. There was not anything specific regarding the injury; he did cut hard to his right before taking a step forward and going down. He was observed at one point running on the sidelines and cutting to test it out, but it appeared that he was not ready to return Sunday.

Hamstrings are tricky because they range in severity and affect each position differently. With McCoy’s skill set, as poor as it’s been this year, that hamstring is still more vital to his abilities than let’s say an offensive lineman. The veteran running back has since been listed as day-to-day by the team and has had an MRI to determine severity. This tells me that this is most likely a moderate Grade 1 strain. Yes I am splitting hairs here but they performed an MRI which in my observation is only reserved if the physical assessment is not matching up with typical physical examination. Day-to-day indicates that he will be limited with the possibility of playing next Sunday. However, we have seen this wording used in the past and interpreted to eventually missing some time. Typically we are not seeing players who suffer a strain come back this quickly.  But since there is a muscle tear as all strains are classified, once he rests, the muscle does tighten up and the inflammation process begins which limits his abilities. I’m going to be conservative and say he misses next week against the Lions because it’s a game that doesn’t mean anything and Shady has been absolutely been beat up this year, so a week off will only help.

Other players sustaining injuries include RB Chris Ivory (shoulder), WR Robert Foster (right thigh) WR Isaiah McKenzie (left ankle) OL Jordan Mills (left knee), CB Levi Wallace (left ankle), CB Ryan Lewis (concussion), and K Stephen Hauschka (hip/back). Ivory suffered a left shoulder injury running through the linebackers and secondary, landing hard on his left shoulder after being taken down for an 8 yard gain, appearing to favor his left shoulder coming off. If you recall, he suffered what I believed to be a left AC joint sprain back in Week 9 during a failed goal line plunge. He may have aggravated this injury again as he was slowed down and then fell hard to the turf onto the left shoulder and potentially re-spraining the area. He may also be another guy who misses a week, but he would be more likely to play Sunday than McCoy. Overall, AC joint sprains heal on their own with rehab and rest and only require surgery in the event that there is significant trauma to the area.

Foster and McKenzie got banged up on back to back plays at the end of the first half. Upon video review, McKenzie landed awkwardly on his left foot, appearing to tweak his ankle trying to haul in a pass from QB Josh Allen; this occurred with 1:26 left in the 2nd quarter. He was able to return and finish out the game. I would suspect this is nothing more than at most a mild ankle sprain that will may end up on the injury report but should not slow him for next Sunday as he was able to return very quickly after the injury. He did come into the game questionable with a toe injury but this does not appear to be related to the injury he suffered Sunday.

As for Foster, he got hurt on the very next play after hauling in a 17 yard pass from Allen before taking a very hard shot into his right thigh area that drove him out of bounds. This injury appears to be a contusion at worst as he was able to return quickly. He may be dealing with some soreness and may be limited in practice Wednesday, but this also appears to be an injury that should not keep him out Sunday as he has become a vital piece to the limited WR corps.

OL Jordan Mills suffered a left knee injury performing what appeared to be a chop block though he was withering in pain immediately after the play which required training staff to assess his knee. He was able to return the next offensive series and finish out the game. My best assessment is that he came down on his knee hard and he suffered a mild contusion. Mills has had several injuries similar to this this past season in where he goes down, needs to come off, and then quickly returns. I can’t even classify this as an injury per se, sometimes things hurt when you hit a certain way. No concerns for next Sunday.

CB Ryan Lewis suffered a blow to the head which was later diagnosed as a concussion late in the 2nd quarter. We have seen most of the younger players return from concussions quicker than older players such as QB Derek Anderson, but each concussion continues to be unique and only time will tell how Lewis responds while in the concussion protocol. Far too early to tell whether he will be available Sunday.

CB Levi Wallace suffered an odd looking left ankle injury early in the 3rd quarter. He began to suddenly stop and planted hard on his left leg, the ankle buckled as he attempted to pivot and assisted in taking down the ball carrier. I do not believe that he suffered any major injury to the area, coming off may have been more precaution to further assess the injury after the play. He was able to return after several plays and finish out the game. With his stellar play this year, we can not afford to lose anymore players in the secondary in order to finish this season. He should be available for Sunday.

Finally, K Stephen Hauschka (low back/hip) suffered a cheapest of cheap shots by Jets DE Henry Anderson after the blocked FG on the last play in the 2nd quarter. Hauschka was blindsided when he got hit, unfortunately he was unable to react properly and came down hard on his right hip and potentially jarring his back. It was reported that he had x-rays to assess for any damage but based on the hit, it appears as though he suffered a hip pointer injury. An injury such as this is basically a bruise to the bony portion of the hip that is about where most of our pants sit at on our waist. The reason this is so painful is because there are so many muscles that attach to this area which in turn affect how the core muscles perform along with the hip musculature especially with him being a right footed kicker.

The blindside hit clearly affected his ability to kick as he missed a FG try later on in the game and appeared to be limping at times afterward. This is an injury that does not appear to be long term nor should affect him next week due to the limited need of his position. We have also not had any reports that kickers were being brought in which indicates that this is not a severe issue which should make him available for Sunday.

Overall, a very rough day from an injury standpoint. The only silver lining is that we are out of the playoff race which makes these injuries hurt less. The benefit to these injuries now is that all these won’t be long term and allow all to be ready by training camp barring any setbacks or new injuries over the next several weeks.

As a result of all these injuries, the team will have some new faces in the starting lineup. LB Julian Stanford will be starting in place of Milano, RB Marcus Murphy may get the start if Ivory can’t go and RB Keith Ford may be brought up from the practice squad to backup Murphy. This is the time of year that is great for the front office to find out who else they want to keep for next year by seeing how they do in game action now. We know this roster will have more turnover next year; might as well get familiar with some new faces with the idea that they are here next training camp.

