Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- LB

Assessing the LB positional injury review from the 2017 season.

Continuing this off-season is the positional injury review’s of this past season for the Buffalo Bills. Today’s review focuses on the LB position. This was a position of weakness during the 2017 season which was horrendous against the run. Whether this is good or bad, most of the unit returns along with some new faces which allow for greater depth. There was a total of 6 players to suit up at the position with a wide variance of statistical success.

First man up is LB Lorenzo Alexander. The elder statesman of the corps managed to stay incredibly healthy during this past season. He was a frequent participant on the injury report requiring weekly rest days but never for a specific injury. The 34 year old, undrafted free agent out of California has spent 11 years in the league playing a variety of positions which may explain why he has such staying power. His ability to adapt to a variety of positions including offensive tackle, tight end, defensive tackle, linebacker, defensive end, and fullback along with special teams. This has forced him to pay close attention to his body and how it operates to adjust to the demands of the positions which I believe has allowed him to stay in the league as long as he has. Despite being one of the older players on the field, he is still able to produce with 3 sacks, 53 tackles with 12 assisted, and 3 forced fumbles. Unless there are a number of linebackers that impress the coaching staff, expect Alexander to remain on the roster in 2018 and continue to be productive.

Next up is LB Preston Brown. The 4th year LB had an incredibly productive season, leading the NFL in tackles with 144 total tackles, 84 solo and 60 assisted and adding in 3 forced fumbles. Brown also thankfully avoided the injury report which is why he was able to be so productive. Despite his availability and production, the Bills did not resign him in free agency, allowing him to sign with his hometown Cincinnati Bengals. While his production is lost, the Bills at least addressed the positional need through the draft with LB Tremaine Edmunds.

Adding the veteran presence of LB Ramon Humber brought mixed opinions from pundits as the veteran has been around the league for 10 years now playing for Indianapolis, New Orleans, and most recently Buffalo. As a 30 year old linebacker, he was able to produce 56 solo tackles, 27 assisted with 1 forced fumble while playing in 13 games and starting 9. Humber only suffered a broken thumb in the win over the Falcons in November, had surgery to stabilize the area, and then proceeded to miss 3 games. During that time, rookie LB Matt Milano stepped in and overtook his starting position, leading Humber to be a depth player, typically what he has been his entire career. The thumb won’t cause any issues coming into the 2018 season but due to his age and ability, he may find himself a camp cut unless he impresses the coaching staff.

Speaking of LB Matt Milano, the rookie 5th round pick out of Boston College impressed many this season with his ability to step up in place of the injured Humber. The rookie saw time in all 16 games and started 5. Milano was able to collect 29 tackles with 14 assists along with a forced fumble with return for a TD and added in 1 interception. While he is not the linebacker that McDermott envisions to run his defense, he has shown the ability to be aware on the field as evident by the statistics he collected this season. Injury wise, Milano stayed relatively healthy, only suffering hamstring injuries early in the season in September and then a more severe injury to the hamstring which kept him out of the playoff loss in Jacksonville. It is unknown whether this was the same side or two separate injuries. As hamstrings are soft tissue and can heal fully, he should not have any setbacks going into this season. He is still a young player and adjusting to the NFL which could put him at risk to develop further hamstring or chronic injuries, but as he sat out the last game and was able to rest, I do not believe this to be the case. Expect Milano to pick up where he left off and continue to produce in 2018.

Rounding out the linebacking corps is LB Deon Lacey and LB Tanner Vallejo. Lacy was largely ineffective, totaling only 1 tackle and spending most of his time on special teams. During his rookie season, he suffered hamstring early in the season and did not appear to re-injure it later. The coaching staff will most likely decide his fate as he was primarily special teams player. As for Vallejo, his rookie season got off to a slow start with a knee injury late in the preseason. After that, most of his playing time was in special teams with no stats recorded on defense. As he was a draft pick of this regime, I expect him to find a place on this roster for next season.

