Week 7 Bills Injury Preview- Colts

Read up on the latest Bills injury news heading into Week 7 against the Colts!

Things are finally starting to calm down after an eventful start to the week. Between the regrettable loss to the Texans, initial speculation about QB Josh Allen’s elbow injury, followed by the hysterical fallout of the details following the injury, it’s been a week. Today’s post will review the Bills injuries going into the Colts game.

Those already ruled out at QB Josh Allen (right elbow) & RB Taiwan Jones (neck). We know all the nitty gritty details of the Allen injury along with reports are indicating he is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. I believe the team should use the bye week to its advantage and shelve him for 4 games with rest for 5 total weeks. Time will tell how he responds but the extra time can and will help him heal to prevent further issues or complications of the injury. As mentioned in my previous article, it can take 6-10 weeks for a ligament injury such as this to heal properly.

RB Taiwan Jones (neck) is however, a mystery. Jones presented on the injury report with a neck injury and did not practice all week. Reviewing film from the last game, he did not appear to suffer any jarring hits or injuries to his head/neck that would have led to an early exit from the game. He was also able to play in most of the special teams snaps, having one of the highest percentages on the team. We also know that he did not suffer a concussion, fracture, or any injury publicly reported. So at this point, things get tricky. There is no video to even consider a diagnosis, no reports to identify what is specifically going on with the complaint; only “DNP” & “neck”.

The next section is entirely speculation and does not infer or imply that this is what is he is dealing with. Just trying to identify possibilities so as to give a timeline for a return. Reviewing injury reports since Jones came in the league did not reveal any previous neck injuries which could identify chronic conditions. There also has not been any reported concussions during his time with Oakland & Buffalo. This leads me to believe this neck injury is more acute in nature. We also know that not all injuries are always reported which means he may have been dealing with a neck injury that finally became painful enough to sideline him. This could have been something a hit could have aggravated a minor injury, another possibility that something could have occurred in practice we are not aware of, or something totally unrelated. We did see last year that C Eric Wood suffered a now career ending neck injury that was largely unknown until a season ending physical. This is not to imply that Jones is dealing with an injury or situation as dire as Wood’s, but I am stating that we never quite know the whole story. Jones may be having localized neck pain limiting his ability to move his neck; he may be having pain along with numbness going down his arm classified as radiculopathy; he may be having cervicogenic headaches related to neck pain; just a small sample of issues that could be possible, though far from exhaustive. This neck pain could also be related to the horrific shot he took against the Chargers resulting in his gnarly head wound. He may only miss a week and return without limitations, or this may leave him sidelines for several weeks if symptoms persist. Without more information, I cannot confidently state what he may be dealing with. This will be something that we will have to wait for more information to come out or if the front office begins making roster moves as a result.

Others that dealt with injury from Sunday include DE Trent Murphy (ankle) and OG Vladimir Ducasse (left knee). Both are cleared to play and their injuries were relatively minor. Based on film, I can’t even quite specifically identify the exact injuries they sustained. Murphy took what appeared to be an awkward step which slowed him on that particular play and as a result, missed several plays after but was able to return. Ducasse was hit from behind and had another lineman fall onto him but was able to jog off though with a mild limp. He may have just fell on his knee directly, plus adding in ~300 lbs from another body could certainly cause some type of discomfort. We know the defensive line is on a rotation, it’s possible that Ducasse may be on rotational play if he continues to experience issues.

Others to watch out for is CB Taron Johnson (shoulder) and P Corey Bojorquez (shoulder). Both have some type of right shoulder instability evident with bracing. This could continue to limit their effectiveness, though much more apparent in Johnson’s case due to his position. Both have not been on the injury report recently and hopefully can continue to play until the end of the season when they can address the issue with possible surgery.

This wraps up another Bills injury preview with the Bills continuing to stay healthy. On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the Colts, who have been beset by injury which helps explain their 1-5 start. Here is a link to an overview of their injury report; they are still missing key contributors at this time. Despite QB Derek Anderson making his first start for the Bills, I expect the Bills defense to contain the Colts offense, forcing turnovers, and pulling out a win to move to 3-4.

Continue to follow for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow on Facebook at Banged Up Bills, 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 Season Injury Review- C/G

Analyzing the injuries at the C/G position and implications for next season.

