Wild Card Bills Injury Review- Texans

It was still a fun season despite the loss.

This wasn’t an article I wanted to write. I wasn’t in a rush to write this either. It’s not that I didn’t want to write about the injuries, but I didn’t want to write about the end of the season, at least not with that ending. That game was full of emotions, the excitement of that first drive ending in a touchdown, the Houston comeback, the game-tying field goal & inevitable loss. It just sucked to see such a great season the Bills have an end like this. But it ended and that’s the reality of the situation. 

However, there were still injuries that occurred & I have a duty to explain what exactly happened. 

CB Taron Johnson (lower-body injury) 

Johnson exited the game midway through the 2nd quarter with 7:30 left with what appeared at the time no apparent reason. He was observed down on his right knee after the play with trainers assessing him before walking off under his own power. 

Reviewing the game film, it was not apparent that he suffered an injury until the All-22 film came out. Upon reviewing the film, Johnson stuck with his man, TE Darren Fells until he got to the sideline. Fells cut back, as did Johnson rather vigorously and he appeared to take an awkward step on his right, which forced him to slow up as the play ended. Nothing appeared wrong until Johnson was down in the middle of the field before he went off.

My best guess due to having only one camera angle and a birds-eye view is that he suffered some type of strain. Possibly a groin, hamstring, or calf. To note, he wasn’t limping off at all from what I could tell, but something wasn’t right. If you recall, Johnson did suffer a hamstring strain back in the 1st game which ultimately cost him 4 games. Temperatures were in the 70’s at kickoff & the dome was closed, leading to a warm environment, raising the possibility for a strain due to dehydration. I do not believe the hamstring he suffered back in September caused the issues on Saturday.

Regardless of what it was, we probably won’t know until OTA’s start or if an article comes out later detailing the specifics. This isn’t anything that should be a problem heading into next year either.

WR Duke Williams (left low ankle sprain)

Shortly after Johnson suffered his injury, Williams had one of his own catching a diving pass from QB Josh Allen before going out of bounds with about 2:30 left in the 2nd quarter. It was a bang-bang play & required several replays to determine the injury. At first, it appeared that Williams hyperextended his left knee as his foot got caught in the turf, diving out. 

However, on further review, it clearly shows that his left ankle twists in quickly, causing the all too common inversion low ankle sprain. Williams took several plays off to get his ankle evaluated and taped before returning, at times favoring the ankle with a decreased ability to push off. 

Williams avoided a worse knee injury due to the ankle taking the brunt of the forces going out, snapping underneath instead of applying further pressure on the knee into extension. He will likely be feeling this ankle for a few weeks & possibly the knee but like most sprains, this won’t be an issue moving forward & had the Bills won, probably wouldn’t have kept him out next week.

Other Observations 

CB Levi Wallace & WR Robert Foster

There were several surprise inactives prior to the game, namely CB Levi Wallace & WR Robert Foster. Wallace was a surprise to me only because he was practicing, although on a limited basis with a heavily taped ankle, during the week. I had thought that even an injured Wallace would be able to play in some packages, but my guess is that the team felt he would be better suited to play next week had they made it. 

Foster was a surprise only because of how valuable he has become as a gunner on special teams & was continually a deep threat, despite not connecting on anything all season. Considering the lack of production from Foster, it made sense to make Williams active, but thankfully the special team’s play wasn’t harmed by the loss of Foster. 

DE JJ Watt

Houston’s DE JJ Watt made some noise as I had expected him too, appearing in 61% of the defensive plays along with 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, & 2 QB hits. I believe he played far more than the original plan dictated, but this is why he suited up, to make a difference & he did. Far from his best performance, but those skills he has, even with one arm, still made him incredibly dangerous on Saturday & the Bills paid for it. 

QB Josh Allen

During the Bills locker cleaning out Sunday, there was a video that came out of Allen walking across the fieldhouse in flip flops & an ankle brace on his right ankle. It was not known when he injured his ankle during the game as he appeared in every offensive play Saturday. This likely was one of those small injuries that would be impossible to find on film & won’t be anything that should linger.

