Week 8 Injury Breakdown- Raiders

Assessing the latest Buffalo Bills injury report and implications for Sunday’s match up against the Oakland Raiders.

Since today’s injury report was released today, relatively nothing new has occurred injury wise with the Bills. LB Ramon Humber and TE Charles Clay continue to be on the mend with their respective injuries. RB LeSean McCoy, DT Kyle Williams, LB Lorenzo Alexander did not practice secondary to requiring a rest day. Those guys go hard every Sunday, a rest day is more than well deserved. CB E.J. Gaines (hamstring), S Jordan Poyer (knee), and G Richie Incognitio (ankle) did not practice secondary to their recent injuries.

I had previously given my thoughts on Gaines and Poyer in my last article. With soft tissue injuries, there are general guidelines based on severity, but it ultimately come down to each player’s response to the injury. I still believe Poyer may be able to play Sunday, but the Bills continue to be proactive, releasing CB Tony McRae and signing CB Lafayette Pitts, who has spent time with Miami and Jacksonville the past 2 seasons.

G Richie Incognito did injure his ankle early in the 2nd quarter, sat out several plays, and was able to return to the game. It appears as though he may have sprained his ankle, which is not surprising considering his position. Considering he was able to continue playing, sitting out today’s practice especially in the rainy weather, ensured that he could have an additional day to rest his ankle. With proper bracing, Incognitio may be able to play Sunday, but not knowing the severity clouds my ability to make a definitive prognosis.

It is worth mentioning that WR Jordan Matthews is no longer listed on the injury report. While I am not an expert yet in the reporting of injuries to the NFL, this indicates two things. This indicates that Matthews did not have a set back in his recovery from thumb surgery. This also indicates that he is most likely not back at 100% though. Just because he is not listed does not mean that he is still not still healing. I expect him to continue wearing his brace for protection for at least another 1-2 games until team doctors can be confident that he will not re-fracture the area.

The only other notable injury is LB Preston Brown. He was able to participate in practice despite a shoulder injury. There is not any information other than the official press release to indicate the nature of the shoulder injury. Brown’s job is to throw his body at a moving object and stop it in its tracks. I expect that his shoulder will hurt from time to time due to the repeated impacts. As the NFL injury rules are quite strict, it is in the Bills best interest to report all injuries. As there is no information on the shoulder and he was a full participant, this does not concern me at all and does not indicate any underlying chronic issues.

Minimizing the injuries continue to be a focus of this team and while the secondary has taken a hit, the team as a whole continues to be relatively healthy. The secondary was awful last year; so far it has exceeded expectations, but this will be an area that Oakland will attempt to exploit in order to win. This will be an area that I expect the Bills to continue to address on the waiver wire and in next year’s draft. I still believe the Bills have the talent to win this game, but if the Bills have to lose, I would rather be it this game than a winnable game such as the Chargers or Jets in the next several weeks. My football predictions may not be accurate, but my knowledge of the injuries are. That’s why you are here reading.

Look for future posts including my thoughts on Sean McDermott and the culture he is instilling in Buffalo. I will continue to report on the Buffalo Bills injuries as they occur and begin to incorporate new items into my posts as they become relevant. As always, thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!

Week 7 Recap- Buccaneers

Breaking down the latest on EJ Gaines and Jordan Poyer injuries and following the exciting win over the Buccaneers.

The Buffalo Bills continue to thrill and excite the fan base with a fantastic 30-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! Despite giving up 27 points to the Bucs, the Buffalo defense made key stops including a late fumble recovery by Tre’Davious White to set up the game winning field goal. Buffalo is now 4-2, including 3-0 at home, making Sean McDermott the first Bills head coach to start 3-0 at home. These Bills continue to impress, but key injuries may derail the good times.

Thankfully, the Bills injuries continue to occur at a minimum, but injuries in the secondary may be ill timed with the Oakland Raiders offense coming to life. CB E.J. Gaines suffered a hamstring injury during a tackle on DeSean Jackson early in the 3rd quarter. Gaines was able to walk off on his own power but was unable to return. As reports are minimal at best to avoid giving a competitive advantage to their opponents, Gaines has been listed day-to-day. Based on this report, he may have suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain.