Today’s post on Banged Up Bills breaks down the guard and center positional injuries and implications for next season. A total of 5 players suited up at the C/G position that powered the Bills to the playoffs and was able to maintain a top 10 rushing attack. Unfortunately, the offensive line is aging and unexpected injuries have derailed the possibility for a repeat performance next season.

Starting off with the center position is C Eric Wood. The 9th year pro had a relatively successful season anchoring the offensive line. Injury wise, Wood suffered an ankle injury during the win over the Oakland Raiders which did not force him to miss any time and was not a factor for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, it was later revealed he did suffer two neck stingers in Week’s 5-6 which after an end of season physical resulted in his inability to continue to playing due to possible long term risks. A more detailed analysis of his injury can be found here. He is not expected to return under any circumstances and is not officially retired due to salary cap complications.

Next up is versatile C/G Ryan Groy. The 4th year pro served in mostly a backup role this season but has shown the ability to start when C Eric Wood went down in 2016 with a broken leg. Groy saw no time on the injury report with the exception of illness in Week 16. The young lineman appears to be a natural fit to replace Wood at the position as a low cost option and will either grow into the position or be a bridge piece for someone else to come in. Expect him to assume a larger role next season.

Transitioning to the guard position, there were 3 primary players that took on the job at guard. First up is G Richie Incognitio. The controversial player found a second life in Buffalo and has continued to demonstrate a Pro Bowl caliber play despite being one of the older players on the line. Injury wise, Incognitio saw minimal time on the injury report, suffering an ankle injury during the Tampa Bay game and shoulder injury during the playoff loss to the Jaguars. The 12th year pro did require weekly rest days which may have contributed to his ability to stay healthier compared to others. Incognitio is still very effective despite his age and is a great transitional piece as the front office slowly begins to rebuild the offensive line. Recently, he restructured his contract to allow him to stay on a more team friendly deal to allow the team to focus on other assets this off season.

Next man up is G Vladmir Ducasse who after not initially starting the season, came in and performed effectively, playing in 12 regular season games and 1 post season game. Ducasse was thought to be a depth player going into the season but questionable play by G John Miller led to Ducasse’s starting opportunity after 4 games. In addition to winning the starting job from Miller, the 7th year pro stayed injury free and proved how effective he can be in a run heavy offense. As for next season, the Bills would be making a poor decision if he were to leave. Like Incognitio, his contract and availability is favorable and he also provides a nice transition as the line gets older. Expect to see Ducasse on the line again in 2018.

Finally, G John Miller rounds out the guard review for the 2018 season. Miller had a pretty rough season, winning the job out of training camp before relinquishing his job after 4 games to Ducasse. To add insult to injury, Miller began to be ruled inactive thereafter and suffered what I suspected to be a high ankle sprain in practice right before Thanksgiving which forced him to miss 6 games. Despite Miller’s horrendous season, it is possible that he returns for next season. He is only 24, has demonstrated the ability to play well in past seasons and is going into the final season of his rookie contract. He does provide another veteran body in an aging line but is still young enough that could be moved in a trade for other pieces if needed.

In addition to all these players likely to come back next season, C Adam Redmon is on a futures contract which may allow the Bills to not have to search far for their next center if Groy does not work out or is injured. Continue to check back with Banged Up Bills for the latest injury updates. Check out Grandstand Sports Network for other injury related articles that I post and please check out the latest content by my fellow colleagues. GSN is truly an unique site comprised of passionate individuals providing the latest stories and shows not found anywhere else. GSN is the #1 place to go for the 2018 NFL draft! As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Eric Wood’s Neck Injury

Analyzing the neck injury that forced Eric Wood to retire and long term implications.

Disappointing news coming out of One Bills Drive Friday with the sudden announcement of C Eric Wood retiring from the NFL after nearly a decade. The cause of his retirement appears to be related to neck issues that were discovered during a routine end of season physical intended to assess issues players made need to address in the off season.

This determination was made by Dr. Cappuccino, who is the orthopedic spine surgeon, along with other doctors and team officials. For the 9th year pro’s long term health, it was ruled that retirement was best to avoid further damage. As detailed information has finally been released, it has been revealed that Wood is dealing with a bulging disc in the C2-C3 region following stinger’s during Week’s 5 & 6. Today’s post will identify why this is career ending and long term implications.