I had briefly thought that this was the result of the injury he suffered in the loss to the Ravens last month. However, this occurred to the left ankle in that game & he was able to play through it. Merely an observation & just another one of the battle scars that Allen accumulated throughout the season in the march towards the playoffs.

Final Thoughts

Like I said above, this wasn’t an article that I wanted to write. But it had to be done. This ends the 2019 Buffalo Bills season & I’m pretty happy with the overall results. 10 wins, a playoff berth not given by sheer luck, tons of growth by the entire team & a bright future. I’m looking forward to 2020 with the idea that this Bills team can make a run. I’m a Bills fan, an eternal optimist, is there any other way to be?

Looking at the offseason, there will be some changes. I plan on taking some time off from weekly Banged Up Bills articles, only focusing on updates such as the inevitable surgeries, free agent signings, & any other news I deem worthy to report. Things will gear up again once the draft hits & the 90 man roster begins to take shape prior to training camp. I’m going to continue to work hard to update the appearance of the site, video reviews, injury breakdowns, & find new ways to deliver the content that is clearly wanted. 

However, you can still follow on Twitter for the latest news, podcasts & work I will be doing with the draft. Find my work over at Cover 1 detailing injuries regarding the 2020 draft prospects. Make sure to go check that out & all the other amazing content that’s available. Thanks, Bills Mafia, it was a fun season!

Top Photo Credit:

RochesterFirst.com

Week 16 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Is Buffalo treasure Tre’Davious White healthy & ready to go Saturday?

This is odd, isn’t it? Playing meaningful December football, no longer being “in the hunt”, potentially winning the AFC East. It’s wild stuff! To top it off, the Bills continue to stay healthy as they head to Foxborough for a huge game with seeding implications. Win out & the Patriots lose out, the Bills win the East, potentially obtaining the 3rd seed and a home playoff game. Otherwise, the Bills get the 5th seed. Healthwise, the Bills have the advantage over the Patriots & appear to have the talent in order to win. We can only hope that the Patriots will continue their substandard play over recent weeks & allow the Bills to get their 11th win.

OUT

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe has already been ruled out for his 5th straight game due to his ankle injury against the Dolphins. I don’t really have anything to add besides that 4 weeks was an appropriate timeline but on the accelerated side of the healing timelines. These injuries can take 4-6 weeks, sometimes longer & he could be close but maybe closer to returning next week or for the playoffs. Until he practices in some fashion, only time will tell. By no means does there appear to be complications or lingering issues at this time.

QUESTIONABLE

DT Corey Liuget (knee)

Little continues to be released with Liuget’s knee injury. We still don’t know what side or the exact nature of the injury. He did have a quadriceps tendon tear that cost him half of last year. It’s possible he could be having some pain associated with that such as arthritis as he does have a lot of miles on him, but until more is made available, we are guessing. All the work that went into rehab & the severity of the actual injury supports that after a month of actual football could be causing some issues that need time & rest. The fact that he is limited is promising, but I need to see a full practice before I can be confident he will play. Until then, I expect DT Vincent Taylor will get another start. 

For more reading on Liuget’s injury, check out this piece from the Buffalo News Jason Wolf. It’s very comprehensive & accurately details the original injury, physical therapy techniques, struggles, and overall rehab. Worth the click.

CLEARED TO PLAY

CB Tre’Davious White (left shoulder)

White appeared to suffer a minor stinger on a hard tackle late in the 1st quarter Sunday night. He missed one play & was able to return, continuing his stellar play. The fact he didn’t end up on the injury report is promising as it may have truly been a minor issue & should not impact him at all Saturday. 

CB Taron Johnson (left 5th digit)

Johnson suffered a left finger injury late in the 4th quarter but was part of a key stop & prevented moving the chains for the Steelers. Video is poor & doesn’t show exactly what Johnson did, but it was observed he was getting his fingers buddy taped. He either stubbed it, suffered some type of crush injury, or possible dislocation. Either way, an injury as minor as this wouldn’t affect Johnson’s ability to do his job. Certainly, something to monitor. 

Something else that’s interesting that I’d like to note. The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia noted that practice squad member CB Cam Lewis wasn’t practicing the past 2 days. Typically practice squad members get really no press unless they are involved in a transaction or are called up. There aren’t details noted about Lewis’ injury, but for that attention to detail from Buscaglia & others that I routinely follow & retweet really set the Bills coverage apart from other fan bases. Bills Mafia, we’re blessed!

