Bills Offseason Injury Updates

Get the #Bills latest injury news during these long lulls in the offseason as we inch closer to OTA’s Phase 1

Talk about some offseason doldrums! Mock draft after mock draft, continuous speculation about what player goes where. On top of that, the underwear Olympics are coming up at the end of February which will take the draft season to a whole new level of madness.

To make matters worse, there has been little to no updates regarding anything Bills content outside of DT Star Lotulelei’s restructuring of his contract. That and TE Greg Olsen signed with the Seahawks after meeting with the Bills.

But there’s still love for you Bills fans over here at Banged Up Bills. It’s been about a month since any major news was released regarding offseason surgeries. While there has been little new information, I still feel it’s beneficial to provide updates on the surgeries. This is to attempt to further identify what each player is dealing with and any possible updated timelines.

Jerry Hughes

Jerry got the Bills in some hot water over his tweet below right after the season ended. To recap, he announced that he was playing all season with torn wrist ligaments in his right wrist.

I attempted to speculate what type of injury he may have been dealing with right after the news broke. Make sure to go check it out if you haven’t already. Since then, Jerry had surgery about two and a half weeks after the news with this picture below.

Fortunately, Hughes did not get the Bills in trouble and no fines were assessed due to the injury.

While we won’t know the specifics of the wrist injury, social media does allow us to gather some information on specifics based on rehab timelines. While this is not conclusive, it appears that Hughes still has some type of cast or splint on his wrist that he attempts to hide under the table during the picture.

Click to access scapholunate-ligament-repair.pdf

If that is indeed the case, then this points more towards the theory that he had a scapholunate ligament repair as the timeline for rehab protocols indicate that he is to be in the cast/bracing for six weeks. At the time of this article, he will be a few days shy of four weeks. At this point in rehab, he will be performing any range of motion activities with his fingers, elbow, and turning of the forearm, known as pronation and supination.

He will still likely be limited for most of OTA’s, but he should be active and present as he gears up for yet another season. There should be no limitations come training camp.

Ed Oliver

Oliver’s rookie season progressively got better as he adjusted to the demands of the NFL. He began to show why the Bills selected him ninth overall in last year’s draft. Despite the improvement during the season, it was a surprise when Oliver announced that he had core muscle surgery back on January 14th.

Bills fans got some details with news stories detailing the exact reason he got the surgery later on. But these did not detail the exact area, when he injured it, how he injured it, and the severity. To get some background information on core muscle injuries, check out my article.

Since then, it has been nearly radio silent with little information. The only indication that Oliver is doing alright is that he made it down to Houston at the beginning of February. Based on general rehab guidelines, Oliver is still working on flexibility and reintroducing strengthening exercises, progressing the level of difficulty and resistance as tolerated.

He may also be limited during part of OTA’s, but should be able to participate during Phase Three when there is actual contact. He should also be fully ready for training camp.

Jon Feliciano

Feliciano continued the trend of players requiring surgery after the season, specifically for a left rotator cuff tear. He had noted that he was playing all season with the tear that dated back to the scrimmage at New Era Field in early August.

Feliciano is about five weeks out from surgery which means he has either just begun or will begin to get his arm out of the sling more. He will be progressing his range of motion, careful to not stress the healing tissue and possibly begin working on isometrics based on the doctor’s protocol. For more details regarding a rotator cuff repair, read this article I wrote last month.

Feliciano will take his time to get through the rehab and will not be available for OTA’s. Thankfully, he should be ready for training camp this summer.

Levi Wallace

Wallace was the most recent surgery added to the list, requiring shoulder surgery back on January 28th.

Unfortunately, outside of what Jay Skurski stated, there has not been any other information released. It is known he suffered a shoulder injury back against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the specifics are not available. Unless details are released, I believe he may have had a general cleanout of the shoulder arthroscopically.

It is too soon to tell if he will be able to participate in any fashion during OTA’s. But I remain hopeful that he can participate and be ready for training camp.

Cody Ford

Finally, we get to the last player who required surgery this offseason. Ford was a surprise announcement that he required surgery on his right shoulder. Like Wallace, details are scarce, but there is some information to be interpreted from pictures.

Based on the picture below, Ford is dealing with either a torn labrum in his right shoulder or a rotator cuff repair, both of which would take four to six weeks in the sling. Based on the most recent picture, he would be four weeks out.