This finishes out the players who suited up at linebacker for the Bills in 2017. The LB position demonstrate significant turnover with my picks of Alexander and Milano locks to return to the roster and Humber and Vallejo competing for backup jobs. Lacey will find himself out of a job unless he impresses in camp. Add in 1st round draft pick LB Tremaine Edmunds out of VA Tech along with UDFA LB Corey Thompson out of LSU and practice squad member LB Xavier Woodson-Luster will help reshape this position drastically.

Continue to check back at Banged Up Bills for the latest news updates and articles on the Buffalo Bills. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook and on Twitter @BangedUpBills. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Handling the Hamstrings

Educating on the all too common hamstring strain, levels of severity, and prevention.

As the Bills are on a bye this upcoming Sunday, this allows some deviation away from Bills injury talks to discuss general matters, my thoughts and opinions, and review ideas/thoughts that may get lost in the shuffle of the busy season filled with injuries. Already this season, we have seen Pro Bowl, All-Pro, and HOF caliber players go down with injuries that are potentially career ending, career altering, and just plain unfortunate. Over the next week, I will look to identify and explain general injuries that regularly occur and how to differentiate between injuries and their severity.

Today’s post will look at the all too common hamstring strain. This is an injury even the best conditioned athlete can sustain. This article will not focus on one specific player, but rather educate and inform what the hamstrings are, how they operate, why they’re injured, and prevention.

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Credit: myprotein.com

The hamstrings are made up of 3 muscles in the back of the thigh consisting of the biceps femoris on the outside and the semimembranosis and semitendonosis on the inside. Together these three muscles attach to parts of the upper femur and bottom of the hip which is called the ischial tuberosity . This is the bony part that everyone sits on when they are in a chair. At the other end, they connect to the top of the tibia and fibula, which is the lower leg bones. Due to the muscles crossing over two joints, they have different functions. Together, these muscles allow the leg to extend and drive the body forward, along with bending the knee. During running and blocking, these muscles cycle through the process of shortening and lengthening at regular intervals depending on the position of the leg.

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Credit: livestrong.com

To help you envision the hamstring functioning, picture a sprinting athlete. Typically, one foot is in contact with the ground, the other in the air. During the foot that is in contact with the ground, the hamstrings with other muscles assist in extending the thigh to assist in moving the body forward. As the body moves forward and begins to push off, the other leg begins the process towards beginning to make contact with the ground. Once the original leg finishes pushing off, the knee begins to bend to assist in clearing the foot to bring the leg forward. Even during the portion where the leg makes contact with the ground, the hamstring is loading back up and eccentrically contracting which means that it is accepting a load while lengthening, which is the most taxing type of muscle contraction. While the hamstring does sound confusing, it can be, but know that without them, you’re not doing much walking without them

During times of injury, the muscle can be overworked, overstretched, or fatigued, leading to part of the muscle to become injured. Depending on the severity and location can dictate the recovery time. A strain is due to the injury to the muscle or the muscle bone attachment. Grade 1 tears are the least severe in which a small portion of the muscle tears during excessive activity. This can heal up rather quickly but several days of rest, stretching, and light exercise can remedy the muscle.

Grade 2 hamstring tear is where at a moderate portion of the muscle tears with a greater force, leading the player to limp and be unable to properly use the affected leg as intended. Typically, there is greater bruising and swelling with initial difficulty placing weight, keeping the player off it for some time. Bruising, poor functional control, and tenderness may occur during this time.

Grade 3 hamstring tear is where the muscle nearly or completely tears. It can also pull a chunk of the bone away from the bony attachment, most likely at the ischial tuberosity, known as an avulsion. This is due to this area being the anchor point, meaning the harder the muscle contracts, the harder it pulls on the anchor point, leading to eventual overload. At this level of injury, the muscle is quite weak and function is no longer normal.

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Credit: physioprescription.com

These types of injuries occur when an athlete suddenly tries to decelerate and change direction, hurdling a player, or trying to push their body faster and faster. This can also occur during blocking, trying to maintain their ground as their being pushed forward and backwards, eventually the muscle gives out and the player becomes injured as a result. There are countless ways for the hamstring to be injured, these are just several of the more common mechanisms of injury.