Probable Inactives:

OG Ike Boettger

OT Ty Nsekhe

DT Corey Liuget

TE Tommy Sweeney

RB TJ Yeldon

S Dean Marlowe

WR Duke Williams

Saturday will be a fun game, win or lose, but I’m feeling a win. This fan base knows the team can hang with anyone in the league & playing the Patriots again will only reinforce this. I think we’re starting to see the end of the dynasty that is New England & observing the rise of prolonged sustained success in Buffalo. This is a fun time to be a fan, such a different mindset than the past 20 years. It’s a beautiful feeling. GO BILLS!

Top Photo Credit:

ESPN.com

 

 

Week 15 Bills Injury Preview- Steelers

What is going on with Liuget & Feliciano?

The Buffalo Bills haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 1993, a 24-3 win in their march towards a 3rd Super Bowl appearance. Regular season, they haven’t won there since 1975. To date, the Steelers have won the last 6 meetings with the last win coming in 1999. Safe to say there’s a lot riding on this game, a chance to make up for previous failures. To top it off, this is a Sunday Night game, the Bills haven’t appeared on Sunday night since 2007, an embarrassment by the Patriots. There’s so much at stake, we may need a priest to perform an exorcism for good measure. 

The one upside is that the Bills continue to be healthy heading into a win & in playoff scenario. Players are reducing padded practices per the CBA & trying to manage their health during the week to maximize their abilities on Sundays. Below are the injuries & expected inactives prior to the Sunday game. 

OUT

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe will miss his 4th straight game following his severe sprain suffered in the win over the Dolphins. He continues to show progress, observed walking without a walking boot, but not practicing just yet. I had anticipated that he could come back in time for the Patriots game which is still realistic, but not a guarantee. Once he begins practicing, then a return to play timeline can be definitive.

QUESTIONABLE 

DT Corey Liuget (knee)

Liuget has been dealing with a knee injury all week that forced him to miss Wednesday’s practice, but limited Thursday & Friday. It is not known which knee is bothering him but there were several instances where he could have sustained a contusion due to hitting his knee on a helmet, getting kicked, or having bodies fall on him. Unless a clear mechanism of injury is identified or even which side, hard to really tell if he’s a guarantee to play. If he is unable to go, DT Vincent Taylor gets the nod.

OG Jon Feliciano (illness)

Feliciano was sent home Friday with an illness that affected RB Frank Gore this week & RB TJ Yeldon & OG Quinton Spain last week. It’s flu season & people are bound to get sick. He is truly a 50/50 on whether he plays Sunday night. Considering he has extra time to recover with hitting the fluids & resting, there may be a chance he plays. From the looks of what I’ve seen him do this season, he’s one tough dude. With the ability to clinch a playoff spot, I would think he could muster enough energy Sunday night. If he can’t go, OG Spencer Long would likely get the start.

CLEARED TO PLAY

DT Jordan Phillips (knee)

Like Liuget, it’s unknown which knee he is dealing with. He popped on the injury report as limited Thursday indicating he missed some drill at some point, reportedly receiving extra attention from the training staff at the beginning of practice. Looking back at Sunday’s game on replay, it was a brutal, physical game. It’s no surprise several guys are banged up, especially the big uglies in the trenches. Thankfully, Phillips is cleared to play & he will continue his rotation on the defensive line as they have every other game. 

QB Josh Allen (left ankle)

Allen suffered a mild left ankle sprain as the result of getting stepped on by C Mitch Morse which forced him to limp off the field briefly. He quickly got his ankle taped back up & was able to return to play without missing a snap. As he didn’t appear on the injury report this week, I don’t anticipate it being an issue. He will likely have either some bracing or have it taped up in order to provide extra support. I don’t believe that it will hinder his overall mobility. 