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

Week 12 Bills Injury Preview- Jaguars

Read on the latest injuries coming off the bye as the Bills get ready to face the Jaguars.

I hope you all enjoyed your week free of Bills football along with Thanksgiving! As a devoted Bills fan, make sure you are recharged and ready to hunker down to take on the last 6 games of this season. This season has been a dramatic step back from last season’s successes and while it is tough to see that the Bills lose more than they win, they are still building towards something greater than the 2018 season. Regardless of outcomes, I do I enjoy watching the Bills every Sunday and today’s post will review the injuries going into the Jaguars game.

Those coming off injury from the Jets game include LB Matt Milano (concussion) & CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Milano has cleared the concussion protocol and practiced in full which is an excellent sign and should continue his stellar 2nd season as an integral part of the defense. As for Johnson, unfortunately suffered another injury to his right shoulder in where he continues to sublux/dislocate his shoulder during direct blows to the area. He was observed to not wearing his shoulder harness during the Jets game which reduces the shoulder movement in order to limit dislocation which may have resulted in the most recent re-injury. The direct hits to the shoulder continue to dislodge the humerus from the socket, causing pain, weakness, and limited strength. This in turn has caused him to miss short stretches of the season. This is something that he will continue to play through until he feels he cannot anymore or until the end of the season, whichever comes first. He was limited in practice this week and will continue to play at less than 100% until he gets surgery to correct the problem. To note, we have full confirmation of his shoulder injury based on GM Brandon Beane’s appearance on One Bills Live this afternoon, outlined in this tweet here. I expect that Johnson will still suit up come Sunday.

Others practicing in full include RB Chris Ivory (shoulder) and QB Josh Allen (elbow). Ivory was dealing with a left AC joint sprain that caused him to miss the Jets game after suffering the injury during the loss to the Bears. He should have no limitations on Sunday and relieves RB LeSean McCoy as a change of pace back. Allen has been a big talking point when it comes to injury this season, missing 4 games due to the sprained right UCL suffered in the loss to the Texans. He has progressed as expected; Allen himself has reported that his elbow continues to feel better and news reports are showing him making all his passes without obvious compensation. Interestingly, he is still wearing a brace on his right elbow which does concern me, but he may play with the bracing on the elbow as he may be comfortable with the throwing motion with it on. I would prefer to see him play without it, but the medical staff knows best and will ensure that he will minimize re-injury. The only benefit to the brace would be to provide protection in case of a direct blow to the area. While he could re-injure it throwing, the chances are significantly reduced as he has given himself an appropriate time to heal to where he is able to play at a high level. He may not be 100% healed but enough that the medical staff feels he can perform without causing further injury. 

Others limited in practice include: C Russell Bodine (shoulder), QB Derek Anderson (concussion), and DE Trent Murphy (knee). I am not sure what Bodine did to his shoulder as he did not appear to require medical attention during the Jets game but this could be an injury sustained in a previous game with re-aggravation or could be a new injury. Until we have more information, I cannot even speculate what he is dealing with.

Anderson continues to battle back from the concussion sustained late in the 4th quarter of the Patriots loss on MNF. He has been slowly working his way back into shape with his limited designation, but is clearly not ready yet. Based on being limited, he appears to be in Stage 3-4 of the concussion protocol, allowing him to go through sport specific activities and perform aerobic activities. Unfortunately, he has since been ruled out for Sunday’s game, dealing with concussion symptoms for nearly a month now. While this is atypical from what we usually see during a concussion recovery, this would be considered normal for concussion management outside of the NFL as not all concussions are mild with a quick turnaround time. Hopefully he continues to improve and help Josh Allen develop.

Murphy continues to battle back from injury after injury. The latest injury is a right MCL sprain suffered halfway through the 4th quarter in the loss to the Colts. He has since missed 3 games and is slow to return but the vibe is that he will be ready come Sunday to help contain the rushing attack. The veteran DE has had 4 weeks to fully recover which is within the expected recovery times for an MCL injury. With his recent injury history, the Bills training staff were not in a position to rush him back and cause further complaints.

Those not practicing are TE Charles Clay (hamstring) and DE Shaq Lawson   (elbow). Clay pulled his hamstring running a route early in the Bears game and was unable to return. He since missed the Jets game and right now could potentially miss the Jaguars game. Lawson suffered an elbow injury during practice early in the week which makes it nearly impossible to diagnose. Reports indicate that he tweaked his elbow and is considered day-to-day. Until we get further information, I will not speculate as to what he is dealing with at the moment. 

Overall, while the list does look long, with QB Derek Anderson ruled out, TE Charles Clay is doubtful, and those questionable include: C Russell Bodine, CB Taron Johnson, DE Shaq Lawson, and DE Trent Murphy. Clay will not play and even if he somehow suits up, he will not be effective. Those questionable that I expect to play are Murphy and Johnson. We do not know whether Bodine or Lawson are ready to play based on the fact that we do not know the extent of their injuries. If they do indeed sit out, this fits with the roughly 50% of questionable’s not playing this year. I do have a feeling Lawson will be available.

With injuries beginning to take their toll, this is also the time of year where we begin to see players go on IR quickly if they have an injury that will take longer to heal than the remainder of the season so that the team can roster healthy players or guys they want to take a longer look at in game action. Do not be surprised if we see players such as QB Derek Anderson and CB Taron Johnson go on IR in the near future so they can fully address their medical complaints in order to be healthy next season.

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