If you recall from my article on hamstrings, this is something that can be managed conservatively and is a week-to-week injury. It’s possible that he may be able to play in time for the Oakland game, but considering that Gaines had a hamstring injury in training camp and is just recently coming off a groin injury, this doesn’t bode well. Unfortunately, these are soft tissue injuries and while can be reduced, they are not fully preventable.

I would not hang the “injury-prone” tag on Gaines though at this time. During each time he has been injured, he has been going all out trying to make the play. I would rather have him go all out trying to make a play rather than a player taking it easy, such as CB Stephon Gilmore, who we dealt with for far too long last season. However, I believe based on all the previous history, he misses next week. As Brandon Beane has been known to do, he has been preemptive, signing CB Tony McRae and releasing WR Kaelin Clay with the uncertainty following the injury.

This signing was also made with the recent injury of S Jordan Poyer. His injury came on the last play of the game in which Tampa Bay attempted their pathetic imitation of the Music City Miracle. They were playing the Bills, you’re not going to fool them twice! Video of the play shows a player hitting Poyer low and Poyer reporting he felt a pop. Based on video, it appears he did injure his right knee, though the injury does not appear to be as severe as it could have been.

During the hit, Poyer was able to begin lifting his leg and turn his hip inward away from the hit, allowing him to deflect some of the force on the knee joint. As he was able to walk off with the trainers, this also indicates that this may be a Grade 1 MCL sprain. Thankfully, this MCL sprain is nowhere near the severity of the Charles Clay injury. I believe there is a better shot at Poyer playing Sunday than Gaines at the moment. This week’s practice will dictate how each player responds to the injury. I believe that the Bills could go without one of these players, but not both.

Finally, WR Jordan Matthews was able to suit up and play, recording 3 targets for 2 catches for 10 yards. While this is not the type of production the Bills had hoped for, this far exceeded expectations considering he is still coming off a broken thumb. It was a stretch that he was able to play this week, it appeared that he was used more as a decoy to help in allowing WR Deonte Thompson to make his mark after being signed off the street earlier last week. Having Matthews return to play gives Tyrod another weapon going into next week’s game against the Raiders.

Despite missing TE Charles Clay and using a less than effective Jordan Matthews, Tyrod Taylor was able to spread the ball around to Thompson, Logan Thomas, Nick O’Leary, LeSean McCoy, and even Zay Jones. Despite missing some top end talent on the roster, the Bills still benefit from the depth at each position which allows for a next man up mentality. I believe this is why the Bills have been able to stay in every game this season and win the close ones such as Sunday’s game. This formula will not work every week, but the Bills have to begin winning the close ones in order to have a shot at turning their years’ long misfortunes around.

The Bills aren’t losing anyone to season ending injuries, unlike many other teams in the league. Depth continues to be a concern, but it is not as though other teams lose their starting player and a Pro Bowl caliber replacement is warming the bench. I believe with this depth and team first mentality, the Bills can beat the Oakland Raiders and move to 5-2 on the season. The Raiders do have a talented offense lead by Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, but if the secondary can get healthy in time, this should limit the effectiveness of the passing game. With how the Bills defense has played this season, I expect McDermott and Frazier to draw up a defensive game plan to limit the Raiders offense.

I know that many Bills fans are still on the edge despite a 4-2 start. The Bills have been here several times in the past with poor finishes. This may be another year in which that’s the case. Experience, injuries, schedule all play a part in the rest of the season. Time will tell how the rest of the season plays out; I will continue to hope for the best, but prepare for moments that remind me why I am a Bills fan. Until then, I will continue to cheer and enjoy the moment. Thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!

Week 7 Injury Breakdown- Winston’s Woes

Breaking down the Bills injury report, analyzing QB Jameis Winston’s AC sprain, and how it will impact Sunday’s match up.