Probable Inactives:

TE Tommy Sweeney

OG Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

OT Ty Nsekhe

DT Corey Liuget

S Dean Marlowe

WR Duke Williams

The Steelers boast a talented defense, strong offensive line, beat up starting running back in RB James Connor, lacking their top wide receiver in WR Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster & playing their 3rd string QB Devlin Hodges. Heinz Field is not an easy place to play as Steeler Nation shows up every game & this will be no exception. It will be cold & the pressure will be on. The Bills appear to be the more talented team heading down to Pittsburgh to play on the national stage. They have shown they can hang with anyone; this is a winnable game & I expect Buffalo to end Sunday night with 10 wins. 

On a personal note, growing up in Erie, PA, I was surrounded by Steeler fans including many family members. It is incredibly satisfying to see Facebook meltdown after a Steelers loss. I plan on watching the game from the comfort of my own home, watch the Bills win, and then sit back, with a tasty beer as Steelers nation cries themselves to sleep. GO BILLS!

Top Photo Credit:

Sportsbookreview.com

Week 14 Bills Injury Preview- Ravens

Breaking down why Nsekhe is out so long.

9-3. What a sight to behold!

The Bills are 9-3 heading into the month of December. That’s pretty incredible after all the years of cold meaningless football. While the Bills still have more work to do this month, this has turned into quite a special season, making the national media take notice on the team from Western NY. As the Bills embark on vital December games, the team continues to stay healthy following a rash of injuries around a well-timed Week 6 bye. But the Bills, they’re incredibly healthy now & in prime position to capitalize on teams limping into the playoffs. With the Ravens coming to town on an 8-game winning streak, this is a true test for the Bills to create an opportunity to capture an elusive AFC East crown.

OUT

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe continues to rehab back from his severe ankle sprain suffered against the Dolphins back on November 17th. On Wednesday, it was reported that Nsekhe would be out on the practice field in some role, however, he was a DNP all week. This is not surprising considering the severity of the ankle sprain he suffered, assessed out at least as a Grade 2 inversion ankle sprain. 

The reason this ankle continues to require more time is due to how ligaments heal. Like all tissues, they are made up of various building blocks. In the case of ligaments, water, collagen, & amino acids create the makeup of the tissue. During normal use, the ligaments crimp & uncrimp based on the tensile loads placed through the joint as they connect bone to bone for structural support. As the joint is progressed through the range of motion, the ligaments elongate until they are maximally stretched. Prior to the injury, the striations of the ligaments are linear and allow for support during the full range during joint motion. Think of the striations in a nice steak, all linear and uniform as seen below.

blood cell types
Credit: Sportsinjuryclinic.net

When an injury occurs, the ligaments are either overstretched or outright tear. When a joint is taken to its end range, the proprioceptive nerves in the ligament start signaling for the muscles around the area to contract to prevent the joint from injury. While this attempts to reduce injury, the muscles are not always able to overcome the forces from the injury. Based on the severity, anywhere from several fibers to the entirety of the ligament can tear. 

During healing, the body attempts to heal quickly by putting scar tissue down in a haphazard fashion to heal the tissue. Because the tissue is not linear, the elasticity decreases & the tissue is not as strong as what was originally torn. What happens then is if the tissue is reinjured, it takes less force for the tissue to tear or it stretches out & does not regain its normal shape as easily. You can see below how the makeup of the tissue changes with injury.

scar-tissue-image-300x175
Credit: oregonmassageandwellnessclinic.com

All this tissue healing takes time, anywhere from 6 weeks to a few years for the tissue to fully mature. Fortunately, progressive loading movements help remodel the tissue as it heals in order to return to activity sooner. This is why we are able to gauge return to play timelines based on the severity of the injury. At the end of the day, Nsekhe needs proper rest with increasing loading of the surrounding tissue and ankle joint to ensure that he regains full function in the ankle without causing further damage to the healing tissue.

According to ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques, Nsekhe is out of the walking boot this week, hopefully walking without pain. Ideally, he begins to practice in a limited capacity next week with an outside chance to play against the Steelers but more realistic chances to return against the Patriots. 

CLEARED

OG Quinton Spain & RB TJ Yeldon (illness)

Both Spain & Yeldon missed Thursday’s practice with what was described as an illness. Considering its flu season, that’s likely the cause. Neither were ruled out and while Spain won’t be 100%, enough fluids & Vitamin C should get him through the game. Just another reason to get the flu shot so you don’t get the flu. If you can’t get the shot, you know you can’t. But if you’re able, it helps keep you & others around you healthy. 

