Bills Season Injury Review: Defensive Tackles

Assessing the 2018 Bills injuries at the defensive tackle position.

OTA’s are nearly done and mandatory minicamp is approaching! This week marks the end of Phase 3 of organized team activities in which the Bills slowly ramp up incorporating game plans and molding each unit towards success in 2019. One group that experienced a high turnover from 2018 is the defensive tackle position. Only 2 players and 2 practice squad players come back to training camp that will be relied upon to pressure QB’s and disrupts the offensive line in order for the rest of the defense to do their job.

The first player reviewed is DT Robert Thomas. The journeyman saw time in 2 games early in the season, appearing in the loss to the Chargers, followed by the win over the Vikings. He was then cut and resigned to the practice squad later in the year. He did not record any defensive stats or suffer any injuries. As he has bounced around the league from the Redskins, Dolphins, and Giants, he will have an uphill battle to climb in order to make the roster in 2019.

DT Adolphus Washington was unceremoniously cut, leaving town after an overall disappointing career during his time in Buffalo. The former 3rd round pick appeared in the season opener for Buffalo, recording 2 tackles before being waived where he was later picked up by Cincinnati where he played sparingly for the rest of the season. He did not suffer any injuries during his time in Buffalo and won’t be returning to the team as he was yet another member of the previous regime that Beane & Co. removed.

Next is DT Kyle Peko who was a practice squad member all of last season. He did not get activated for any games, as a result, did not accumulate any stats or suffer any known injuries. Like Thomas, he will have a tough time making this roster unless he really shows something special in camp.

DT Harrison Phillips worked through a promising rookie season, appearing in 16 games, racking up 1 fumble recovery, 35 total tackles with 20 solo, 15 assisted, and 2 tackles for loss. He was the only defensive tackle on the team this season that played in every game and did not suffer any known injuries. While most of the fan base expects him to be the next Kyle Williams, right now he is just Harrison Phillips hoping to build off a promising rookie season. He is a lock to make the roster and Bills Mafia may riot if he’s cut/traded.

The other Phillips on the team, DT Jordan Phillips was a mid-season signing after he was cut by the Miami Dolphins. The former 2nd round pick appeared in 12 games, obtaining 1 fumble recovery, 19 total tackles, 12 solo, 7 assisted and 2 tackles for loss. Phillips also did not suffer any known injuries and re-signed in Buffalo for a one year, prove it deal that will allow him to get his 2nd contract if he plays effectively as a rotational/depth piece. He is a near lock to make the roster barring injury. 

Moving to the heavy hitters of the D-Line, DT Star Lotulelei appeared in 16 games with 17 total tackles, 10 solo, 7 assisted, and 1 tackle for loss. While he is one of the higher paid players on the team, many wondered why he produced so little. He was a big body that took up space in the middle and allowed others on the D-Line to do their job more effectively. The fact that he was relatively healthy didn’t hurt at all either. Injury-wise, he only suffered a back/neck injury which I believed was a trapezius strain in the preseason against the Panthers. He did not miss anytime as a result and that appeared to be an injury that healed up well without any long term issues as evident by appearing in all 16 games. He is a lock to make the roster and will provide leadership and act as a transition piece as the defensive tackle position gets younger.

Finally, the Bill of all Bills, DT Kyle Williams. While there have been many more skilled players to put on the Bills uniform, few played with the heart that he showed every week, year in and year out during his 13-year career. While he never won a Super Bowl or many team accolades, he really provided the leadership needed to get through some of the drought years and helped instill the new coaching regime’s message which had an immediate impact, making the playoffs for the only time in Williams’ career.

Stat wise, Williams appeared in 16 games with 16 starts, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 5 sacks, 35 total tackles, 22 solo, and 6 tackles for loss. He also appeared on the offensive side of the ball during his last game, hauling in 1 catch for 9 yards. Injury-wise, he suffered a Grade 1-2 MCL tear in his right leg during the preseason game against the Browns. Williams also suffered another injury to his right knee during the win over the Titans that appeared to be a contusion and he only missed 1-2 series before returning. Finally, he dealt with a back injury late in the season against the Lions, but did not show any signs of slowing down the last 2 games of the season. If he wanted to come back for another season, the coaching staff would welcome him back with open arms, but Williams does not appear to be a man who wavers on his decisions. He is finished, he can rest, and he can walk away knowing he gave everything to the Buffalo Bills. I wish him well in his retirement.

Overall, the defensive tackle position will have a lot of turnover, leading to fresh faces as the position gets younger. Only Star Lotulelei, Harrison Phillips, newly drafted DT Ed Oliver, and quite possibly DT Jordan Phillips make the roster for next season. While there may be others who make the roster including DT Quindarius Thagard, DT Robert Thomas, and DT Kyle Peko, this doesn’t appear to be a position that has many surprises going into training camp or the regular season.

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

 

 

Buffalo Bills Draft Recap

Analyzing the newest Bills draft picks and their injury histories including where they may end up after training camp.