While the injury is not fully preventable, there are certain steps that can be taken to reduce the incidence. Some preventable measures that can be taken is ensuring proper hydration, conditioning, stretching, and strengthening. Some things that can’t be controlled is previous hamstring injury and increased age. The best method to treat an injury is to prevent. However, I would be hard pressed to find an athlete that has not sustained some sort of hamstring injury during the course of their athletic endeavors.

As Bills fan, we have already seen several players deal with hamstring injuries this season with varying degrees of severity. As a PT, I am not concerned about the long term management of the injuries. I know these players need time to rest, recover, and not to rush back. I would expect to see these injuries increase as the season wears on and the bodies begin to break down. So far, several players on the Bills such as Marcell Dareus, E.J. Gaines, Matt Milano, Nick O’Leary, and Deon Lacey have all spent some time on the injury report this season due to this malady.

I hope this helped educate your understanding on the purpose of the hamstring, why it gets injured, and what it means when a Bills player or another player you follow goes down with the injury. Over the next week, I will continue to outline other common injuries or any specific injuries that occur. Thank you for your time; just doing my job one post at a time to help educate the fellow Bills fan and realize that not every injury is season ending or dashing the team’s success each year.

Week 3 Recap- Broncos

Analyzing the Buffalo Bills injury report following the Week 3 win over the Denver Broncos.

The Buffalo Bills stole a crucial win from the Denver Broncos on Sunday, winning 26-16 during possibly the hottest game ever in Buffalo. The Bills played a solid game despite some parts of the first half that were sloppy. Tyrod Taylor pulled it together and moved the ball well, giving up no interceptions, fumbles, or making any poor choices. I do not believe he is the long term starter for this team, but he is what will work for now until Nathan Peterman develops or the Bills draft a QB next year.

Breaking down this week’s Buffalo Bill’s injury report, well, there’s not much to go over. Sunday’s game showed the first time in recent memory where a player did not go down with injury for either side. As I was at the insanely hot game Sunday, I did not have the vantage points that I normally have on TV. One Bills player did get assessed by training staff but was able to walk off on their own power. This indicates that either they were possibly dealing with cramping or got banged up. Considering the heat Sunday, cramping is the likely culprit.

There are not any new additions to the Bills injury report with many subtractions from last week. Finding their way off the injury report is S Colt Anderson, TE Charles Clay, DE Shaq Lawson, WR Kaelin Clay, LB Deon Lacey, LB Matt Milano, and TE Nick O’Leary. All of these players were dealing with a variety of complaints that do not appear to be long term issues. One note that I would like to make is Shaq Lawson. It was reported that he was dealing with a nerve contusion last week which affected his foot. As I thought previously, it did not affect his overall play with 1 solo tackle, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, and 1 QB hit. While he did not light up the box score in previous games, he still played in 60% of the snaps, which is in line with the other defensive starters. I do not expect that this injury will reappear again this season.

Those currently on the injury report include LB Lorenzo Alexander and DT Kyle Williams due to rest. Two veterans that give it their all every Sunday, they benefit more from rest than practice. Next up is LeSean McCoy with a wrist injury. This is 3 weeks now that he has been dealing with a wrist injury sustained in the home opener when diving into the end zone. He may be dealing with a mild wrist sprain that the team wants to ensure that does not get worse. I do not believe that this injury is any worse or is part of something larger at this time.

A positive sign for this week is that DT Jerel Worthy is listed as a full participant in practice. This is a huge step forward from the past several weeks. If you recall, Worthy sustained a significant concussion in the preseason finale against the Lions. Considering that he is a full participant indicates that he is in Stage 5 of the concussion protocol. This means that barring any recurrence of symptoms over the next several days, he should be cleared to return to play against the Falcons on Sunday. This is supported by the Bills roster cut of DT Deandre Coleman, signed last week.

DT Marcell Dareus and OT Cordy Glenn have made themselves comfy on the report this week. Dareus was listed as a limited participant. Considering there was video of him last week in an air cast performing upper body work indicates that he continues to deal with a mild lateral ankle sprain. If this injury was significant, he would not have been doing activities in standing and may have had a walking boot, creating more stability. Expect him to play Sunday and shut down the potent Falcons running game.