Details may emerge later with the exact injury, but seeing updates such as this helps narrow down what the player could be dealing with. If he is dealing with either injury, range of motion is vital early on and performing isometrics to take his rehab to the next stage for strengthening is key. Regardless of the injury repair, he should be fully cleared in either case for training camp barring any unforeseen complications.

While this doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty details that people want to know, it does establish several injury timelines. This also provides updates on how the players are responding to surgery and if anything seems out of the ordinary.

I expect that more details will emerge regarding some of the injuries, but not a given. The Bills are still on track to bring nearly everyone back onto the team to maintain the culture the coaching staff strived to establish. As fans, we can only hope that the Bills are maximizing the quality of starters at each position. If any go down, it’s important to have a capable backup who can carry the torch until the starter returns.

For the latest up-to-date content, check out @BangedUpBills on Twitter and here on the website. Make sure to also check out Cover1.net for my draft injury analysis on prospects as the NFL draft approaches.

Jon Feliciano’s Rotator Cuff Repair

How did Feliciano manage to play all season with a torn rotator cuff?

The injuries continue to pile up! The latest injury comes Wednesday afternoon when a tweet dropped from OG Jon Feliciano. The tweet shows him in a recovery room with a brace on his left arm with bulky padding on the shoulder. Considering it was at a lower angle, it was initially hard to determine if there were other telltale signs that could be observed signifying the specific procedure. 

This surgery is another in a line with DT Ed Oliver Tuesday with his core muscle surgery & Wednesday morning’s tweet of OT Cody Ford with a right shoulder surgeryShortly after the Feliciano tweet, Matt Parrino from NY Upstate reported that Feliciano had a rotator cuff repair Wednesday & that the original injury occurred during the Blue & Red scrimmage on August 2nd.

I noted back in August that he suffered an injury during the scrimmage after I attended, but the actual injury was unable to be observed due to the vantage point of the stadium & the multitude of activity going on at the time. What wasn’t known at the time was that Feliciano suffered a rotator cuff tear to his left shoulder that he managed to play for  5 months. 

To understand why he was able to play that length of time, the anatomy & function of the rotator cuff must be understood. The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles that include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, & subscapularis. These muscles assist in shoulder abduction, internal & external rotation. These motions are vital for a variety of activities that we perform daily from washing hair, putting a shirt on, throwing objects, reaching behind the back, & general overhead activities. The rotator cuff also helps keep the humeral head depressed and against the labrum so that it can create enough space within the joint for the humerus to move & not ram into the acromion during elevation. There are other muscles that assist with all these functions, but these are primary movers for the above-mentioned functions. 

301px-Muscles_Rotator_Cuff
Credit: Physio-pedia.com

We tend to hear more about rotator cuff injuries in baseball but they can & do occur in football at a variety of positions. The mechanism for injury to the rotator cuff can happen in a number of ways. It can occur as a result of landing on your arm outstretched, jamming the head of the humerus into the scapula. It can occur with a fall directly onto the shoulder area, throwing an object either with increased frequency or if the object is too heavy. It can also occur from an overload of the area such as a sudden pull on the area. Finally, it can occur over a period of time with impingement due to weakness in the area with altered biomechanics leading to a wearing down on the tendon insertion.  

There are two types of rotator cuff tears that can affect any of the muscles in the cuff area: Partial-thickness and full-thickness. Based on the names, the partial-thickness is a partial tear to the tendon that can be small & can even heal on its own at times. Full-thickness is when the tendon tears completely through & there is a significant loss of function noted in the area. Any of the muscles in the rotator cuff can tear but the supraspinatus is the most commonly torn muscle. It is anchored at the top of the humerus head & is more likely to bear the brunt of an injury or become worn down. 

Size-of-Rotator-Cuff-Tear-do-I-need-surgery-or-can-physical-therapy-help-300x138
Credit: physioworkshsv.com

There are also varying grades of partial vs full-thickness tears which further indicate the severity as seen above. The tear is measured in both size & depth. So it’s possible that there could be a big superficial tear that could be managed conservatively or there could be a tear that is deep that requires surgery as seen below. Most surgeries are indicated for tears medium & above.

full-thickness-rotator-cuff-tears-value-of-clinical-tests-2-638
Credit: Google Images

Feliciano likely suffered a partial thickness tear to at least the supraspinatus & possibly others as the rotator cuff covers the humeral head like a blanket. The injury could have started out as a partial thickness tear, potentially progressing towards closer to a full-thickness tear as the season wore on. The other possibility is that the partial-thickness tear just never got better, requiring surgery.