The 2019 NFL draft has come and gone! Like a speeding train, you could hear and see it from a mile away, louder and louder as it neared, then gone as quickly as it came! Aboard that speeding train was a bounty of draft picks that have nearly filled out the Bills roster as the off-season continues. Today’s post will briefly review the players selected, their injury history, and where I believe they may end up at the end of training camp.

The Bills 1st round draft choice was DT Ed Oliver out of Houston. The junior defensive tackle was a 3x All American which demonstrates how special of a talent he was entering the draft. Regarding his injury history, he was relatively healthy throughout his career at Houston before suffering a knee injury in the game against Navy during this most recent season. As a result, he missed 4 games with what was described as a bruised knee. He was able to come back but reportedly wasn’t himself. Still, he was able to garner another AA nod and he was ready to cash in. The bruised knee is not something I am concerned about and it did not come up in the draft process indicating that this is a moot point. He should be a Day 1 starter and make noise his rookie year.

2nd round draft choice OL Cody Ford out of Oklahoma was the Bills top Day 2 pick.  The big lineman out of the midwest helped block for 2 Heisman winners and was the recipient of the Joe Moore award, given to the nation’s top offensive line group.  Reviewing his injury history, 2016 saw him play 3 games before suffering a broken fibula, causing him to miss the rest of the season. 2017 saw him miss 2 games with undisclosed injuries for which I was unable to find specific information. He avoided injury in 2018 and as a result, was highly sought after in the draft, falling to the Bills at pick 38. The previous injuries are not concerning as broken bones typically heal well and are unlikely to become chronic issues. Like Oliver, Ford should be a Day 1 starter and shore up the offensive line.

3rd round draft choice RB Devin Singletary out of Florida Atlantic was the 74th overall pick by the Bills. Looking at his injury history, there does not appear to be any concerns during his time at FAU. He appeared to stay healthy which would explain his insane level of production of 714 attempts for 4,287 yards and 66 TD’s over his career. While he was productive, there is a concern about how much tread is left on the tires despite his youthful age. Singletary will see the field during his rookie year, but he will not be the feature back which will allow him to acclimate to the game and avoid some of the wear and tear he’s had the past few years. Expect him to make the roster, but see minimal playing time unless there is a shake-up at the RB position.

3rd round draft choice TE Dawson Knox out of Ole Miss was the Bills 2nd pick in the 3rd round, 96th overall. Similar to Singletary, Knox has a limited injury history outside of a dislocated ankle during his senior season in high school. The ankle should not give him any issues as it has been several years since the original injury. One reason he may have been able to avoid injury in college was due to the fact that he only had 39 receptions for 605 yards and 0 TD’s. The lack of production is worrisome, but considering how WR Robert Foster performed last year despite a lackluster performance at Alabama, Knox’s numbers do not worry me. In fact, I believe he may exceed his career stats in his rookie year if he manages to secure a starting spot on the offense. Knox should make the 53 man roster with playing time available with a strong training camp.

(Note: after finding more information regarding Knox, it was later discovered that he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot along with a torn meniscus later in the 2017 season, both which required surgery. Both are concerning injuries as stress fractures are overuse injuries and the meniscus act as shock absorbers in the knee. There is potential for future complications but considering he made it through the 2018 season without apparent complications, this is a good indicator moving forward.)

5th round draft choice LB Vosean Joseph out of Florida is the next man up. The versatile linebacker was taken with the 147th overall pick and also demonstrated a propensity to avoid injury during his time as a Gator. He appeared in every game the past 2 seasons in Florida and showed ability on both the defensive side of the ball and on special teams. There has been talking that he could be a solid replacement for LB Lorenzo Alexander upon his retirement. Joseph will be another depth piece going into the regular season, earning playing time on special teams with the chance to get back up play as injuries occur.

6th round draft choice S Jaquan Johnson out of Miami was the 181st pick on Day 3. Johnson, like most others in this article, has minimal injury concerns, only missing 2 games during his senior season due to a right hamstring strain. Considering his position, these types of soft tissue injuries do occur but this does not appear to be a chronic issue, unlike other individuals around the league. Johnson also appears versatile and may make the roster as a depth piece behind S Jordan Poyer & S Micah Hyde, possibly seeing playing time if either goes down injured.

7th round draft choice DL Darryl Johnson out of North Carolina A&T makes his way to the Bills as the 225th overall pick. Like many others on this list, Johnson has no known injury history. He did have an injury senior year of high school that cost him scholarship opportunities but he was still able to receive an offer from NC A&T, allowing him to play well enough to be a draft selection. While there is the opportunity for him to make the roster with the turnover on the defensive line, he will most likely see the practice squad barring injury in training camp.

The final pick for the Bills in the 2019 NFL Draft was TE Tommy Sweeney out of Boston College. The 228th overall draft choice comes to the Bills without injury concern. During his time at BC, he proved to be durable, appearing in every possible game while in college. Sweeney is another player that could be destined for the practice squad, however, with the uncertainty at the TE position, it is possible he could sneak onto the roster with the right circumstances falling his way.

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