Bills Season Injury Review- Special Teams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 8 Bills Injury Review- Patriots MNF

Read up on the latest injuries and news coming out of the Bills loss to the Patriots on MNF.

I want to be upset, but let’s face it, this loss was expected, even if it was on the national stage. The 25-6 loss to the Patriots leaves the Bills at 2-6 and with one of the worst records in the NFL. One of the bright spots of the night was former Bills great RB Thurman Thomas getting his #34 retired forever. It was an incredible ceremony for a truly special player. Unfortunately, along with the less than stellar record, the Bills suffered several key injuries which put the offense in even greater doubt heading into a Week 9 showdown with the Chicago Bears. Today’s post will review all the recent roster changes, injuries, and how these impact the Bills moving forward.

Recent personnel changes include P Corey Bojorquez (shoulder) and RB Taiwan Jones (neck) were sent to IR with their respective injuries. Bojorquez, if you recall, suffered a right shoulder injury in the failed field goal fake in the win over the Titans. I had suspected that he suffered a SLAP lesion which is short for superior labral tear from anterior to posterior. Basically, he tore his labrum which explains the shoulder brace that he had to wear the next several weeks. Expect him to get surgery to correct the tear and miss the rest of the season. This may have also been a way to stash a player they like on the roster for next season without releasing him. Jones continues to be a mystery, suffering a neck injury in the loss to the Texans, but as mentioned before, there was no mechanism of injury that I was able to observe during his time on the field which makes me wonder what he exactly did. It appears that this is a serious enough injury to warrant IR and I do not believe that he would be expected that he would be able to return. If new information is available, you will hear it here first.

As a result of the above mentioned going to IR, the Bills signed QB Matt Barkley, P Colton Schmidt, and WR Terrell Pryor. As you may recall, Schmidt was a member of the Bills from 2014-2017 until his release in 2018 prior to Week 1. As the result of Bojorquez’s injury, Schmidt comes back to a familiar special teams scheme. Barkley comes to the Bills as a free agent and will act as a backup in the event that QB Derek Anderson is not available. With Barkley’s signing, the team released CB Dontae Johnson who appeared in one game with no stats.

Finally, WR Terrell Pryor comes to the Bills via free agency after being released from the Jets with an injury settlement with a groin injury in Week 6. Over the past 2 seasons, Pryor has been injured with a deltoid ligament tear located in the medial ankle that eventually forced him to IR during his time in Washington. This injury led him to eventually sign with the Jets in the off-season. During off season workouts, Pryor broke his ankle which cost him most of training camp which eventually led to his limited role with the Jets and eventual release due to the previously mentioned groin strain. Pryor immediately upgrades the WR corps and adds a 3rd weapon for whoever is behind center come Sunday. While I do not believe his time in Buffalo will be long, he will hopefully add a new dimension to the offense in order to provide a spark. In the event that the Bills QB situation continues to be murky, he could provide another option behind center as he came into the league as a QB from Ohio State in 2011.

Reviewing injuries sustained in Monday’s loss include: LB Tremaine Edmunds (concussion), suffered a helmet to helmet hit on FB James Devlin with 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. He was able to finish out the half but had concussion like symptoms upon entering the locker room which led to his removal from the game. It may have been the Devlin hit or it could have been another routine play as he was heavily involved in the 1st half. Once he goes through the concussion protocol, he will be cleared but considering we are unable to identify the severity on film, only time will tell how he responds to recovery. In the event that Edmunds cannot start, LB Julian Stanford will get the start.

QB Derek Anderson (concussion) suffered his concussion with 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter on a sack from LB Kyle Van Noy with a clean tackle that forced Anderson’s head to appear to whiplash coming down which would have led to the concussion rather than a direct blow to the head. Similar to Edmunds, time will tell how he responds through the week. The above mentioned signing of QB Matt Barkley is insurance in the event that Anderson is not available Sunday. QB Nathan Peterman is slated to start in Anderson’s absence.

Finally, T Dion Dawkins suffered some time of ankle injury midway through the 3rd quarter according to the initial radio broadcast; however, reviewing film did not reveal any injury along with missed time and he was able to finish out the game. He did not show up on the injury report and this may be non-factor moving forward.