Well, I was wrong. Yet I couldn’t be more happier! WR Jordan Matthews has been cleared for practice! After breaking a bone in his thumb which required surgery and a pin inserted just two weeks ago, he has already begun practicing on a limited basis. This is far faster than the anticipated month long absence the team expected. This also blew my prediction out of the water of returning at least by the Jets or Saints game.

This determination was made with full confidence of team doctors and how Matthews has responded to treatment. While there are guidelines with each surgery, they can be circumvented based on variables such as healing, pain, and strength/range of motion progress. As of today, he is listed as questionable for Sunday. He was listed as a full participant in practice today, however, it may still be beneficial to come back with an additional weeks rest. As we have found out, anything can happen, so stay tuned.

Conversely, I believed that LB Ramon Humber would be the one returning quickly as he was able to play through the Falcons game with a club on the hand until he could be examined further. As of today, he is still listed as out. This may change as he continues to be week-to-week, but LB Matt Milano is filling in place with satisfactory results.

CB E.J. Gaines continues to deal with a groin injury also sustained in the Atlanta game which indicates that it may be been more severe than DE Shaq Lawson injury. He was listed as a full participant today which is a good sign heading into Sunday. CB Leonard Johnson is listed as still dealing with a hamstring injury, but also was able to practice in full today. As previously mentioned, hamstrings can be tricky and not quite heal up completely if Johnson re-aggravates the injury. Both are listed as questionable going into Sunday’s game, but considering these are soft tissue injuries, I have much more faith in them playing than Matthews.

Finally, OT Cordy Glenn was a full participant while still dealing with a foot/ankle injury. He appears to continue to re-injure it or dealing with a chronic issue which means he may never be fully healthy this season. There was discussions that he would be moved to the Seattle Seahawks, but a trade was unable to be completed. It is also assumed that he would not pass a physical. Add into the mix that he has a hefty contract that not every team can just assume. I expect to see Cordy either get healthy and be traded, or play out his contract and leave a free agent.

While this is a Bills blog, the one big question is how QB Jameis Winston’s AC sprain will affect Sunday. Winston sustained the shoulder injury last Sunday during a tackle by LB Chandler Jones. It was reported that he was well enough to return in an emergency, but QB Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the game. As of today, Winston has participated in a limited fashion with throwing in practice and is listed as starting Sunday. While he is starting, I question the effectiveness of his abilities.

front-view-of-shoulder-joint-356986.jpg
Credit: saintlukeshealthsystem.org

To understand why this may limit Winston, the AC joint must be understood. The AC joint is important in the shoulder as this is where the top of the shoulder (acromion) articulates with the collarbone (clavicle). The AC joint is vital to the throwing motion due to the fact that as the arm is elevated, the acromion that attaches to the wingbone (scapula) begins to elevate. As the scapula begins to elevate, the articulation between the acromion and clavicle begin to move as the clavicle beings to rotate up and out of the way to allow for overhead movement. If the AC joint is sprained, this limits the ability to elevate the shoulder effectively and cock the arm back in position to throw. There are various grades of AC joint sprains as with any other sprain outlined in my previous article, but this appears to be a Grade 1 sprain.

Winston is going to attempt to play with this injury, but it’s assumed that he will not be effective to throw deep or put any speed on his throws. On average, the shoulder sprain that Winston sustained typically takes 9.8 days to fully recover from according to Dr. David Geier. He will be at day 7 by kickoff Sunday, which may affect his ability. This, and other information regarding AC joint sprains can be found at the previously linked blog. This information provided by both Dr. Geier and found by my friends from The Rockpile Report. If you aren’t already a listener, start listening, Drew and Chris are the best at what they do when it comes to Bills football!

At this point in the season, I still believe we are in a better spot both record wise and injury wise compared to previous seasons. I also believe that this team is better equipped to deal with injuries than in past years. This next month of football will really define our season, determining whether the Bills are for real or the same old Bills. Calling it now, the Bills win a close defensive battle and move to 4-2 on the year. Continue to check back for any breaking updates, new injuries, or further explanation of complex injuries. Thank you and GO BILLS!!

Trade Alert!!

Breaking down the injury histories of the players Buffalo acquired during the trades made yesterday with the Rams and Eagles.

