2020 Week 5 Bills Injury Preview- Titans

Which of the questionable players will suit up?

Heading into Tuesday’s unusual matchup against the Tennessee Titans, the Bills are fairly beat up with injury designations already determined on Saturday afternoon. While the injury list looks dire, things actually aren’t all that bad. Check out the details below. Let’s hope this game gets played & put in the rearview mirror.

OUT

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano has since been ruled out for Tuesday’s contest which isn’t a surprise considering he did not practice all week.

Milano is coming off what appears to be a left pectoral strain. Based on the literature, it’s no surprise that he will be out for the short term. In my article at Buffalo Rumblings, I had detailed that he would be out at least 2 games and potentially more. The fact that he hasn’t been placed on IR also hints at the timeline the team thinks he may return sooner than later.

QUESTIONABLE

WR John Brown (Left knee)

Brown has been battling calf and foot problems all season, none of which have been serious enough to miss any time. Brown did appear to tweak something on the left side as shown in the video below.

Per the injury report, he is dealing with a knee injury now. While there is video of the injury, it’s hard to discern what he exactly did. In the video, he planted his left foot and pushed right before taking another step and then began hopping in pain.

He took several hard steps on his left leg to turn back to the right to catch the pass. His knee appeared to bow out on the next step, but it’s possible he could have tweaked the MCL or inside knee ligament on the prior step, felt it, took an uneven step which where we saw the bowing out, and then the final hopping off the field.

Credit: PTHealth.ca

If this injury was in isolation, I would say he’s alright to play especially with the few extra days off. But considering he’s dealing with foot & calf injuries, he may be best suited to take a week off. May come down to how he feels. This is one position where the team has healthy depth.

G Cody Ford (Groin/left shoulder)

Ford is battling a groin strain apparently suffered in the Raiders game. Sean McDermott did note that Ford was battling through some things during the Raiders game. I believe he was referring more to the left shoulder which could be anything at this point. There is nothing definitive on film & would need more information for a specific injury. There is a possibility that he’s dealing with a rotator cuff issue or labral injury due to the brace, but something to monitor.

As for the groin, also not sure when he injured it which makes it difficult to determine how it will affect him. The one upside is that playing on the interior part of the line; he will not have to use as much lateral movement or sprinting which can reduce strain on the area. If he doesn’t go, then G Quinton Spain would likely get the start.

RB Zack Moss (Toe)

Moss continues to be limited with a toe injury that appears to be turf toe. He was potentially able to play Sunday against the Raiders, but he ultimately did not suit up.

He has missed the last 2 games which fits in the timeline for a turf toe. The hope is that he returns for Tuesday’s game with a few extra days rest & is more of a factor than RB TJ Yeldon. Considering all the questionable players & that he practiced in full leads me to believe he will play.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (Left quadriceps)

Phillips has returned to practice & began practicing in full which is an excellent sign for the special teams linebacker. He has missed the last 3 games following a quadriceps injury that appeared to be a strain by video.

I expect most of his playing time to be on special teams once again unless he is called upon to play on defense if injury occurs. I also expect that he will continue to be slowly worked back in as he acclimates to not playing football for nearly a month.

Update: Phillips has since been placed on IR. The team promoted LB Deon Lacey in his spot.

WR Andre Roberts (Ankle)

There is no information on Roberts other than he injured his ankle. Nothing on film indicates that he suffered an injury and nothing in the media reports indicate the type of injury he is dealing with. The fact that he hasn’t practiced all week isn’t a great sign either.

The only two instances I could find for a possible injury came in the 1st quarter. The first was a right end around where Roberts lost 3 yards when he was flipped upside down by S Johnathan Abram. The other, three plays later, when Roberts caught a 6 yard pass to the left and was taken down by CB Nevin Lawson.

He had his left ankle get clipped on the first tackle and on the second, he was twisted down. Hard to identify if this is when he hurt his ankle or what the exact injury could be.

This will be something to monitor as the season progresses.

CB Tre’Davious White (Back)

This has been a mystery. White played in every defensive snap on Sunday & has been fairly durable throughout this season & career. He has not practiced this past week & it’s not clear whether he is even at the facility.

Watching film from Week 4, he appears to move well around the field and is not labored or slow to get up. As this is a back injury, these are harder to identify the injuries as there is typically not bracing or specific movements that are limited by the injury.

More information would be needed in order to identify what he’s dealing with. I could list a bunch of injuries & conditions, but trying to identify this injury is like throwing a dart in the dark at the dart board. The only reason that he could possibly be questionable after not practicing is if it’s a pain related issue where the team is hoping that things can calm down before Tuesday. But even that doesn’t narrow things down.

I have heard severe people say that he got his money & is not playing as hard anymore or that he is attempting to opt out because of the COVID concerns with the Titans with the team saying he has a back injury. Sure, there’s always that possibility that he is phoning it in now that he got paid. If he was, then that was a poor decision by the team to sign him to an extension. If he is not trying anymore, that’s on him. I don’t believe the Bills want guys on the team like that. I personally don’t believe this to be the case.

The COVID concerns are real, but to have the team say he has a back injury in order to keep him away from the facility, that’s a stretch. They could list him with an injury, we do see guys on injury reports often every week and don’t appear to have anything wrong. If I recall, Tom Brady was notorious for that with his right shoulder.

But to fake an injury would go against the competitive balance & intention of the injury report. To use it to cover up for something else makes me think the NFL wouldn’t take too kindly to that.

Right now, I am going with the fact that he has a back injury, details are not available, and the hope is that it isn’t serious. If he doesn’t go, the team has CB Dane Jackson they can call up for depth.

G Brian Winters (Right knee)

Winters appeared to injure his right knee on the same play that Josh Allen injured his shoulder. He fell hard on the right knee and was labored upon getting up and trying to get back into the play.

It appears to be a generalized contusion, but considering he hasn’t practiced in the past week, there’s potential it could be other things. He could have injured the bursa which is a fluid filled sac that helps lubricate the joint. A direct blow to that could cause inflammation to the area, limiting range of motion.

There are other possible injuries that he could have suffered but without more information, hard to establish a timeline. Considering the team has a bevy of offensive lineman, he could afford to sit this week.

INJURED RESERVE

CB Levi Wallace (Left ankle)

This move was a possibility but not certain as low ankle sprains can be played through, depending on the severity. Unfortunately for Wallace, he appears to have suffered a Grade 2 low ankle sprain early against the Raiders. This is due to the fact that he was placed on IR on Wednesday which requires a 3 week stay indicating a timeline for severity.

Credit: Medium.com

According to this picture sent in by a fellow Twitter user, Wallace appears to be off crutches and the swelling in the left ankle looks minimal. However, there is still likely instability due to the ligaments getting stretched out from the injury.

What we also don’t see in this picture is if he is on crutches and he put them down for the picture. We also don’t see how much weight he is putting through his left foot. Both feet could be down but he could be leaning more to the right to off weight the leg. Whatever he’s doing, he can rest for the next 3 weeks now that CB Josh Norman has returned from IR.

ACTIVE

WR Cole Beasley (Left foot)

Beasley continues to battle with numerous injuries including previous injuries to his thumb and hip. After being limited in practice earlier this week, Beasley was a full participant which signifies that he is healthy enough to play. The extra days off will certainly help his foot to heal further which will allow him to make those cuts over the middle effectively and use his speed to work around the field.

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Allen practiced in full every day despite the left shoulder designation from Sunday’s injury. The injury designation officially notes that he does have an injury and that it could affect his ability to play. The concern is that he has either an AC joint sprain, rotator cuff injury, or labral tear.