I don’t believe that he initially had a full-thickness tear as he would have missed some time due to profound weakness in the area and positive signs of several special tests. In the clinical setting, a full-thickness tear is quite apparent & even the toughest of people have difficulty moving the shoulder. If his shoulder were to be assessed during the season, there would have likely been a painful arc noted in the picture below. This is due to the activation of the rotator cuff muscles assisting in elevation of the humerus during the range of motion from 60-120 degrees

sh5-243x300
Credit: pivotalphysio.com

There was likely pain during every movement that Feliciano encountered throughout the season due to this tear. Between rehab, strengthening of the surrounding muscles & medications, he was still able to suit up for every game & at times play center. Thankfully, he didn’t have any issues with snapping the ball due to being right-handed. 

Feliciano’s glaring weakness would have been forcing to move his arm in abduction and external rotation, both of which would have been more difficult as a tackle, trying to keep the defensive end from bending around the edge. Thankfully, he was able to play inside & keep his arms closer to his body, taking stress off the cuff. Despite the rotator cuff not directly assisting with shoulder flexion, he still would have likely had pain with a general elevation of the arm due to the imbalance of the rotator cuff due to the injury. This could cause impingement where the rotator cuff gets pinched between the acromion & greater trochanter due to decreased space during shoulder elevation.

It will be curious to see if he did get beat more often on the left side when the pocket broke down & he was forced to use that shoulder more. It would also be interesting to note if Feliciano’s punching ability when engaging with his block was decreased due to not being able to put as much power through the left.

Either way, to play through this injury isn’t unprecedented in the NFL, but it is difficult. Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Kawaan Short, Alshon Jeffery & Johnathan Abram are just some of the examples that have torn their rotator cuffs & either tried to play through it or had their seasons end as a result. However, most of the names on this list continued to have incredibly productive careers, indicating that the injury alone isn’t a game-changer. 

To add insult to injury, the rehab for a torn rotator cuff isn’t fun either. It’s roughly a 4-6 month recovery & in some cases, take up to a year with severe tears. This is a tough surgery due to the variety of movements of the shoulder. In addition, the area where the rotator cuff attaches to the humerus contains a poor blood supply which means that it does not receive the needed nutrients to heal as quickly as other parts of the body. Reports indicate that Feliciano will take between 4-6 months which further supports the partial thickness tear that I had mentioned earlier.

The surgery is typically done arthroscopically unless there is a massive tear & they need to open up the shoulder to fully address the issue. Once inside, the tear can be further assessed, cleaned out & repaired. The repair is done by placing anchors that reconnect the tendon back to the bone to allow for proper healing of the area. Based on the severity of the tear will determine how many suture anchors are required.

449px-Rotator_cuff_high
Credit: Physio-pedia.com

Rehab protocols dictating the specifics of the timeline for rehab can be accessed here & here, but to simplify it, it is tedious having worked on a number of these during my career. The first 4-6 weeks are spent in a sling with PROM initiated to work on the motion but avoiding any strengthening directly to the shoulder area. Motion is slowly progressed to stretch the tissue but not place stress on the healing area with range of motion limitations set by the doctor.

Once the patient has been cleared to begin strengthening, isometrics are initiated which is when the muscle tensed up but is not actively moving, like pushing with all your might against a wall. As strengthening progresses, higher-level activities are incorporated to increase stability in the joint. The rotator cuff has to improve with strength, but the surrounding muscles also have to strengthen in order to help move the scapula up and out of the way in order to allow the humerus to elevate. 

Eventually, the muscles are all moving properly with scapulohumeral rhythm, there is full ROM/strength and no pain, this allows the ability to return to sport-specific strengthening & activity. Rotator cuff repairs do have overall good outcomes, up to 95%, but they need a lot of patience to get there. Fortunately, delaying surgery does not appear to have negative outcomes, hence why Feliciano likely chose to play the season with the injury.

Risks for re-tear are as high as 26% in the literature, but is relatively lower in younger patients as the quality of the tissue is improved compared to older patients with more chronic tears. Furthermore, there is a correlation that for every 1 cm the initial tear increases in size, the risk to re-tear increases two-fold.

As a PT, these repairs are rewarding to observe the improvement, but there is a distinct process to them. There may be areas where a patient progresses faster & can shave some time off the overall recovery time, but you can’t speed up the biology & healing portion of the surgery. These can be successful surgeries, but they just require a lot of time & patience in order to maximize the results. 