While it is incredibly disheartening hearing this news, I believe all fans would want the health of each and every player to be most important. To identify what occurred with Wood, the anatomy of the area must be understood. The cervical region of the neck is comprised of 7 cervical vertebrae that stack on each other which curve in concave fashion to allow for support of the head in an upright position. In between these vertebrae, with the exception of the first two levels, cervical discs act as as shock absorbers and allow for the vertebrae to articulate with each other in order to move freely. Ligaments attach the vertebrae together for support and passing through the vertebrae are arteries, the spinal cord, and nerves. Eric Wood suffered a disc bulge at C2-C3, the first disc after the C1-C2 junction. To help put this all in perspective, please refer to the pictures below.

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Credit: backpain-guide.com

One of the issues that Eric Wood may have been dealing with that was described as wear and tear is cervical spondylosis. This occurs when the structural integrity of the vertebrae column becomes compromised and leads to instability within the region. This is is due to the cervical discs losing disc height which in turn reduce the space between, leading to laxity on the ligaments, causing further pressure on the discs. This can be the result of the aging process, trauma, or individuals that have to carry heavy loads on their head or shoulders. As a possible result of this condition, he stated he suffered a “stinger” in Week’s 5 & 6 and was evaluated without further treatment required. As cervical spondylosis progresses, this can cause other issues including degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, hypertrophy of the surrounding ligaments, subluxation of the vertebrae, along with both neural & vascular compression.

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Credit: mayoclinic.com

As a result of the disc bulging out, this can create spinal stenosis. In the case of cervical spinal stenosis, the vertebral foramen, or space in which the spinal cord passes through, becomes narrowed. In the case of Wood, repeated trauma/progressive disc protrusion is what led to his disc pressing on his spinal cord as seen below. Other causes that could occur include ventral spondylophyte formation, thickening of the ligamentum flavum, or hypertrophy of the dorsal facets. While all these are confusing terms, these are all structures that surround the spinal cord that could reduce space and compress on the spinal cord as you place the head into various positions. To put this into a simpler perspective, imagine squeezing a hose; as you tighten or bend the hose, the flow of the water decreases. If the spinal cord is compressed, certain head movements can increase pain and limit mobility, placing even greater pressure on the spinal cord. This could affect areas below the spinal cord level or the nerve roots that branch off to the extremities. With compression over time, this could lead to temporary or irreversible damage based on severity.

cervical_stenosis_cause02.jpg
Credit: http://www.houstonmethodist.org

This is something that Wood was aware of after Week 5 and appeared to manage up to this point. However, incidence of previous spondylosis could cause and progress the stenosis.  As the veteran center has never appeared on the injury report with a neck injury during his career, this doesn’t mean that he never had neck pain. This is evident with the report of the stingers that was resolved which lead to his omission on the injury report.

Following the stinger, there are variations in the presentation of symptoms based on severity. One of the concerning but manageable issues include cervical radiculopathy. This is where the nerve is compressed either at the neck or a later exit point down the nerve’s path. This compression could cause pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness to travel down specific nerves in the shoulder or arm. This is common to see in the general population, but far from a pleasant sensation. Several of these symptoms are more prevalent in the lower cervical vertebrae.

In Wood’s specific presentation, occipital headaches, often typical of migraine, with pain radiating to the eyes and behind the ears, blurring of vision, dizziness and nausea especially when attempting to lie down, numbness of the side of the neck, tension and “knots” in the neck and shoulder muscles, and swelling and stiffness of the fingers. He may have had several of these symptoms following the stinger which warranted further evaluation.

If Wood would have continued playing and ignored medical advice, he would be at risk of  developing cervical myelopathy as this is more severe in that actual damage to the spinal cord has occurred. This presents as bowel and bladder issues appear along with difficulty walking, coordination, and loss of strength, among other symptoms. Typically, those are emergency related symptoms and must be dealt with immediately. If Wood were to keep playing, he would be at higher risk to have this occur with the violent nature of the hits and further degeneration of the affected areas. The C2-C3 area is more severe as nerve roots branch off which affect head movement and assist in controlling breathing. Further damage to the area could include paralysis and/or death if not addressed immediately.