Trade alert, trade alert!! The Bills are making moves!! To recap, the Bills traded WR Sammy Watkins and a 2018 6th Rd draft pick to the Rams for CB E.J. Gaines and a 2018 2nd Rd draft pick. Also traded was CB Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles for WR Jordan Matthews and a 2018 3rd Rd draft pick. Whether you are a negative Nancy or a positive Peter dictates how you feel about this trade. A lot of talk has been made regarding whether the Bills are tanking and stockpiling draft picks. I don’t believe this to be the case. I believe the Bills are making moves to build through the draft while not sacrificing the present. They are are the Buffalo Bills, not the Cleveland Browns. They share the same lake, but not the same approach. Buffalo now owns 6 draft choices in the first 90 picks in next years draft and a team that can win more than 1 game in a season. This allows flexibility to build a winner while not sacrificing this year’s team. Yes, the Bills lost some talent, but not depth, and they picked up pieces to build for the future.

Sammy Watkins has left a lot to be desired during his time in Buffalo, having missed key portions of each season due to injuries. The Bills also declined the 5th year option on his rookie deal, making Watkins a free agent after the season. The likelihood of the Bills signing him to a long term deal was possible, but would have come at a steep price due to the ever increasing amount teams willing to pay for talent. The Bills were smart to move Watkins while his value was high, obtaining draft capital and a CB to reinforce the secondary which was shown to be horrendous last season.

It has been heavily documented that Sammy Watkins suffered a Jones fracture which has required 2 surgeries and uncertainty of returning to form without complications. The previously linked article from Buffalo Rumblings is an excellent read, got to give credit where it’s due! Besides the Jones fracture, Watkins has sustained numerous injuries including a hip labrum tear and ankle, calf, thigh, groin, and rib injuries during his time with the Bills. While his stats have lined up with his contemporaries in the 2014 NFL draft when on the field, Watkins missing time is more crucial due to the Bills relying on his abilities alone in order to win. As a fan, I would rather have a lesser talent who can participate weekly with the team than someone who isn’t certain to contribute.

Breaking down E.J. Gaines injury history, which includes a 2014 concussion that was sustained in Week 16 and a thigh injury sustained in 2016 towards the end of the season are worth mentioning. The only major injury Gaines has sustained is a Lisfranc injury during training camp in 2015 which caused him to miss the entire season. The injury occurred due to Kenny Britt stepping on his foot during practice. A Lisfranc injury is where the long bones in the foot called the metatarsals that connect to the cuboid bones in the mid-foot become fractured or dislocated. In Gaines case, stepping on the foot caused the injury. In other cases, falling forward when the toes are pointed down can cause this injury. It is not a sexy way to seriously injury one’s self. In all cases, surgery is recommended if there is a fracture or dislocation. While this injury is serious, it is one that appears to be less complex, such as the complications that Watkins has had with his foot injury. Besides arthritis in the coming years, I don’t anticipate that this will continue to hamper Gaines’ production in the defense.

Analyzing Jordan Matthews injury history, he has sustained injuries including a sprained ankle at the end of the 2016 season, knee tendinitis in 2016-2017, back spasms in 2016, and an oblique injury in 2014. Besides the ankle sprain that limited him at the end of last season, there isn’t much that has prevented Matthews from contributing. The knee tendinitis is somewhat of a concern as it can continue to linger, but hasn’t caused him to miss any time. He has produced with consistency that has puts him with elite company. I am hard pressed to find a player who does not deal with some sort of injury throughout the NFL season. What I am concerned about is the extent of time missed due to injury and complications with returning to full health such as Watkins. I do not see these concerns with Matthews. While not all injuries can be prevented, it is important to understand how the injuries occur and the lasting impacts it has on player performance. It remains to be seen how this trade will play out in the coming season and years.

While there are many more discussions regarding the players and their performance on the field, I believe the Bills came away with solid draft picks allowing them to find players who can help them win. I also believe that player wise, the Bills moved players who could continue to be a liability on the field for players that are proven at what they do. They also do not have as significant injury histories, allowing them to stay healthy and contribute towards winning and building depth for the season.