Feliciano will be around during OTA’s but expected to be limited. He should be able to perform cardio activities & perform non-contact drills as long as he’s cleared by the MD, which is very possible. There is a chance he would be able to perform at mandatory minicamp in June during Phase 3 of the OTA’s but may be held out as a precaution as he is a veteran. Barring any setbacks, he should have no concerns going into training camp for 2020.

This sort of injury is just the reality of the game of football & is a look into how tough these guys really are when it comes to suiting up every week. The only benefit to having an early exit to the playoffs is that these injuries can get addressed sooner. However, I believe most, if not all of the players in that Bills locker room would go through hell if it meant hoisting that Lombardi trophy in February. With how this team is built, the chances for that increase daily. 

Top Photo Credit:

Kiss985.radio.com

Ed Oliver’s Core Muscle Surgery

Will Oliver be ready in time for OTA’s?

A surprise tweet from DT Ed Oliver hit Twitter Tuesday afternoon showing two pictures that he had successful surgery following his rookie year. This created several questions as Oliver did not appear on the injury report all season & only appeared to suffer one known injury following the Titans game in which he sustained a left foot/ankle injury when he tackled RB Derrick Henry. He was able to return following the bye & did not miss any games during this season.

However, Tuesday’s tweet changed things with Oliver in a hospital gown. The Bills had recently performed their end of season exit physicals & issues are found once a full assessment has been performed. We have already observed this with the tweets last week from DE Jerry Hughes & his torn wrist ligaments. Oliver likely had his exit physical & found this issue which required corrective surgery.

Originally, I had thought that he had a routine joint cleanout from general debris such as bone chips, articular cartilage, or frayed tissue due to not appearing on the injury report. But news came out later that he had successful core muscle surgery, commonly known as a sports hernia, announced by Buffalo News reporter Vic Carucci. 

Looking back at the Oliver tweet, there were two clues that indicated that he had core muscle surgery. First, the location was in Philadelphia, PA. Oliver could have had arthroscopic surgery in Buffalo or back in his hometown Houston, or wherever he wanted, indicating that Philadelphia was a specific location. Second, the 2nd picture shows the phrase “Vincera Institute” above his head. This was not readily observed unless you were able to zoom in on the picture but this was a dead giveaway in retrospect to what he had done. Frankly, I missed it the first time around.

The Vincera Institute in Philadelphia is run by Dr. William Meyers, a nationally renowned orthopedic doctor specializing in core muscle repair. From what I’ve read, he is THE guy when it comes to core muscle repair. Meyers is also big against identifying the injury as a sports hernia, hence my use of the term core muscle. We don’t know when Oliver suffered his injury, how long he was dealing with it, & how severe it was.

With regard to the injury itself, there is a multitude of variations according to the Vincera Institute website that frankly, even as a licensed Physical Therapist, were new to me. As there are no specifics to which injury he sustained, below is a general description of a core muscle injury.

groin_injuries
Credit: https://physioworks.com.au/Injuries-Conditions/Regions/groin_pain
Core-muscles-abdominal
Credit: plankpose.com

The adductor muscles in the groin are most commonly injured pictured above, but can also affect the abdominal muscles in the 2nd picture. These injuries can occur with planting the feet & twisting maximally, causing the lower-body injury. They can also occur with violent twisting, kicking, and turning along with blows to the back, anything that overstretches or strains the muscle at its attachment.

These injuries can present as groin strains, oblique strains, or other general injuries around the hip or core region that don’t resolve with proper rest & rehab. A core muscle injury is when the tissue tears & does not heal like a normal strain, commonly with the muscle pulling away from the pubic bone attachment observed in the first picture.

This can present as sharp or stabbing pains with specific movements such as sprinting, kicking, cutting, etc. This can also be tender to touch, little to no pain during rest, and typically isolated to one side. These injuries aren’t always apparent at the time; often minor injuries are able to be played through. The severity of the injury is found later such as during a physical or if the pain becomes too intense to perform an activity.

Fortunately, surgical outcomes are great with at least 90% of repairs in the NFL have shown to resume their normal activities prior to the injury with the control group playing slightly more games and slightly longer careers than those having the surgery. However, the control group in that study were players who had similar careers in relation to experience, statistics, & position played, not indicating that the groin injury itself led to a shorter career. Another study showed 89% of repairs were able to return to the pre-injury level of play with minimal to no pain during a 4-year follow up study. 