While all this does sound ominous, there are many options for conservative care. Physical therapy, chiropractics, and pain management including injections can manage the complaints for years. Primary focus on the area would to educate the patient on the condition and awareness of possible worsening symptoms. Other interventions include managing and reduce pain, maintain motion and strength in the area, and prevent further decline in the area. Personally, I have worked with a variety of patients with similar complaints with a variety of outcomes. Some have been able to resolve their complaints completely, some have significantly reduced their pain and have a strong understanding how to prevent further complications. Others have gone on to receive injections and surgery which in turn has improved their quality of life. Fortunately, through his decision to step away from the game of football, Eric Wood will not likely be bed bound and in a neck brace for the rest of his life. He will instead be able to participate in activities including exercise, avoiding strenuous, repetitive activities such as football and heavy weightlifting, and focus on raising his newborn son.

If Wood is to require surgery in the future, there are a variety of surgical procedures that can help to stabilize the affected area. This includes but is not limited to: spinal fusion surgeries and/or anterior cervical discectomy.  These procedures stabilize and partially remove the offending area to reduce pressure on the spinal cord. Right now, he may not require any surgery, instead altering activities to reduce further damage. If surgery is indicated, this will help with quality of life but would not allow him to safely return to football.

Severity of the neck complaints that are forcing Wood to retire early at least leaves him in good hands with Dr. Andrew Cappuccino.  If you recall, Dr. Cappuccino is best known for saving TE Kevin Everett‘s life during the season opener in 2007. To put into comparison how severe this Wood’s injury is, S Aaron Williams had similar issues with his neck in a lower level that were well documented, ending his career. It appeared that he was willing to continue playing, but teams knowing his medical history would not touch him for fear that the next big hit may kill him. Wood was not willing to take that risk and able to end on a high note with a playoff berth.

The next big question is who steps up and replaces him. Ryan Groy appears to be a natural fit as he can play multiple positions on the line and may be a stop gap until the Bills find their next player in the draft or free agency. I believe the Bills will address this position effectively as they have with other positions this past season. It is a shame that this occurred to such a great player, but, as many before Eric Wood have proven, time is the one opponent that no one can defeat.

I hope that you learned something today and helps put into perspective why Eric Wood is forced to end his career. Continue to check back with me on updates regarding Bills injury news! Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 9 Injury Breakdown- Jets

Breaking down the Bills injury report for the New York Jets and impact on tonight’s game.

The Buffalo Bills go into their second match up of the season against the New York Jets with the best start for the franchise since 2011 and with a win, move to 6-2 and have their best start since 1993 when they started 7-1. This team continues to get healthier week after week despite key starters go down with injury. It is nearly impossible to go through an entire season without a team sustaining major injury, but the Bills are close to perfection in this area.

Breaking down the injury report for tonight’s game against the New York Jets, several injuries are worth noting. First off, TE Charles Clay (knee) and CB E.J. Gaines (hamstring) are listed as out for the game. No surprise with Clay considering the type of knee injury he sustained. Gaines is out because after coming off a groin injury, he sustained a hamstring injury the next game. While I do believe each injury alone isn’t severe enough to warrant an extended absence, the combined injuries along with their location require proper rest and rehab to ensure healing. I still believe Clay is several weeks away from returning to game shape, but is clearly progressing. Gaines should be ready for the Saints game, barring any set backs or new information.

S Jordan Poyer (knee) and LB Ramon Humber (thumb) are both listed as questionable. Poyer injured his knee during the last play of the Buccaneer’s game and missed the Raiders game as a result. I had originally thought that he sustained a Grade 1 MCL sprain and based on this latest news, still maintain that. I believe he will be a game time decision based on how he performs in warm ups. MetLife stadium is synthetic turf which can increase the ability for feet to stick in turf and can lead to the possibility of greater injury. However, if Poyer believes he can play, then I see no reason why he can’t. The medical staff has been on point this season and I do not believe he would rush back sooner than he needs to. I believe he will play Thursday without any signs of injury or risk further damage.

Humber has been out since October 1st with a broken thumb sustained against the Falcons. It has been 4 weeks since the injury which is enough time for a bone in that area to heal. It is unknown if he will play with any sort of protective bracing, but I also believe he will be ready to play Thursday night. If Humber does play, I would expect his reps to be limited in order to keep him fresh and allow LB Matt Milano to continue to develop as a rookie.

The rest of the injury report all practiced with full participation which included G Richie Incognito (ankle), T Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), C Eric Wood (ankle), and WR Zay Jones (shoulder). Most of these injuries with the exception of Glenn appear to be the normal wear and tear of the NFL season. Nothing appears to be worse than it seems and should resolve with the extended break in between the Jets and Saints game.