Possible Inactives:

TE Tommy Sweeney

OG Ike Boettger

OT Ty Nsekhe

WR Duke Williams

RB TJ Yeldon

S Dean Marlowe

DT Vincent Taylor

The Ravens are on an 8 game winning streak coming into New Era Field. Winning streaks in the NFL like this are rare & need to end at some point. I believe the Bills with their elite defense are primed to stop Lamar Jackson & Greg Roman’s offense. The Ravens are dealing with injury, but the Bills are healthier which with that and the ability to contain Lamar Jackson, could propel the Bills to victory. Here’s to a competitive game with the home crowd advantage, leading to a defining Bills win.
Top Photo Credit:

Baltimore Sun

Week 13 Bills Injury Preview- Cowboys

How are the Bills looking as they go down south?

The Bills travel down to Dallas with a lot at stake. Win, move to 9-3 & gain the national “respect” that they deserve? Or lose, drop to 8-4, and have continued questions whether they are actually a playoff-caliber team. With both teams playing on short weeks, this game will come down to who makes fewer mistakes & can capitalize on the opportunities given to them. Fortunately, the Bills are far healthier than the Cowboys & can make the most with their roster to secure a win before hosting Baltimore in Week 14. 

OUT

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe continues to work back from the sprained ankle suffered in the win over the Dolphins. He missed the Broncos game & won’t be back for the foreseeable future. He will continue to rehab & begin working on increasing his workloads to eventually return to practice with the hopes that he returns before the Patriots or Jets game. 

QUESTIONABLE

C Mitch Morse (right 5th digit)

Morse appeared to jam his right 5th digit or pinky on a play late in the 1st quarter, striking his hand into the ground towards the end of the play, coming up & grabbing at the area. He was unable to return for the rest of the game but was at times observed snapping to QB Matt Barkley & getting his finger buddy taped to the ring finger for support. He is likely dealing with some minor loss of range of motion, pain, & swelling. It also doesn’t help that 40% of grip strength comes from the muscles that move the 5th digit, significantly limiting Morse’s ability to grip & snap the ball. 

It’s possible he broke his finger, but without clear video, hard to say. However, he has been limited Monday-Wednesday with the finger injury, indicating that this may not be the case. It is very possible that he still plays with the fingers buddy taped together for support to play effectively. If he is unable to go or re-injures the finger, then G Jon Feliciano would slide back over with G Spencer Long taking his place.

WR Robert Foster (right hamstring)

Foster suffered a right hamstring injury on his biggest play of the day Sunday on a 24-yard catch & run down the sideline. Unfortunately, he got pushed out, forcing him to catch himself on his right side from falling over. As he was doing this, he was decelerating, regrettably overloading the eccentrically contracting hamstring and he suffered a strain. The team has been incredibly conservative with hamstring injuries this season with great success. 

Despite practicing in a limited role Tuesday & Wednesday, soft tissue injuries need time to heal up & with 5 days between games, the time simply is not there. As Foster is ruled questionable, WR Duke Williams will likely get the start after 4 games inactive. Hopefully, Foster’s strain is a minor one & he can return to play against Baltimore. 

CLEARED TO PLAY

S Siran Neal (concussion)

Neal managed to progress through the concussion protocol quickly, only missing the Dolphins game & not practicing at all last week. Last we knew, he was in Stage 2 of the protocol going through a pregame workout on Sunday. For him to progress to practicing in full & clearing the protocol is promising, indicating that he will resume as a vital cog in the special teams play.  

Possible Inactive’s:

TE Tommy Sweeney

DT Vincent Taylor

WR Robert Foster

OT Ty Nsekhe

S Dean Marlowe

RB TJ Yeldon

OG Ike Boettger

There isn’t much to discuss moving forward other than the Bills have to go down to Dallas & take care of business. Ideally, the Bills move to 9-3, shutting up the critics as the Bills march towards the playoffs despite a tough stretch of games. Either way, the Bills have taken care of business, winning the games they need to & putting themselves into opportune positions, rather than relying on others screwing up for the Bills to have a favorable outcome. Bills Mafia, enjoy your Thanksgiving & GO BILLS!!