Overall, the Bills did have minimal injury coming out of Monday’s loss, however the uncertainty of the concussion’s of Edmunds and Anderson leaves the leaders of the defense and offense, respectively, in doubt. This team will have to scrape and claw for each and every win the rest of the season in order to just stay competitive. As a fan it is tough to see the front office staff punt this season away but their long term vision is much greater than one season and should lead to long term, sustained success.

Continue to check back for the latest 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!!

Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- ST

Evaluating the injuries (or lack thereof) of the 2017 Bills special team unit.

I hope everyone continues to enjoy the summer as we inch closer and closer towards training camp on July 26th! Today’s post wraps up the positional injury reviews for the 2017 season. Today’s article may be the briefest due to an overall lack of injuries, however without the special teams unit, the Bills struggle mightily! This article will review the kicker, punter, and long snapper positions.

First up is LS Reid Ferguson. The talented long snapper finished his first season after spending the 2016 season on the practice squad. Ferguson was able to take over the incumbent LS Garrison Sanborn last season who moved onto the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While there is no official statistics for a long snapper, the body of work for a long snapper is evident with the effectiveness of the kicker and punter. Though a long snapper is only on the field for field goals and punts, they are still at risk for injury just as much as any other player. During punt returns, they still have to go block and tackle the returner. Unfortunately, special team plays like this can cause serious injury such as last year to the Bears and Jaguars. Thankfully, Ferguson avoided injury and is looking to build off a strong 2017 season. If you don’t hear his name again this season, this just means he’s doing his job very well.

Moving to the next position, P Colton Schmidt arrives on the list. The 4th year pro has been a steady presence in the backfield on 4th down after some inconsistency following the release of longtime punter and fan favorite Brian Moorman. Schmidt had 79 punts with an average of 44.7 yards/punt with a season long of 60 yards. Out of those 79 punts, he was able to place 28 inside the 20, good for a 35% rate. Along with Ferguson, Schmidt avoided injury this season and appears to continue his productive career in 2018.

Finally, we round out this article with K Steven Hauschka. The 10th year pro continues to make his mark in Buffalo after stops in Baltimore, Denver, and Seattle where he had his greatest success culminating in 2 Super Bowl appearances with one championship. Hauschka found his way to Buffalo and continued his high level of play in which he was 29/33 in FG’s made, going perfect at 20-29, 30-39, and going 7/9 at both 40-49 and 50-59. This was good for a 87.9% FG completion and was perfect on extra points. The veteran kicker was the only special teams player to suffer an injury this past season. Hauschka suffered a right hip injury following the Saints game which caused him to miss some practice that week but did not cause him to miss any games. Reading further into his injury, it did not appear to be anything more than a possible muscle strain as he was able to play through the discomfort and it did not land him on the injury report the rest of the season. As he is right footed with regards to kicking, the ability to swing his kicking leg through effectively pain free is vital to his ability to perform.

While the NFL has at times been criticized for making the game “soft” through rule changes, these changes are the reason the Bills special team players were able to remain healthy with penalties. Each position has been afforded special rules to ensure their safety. Rules for punter/kicker, and long snapper can be found here. Overall, these rules make the game safer and allow these world class athletes perform their craft avoiding serious injury.

Competing for roster spots are K Tyler Davis and P Cory Carter going into the 2018 season. While I do not believe that they will seriously threaten the above mentioned roster spots, other teams will be watching in the event they are not satisfied with their special team games. Both of these players may find their way onto the practice squad, however I believe that the front office would rather place other positional players on the practice squad for greater depth. Look for this special teams unit to be incredibly effective going into the 2018 season and help keep the Bills in games if the offense fails to move the ball.

This wraps up the 2017 season positional injury reviews. I hope you enjoyed looking back at this memorable season and reflect on how valuable healthy starters are along with effective depth is to a team. This series also demonstrated how the Bills avoided serious injuries this year which led to proper player development rather than inserting players who are not ready or are ill suited for the position/scheme.

Continue to check back at Banged Up Bills on Facebook and on Twitter @BangedUpBills. Look for the latest injury news coming out of training camp, general injury explanations, and anything else that can be reported on. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!