He did have a brace on for Wednesday’s practice and kinesiotape on for Thursday’s practice. The hope is that he has the AC joint sprain & it’ll heal on its own. My worry still remains that he had more damage in there as mentioned above. I would anticipate to see some bracing on for Tuesday regardless of the injury.

As the season progresses, the injury will become more clear if he takes further hits to the shoulder or if he continues to wear bracing.

Inactives:

LB Matt Milano
TE Lee Smith
G Brian Winters
QB Jake Fromm
RB TJ Yeldon

A bye week would be beneficial like it was last year at this time, but the Bills are not due for one for some time. These kinds of weeks will really test the depth at each position and the training staff’s ability to get each guy ready. It is important to note that a player may be active but may not get much play, only available for depth if needed. The team was forced to do this several times last year.

While the Titans are healthier as evidenced by the list below, they also have not had the ability to practice as a team in the last 2 weeks, unless you could the unauthorized practices after their facility closed. They also still have a number of players on the COVID reserve list.

Even if they’re healthier, I would be concerned about in-game injuries due to the sudden ramping back up of game play. I do not wish injury on anyone, but there is a greater risk. That along with not having the ability to fully implement their game plan may help be an equalizer in the game.

Remember, this is a team that was an AFC finalist last year. This team is no slouch. I would expect the Bills to win because I am biased and believe we have the better team. But if they lose, they are a worthy opponent. I’d like to see a win, but more importantly, minimal injuries as the Bills prepare for a short week against the Chiefs in Week 6 at home.

Top Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

2020 Week 4 Bills Injury Preview- Raiders

What is going on with Ed Oliver’s knee? Will Zack Moss play Sunday?

The Bills are getting healthy. Despite the injury list being longer than we would all like, several players are set to return & several more are expected to play despite dealing with injury. While the Bills are not fully healthy, they are in a far better position than the Raiders as seen below who are missing many key contributors which may make the Bills job on Sunday far easier. Below are the Bills injuries heading into Sunday’s matchup.

OUT

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (left quadriceps)

Phillips will miss his 3rd straight game following a quadricep strain in the season opener. Originally, I could not find when this occurred but after further review, I found on the All-22 film that he suffered a quadricep strain with 6:48 left in the 2nd quarter on the kickoff following the Bills 3rd score. He ran down the field and appeared to strain his left quadricep, having difficulty slowing down, occasionally hopping it off.

Since then, he has not practiced with the exception of Thursday & Friday in which he was limited. He likely suffered a Grade 2 quadriceps strain which can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to recover based on the already established timeline. His status poses the question, why didn’t the Bills place him on IR since it is only 3 weeks now? That’s a good question. It’s possible that he was trending towards coming back sooner and had a setback or simply did not respond to rehab as expected.

While he only has 7 special teams snaps as a Bills to his name, the team clearly likes him and is keeping him around despite the ability to stash him on IR. I would need to see a string of full practices out of him before I could even consider him to play in a game.

QUESTIONABLE

DE Mario Addison (knee)

Nothing is known about Addison & his knee that popped up on Friday with a DNP. His status is officially questionable. There wasn’t anything in particular on film Sunday that suggested a knee injury. He did exit the game for cramping in what appeared to be his right leg, but this should not cause knee problems several days later.

He did have a knee injury back in 2017 that he didn’t miss any time with, but I do not believe this is connected nor do we know which side. It’s possible that he hurt his knee Thursday after practice, but any specifics are non-existent. I have to assume he doesn’t play based on the questionable diagnosis, but that guess is as good as flipping a coin and calling heads.

RB Zack Moss (toe)

Moss appears to be trending up from a toe injury sustained in the win over the Dolphins in Week 2. He likely suffered a turf toe injury which can be played through but does benefit from some time off. Fortunately, he’s not a bell cow back for the Bills and he can split carries with RB Devin Singletary and if needed, use RB TJ Yeldon like they did last week.

Moss will probably have a stiff sole and possibly tape to prevent excess movement at the big toe so that he can have that explosive first step. If he doesn’t play, then I expect him to be full-go for Week 5. Without more knowledge to sway either way, I’m leaning towards him playing.

ACTIVE

WR John Brown (calf/foot)

Brown continues to be limited with foot issues since the beginning of the season, adding in a calf strain from the Rams game that caused him to miss the 2nd half.

The foot is more of a pain issue and a nuisance more than anything. The calf strain can linger but if he took himself out Sunday in the second half as a precaution and was DNP Wednesday, limited Thursday, and full Friday, it’s likely that he is healed enough.

The team may also be conservative in his approach during practice due to the heat expected in Las Vegas. This could exacerbate a strain if he gets dehydrated, however, they are in a climate-controlled stadium which may neutralize that factor.

Brown also has sickle cell trait which could place his body under extra stress and pain if he overworks his body or becomes dehydrated. This is merely a factor the team has to account for but does not limit his abilities. Sean McDermott appeared fairly confident that Brown would be available Sunday which is a ringing endorsement from a coach who says very little.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds finally was able to practice in full following a shoulder injury in Week 1 that caused him to miss Week 2. He did return in Week 3 and was less than effective with a shoulder harness.

Another week of rest & rehab should do him well & he should improve his play. The hope is that he eventually ditches the shoulder harness which would support the AC joint sprain which makes more sense & is less severe than a labral tear. He’s not 100% yet, but I expect him to slowly continue to improve towards a Pro Bowl level. I will also be watching closely how he engages his tackles and if he accepts more hits to the right side.

TE Dawson Knox (concussion)

Knox is slated to play Sunday following a concussion in Week 2 that forced him to miss the Rams game. He has since practiced in full and only has to pass his independent neurological consult if he hasn’t already. He is at a higher risk to suffer another concussion since he has already had one but playing football, he’s at risk regardless.

T Dion Dawkins (right shoulder)

Dawkins took a hard spill on Sunday as the result of trying to avoid Rams CB Troy Hill, somersaulting over him and landing on his right shoulder. The hope is that this is a contusion and is more pain limiting. There is a possibility that he suffered a minor AC joint sprain, but Dawkins was fairly jovial and hanging around following the win Sunday while not appearing to favor the arm.

One benefit of this being his right shoulder is that he plays left tackle. He will have to engage his left arm more, blocking the defensive end around the edge, allowing Dawkins to keep the end in front of him. He will use his right arm, but he can get through the game a lot easier because of this. I really don’t expect much drop off in the quality of play Sunday.

S Micah Hyde (left ankle)

Hyde sprained his ankle going in for a blitz Sunday and rolled it engaging the Rams tackle. Low ankle sprains are painful but easily played through with bracing or tape. My only concern is if he continues to re-injure the area that he misses time. I’m not all that concerned about damage in the short term, it’s easy to manage, but he is an older player and continues to require occasional days off to recover.

DT Quinton Jefferson (foot)

Little is known about Jefferson other than that he’s an older player with a previous Jones fracture from last season. He did have foot soreness in the preseason and is dealing with this again. There are other possibilities such as the plantar fasciitis that John Brown could be dealing with or that Jefferson had his foot stepped on.

This is something that I’m aware of but not concerned about right now, but something to monitor as the season progresses. I will be looking for patterns on the injury report and if he begins to miss snaps/games. For Sunday, he will be good to go.

DT Ed Oliver (right knee)

Oliver’s knee injury appeared pretty innocuous during Week 2 when he attempted to trip the offensive player, getting hit directly at the knee and then hit on the shin.

He was limited Wednesday due to the knee continuing to bother him followed by a DNP Thursday. This sent out a lot of concern to the masses thinking he wouldn’t play, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network indicated that it was a bruise and that the knee was structurally sound. But considering the DNP’s on Wednesday, this was probably done to stagger all the various players out. He likely hyperextended the knee during the original hit which led to the brace, but overall it does mean that the knee is sound as the knee does have some leeway with extension.