Week 12 Bills Injury Review- Broncos

Are Morse & Beasley going to play Thursday?

No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills! Circle the wagons they did with a convincing win over the Denver Broncos 20-3 on Sunday at New Era Field! From my observations, I did not see a play, series, or point in time where the Broncos were ever in control. It was not a blowout but a rather convincing win to move the Bills to 8-3, the best mark through 12 games since 1996. Think about where you were at that time; I was 8 & still watched Power Rangers. The original ones, with Jason the Green Power Ranger. Yea, that takes you back. 

download
Credit: https://powerrangers.fandom.com/

Anyway, it’s a great feeling to be 8-3 with a march towards the playoffs despite a tough schedule in the coming weeks. However, to make matters difficult, the Bills have to turn around and play Thursday in prime-time against the Dallas Cowboys. Thankfully, the Bills did not suffer a major injury which gives them a better shot to compete. Below are the injuries from Sunday.

C Mitch Morse (right 5th digit)

Morse suffered a right 5th digit or pinky finger injury with 1:56 left in the 1st quarter when Broncos DE Von Miller sacked QB Josh Allen for a 5-yard loss. Morse was engaged with his blocker before falling down, landing with his right hand. He came up grabbing it & did not return for the rest of the day. He was later observed on the sideline practicing snapping to QB Matt Barkley, then going to the locker room before halftime.

I did manage to see that his 4th & 5th digits on his right hand were buddy taped indicating that he possibly jammed his finger when he fell down. To note, this is the hand that he snaps with. He did not return to play in the game but appeared to be available in case of injury. Suffering an injury to the 5th digit or pinky is crucial to Morse’s ability to play. Having pain or weakness in the hypothenar eminence which is the intrinsic hand muscles that account for 40% of grip strength really affects his ability to snap the ball. Think how painful it is when you can’t fully use your hand after it’s been hit. Now try to fully grip & squeeze an NFL football. 

It’s not to say that he couldn’t come back, but with OG Jon Feliciano as a very capable backup, there wasn’t a need for him to return. Morse stated after the game that he would take it day-to-day and that he should be fine. All he will need is some brief rehab to make sure he has full motion & strength return, possibly buddy tape the area for support & be able to play Thursday.

WR Cole Beasley (left ankle)

Beasley scared everyone when he went down late in the 2nd quarter on a designed run play by RB Devin Singletary. Beasley was blocking his assigned man when Broncos LB Todd Davis kicked his left ankle out from under him while diving trying to tackle Singletary. Beasley was in obvious pain & quickly attended to by trainers on the field. He was able to walk off under his own power & eventually return, scoring a TD in the 3rd quarter.

He finished the day 6-76-1, signaling that his ankle contusion was not going to be a problem. Like Morse, he may require brief rehab, more for pain & possible swelling in preparation for Thursday. He could possibly wear a compression sleeve under his sock but I see no scenario in where he doesn’t play against his former team Thursday.

WR Robert Foster (right hamstring)

Foster finally broke out with by far his best game in an overall disappointing season with a 22-yard run followed by a 24-yard catch in the 3rd quarter in where he was injured. He managed to catch the ball with 14:17 left in the 3rd quarter, streaking down the sideline before getting pushed out by Broncos S Justin Simmons. Foster was forced to load up his right leg to account for the sudden hit & attempted to slow down. Unfortunately, as he decelerated, he suffered what appeared to be pulled hamstring, requiring assistance from the training staff to get off the field. 

This is a common way to suffer a hamstring injury & his return was questionable, but he did not return the rest of the game. It’s possible that he was dealing with cramping in the area, but considering how he suffered the injury, it appears to be more of a strain. Barring a miraculous recovery, I do not see him suiting up Thursday against the Cowboys. Fortunately, the Bills have WR Duke Williams who is healthy & quite eager to play, having been inactive the past 4 games. 

Foster may miss the Baltimore game based on past hamstring management by the team, but considering he will have extra time to rest & rehab, there’s an outside chance he returns. We will have to see how available he is in practice following the Cowboys game.