Rehab for this surgery can be between 6-12 weeks based on the specific type of core muscle surgery & location. Rehab protocols can be found here & here with most protocols skewing towards a lengthened recovery timeline for a conservative approach.

If Oliver has any concerns regarding his recovery, he can ask fellow Bills players C Mitch Morse & WR Cole Beasley who both suffered similar injuries at the end of the 2018 season which required surgery, causing them to miss some of OTA’s last spring. As of writing, both have not had any known issues regarding re-injury to the area & should continue to stay productive. According to the 2020 NFL offseason schedule, the Bills will start OTA’s April 20th. By then, Oliver will be fully healthy without any limitations.

It’s unfortunate that Oliver suffered this injury, but injuries are a part of football. It is great that he got this addressed now so that he may be fully healthy to attack this first offseason as a professional in order to grow into the next great Bills defensive tackle. I have no concerns regarding this injury & his recovery as he was treated by one of the best in the United States & has an excellent facility to rehab at in Buffalo if he so chooses.

I expect there to be more surprise injuries & surgeries as the offseason progresses, but this is just another one that is being addressed properly & maximizing Oliver’s growth as a professional football player.

Top Photo Credit:

HoustonChronicle.com

Week 5 Bills Injury Review- Titans

Will the Bills survive Sunday’s injury massacre?

Thank god that game is over. For all you new readers, this is my 3rd season covering Buffalo Bills injuries & while there have been some tough injuries to stomach, today’s game as a whole was painful both literally & figuratively. I do not remember a time where I nearly lost track because the injuries came in so fast. Fortunately, the Bills have a bye next week & it couldn’t have come at a better time. Last time this year, the Bills walked into Houston with no one on the injury report. Amazing how one year can change so much. This is a team that will bend, bend, bend, but not break. As always, injury recap below in chronological order. 

Those ruled inactive prior to the game included: 

WR Robert Foster (groin/turf toe)

TE Tyler Kroft (ankle)

LB Corey Thompson (ankle sx)

CB Taron Johnson (hamstring)

RB Devin Singletary (hamstring)

OG Ike Boettger 

OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)

Thompson & Kroft continue to be out until further notice. Foster, Johnson & Singletary are all dealing with soft tissue strains which could have been aggravated by the slick conditions. Nsekhe is dealing with an ankle injury that appears to have been an aggravation from 2 weeks ago. 

C Mitch Morse (ankle)

Morse was the first injury of the day, dealing with what appears to be a left ankle injury. The injury appears when RB Frank Gore ran up the middle with 9:25 left in the 2nd quarter and appeared to kick Morse by accident. Morse rolls over and appears to be favoring the ankle before getting up, walking with a slightly labored effort. 

He was able to play several more snaps before getting removed in favor of OG Jon Feliciano. Morse did not appear in the game the rest of the day but was on the sidelines appearing to stay loose. 

This may be more of a contusion, similar to an injury observed with a leg whip. There may have been other possibilities such as a low ankle sprain or mild high ankle sprain not readily noted on film, but this is most likely. This isn’t something that should hold him out for long, but reports indicated he was limping around the locker room after the game as evident by the video below.

During Monday’s presser, HC Sean McDermott noted that if it was needed, Morse could have gone back in and played if further injury occurred. This is incredibly promising as this indicates that the injury alone doesn’t appear to be serious if they were willing to play him. I believe he will be able to play against Miami.

C/G Jon Feliciano (right leg)

Feliciano was injured with 10:40 left in the 3rd quarter when QB Josh Allen threw a costly interception. The offensive mauler was attempting to bring down S Kevin Byard when he fell down attempting to get a tackle. Unfortunately, OT Dion Dawkins fell onto his right leg, leading to the injury. Friendly fire is never ideal but is a part of the game. 

He limped off but amazingly did not miss a snap, keenly aware of the lack of depth at the offensive line Sunday. I’m sure that he has some pain in the leg, but injury-wise, this doesn’t appear to be anything that should cause lasting effects. 