However, this picture above began making the rounds late Friday evening which makes me believe something more is going on. Clicking on the picture below, you can see that there is a bandage of Oliver’s medial right knee. Considering this is the location that he was hit, I got to wonder if he got his knee drained due to excess swelling.

This is a common procedure and the knee would be drained in that area. This picture highlights how severe the bruising may actually be. If you compare the right versus left calf, you can also see less definition on the right calf as compared to the left which would further show overall swelling in the knee and lower leg. I reached out to several Bills fans who have greater expertise in those areas and supported my thoughts. Really appreciate their input!

I wouldn’t be surprised to see both a compression sleeve on the knee and hinge brace for support Sunday. This will be something to monitor in the coming weeks.

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

Norman is slated to return to the active roster following a 3-week stay due to a likely Grade 2 left hamstring strain suffered during the first week of real training camp. He appeared on the mend but had a setback at the end of August, forcing him out of practices prior to Week 1.

He has since returned to practice Wednesday and has not been on the injury report. As of publication, he has not been activated, but the Bills waived CB Cam Lewis, later re-signing him to the practice squad. Considering the position and roster move, it appears a foregone conclusion that Norman will make his debut with the team Sunday. I expect him to work into a split role with CB Levi Wallace to keep the Raiders off balance and to help him adjust to game speed.

Ideally, the time off helped reduce his risk to re-injure the hamstring, but it is not completely absolved. Hopefully, he can find the fountain of youth and rekindle some of his stellar play from his days in Carolina.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm
DE Mario Addison
OL Ike Boettger
RB TJ Yeldon
TE Lee Smith
LB Del’Shawn Phillips

There doesn’t appear to be any surprises for the inactives, more personnel inactives than injuries besides Phillips & Addison. Based on my thoughts that Addison doesn’t play, that allows both DE Darryl Johnson & DE AJ Epenesa to get out there as they have been inactives in past weeks.

The Bills are far healthier heading into this game than the Raiders and I believe more talented. The injuries that we do have are on the mend which can help continue to develop depth in place until the starters are healthy. This is a game the Bills expect to win as they have much greater competition farther ahead, making each week more important than the last. Despite the early injuries, the rust appears to be shaken off and ideally, the quality of the defense continues to improve in order to support the hot start by the offense.

Top Photo Credit:

Chris Benoit Facebook/Nate Mendelson Twitter

2020 Week 3 Bills Injury Preview- Rams

Make sure to scroll down to the players you’re interested in. It’s a long one.

Heading into Week 3, we got a long injury report here folks. But the Bills have been through this before. They have quality depth and the ability to call up practice squad players that have been in the system before rather than street free agents who don’t know the system. 

While there are a lot of players in today’s report, everyone is still adjusting to the regular season with hitting, conditioning, and getting back into game shape. This is where some preseason games are beneficial to prime their bodies rather than going from 0-100. Ideally we see this drop off as the season progresses. But until then, this week’s injuries are below. 

OUT

RB Zack Moss (toe)

Moss was ruled out of Sunday’s matchup due to a toe ailment suffered in Sunday’s win. This was likely the result of the catch & run midway through the 4th quarter. He eventually returned to the game later, albeit briefly before the game finished. 

Based on the designation of a toe, it sounds like it could be turf toe. There are other possibilities such as a fracture, but he was observed off to the side on the exercise bike and doing individual activities.

PTEducator.com

Turf toe is an injury where the big toe is suddenly hyperextended due to a fall or some other force such as a tackle when the foot is planted into the ground that pushes it past its normal range of motion. Like any other joint in the body, this too can be sprained. The risk for this can be increased with flexible shoes which reduce support around the area of the foot.

Any other toe injury can be conservatively managed and isn’t a problem even in day to day life. But the big toe is vital to walk a heel toe gait pattern; strike with the heel, push off on the toe. The toe is even more vital during running as sprinting is done up on the balls of the feet, placing further stress on the toe. 

The timeline for a turf toe injury can be 2-4 weeks or even more based on severity. Look back at Packers WR DaVante Adams last year for reference. Due to the demands of the big toe, especially with high end athletics, it can be easily re-injured if not managed properly. This is something that can linger for weeks and limit production. 

He is obviously missing this week and potentially next week. Once he returns after the area has had a chance to heal, he can use a stiff sole to help reduce toe extension during push off and taping/bracing to support the area. He may lose some explosiveness after coming back, but if he gives it proper time to heal, then he may be fine. It will be important not to rush back because then he will lose that first step explosiveness and top end speed if he cant push off his toe effectively.

It’s important to note that he had a toe injury back in 2016 during his freshman year at Utah. It’s not certain that it was a turf toe injury, but he missed 2 games as a result. The injuries are not directly related as we don’t know specifics or even side l along with the time span in between. But if this is another bout of turf toe, he may be able to understand his body better and rehab more effectively. I expect TJ Yeldon to get a rare crack at the game day roster. Remember, he’s a 3 down back according to Brandon Beane.

TE Dawson Knox (concussion)

Knox is out with a concussion following Sunday’s win. He has since had 3 straight DNP’s at practice and right now appears to be at about Stage 3 due to participating on the exercise bike and drills. He will now have to go through football specific drills and a full practice without symptom reproduction before he can be cleared by the neurologist. 

It’s rare that a guy is able to return from a concussion in a week’s time and hopefully he can return for Week 4. There were a lot of people who sent video of hits he sustained to the head that game. I do appreciate every one of you for doing that, but it is nearly impossible to diagnose a concussion on video alone unless the individual has been knocked unconscious. Let’s hope he’s back for Week 4.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Phillips continues to be out with a quad injury sustained in the season opener over the Jets. He has not practiced since then and video does not exist of the injury that he sustained on special teams. 

This is appearing to be more of a quadriceps strain and literature for quadriceps strains is more limited than hamstrings, but from what I found, timelines are similar to that of hamstrings. There’s a possibility that this could be a tendonitis as well, but that is something that can be played through more than a strain.

It’s important to note that WR Andre Roberts missed the first two games of the season last year with a quadriceps injury. This may be the same course of action that the Bills take with Phillips or this could be an injury that we don’t have all the facts on yet. We continue to wait and see. 

QUESTIONABLE

LB Matt Milano (hamstring)

Milano has been able to practice in a limited fashion all week after missing Week 2 with a hamstring strain. Hamstrings can take 13-18 days on average to return to play, but his injury may have been truly minor; a term that I’ve come across is “niggle”. I believe Milano had a niggle. 

Could he benefit from another week off? Sure. But if he’s feeling good and he can play, then I can live with that. He is questionable, but a hamstring is not an automatic out for 2-3 games. Some guys can come back the next week, others take much longer. We are seeing that with the setback with CB Josh Norman & this shows that each hamstring is unique. With how practice has been this week, he is still 50/50, but I’m leaning towards him playing Sunday. 

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds has been tricky for me these past 2 weeks. I initially had him as a contusion, possible AC joint sprain. Then he missed the last game which leads me to believe he may have had more of a SC joint sprain or bruised rotator cuff. I’ve studied the film, watched his practice and without a physical examination, I am stumped.

This could be Occam’s razor and I’m overthinking this. The fact that he has had a red non-contact jersey for the last two weeks is concerning, but that may be more to prevent further injury. He may have benefitted from the week off and be ready for Sunday. 

From what I’ve seen, it’s very possible he plays. Especially with the benefit of his skill set against the Rams, it’s an important game to get up for. He’s also 50/50, leaning towards seeing him playing. 

CB Taron Johnson (groin)

Not much is known about Johnson. He has a long history of injuries dating back to his rookie year with the shoulder labral tear followed by a hamstring strain last year. Now he has the groin strain which isn’t great for a defensive back with all the cutting & pivoting he has to do as part of his position. 