Other notes:

As expected, OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle) & S Siran Neal (concussion) were ruled out before Sunday. Nsekhe is nowhere near being ready to play & had shown on Instagram that he was getting rehab daily, seen below. Neal is in Stage 2 of the concussion protocol & it is unknown if he will progress fast enough to be ready to play Thursday. 

DE Jerry Hughes was held off the stat sheet Sunday by Broncos OT Garett Bolles & dealing with a groin injury. Hughes was able to provide some pressure today but overall didn’t have the impact that he typically has in the game. It’s possible that his groin may be slowing him, it’s not something I can clearly see on film. Either way, I still expect him to play Thursday because he’s playing already, why not play Thursday & then he will get 9 days off.

On a special note, congratulations to RB Frank Gore who ran into 3rd place on the NFL all-time rushing yards list. He passed the immortal Barry Sanders & continues to show everyone how the job gets done. The career he has had despite all the early injuries including ACL tears to both knees in college before entering the NFL. From a fan perspective, it’s incredible watching historic events such as that.

The Bills will have practice this week like usual but it will obviously be condensed. I expect most practices to be walkthroughs as they heal their bodies up. Besides Foster, there shouldn’t be any big losses unless someone developed concussion symptoms after the game. It will be a quick 3-day turnaround before the Bills play on Thanksgiving. By Wednesday, there will be a much clearer injury picture heading to Dallas.

Top Photo Credit:

Rochesterfirst.com

Week 12 Bills Injury Preview- Broncos

Get the comprehensive timeline on Nsekhe’s ankle & rehab process.

It was expected that the Bills couldn’t stay healthy forever. NFL games are a brutal endeavor & not everyone can avoid injury. While the Bills are down a few players going into Sunday’s game, they still appear to be on track towards making the playoffs which means they could get timely reinforcements when the health improves. The injury report is pretty cut & dry this week but there are still details to discuss especially as we are rapidly approaching 2 games in 5 days. Below is the injury breakdown prior to the game & outlook for the short week.

RULED OUT:

S Siran Neal (concussion)

Neal suffered a concussion with 7:41 left in the 2nd quarter on a routine kickoff following the 2nd FG of the day by K Stephen Hauschka. He appeared to bullrush his assignment and hit his head in the process before getting up appearing to be dazed. In a twist of irony, one of his teammates patted him on the head after the play, not exactly the ideal thing to do after a possible concussion. Neal’s day ended early, getting ruled out & placed into the concussion protocol. 

He was unable to practice all week & was observed watching practice from the sidelines which indicates that he is in Stage 2 of the protocol. He has already been ruled out & it is a guess when he will progress through the protocol to be cleared.

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe managed to avoid a severe ankle injury when Dolphins DE Avery Moss landed on the back of his foot during a routine run play midway through the 3rd quarter. I had originally stated that he suffered a fracture/dislocation & that his season would likely be done. I have the receipts to prove I am wrong. My buddy, Dr. Chao, aka @ProFootballDoc, also had thought the same thing but thankfully we are now looking at a week-to-week injury instead of season-ending IR. Below is a video detailing why he avoided a fibular fracture.

There were reports that Nsekhe was out at practice in a walking boot which appeared to rile up the masses in a good way thinking that the injury wasn’t as serious as it appeared to be. At the end of the day, he suffered a low ankle sprain which comes with it a still very real & arduous rehab timeline. The reason he was out in a walking boot was the fact that he didn’t have any restrictions in weight-bearing. In the rehab world, it’s encouraged to resume weight-bearing as tolerated unless specifically contraindicated in order to allow for the healing process to take place.

Yes, everyone has heard of PRICE (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), but after that initial 24 hours of rest, exercise & mobility activities are encouraged for better outcomes. Multiple studies have shown that introducing exercise shortly after the injury reduces the time that one is out compared to immobilization with a 4-7 day reduction in the timeframe for return. Right now, that could be the difference between going to IR versus playing on Wild Card Weekend. 