QB Josh Allen (left hand)

On the same play as Feliciano, Allen threw the costly interception and had a minor collision with Titans LB Harold Landry III in where his left hand appears to hit the shoulder pad, namely at the metacarpophalangeal joint. He may have jammed his left thumb or suffered a contusion, causing him to favor the area briefly after the play. Considering this isn’t his throwing hand & he didn’t miss a snap, this isn’t something that the team should be worried about. Even if something did happen such as a minor sprain, this is something that could potentially heal during the bye week. Worst case, he could wear a brace as it’s his non-throwing hand. Unless there is an injury update, consider this injury, like Feliciano’s to be a dead matter. 

OG Cody Ford (concussion)

Ford, unfortunately, suffered a holding penalty on the play that led to his exit from the game due to injury. With 4:53 left in the 3rd quarter, Ford engaged with his defensive lineman assignment & got pulled down, driven headfirst into the ground. It initially appeared as though he got the wind knocked out of him, but reports later indicated he was assessed for a head injury. 

He has since been placed into the concussion protocol since Monday’s press conference. To note, it’s not a guarantee that he moves through the protocol quickly like some of his counterparts. However, having the bye week to recover only benefits him. 

LB Matt Milano (left hamstring)

Milano, a beast all season, continued his stellar play this week until the injury bug hit. Milano tweaked his left hamstring while attempting to slow down & possibly change direction in preparation to take down the Titans TE Jonnu Smith on the long reception. On film, it shows that he grabs at his hamstring towards the very end but is able to walk around afterward.

He was able to participate in one more play before motioning to come out & did not return. Regrettably, the deceleration in slowing down due to the eccentric contraction of the muscle caused the injury. Considering the grass was slick due to the rain, it was smart for him to not return. 

Taking into account the fact that CB Taron Johnson & RB Devin Singletary did not play today due to the same injury, this led to Milano not returning. Based on identifying how the team manages hamstring injuries, it’s very possible Milano misses the Dolphins game. Even then, he could miss the Eagles game as well, but until we have more information, his timeline for return will be very fluid. 

To make a note, Milano dealt with some hamstring issues during his rookie year early on during the Panthers game in ‘17 & missed the playoff game after suffering a hamstring strain against the Dolphins. He did not appear to have any issues last year according to records. While he has a history of hamstring strains, I cannot find evidence that this was the same side nor do I believe that the rookie year strains are affecting his most recent injury.

DE Trent Murphy (concussion)

Murphy has been incredibly healthy all season up until early in the 4th quarter. With 14:12 left, he was closing in for a sack on the left side while LB Lorenzo Alexander was coming from the right. Alexander came in slightly more direct on Titans QB Marcus Mariota before Murphy came slightly outside and collided. As expected with any possible head injury, Murphy was assessed for a possible concussion, ending his day. 

Like Ford, he has since been placed in the protocol & the hope is that he progresses through swiftly. We will probably not know where he or Ford stand until next Wednesday when practice resumes. 

S Jordan Poyer (head)

Similar to Murphy’s hit, Poyer attempted to help take down the ball carrier, assisting LB Lorenzo Alexander before colliding with him with 8:20 left in the 4th quarter. He was quickly assessed, missing several plays. Based on his ability to return to the game, he did not have any concussion-related symptoms, but this doesn’t prevent him from developing issues later on.

Thankfully, there have been no reports of concussion protocol for Poyer, though Matthew Fairburn & Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic reported on the Buffalo Beat podcast that he got a stinger on the play. I haven’t been able to confirm this anywhere else, but when there are questionable head injuries, the team is required to remove the player for further evaluation until a determination has been made. I don’t expect that Poyer will miss anytime or end up on next week’s injury report barring any new information. 

DT Ed Oliver (left foot/ankle)

Finally, the carnage is over, the last injury of the game. Oliver appeared to injure his left foot/ankle with 4:53 left in the 4th as he attempted to tackle Titans RB Derrick Henry. He did succeed in his quest, but in the process, for flipped over & his left foot hit the turf. He was able to get to all fours but appeared in distress immediately. He was able to walk off under his own power after a brief assessment by trainers. He may have suffered a contusion or jammed his ankle as a result of the hard slam. He did not return to the game, but there was not an opportunity to as the offense was able to close out the final minutes of the game & seal the win. This may be yet another injury that may not make much noise & be quickly forgotten about.

This game is done, finito, finished, ceased to continue. The Bills escape Nashville with a hard-fought 14-7 win & a bevy of injuries, but a bye to look forward to next week. As for those still working through injury, this week off will ideally help several key players to recover to make their triumphant return to New Era Field against the Dolphins in Week 7.

Top Photo Credit:

Syracuse.com

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!!