He did not exit the game and was a full participant on Friday which is a good sign. However, groin strains, like many other soft tissue injuries can linger and cause problems later. We do have depth at the position, he will probably play, but considering Johnson’s penchant for injury, he may be best served to sit this one out. 

ACTIVE

WR Cole Beasley (hip/right thumb)

Beasley is active despite dealing with two separate injuries. The hip is not all that concerning, it could be more of generalized hip soreness or bruising due to the fact that he had several hard falls during his catches on Sunday. 

However, the injury I am more concerned with is his right thumb injury. He had it heavily taped in practice on Thursday and was in visible pain when catching the ball. 

He may have suffered a mild/moderate thumb sprain, also known as skier’s thumb. He could have fell on the thumb during one of his catches, forcing it into extension and abduction. He could also have gotten it tangled up with a defender, it wasn’t clear on film. He’ll be able to play & still be effective, but with how hard Josh Allen throws and the injury, I hope we don’t see a drop or two due to the pain and resulting weakness in the thumb region. This will be something to monitor on Sunday. 

DT Ed Oliver (right knee)

Oliver suffered his knee injury as the result of a leg block that fortunately was not flagged on Sunday. During replay, his knee gets struck by the Dolphins offensive player and then his shin strikes the player again once the leg kicks forward.

It initially appeared that he suffered a shin contusion which would have been more pain related. But since he struck the knee, it forced the knee into hyperextension. What’s beneficial is that the leg was swinging freely and not in a fixed position. There was some stretching of the knee capsule and overall pain, but structural damage to the area appears non-existent save for maybe bruising due to the hit itself. Fortunately, the knee does have several degrees of hyperextension available in the human body, giving the knee some pliability to reduce the risk of injury. 

He was spotted by The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia wearing a knee brace at practice. I asked Joe for clarification on the type of brace and he said that it appeared to be more hinge like. This would support that his knee was hyperextended and that he is wearing the brace for support. These braces don’t outright prevent injury, but the idea is that the side supports do lock out in full extension and if he were to get hit directly over the knee, the brace would take the forces of the hit and lessen the impact on the knee itself. In addition, the side supports limit medial/lateral movements so if they get hit from the side, the entire leg goes down rather than the valgus force that we see in ACL and MCL tears.

It will be interesting to see if he plays Sunday with the brace on or if this brace was simply used to help give him some confidence with the knee during practice. If you look closely, fellow DT Harrison Phillips wears one as well when he plays following his ACL tear last year. Overall, I don’t believe Oliver’s quality of play will be affected by the knee injury nor is he at a higher risk to suffer further injury due to Sunday’s hit.

CB Tre’Davious White (shoulder)

Virtually nothing is known about White’s shoulder ailment that had him limited at Wednesday’s practice. He is getting older, he’s a highly paid player who knows he’s valuable to the team, this may have been more of a maintenance day than anything. I could not find anything specific on film to support a shoulder injury and he was able to practice in full Thursday & Friday. I can’t even speculate what he could be dealing with because there is no mechanism of injury. Right now, this is a wait and see approach. 

He did deal with a neck injury last year that caused him to wear the red non-contact jersey for about 2 weeks last year but he did not miss any games or appear to have his play suffer as a result.

WR John Brown (foot, possible plantar fasciitis)

Brown popped back up on the injury report this week with what the team described as “foot soreness”. He was on the injury report last week briefly with the same issue. The fact that he is able to practice in full certain days and then has to be limited others indicates that this may be more of a chronic issue which I believe is plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a tough band of fascia that connects from the heel to the balls of the feet. This acts as a shock absorber and helps keep the structural integrity of the foot intact during walking and running. This effect is known as the windlass mechanism. This allows the foot to stay rigid as the foot goes into push off moving from stance to swing phase. If we did not have the plantar fascia to help keep the foot rigid, then the big toe would not have the leverage to push off as effectively and drive the entire foot forward.

ChoosePT.com

The area of the irritation of the plantar fascia is at the base of the heel, where the fascia originates. Microtears occur due to overuse or excessive running which appears to be in the case of Brown. This appears to be more of a problem this year than other years because of the change in training camp with less ramp up time. If he wears shoes that are not supportive, this could cause the foot to excessively pronate which means the foot rolls inward when walking versus maintaining support during heel toe walking. The overpronation would pull on the plantar fascia during push off using the windlass mechanism and the excessive running could cause microtears, causing inflammation.

Functionally, he will not be greatly affected by this, but it is a painful condition to deal with. He likely wakes up in the morning and has difficulty bearing weight through his foot due to the tissue tightening up throughout the night, making those first few steps during the morning painful. He can rehab to stretch the calf, Achilles, overall improve the range of motion in the ankle and big toe mobility to take stress off the area. He can also get injections to help manage the pain, but this is not something the doctors like to do often because too many injections can increase the incidence for rupture of the affected tissue. These rates are fairly low, but injecting and numbing pain is not an effective solution to manage a condition. It can be an intervention that assists with taking care of a problem, but not the only solution. 

It’s possible that Brown battles with this off and on throughout the season, using rest days and rehab to address the matter. As a treating Physical Therapist, I have found plantar fasciitis to be a stubborn diagnosis, but this does not mean that Brown will not be able to overcome this. The team does have a lot of interventions with the possibility of cupping, laser therapy, acupuncture, injections, iontophoresis with medication, stretching, using night splints, strengthening, taping, footwear modifications, among others. There are far worse injuries that can be played through, but plantar fasciitis is still a troublesome injury. This sounds all doom and gloom, but he will be alright.

Final thoughts:

The team is banged up. This is why I believe some preseason games are good to get the live reps out of the way rather than going from practice and limited contact to full blown games. Even if the starters were playing for two series a game in the preseason, it helps them acclimate slowly to game speed versus full speed right away. The Bills have been through this before with the lengthy injury report. The tweet below shows how things looked last year prior to the Titans game and how things look going into Week 3. 

You’ll also notice that the team does a fairly good job of dealing with injuries in that they don’t become a chronic issue. The training staff likes to address the injury, give it time to heal if possible, and then return to play. We are not seeing the walking wounded out there like some other teams around the league. 

I did note last year that injured players may have been active, but their snap counts significantly reduced in that particular game to prevent further injury. Two instances I can think of were WR Isaiah McKenzie during Weeks 4 & 5 last year and G Cody Ford during Week 8. This team has a plan to get guys healthy and have them available if needed, but not to rely on the walking wounded to play a full game. 

It’s also important to note that CB Josh Norman was observed on the exercise bike this week as he prepares to hopefully get activated from IR following Sunday. He may still not be 100%, but he can begin practicing with the team as they have a 21 day window where he doesn’t count against the roster. If he’s ready, they can activate him, if he’s not, he can be shut down and go back to IR. He can also just stay on there longer and activate his window later, so it’s not certain that he will begin practicing next week.

The same can be said for G Jon Feliciano. Coach McDermott even came out and said that he didn’t want to put guys out there that weren’t ready. Feliciano had said he wanted to come back by Week 4, but I have maintained that he would benefit coming back closer to Week 7 or 8 where he could be more effective. This will be something to continue to monitor.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB Zack Moss

TE Dawson Knox

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

OL Ike Boettger

DE AJ Epenesa

The team will get through this. Years past, injuries would have decimated a promising season, see the 2011 Bills. But the team has quality depth and lots of experience to withstand some of these bumps and bruises. I would grow more concerned if we get a rash of season-ending injuries like in 2011. This is still a talented roster despite the Rams coming to town. Hopefully next week, this report will be a little shorter.