Finally, despite what happens with Poyer and Humber, I believe that their replacements are suitable to fill in one more week if they play as well as they did against the Raiders. I expect a win out of these Bills and get the season sweep over the Jets. There is always a risk for injury especially in these division games where each team appears to bring their A-game, but the Bills are a deeper, more complete team that should wear down the Jets as the game wears on.

Check for my injury analysis following the Jets game and any new updates that occur. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 8 Recap- Raiders

Discussing the Buffalo Bills injury report following a dominating win over the Oakland Raiders.

These Bills continue to make me BILL-EVE!!! With a dominating 33-14 win over the Oakland Raiders, the Bills move to 5-2 on the season and 4-0 at home. These Bills look good!! While we have been here before recently in 2008 and 2011, finishing 7-9 and 6-10 respectively, this team is different. There are still tough games ahead including match ups with the Patriots and Dolphins twice, Chiefs, and Saints. If the Buffalo Bills continue to play complete games as they have most of the season, there’s no reason why they can’t continue to win. I expect some losses coming up, but this team does not appear capable of long losing streaks. I may come back and eat crow for that statement, but I continue to remain optimistic on these Bills!

With a convincing Buffalo Bills win despite the cold and rainy weather, injuries continue to remain at a minimum. The slick surface contributed to this as this lessened the chance for firm planting in the ground, leading to decreased major knee and ankle injuries. With decreased friction at point of contact with the ground, this leads to decreased force through the joints. Makes it very hard for running, but the Bills did just fine with LeSean McCoy rushing for 151 yards and a TD.

Notable injuries to the Buffalo Bills today included WR Zay Jones (Shoulder), C Eric Wood (Ankle), and G Richie Incognitio (Ankle). It is unknown when both Jones and Wood sustained their injuries, but considering they are on a short week, any possible injury must be reported and managed. If this were a normal week, this may not have even come to light. Jones was a full participant in practice and while Wood and Incognitio were limited, this is not concerning as they are both veterans. It is concerning that Jones is listed on the injury report after his most successful game to date, but I suspect it is nothing more than general soreness.

TE Charles Clay (Knee) and LB Ramon Humber (Thumb) continue to be out with their previously mentioned injuries. Originally, I believed that Humber should have come back shortly after his surgery, but not knowing the specifics of his particular injury clearly altered my initial projection. With the emergence of LB Matt Milano continuing to demonstrate stellar play allows Humber to take his time to get healthy.

I had originally also stated that Clay would be able to return for the Colts game which would have put him at 10 weeks from initial injury. As the Bills did not put him on short term IR, this allows the possibility to return sooner. Reports state that he has been stretching and preparing to practice, but has not been cleared yet. If the Bills clear him to practice and play in time for the Saints game, this would be a fantastic and incredibly short recovery. It is still within the realm of possibility, but I would still expect him to be out until at least the Chiefs game, possibly the Chargers game if he’s really pushing to play. While the knee can heal quicker than expected, the change in weather and surfaces will have an impact on when he returns which can alter re-injury rates.

Despite missing both S Jordan Poyer and CB E.J. Gaines due to injuries sustained last game, the secondary did not struggle as everyone believed they would. Filling in without missing a beat, CB Trae Elston came up with his first interception and CB Micah Hyde continued his stellar play, collecting his 5th interception of the season. I would expect that they continue to hold Gaines out until the Chiefs game to ensure prevention of further re-injury. Gaines goes all out which is appreciated, but not at the risk of turning into the Buffalo Bills version of S Bob Sanders when he was with the Colts during their Super Bowl run.

Through all these smaller injuries, this depth the Buffalo Bills have exhibited so far this season is the reason why they have stormed out to a 5-2 start. While some of these players are not starting material week-to-week, the idea is that the backup can come in and play up to par in short term stints until the starter can return. The Bills continue to avoid season ending injuries and key players missing extended time. It is impossible for a team to get through a season without injury, but the Bills are pretty close to that at this time. With the exception of Clay, Humber, Gaines, and possibly Poyer, I expect everyone else on the injury report to play Thursday without any limitations.

Continue to check back on a regular basis for updates on new injuries, my personal thoughts and observations, and detailed explanation on Bills specific injuries. Thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!