Allowing weight-bearing allows for joint approximation is vital for the healing process. This allows the muscles in the ankle and lower leg to cocontract & increase joint stability. This also allows the joint to begin to regain proprioception which is the perception of awareness of the body in space in relation to its surroundings. These are all fancy terms, but what does this mean? This means that just by weight-bearing, he is improving his strength and joint positioning with each step he takes. As the pain & swelling reduces, he will continue to perform active strengthening in the area along with balance exercises, increasing the difficulty until he is able to begin walking without the boot. 

As he progresses to higher-level activities, jogging, running, football-specific drills will continue to increase until he is ready to resume playing. This process can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks for a Grade 2-3 sprain. As I previously mentioned in my article from Tuesday, Nsekhe is a big dude, all of 6’8” & 325 lbs. A human that big will require some extra time to fully recover from any lower-body injury. 

While this is not a great injury down this tough stretch of games, having OT Cody Ford with experience helps until Nsekhe is able to come back. The hope is that he’s back in time for the playoffs, but he could realistically come back in time for the Patriots game on the 21st. We’ll see how he progresses, but it’s hopeful that the new training center allows for him to shave more time off to shore up the offensive line. 

Final thoughts on Nsekhe, the team has been bringing in a multitude of offensive tackles to work out including former Bills Sam Young & Seantrel Henderson as possible options in case OT Ryan Bates can’t cut it as a backup or if Ford struggles. 

SUITING UP SUNDAY

DE Jerry Hughes (groin)

Hughes continues to battle through a nagging groin injury suffered sometime earlier in the season which forced him to pop up on the injury report late last week. He was able to play in a season-high 53 snaps on defense. Considering that Hughes is a right defensive end, it’s possible that he is dealing with a left-sided groin strain. He lined up most of his snaps at his natural right side but did line up several times on the left, most likely due to the particular scheme. 

Lining up on the right side means that his power is coming from his right leg driving around the corner. He appeared to not have any issues driving off the left side, but when the adrenaline is pumping, anyone can work through some pain. He was not ruled out or had any injury designation, always an excellent sign. Some may wonder why he was a DNP Wednesday & Thursday but practiced in full on Friday. This was due to veteran maintenance & to save him for Sunday. Hughes may have benefitted from sitting out the Dolphins game, but both he & the training staff felt he was ready to go.

This will be an injury that he continues to play through, unlikely practicing unless it’s a walkthrough practice in the several days between Sunday & Thursday, but barring any further injury should play Thursday as well. While Hughes has not had the stat-bursting season that was expected, he still continues to force teams to game plan for him & pressure the quarterback each and every snap. 

S Jaquan Johnson (hand)

Johnson was a full participant this week despite a hand injury that popped up on the injury report Wednesday. Trying to identify a minor hand injury on film is quite difficult & it’s not clear when he suffered the injury. Johnson is a very physical player & there were many instances where he could have got his hand caught in a jersey, fell to the ground, or during tackling. Either way, he will be able to contribute to special teams & hopefully make an impact.

DT Jordan Phillips (toe)

Phillips showed up on the injury report Thursday with a toe injury. We don’t know which side, which toe, or when it happened. My guess is that this happened Thursday in practice & that it was an injury to the big toe. The big toe accounts for 50% of body weight during walking & without the toe, significant balance & walking issues arise. Injury to the other toes are rather minor & wouldn’t warrant reporting unless they were stepped on, making it a pain issue.

If this an injury to the big toe, the team can give him a stiff-soled shoe to take the pressure off the area during running and blocking. He also did practice in full on Friday which may show that this wasn’t all that serious & that he missed some drills Thursday, but didn’t have issues Friday. If he has issues in the game Sunday, we will see them. 

Possible Inactive’s:

TE Tommy Sweeney

DT Vincent Taylor

WR Duke Williams

OT Ty Nsekhe

S Siran Neal

RB TJ Yeldon

OG Ike Boettger

The Bills host the 3-7 Broncos who despite their abysmal record, carry an elite defense into the game with several pieces on offense, making them still a very dangerous team to play even at home. Like many other games this season, this is a winnable game & the Bills have to control the run game like they did last week. To move to 8-3 would be huge as the next stretch of games against the Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, & Patriots are no easy task. Continuing to stack wins will be vital in the march towards the playoffs. 

Top Photo Credit:

broncoswire.usatoday.com