Top Photo Credit: WKBW

2020 Week 2 Bills Injury Review- Dolphins

What is the current status of Knox & Oliver?

Another week, another win! Josh Allen continues to own Miami! With a 31-28 win, the Bills move to 2-0 and into sole possession of first place in the AFC East. While the game was close than most would have liked, the defense held up despite missing Matt Milano & Tremaine Edmunds. Fortunately, Allen and the Bills offense exploded for yardage not seen in the better part of a decade and picked up the slack.

While the Bills were exploding offensively, they were also avoiding the plague of injuries cast over the NFL. McCaffery, Saquon, Sutton, Bosa, Irvin, Mosert, Lock, Hooker & many more all went down with either season ending injuries or severe injuries that will cost them most of the season. While it is impossible to predict injuries, the hope is that the Bills continue to maintain quality depth if misfortune strikes. It was truly a day of carnage not seen recently & certainly altered the course of several franchises in 2020.

Below are the Bills injuries from Week 2.

TE Dawson Knox (concussion)

Knox left the game with just under 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter with media reporting shortly afterward that he was ruled out with a concussion. His last play before coming out, his helmet did strike a defender, but the play did not appear out of the ordinary.

He was later ruled out with a concussion for the day. Either the injury spotters saw something and pulled him from the game or he self reported symptoms. It is also not known when he suffered the concussion nor will we likely know unless Knox tells us himself.

Some on Twitter thought that he suffered the concussion when he fumbled the ball following a catch. It’s quite possible he did suffer one and then had a delayed onset of symptoms or it could have been any other play. Concussions are impossible to diagnose on film due to the unpredictability of each play.

Knox entered the concussion protocol seen below and it is anyone’s guess when he passes through to be cleared. There is a chance he could clear in time for next week as we saw happen with Josh Allen, or he could miss a game or two. Until we see him practicing symptom free, it is a waiting game.

Credit: NFL Play Smart Program

DT Ed Oliver (right shin contusion)

Oliver suffered a right shin injury while trying to trip the Miami offensive player, resulting in his shin getting struck hard. He walked gingerly off the field with trainers and was out briefly, but was able to return after several plays off.

Besides pain, there is not any structural damage that can take place unless he suffered a fracture or bone bruise. I’m sure there will be some soreness or bruising to the area which won’t be fun to deal with. He might be on the injury report Wednesday, do not be alarmed. Barring new information, there is little chance that there is structural damage. He’s dealing with pain that he can likely play through.

Other thoughts

Sean McDermott noted that Edmunds, Del’Shawn Phillips & Milano continue to work through some things. That’s coach speak for I don’t want to give the Rams anything. We will have to see how they practice this week. I am expecting to see Edmunds practice in full, possibly Phillips in some capacity & hoping for Milano to at least be limited. The former two have a decent shot at playing Sunday based on what we know whereas Milano is still a longshot unless he’s practicing in full. By Friday, the picture will be clear.

To wrap things up, some were concerned about Zack Moss being out late in the game. He limped off the field midway through the 4th after a catch and but fortunately returned at the very end.

During the catch and run, he fell hard onto his buttocks, but there was not any clear mechanism of injury from what we could see. Unless we get new information, I don’t believe there is anything to be concerned about. If he shows up on the injury report, at least we have an idea of where he could have been injured.

Finally, I mentioned the numerous injuries above. The Bills are far from immune in that sense. We will have injuries, we saw this already with Jon Feliciano this season. There’s a good chance others still happen. I can’t predict who or when or what the injury will be, but know that the Bills have the depth and football is a violent game, injuries are expected.

The Bills go back to Orchard Park to host the Rams for Week 3 on Sunday. It’ll be warm and rainy right now as the weather forecast states. Like Week 1, that could impact who plays and who sits out. Continue to check back for the latest news & injury updates on your Buffalo Bills.

2020 Week 2 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins

Will the LB corps survive without Milano & Edmunds?

We knew that injuries during the regular season would be increased due to the lack of preseason, but injuries are taking their toll greater than most Bills fans would like. The big talking points of the week was Josh Allen running the ball along with the injuries to Matt Milano & Tremaine Edmunds. 

We will let the talking heads and Twitter debate the abilities of Josh Allen in the rushing game, but you’re here for the injury breakdown. 

There have been several new developments this week with the injuries that will be described below. The one thing that I want to impart to the readers is how drastically different doing this job is this year. What I’m seeing is not that the injuries change, we are seeing an increase in frequency that was expected, but in how the Bills are using the Injured Reserve designations and Practice Squad call ups. 

We are seeing injuries would normally be played through or that wouldn’t require extensive time missed get that IR designation or missing the game altogether. I have several theories on their roster management in how it pertains to each player, but this will continue to take time to get adjusted to interpreting properly. Make sure to come here for the latest Bills injury impressions.

OUT

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds has been an interesting injury to assess this week. He injured it while trying to tackle Jets WR Jamison Crowder on the 69-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter. The only contact that he made was with the ground falling into the turf. His right shoulder hit the turf hard with his arm close to his body. He played in the extra point play but didn’t appear in distress.

He was assessed in the blue medical tent for a while, later coming out without pads, signifying his day was done. Later in the locker room, he didn’t have any ice, bracing, slings, anything to allude to the severity of the injury.

He then practiced in a limited fashion in mostly individual drills Wednesday and Thursday. Typically limited practices translate towards a player likely suiting up on Sunday. Edmunds was ruled out Friday morning even before practice took place. 

Either this injury is way more severe than we thought, which is entirely possible. Instead of the contusion/minor AC joint sprain, there still is the possibility of a labrum or rotator cuff tear. That is a scary proposition, but if the labrum is torn, I expect to see bracing used next week on the right shoulder. This was not something I observed this week from video available below.

You can also use bracing for a rotator cuff tear, but it is not necessary as we saw with G Jon Feliciano last year. I have thoughts that the shoulder is still a painful shoulder contusion. This is something that he could have played through, but the team is allowing him to be fully healthy and miss a winnable game instead of laboring through the next few weeks with it. If it’s worse, then maybe a trip to the IR would do him good now that it’s 3 weeks in duration instead of 8 weeks. 

The fact that the coaching staff did not get the opportunity to get preseason looks at their other guys may have played into this decision as well. If they know they can be without him, then they can get their backups some of the vital game time reps that they needed to improve as players. Add in the practice squad call ups in with both LB Deon Lacey and LB Andre Smith available, why wouldn’t you want to protect your top assets with other guys who can at least fill in for the time being?

Until we get more information, I don’t believe my eyes are deceiving me. I wonder if this is more of the coaching staff maximizing the new roster rules to a competitive advantage.

LB Matt Milano (hamstring, possibly right)

Since his injury on Sunday, he has been a long shot to play. He had 3 straight DNP’s which usually equate to being ruled out for Sunday. I’ve seen various percentages for return to play, anywhere from 13-18 days on average for a Grade 1 hamstring strain, but Milano would not have fit that timeline anyway. He will miss Sunday, but his absence can be withstood as Miami still doesn’t appear to be a threatening team yet. The hope is that the hamstring was truly minor and he can return next week against the Rams. That’s a big hope for me right now. If not, a matchup in the desert against the Raiders may be more likely.

Before I can be sure of a true timeline, he will have to have at least 1 full practice but would do better with 2-3 before I could say he’d be out there. If he continues to miss & be limited, then it was likely more severe and he’s looking at 3+ weeks, similar to what the team has done in the past. There is a possibility that he goes on IR which Sean McDermott had alluded to in Friday’s press conference, but now it’s too early..