Finally, OT Cordy Glenn continues to deal with foot/ankle injuries. As I have said before, I continue to maintain that he has instability within the ankle/foot region due to repeatedly spraining the areas. Are these injuries that he could play through if this were the playoffs, quite possibly. However, it is still early in the season and Dion Dawkins held his own against the talented Broncos D-line. I expect the training staff to continue to bring Glenn along slowly to ensure that the O-line has the depth required to get through the season.

I still believe that McDermott is rotating through players more frequently to reduce overuse injuries and keep the integrity of the roster intact. As the season continues on, I will continue to address injuries that occur plus outline any injuries that can become common or chronic. Once again, thank you for reading and look for further updates, GO BILLS!!

Week 3 Injury Breakdown- Broncos

Analyzing the Buffalo Bills injury report for Week 3.

Week 3 is upon us! As we head into the match up at home against the Denver Broncos, I will review the team injury report and breakdown expectations for the players on the report. Unfortunately, the Bills injury report will continue to grow through the season. However, most injuries so far have consisted of minor problems that if managed correctly, will not become a problem long term.

Getting several of the names out of the way early are LB Lorenzo Alexander, RB LeSean McCoy, and DT Jerel Worthy. I address these players first because they are not serious issues or have already been addressed. Alexander is on the list due to rest, McCoy due to his wrist which does not appear to be a serious injury as he was listed as a full participant. Finally, Worthy is still in the league concussion protocol and still not practicing, which likely means he is still having symptoms during regular aerobic activities.

Those carrying over from last weeks injury report are S Colt Anderson, TE Charles Clay, and OT Cordy Glenn. Colt Anderson continues to deal with a foot injury and continues to somehow be on the roster. Clay was on last week due to shoulder complaints; this week is knee, which continues to be a long term issue year after year. Glenn reappears on the list due to re-aggravation of the foot/ankle area.

New to the injury report are DE Shaq Lawson, WR Kaelin Clay, DT Marcell Dareus, LB Deon Lacey, LB Matt Milano, and TE Nick O’Leary. Kaelin Cray is dealing with a foot injury, yet not much is known about the current injury. Clay did suffer a broken foot last year during training camp with the Ravens. He was eventually cut in November from injured reserve and essentially sat out last season. Hopefully, this is not something that will keep him out for long. Deon Lacey, Matt Milano, and Nick O’Leary are all dealing with hamstring injuries which can continue to be tricky due to the demands of their specific positions. Lawson’s injury was detailed greatly in my last post and should not affect him for long term. To note, all were full participants on Friday which indicate that they will most likely play Sunday.

It was reported today that both Cordy Glenn and Marcell Dareus will not play Sunday due to the previously reported injuries. I had initially thought that Dareus’ injury was not major due to the fact that he returned to the game against the Panthers. He most likely sustained a sprained ankle and the team is possibly being cautious to ensure that he will be available later this season. With Dareus ruled out, the Bills signed DeAndre Coleman to the roster. Coleman was in training camp and during the offseason, released during cut down day. Considering that Jerel Worthy and Dareus is out, depth will be crucial to place pressure on the Denver offense and contain the run game.

With Cordy Glenn ruled out of the game Sunday, expect Dion Dawkins and Ryan Groy to see increased playing time. This will be the first true test for Dawkins, which I believe he will step up and fill in, demonstrating why the Bills picked him in the 2nd round. As for what Glenn is dealing with, possibly a foot sprain leading to further instability and pain. There are reports that he has issues with both feet/ankles, but unable to confirm each individual issue as that kind of detail typically isn’t released. At this point, I say keep him out until he is ready to play. I have outlined my thoughts on Glenn in the past, I still maintain that the previous issues are contributing towards this current one.

While missing Glenn and Dareus in the lineup, the depth is finally there to deal with these losses. All of the players except Worthy, Dareus, and Glenn practiced in full on Friday which leads me to believe that most of them will either be ready to play for Sunday or have their snap counts limited. Please continue to ask questions, leave comments, and educate yourself on Buffalo Bills injuries. I continue to be open to ideas and will address injuries that require further explanation. Once again, thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!!