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Phillips is out with a quadriceps injury after missing 3 straight practices. He only played in 7 special teams plays according to snap counts. He did not appear in the game again following the kick-off which resulted in a touchback following the score that sent the Bills to a 14-0 lead. On broadcast, the camera pans towards the location of the ball, unfortunately away from the Bills running down the field. For All-22, that play does not exist. For whatever reason, there were glitches and delays for All-22 this week and that play may have been a casualty. 

Until he resumes practicing and getting full practices in, we are left to guess the injury and when he returns. Considering this was a touchback, this leads me to believe it may have been more of a quadriceps strain sprinting or slowing down rather due to the lack of contact. This could also be from a previous play that he could not continue to play though. I didn’t see any major contact for him, but some injuries are virtually impossible to spot on film.

ACTIVE

WR John Brown (foot)

Everyone was quite worried about Brown missing practice Wednesday with a foot ailment. Little information is known other than Stefon Diggs had no idea he wasn’t at practice. 

Brown could have had some general soreness from Sunday due to getting actual game reps, he could have had it stepped on, he could be dealing with plantar fasciitis with sudden overloading of the tissues due to the loss of reps from preseason. There could be a Morton’s neuroma where a nerve in the foot between the metatarsals is irritated, leading to pain. 

He could have strained some of the musculature in the foot, he could have stubbed his toe at home, there’s just so many possibilities that it’s impossible to pinpoint without Brown or the team noting what he’s dealing with. 

Film review didn’t show anything definitive but he may have been limping a little after plays in the 4th quarter. Could have been fatigue, could have been the foot, but there was not anything definitive on film to suggest an injury. 

He did practice in full on Thursday and Friday, not receiving an injury designation for Sunday. This will be one to watch in case he has issues later. Right now, I don’t have any reason to believe that this is a huge concern. He will be someone to watch closer on Sunday. 

WR Vernon Butler (hamstring)

Butler missed last week with a hamstring strain despite being questionable. While the weather is supposed to be much warmer and still wet, the extra week to recover along with full practices all week only made him more available. I’m excited to see how he will perform. There is still concern he could re-injure the hamstring, but after 3 weeks since the original injury, the risk continues to lessen, but not eliminated. Keep in mind, every injury is unique and responds differently to treatment.

LB Tyrel Dodson (neck)

Excellent to see Dodson cleared to play for Sunday following exiting the game late with what we now know was a neck injury. Looking back, he may have suffered a generalized neck strain or whiplash when he completed his tackle. There may have been more soreness and limited movement rather than outright damage. 

He is taking over starting for Tremaine Edmunds on Sunday which will be a huge test calling out plays for the defense. This is his opportunity to show why the team stuck by him last year following his domestic violence issues last year and keeping him on the roster this year. 

DE Jerry Hughes (calf)

Hughes was a surprise addition to the injury report Thursday with a calf ailment. He was limited on Thursday but able to practice in full on Friday. He may have had some calf soreness that he missed some drills for, leading to the limited designation, he may have injured it Thursday, little is known. 

This is yet another soft tissue ailment that we expect to see early in the season. With the calf, I am slightly worried about his ability to explode off the line with that first step and get around the edge. He might have a little less explosion, but to the casual fan, may not be noticeable.

Whatever it is, Hughes will play through it, we saw that last year with his wrist and groin. Right now, I consider this to be something to note, like a timestamp, in case issues occur later. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (hamstring)

Like Hughes, McKenzie was limited Thursday but with a hamstring. He may have been feeling something and pulled himself out or injured it the day before. Considering he is cleared for Sunday makes me think it’s not a glaring concern. 

But hamstring strains don’t just disappear. We will have to watch if this is recurring. I also did observe last year that despite an injury, players were still active but played little or not at all due to the Bills not being able to field a full roster otherwise. I don’t believe this to be the case, but sometimes injured players have to be active. 

Once again, something to note and reference in case of injury later.

Inactives:

LB Matt Milano

LB Tremaine Edmunds

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

G Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

QB Jake Fromm

Final thoughts:

It’s easy to worry about all the soft tissue injuries and the linebacker corps. This was going to happen when the preseason did not allow guys to prime their bodies to game time action. The Bills also have a lot of depth available to withstand most of these injuries. They have also been churning the bottom of the roster and practice squad bringing in free agents weekly, trying to find out who else they can bring in if further injury occurs. 

The Bills are still in great shape heading into Sunday with the Dolphins not having starting linebacker Elandon Roberts out with a concussion. DE Clayton Fejedelem is doubtful with a pectoral injury and WR DeVante Parker is questionable with a hamstring. 

A doubtful designation isn’t a great chance to play and considering the weather mentioned above being warm and wet, I don’t believe Parker plays, especially after injuring last Sunday. If he does play, then I expect him to be limited and increase the potential for this to linger all season. Not the best idea for your top receiving option.

The Dolphins are better than the Jets, but this is an opportunity for the Bills offense to take control now that the defense is not at full strength. With the rain, I expect to see some injury incidence reduce due to the poorer footing, but the risk isn’t totally eliminated. I expect a Bills win and hopefully to write a much shorter article postgame.

2020 Week 1 Bills Injury Review- Jets

How serious is Edmunds & Milano’s injuries?

The Bills showed up and did their job. That’s the most important take away of Sunday. But there were several injuries that really had the fan base shook up, specifically at the linebacker corps. There were also some concerns about the Bills ability to pull away in the second half, letting the Jets get back into the game, albeit briefly. Below are the injuries & severity.

S Micah Hyde (left ankle)

Hyde went down late in the first quarter while attempting to change directions to bat down a Sam Darnold throw & came down with a lower leg injury. Video isn’t the best, but an explosion of rubber pellets as Hyde jumped from the turf shows him attempting to bat the ball to his right. He came down and was having issues with his left ankle, hopping off briefly before returning. He later had it heavily taped up for the second half.

He may have tweaked the ankle just prior to jumping by quickly changing directions. It appeared it was more of a pain issue than anything else because he was moving fairly well the rest of the game. This appears to be a garden variety sprain, whether its lateral or medial, based on how he was jumping, possibly medial. This could change though with other video angles. This is probably not an injury that will end up on the injury report; he may feel the effects of it for a few games but it’s not something that typically causes long term issues despite his position unless he suffers a re-injury which I am not concerned about. 

LB Matt Milano (right hamstring)

Milano was a surprise addition to the injury report during the game with a hamstring due to him being shown on the sidelines talking to trainers and then walking slowly into the tunnel later. The initial incident wasn’t apparent until going back to the game footage. With just under a minute left in the 2nd quarter, Milano managed to tackle Jets WR Jamison Crowder out of bounds with his body swinging towards the sidelines as he took down Crowder. He attempted to stay on his feet, keeping his right leg up, landing in a half kneeling position. Considering he was trying to stop the forward momentum, it’s possible this is when he injured the hamstring trying to stop. This may be more of a proximal strain, which means that it’s closer to the buttocks.

The other possibility is the next play where he once again took Crowder down but the tackle doesn’t appear to suggest that he would have strained the hamstring on this play. He may have felt it starting to tighten up and pulled himself out. 

Considering the game was just about out of hand, it appeared wise to pull him out of the game. This was also an opportunity to get some of the backups vital reps that they simply did not get during the preseason. 

He has since been classified as day-to-day and it’s very possible that Milano misses the next game against Miami. He could return as soon as after 1 game or could miss 2-3 based on severity. Once he strings together some limited and full practices, then we will know how severe the injury was and when he will return. If I had to pick a game to miss, I’d be alright with this one. I’d expect LB Andre Smith to be called up from the practice squad for Sunday. 

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

The entire fanbase grew really concerned when Edmunds went to the injury tent midway through the 3rd quarter following the Crowder TD. He fell hard on his right shoulder while trying to make the tackle. He was in on the extra point but didn’t have to do much in the backfield. 

He had to remove his shoulder pads to receive a full assessment, eventually going to the locker room before returning without his pads. Based on video, it looks like he suffered a hard fall onto the shoulder. His arm wasn’t out to brace the fall, he didn’t require immediate attention and he did not require any wrap or sling on the shoulder. 

He was also observed later in the locker room with the arm at his side but not supported or in obvious distress. He may have fell hard onto the shoulder and it simply be a contusion or it could be an AC joint sprain. 

A contusion is more pain limiting, same goes for a mild AC joint sprain. He could get an injection for the AC joint if it’s bothering him next week but it’s something that can be played through.

There are other possibilities such as a labrum tear or rotator cuff sprain, but that won’t be known without further information. The only way we know if there is greater damage is if he’s wearing bracing or reports stating otherwise. 

Right now, it appears that Edmunds dodged a bullet and is currently day-to-day. 

LB Tyrel Dodson (not specified)

Dodson was the last linebacker to go down with an injury though it isn’t quite apparent what he was dealing with. From the video, it appeared that he simply got the wind knocked out of him trying to complete the tackle. He was down while trainers tended to him but he was able to get up under his own power. This may have been more of a scare due to the lack of depth at the position by that point, but unless more information is released, this doesn’t appear to be of any concern. Once again, he is also day-to-day.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Little is known about Phillips, reports came down shortly after Hyde’s ankle injury that he was questionable to return with a quadriceps injury in the 2nd quarter. It is not readily apparent on broadcast when he suffered the injury. Typically I’ve seen quad injuries as either a strain or contusion. This is just a very meaty portion in the upper leg that can absorb some contact. He has since been listed day-to-day. I believe practice will tell more of his availability for next week. 

Injury Roundup:

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

A lot changed from my last article when Norman was ruled out of the game to when he was placed on IR. Fortunately the rules are different and allow a player to return after 3 weeks rather than the normal 8 weeks. Had this occurred in a normal season, the team likely doesn’t make this move. 

He will have the time to rest & rehab at this point. If this hamstring was more of a Grade 2, then 6 weeks total is more appropriate for him to return closer to 100%. It must be noted that Grade 2 hamstrings can take up to 8 weeks to fully heal. If it was a Grade 1 with reaggravation, then he could also get healthy within the timeframe which could be the more ideal situation. I am concerned for re-injury regardless of each scenario. We will have to see when he gets reactivated & his practice participation to when he can realistically play.

DT Vernon Butler (hamstring)

Butler was held out of the season opener likely as a precaution due to the weather since the rain could have exacerbated the hamstring. He did practice in full last week which is a great sign, but this also likely means that he should be able to play next week in Miami. The big thing for Butler will be to stay hydrated in order to avoid a re-injury due to the heat.

Final Thoughts:

Each injury in itself wasn’t all that concerning when isolated, but seeing 2 out of 3 starters and 4 of 6 total linebackers go down with injury is expectedly scary. All with the exception of Milano should return to play Sunday. Despite the team being conservative with hamstrings, there may be a possibility that Milano suits up. Impossible to determine until the practice report comes out later this week. Even with these injuries, the Bills still have excellent depth to overcome these brief deficits as they head into Week 2 against the Dolphins.

Photo Credit: AP

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Linebackers

Will Milano suffer another hamstring strain?

This is Part 9 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 9 consists of the linebacker room.

Not Returning

LB Lorenzo Alexander 

16 games, 7 starts, 9 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 2 sacks, 50 combined tackles, 31 solo, 19 assisted, 4 TFL, 9 QB hits

Newly retired, Lorenzo Alexander brought a lot to the Bills during his four years in Buffalo and really helped set the stage for hopefully long term sustained success. He was an effective leader, willing to do the dirty work on special teams, and guide young players as they entered the league. 

Despite his age and willingness to play anywhere asked, Alexander did not suffer any known injuries during 2019. In fact, he barely showed up on the injury report during his time with only a partially torn hamstring and ankle injury back in 2016. Since then, Alexander has not appeared on the injury reports with the exception of veteran rest days. 

While Alexander certainly suffered injuries that were not reported, he walks away from the game on his own terms, especially coming in as a UDFA, carving out a 15-year career. This was evident by his most recent post where he is wearing a surgery gown, ready to go into surgery for an unspecified procedure. Considering he has the NFL insurance & documentation from the injuries, it is wise to get any ailments addressed now while it is covered.

Bills Mafia thanks him for all that he brought to the area and we wish him well in retirement. 

LB Maurice Alexander 

7 games, 8 combined tackles, 6 solo, 2 assisted

Alexander did not quite have the season that he likely envisioned when he signed with Bills. He came in to compete for a backup job and contribute on special teams which he earned out of training camp. Unfortunately, he suffered a number of injuries and was pressed into playing on defense which likely led to his season-ending on IR.

During his 7 game stint with the Bills, he suffered knee, left hip, and calf injuries, with the knee injury originally occurring against the Bengals. He was questionable for the Patriots game but eventually played. He then suffered a left hip injury filling in for the injured Matt Milano playing against the Dolphins. 

He was later ruled out against the Redskins with a knee injury and then placed on injured reserve the next week with knee and calf injuries. The specifics of each of the injuries were never really divulged but whatever the injuries were, they were severe enough that he ended his season early. He has yet to find a job in 2020 but could find something if injuries occur if rosters expand due to the pandemic.

LB Julian Stanford 

16 games, 1 fumble recovery, 3 combined tackles, 2 solo, 1 assisted

Stanford, a crucial special teams contributor leaves the team following the Bills not signing him to a new contract for 2020. He contributed throughout his time with the Bills & at times was effective when called upon for defense, specifically in the season finale against the Jets. During 2020, he did not suffer any known injuries. He will also be forced to find a new team for 2020 in order to stay in the NFL.

Returning Players

LB Corey Thompson 

12 games, 5 combined tackles, 2 solo, 3 assisted, 1 TFL

For a player that is a backup and mainly special teamer, Thompson was oft-injured throughout the season. Despite all the injuries, he was still able to appear in 12 games and perform well on special teams, with his only defensive performance in the season finale against the Jets. Thompson continued to battle to be relevant on the field this year, but the injuries did take a toll on him.

Thompson’s injuries below:

    • Groin strain

He suffered a groin injury midway through training camp that may have been minor, but he still sat out as a precaution against the Panthers in the preseason. He did not appear to have any recurrence of the injury later in the preseason or regular season, but if not addressed properly, those injuries can linger and cause missed time in chunks as the injury becomes more chronic.

    • Ankle surgery

It was initially reported that Thompson suffered an ankle sprain just prior to the Bengals game which left him designated as questionable. It was also never revealed which side he injured. He ended up playing in the game, recording his lowest snap count of the season with 6 plays, indicating that he was not fully healthy to contribute. 

He missed the next 4 games requiring ankle surgery that was never fully explained why he required the procedure. At the time, it was thought that he may have bone chips or loose bodies floating around in there, causing the ankle to lock up. There are many other possibilities that it could have been, but considering there wasn’t a clear mechanism of injury and lack of reporting regarding the specifics, truly hard to say what he was dealing with.

Whatever it was, it was minor enough to only miss 4 games and then return to play later in the season. My initial guess is that this injury will not linger into 2020, but without more details, I am not 100% certain.

LB Tremaine Edmunds

16 games, 16 starts, 1 INT, 9 passes defended, 1.5 sacks, 115 combined tackles, 66 solo, 49 assisted, 10 TFL, 4 QB hits, 1 safety

Edmunds really can do it all. He has morphed into the middle linebacker that the Bills thought he could be when they drafted him in 2018. He also doesn’t appear to be stopping peaking anytime soon with his best football still appearing to be ahead of him. 

Thankfully he continues to stay healthy, suffering no known injuries in 2019. While he does play an incredibly physical position and is not immune to injury, the fact that he has avoided missing time due to concussions, strains, and sprains bode well for the linebacking corps going into 2020.

LB Matt Milano

15 games, 15 starts, 9 passes deflected, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1.5 sacks, 100 combined tackles, 64 solo, 36 assisted, 7 TFL, 7 QB hits

Matt Milano continues to outplay his original draft position which could set him up nicely for a payday when free agency arrives next year. He started off slow during his rookie year before coming on strong in the second half. He followed that performance in 2018 until an ankle fracture with dislocation stopped him from likely making a Pro Bowl that year. 

Milano came back strong from the injury and had quite a complete season, missing only one game due to injury. 

Below is Milano’s injury breakdown:

    • Left hamstring strain

He suffered the left hamstring strain while trying to catch Titans TE Jonnu Smith on the long reception in the second half. He began to decelerate before grabbing at his left hamstring as he ran out of the frame. He ultimately took 2 weeks to recover from the hamstring strain while only missing 1 game along with a well-timed bye week.

He returned to play against Philadelphia and did not appear to have any issues the rest of the season indicating the strain was mild to moderate. He also dealt with some hamstring issues during his rookie year which is concerning that this may become a more frequent injury for him. Recurrence rates for hamstring strains from year to year can be as high as 30% but vary based on the grade of injury.

It is also interesting to note that the Bills do treat hamstrings incredibly conservatively in order to ensure that they return to play at 100% instead of pushing them and risk re-injury. Considering his history and position he plays, there is concern that he suffers yet another hamstring strain either in training camp or early in the season as everyone adjusts to the abbreviated offseason.

LB Vosean Joseph 

Spent 2019 on IR with a torn labrum in the right shoulder

Joseph, unfortunately, suffered a shoulder injury after getting drafted in the 5th round of the 2019 draft. While Joseph wasn’t a lock to make the roster, the shoulder injury he suffered certainly didn’t help things. It appeared that he tore his labrum at some point during the 2nd preseason game which resulted in going to IR with season-ending surgery. Labral tears are typically full recoveries & the re-tear rates are anywhere from 13-26%. 2020 will hopefully allow Joseph to step up to the active roster and show why the Bills drafted him in the 5th round. 

LB Tyrel Dodson

Dodson spent the season on the practice squad and suspended list due to the domestic violence incident he had with his girlfriend. He ultimately served a 6 game suspension on the commissioner’s exempt list before ultimately being waived and signed to the practice squad. As expected, Dodson did not suffer any known injuries during the season and will hopefully come in ready to play with all his personal issues behind him.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

Phillips spent the second half of the season with the Bills practice squad before signing a reserve/futures contract following the season completion. He enters the 2020 season with no publicly known injuries in the past 3 years and could fight for a practice squad/expanded roster spot if the league allows it. To read more on Phillips, check out the article at Banged Up Bills.

New to the roster

LB AJ Klein

It feels like the Carolina connection is becoming repetitive at this point. Klein is yet another example of a player who found success down south & is reuniting with Sean McDermott. Klein comes in understanding the systems and has shown to be healthy as evidenced by the article over at Buffalo Rumblings. He is certainly a player that can fill the gaps and provide veteran leadership as some of the younger players continue to develop.

LB Tyler Matakevich

Matakevich comes to Buffalo as a special teams ace after 4 seasons in Pittsburgh. The only concern he has injury-wise coming in was a torn labrum several years ago. In the Buffalo Rumblings, it was mentioned that there is an 8-10% chance that he re-tears the labrum. But up above with Joseph, there is a 13-26% chance he re-tears. The difference being the first source is more general population, the second source is more specific to the NFL. Either way, his risk is minimal due to the injury being several years old. 

I’ve read multiple instances where it will not be a good thing if Matakevich is playing defense for the Bills and that still appears to be the case going into 2020. 

LB Mike Bell

Bell is a familiar face, having spent rookie minicamp with the Bills in 2019 as a safety before ultimately being cut. He was out of football in 2019, working on a position change to linebacker and adding 20 lbs to his frame in order to adjust. 

There is a hope that he could transition as Matt Milano did coming out of college, but there is no guarantee that Bell will be able to adapt fully until he spends some time with an NFL roster, whether it is training camp or practice squad. To read more on Bell, check out Banged Up Bills.

2020 Outlook

The linebacker corps come into 2020 fairly healthy with Edmunds, Milano, & Klein locks to make the roster. Between the three, a knee and hamstring injury cost them a total of 2 games last season. There is concern regarding a recurrence of the hamstring strain for Milano going into 2020, but hopefully, he comes into training camp in excellent shape to help mitigate his risks. 

Others that are locked to make the roster include Matakevich, Thompson, & Joseph if he has a healthy training camp. Dodson, Phillips, & Bell all are still in play and will likely be in the plan for practice squad or bottom of the roster decisions for depth insurance. Most of the injuries at the position belonged to Maurice Alexander who takes his baggage with him into free agency. 

I am slightly concerned about the overall depth at the position if the top 3 get injured at any point. It is not realistic that there will be starting-caliber players for depth purposes at any position, but a lot will be riding on the health of the unit to ensure its effectiveness in 2020.

2020 FA Roundup: LB Del’Shawn Phillips injury analysis

Will Phillips find a home in Buffalo?

There is no one correct path to the NFL. New Bills LB Del’Shawn Phillips is proof of that. Originally a Western Michigan commit out of high school, he was academically ineligible which led to Phillips attending Garden City Community College for 2 seasons before transferring to the University of Illinois, playing for 2 seasons before finally getting his shot at the pros.

For someone like Phillips, who was already behind the eight ball coming out, any injury or set back could have meant the end of his dream before it even started. Below is his known injury history from college and NFL.

2015-2016 Garden City Community College:

He played two years for the team, helping them win a national title in 2016, but outside of that, no information can be found regarding injuries or games played. According to the media guide, Phillips was All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2015 and First Team All-Conference during his time in Kansas before moving onto Illinois.

2017:

Upon arriving at Illinois, Phillips began playing spring ball, suffering an ankle injury that forced him to miss most of the spring semester as he transitioned to Big Ten football. Outside of reporting that he had an ankle injury, it is not known about what type of injury, which side, and if surgery was required.

Looking at his Twitter profile, he acknowledges missed time, possibly a month due to the previous picture post. This could indicate that he suffered some type of sprain, but that is only speculative. 

Thankfully, he had the summer to recover and ended up playing in 11 of 12 games, missing only the Minnesota game with a shoulder injury. Like the ankle, little is known other than the fact that he suffered the injury. He was able to come back the following week indicating that it was likely minor. 

2018:

Appeared in all 12 games with no reported injuries. Due to his availability, he ended up leading the team in interceptions with 4 and tied for the team lead in tackles with 95. This culminated in All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors from the media and an Academic All-Big Ten nod. 

2019:

Signed as a UDFA with the Atlanta Falcons before getting cut at the end of the preseason. Phillips later signed with the Bills practice squad in late October of that year before getting re-signed to a reserve deal following the season. 

Bills Injury Impact:

Like many other UDFA’s, Phillips has to show he’s worth keeping around. He has a handful of guys to beat out to even get a shot as a depth option on the 53-man roster. He will likely find a home yet again on the practice squad with the possibility to even play now that the rules have changed with regards to the number of players allowed and the ability to call up two players on game day without having to pass through waivers. 

The lack of injuries for Phillips over the past 3 years bodes well for the possibility to make the team but is far from a guarantee. He will have to have some luck and supreme play in the preseason in order to warrant a roster spot.