Week 4 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Will mounting injuries prevent the Bills from getting a key win?

The Buffalo Bills enter Week 4 with a record of 3-0 against the also 3-0 New England Patriots with a chance to stay undefeated this late in the season for the first time since 2008. However, despite the promise of 4-0, the Bills have really taken the name of this website, Banged Up Bills, to a literal definition. Following Friday’s injury report, there are 11 players listed with a variety of injuries with even more who required veteran rest days. There have been thoughts that the Bills are taking a Patriots approach in injury reporting in order to confuse New England into having to over-prepare. While there might be a hint of the Patriot Way, the Bills are still dealing with very real injuries that will put several players availability into a game-time decision. Put a pot of coffee on, this is going to be a long one.

Special note:

If you haven’t read already, DT Harrison Phillips tore his ACL at the end of the game last week and has since moved to IR with eventual surgery. This was a big blow to the rotational depth at DT, but he suffered a direct contact ACL tear which are fairly difficulty to avoid. In his place, the Bills brought up former practice squad member DT Kyle Peko. To read more about Phillips, check out my video below & article at Buffalo Rumblings.

https://twitter.com/bangedupbills/status/1176327735444160512?s=21

RULED OUT

TE Tyler Kroft (right foot/left ankle)

Kroft is once again ruled out for the fourth straight week in a row with an injury. He is still recovering from the right foot injury that he suffered a possible Jones fracture back in OTA’s. However, the combination of the right foot fracture and left ankle sprain does not bode well for Kroft trying to return to play. There is a possibility he could return in Week 5 against Tennessee or return in Week 7 after the bye. If I was Brandon Beane, I would hold Kroft out until after the bye because TE Dawson Knox and TE Tommy Sweeney are filling in quite well in his place. 

LB Corey Thompson (ankle)

Thompson, like Kroft, is already ruled out for Sunday due to an ankle injury, later requiring surgery. He was questionable for last Sunday indicating the ankle injury was suffered previously. Reviewing film from Sunday’s win, he played in 6 special teams plays, 2 kick off’s & 4 punt coverage plays. Each play failed to show any possible mechanism of injury. All the plays occurred in the first quarter and he did not appear in the game after that. He may have determined that his ankle was bothering him too badly and declined to continue on which led to the eventual surgery.

I suspect that he had some type of ankle clean out due to possible bone chips or loose bodies from a previous injury. These are fairly routine but do take time to rehabilitate because it is still a surgery, even as minor as it appears. Ideally, with the bye week coming up, he can return quickly and continue his contributions as a key special-teams member.

RULED QUESTIONABLE

LB Maurice Alexander (knee)

Friday was the first instance where Alexander appeared on the injury report. It was reported that he was doing with a sore knee and held out of practice as a precaution. It’s unknown what is causing the knee soreness, but it has officially changed his status for Sunday to questionable. With an effective warmup before the game, he could be ready to play in limited action.

OG Jon Feliciano (neck)

Feliciano has been dealing with a neck injury suffered on the first scoring drive from Sunday. He was knocked over to the left onto C Mitch Morse and hit from the right side from Bengals DT Geno Atkins as he was falling down. He appeared to suffer a whiplash injury and did not return after the 2 point conversion. Later, he was observed wearing a neck brace in the locker room.

He has since been limited in practice the past two days with Friday able to practice in full. However, he is still designated as questionable most likely due to the limited practice days & whether he feels he can go for Sunday. The only way I do not see him playing Sunday is if he has a setback and he would have to make a decision not to play. If he is unable to go, G Ike Boettger or G Ryan Bates could step into his place. He has gone on the record reporting that he feels that he can play Sunday and I expect him to be a full participant.

WR Robert Foster (groin)

He appeared to suffer the groin injury on Wednesday, limiting him for Thursday. As this likely happened in practice, we do not know the severity or how it occurred. Foster has already been dealing with a turf toe injury during preseason dating all the way back to OTA‘s. I do not believe the turf toe is related to the groin. There is difficulty pushing off the toe and performing the movements expected every receiver to perform including twisting, cutting, pivoting, and running/sprinting. This would make everything that much more trying with a groin injury. While he is questionable, he is one guy that I could see inactive as the team already has WR John Brown as a deep threat and WR Cole Beasley underneath in order to keep the Patriots defense guessing.

CB Taron Johnson (right hamstring)

Johnson has been battling back from a hamstring injury suffered in the season opener, missing the past two games. However, he has looked incredibly good in practice from the video obtained from various beat reporters. It does not appear that he’s going full speed, though he appears to be much closer to full speed than others dealing with hamstrings. I have been on record multiple times stating that I believe he will play on Sunday and he’ll be a great matchup for the wide receivers. Expect him to play & be a difference-maker.

OG Spencer Long (ankle)

Long was another late addition to the injury report with a did not participate due to an ankle injury from either Thursday/Friday. Like Foster, we do not know the extent of his injury, nor what caused it. He is ruled questionable; this may be a game-time decision to determine if he feels he can play Sunday.

WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle)

McKenzie was added to the injury report Thursday with a did not participate, but was able to practice in full Friday. Like several mentioned above, we do not know the extent of the ankle injury or how it occurred. There does not appear to be anything on film to suggest that there is an injury; unfortunately injuries are easy to miss due to how TV broadcasts show the game. He is somebody that is likely to play on Sunday.

RB Devin Singletary (left hamstring)

Singletary is one of the key components in the Bills offensive attack early in the 2019 season. He has been electrifying, producing 12.7 yards a carry and showing that he can handle the load left vacant by the sudden cut of veteran RB LeSean McCoy. Unfortunately, Singletary suffered a left hamstring strain late in the win over the Giants. He missed the last game as expected but has looked quite good from video obtained during the week. Since this is a hamstring injury, he is still 50/50 and will likely be a game-time decision depending on how he feels. I have a sneaking suspicion that he will play on Sunday but may be limited to prevent overworking and re-injury of the hamstring.

EXPECTED TO PLAY

WR Zay Jones (shoulder)

Jones made the injury list as a surprise addition early in the week with a shoulder injury. From my previous tweets & observations on Locked On Bills, we know that he has a shoulder injury, but don’t know the severity, side, or type. We know that he had a torn labrum two seasons ago for which he had it repaired and did not appear to have any issues last year. I do not believe this is a recurrence of the injury and there wasn’t anything from the Bengals game to suggest any new injuries. This might be soreness that the team wants to avoid any type of contact to prevent limiting his catch radius. He was not designated questionable and is expected to play Sunday.

CB Tre’Davious White (neck)

White was once again on the injury report with a neck injury now 2 weeks ago. He was wearing a red non-contact jersey Wednesday & Thursday for practice. Thankfully, he was able to practice in full on Friday and did not have an injury designation for the game Sunday. I am still not certain exactly what Tre is dealing with but this might be something that the team is closely monitoring and ensuring that he isn’t injured further in practice. As he is now becoming an established veteran, he has begun to earn these rest breaks and limited play in order to preserve his body.

If you’re still reading, congratulations, you are a true Buffalo Bills fan! I anticipate that there is a little gamesmanship going on to prevent the Patriots from fully knowing who will be playing on Sunday. I expect the inactive list to read as follows: 

Robert Foster

Ike Boettger

Conor McDermott

Ryan Bates

JaQuan Johnson

Tyler Kroft

Corey Thompson 

The only wildcards from this are Feliciano & Singletary. If the Bills are hurting for RB, they can call up RB Byron Marshall or WR Duke Williams if Foster can’t go. This is exactly the reason for depth.

Despite the Patriots being who they are, the Bills are playing at home with a deep and talented roster. I truly believe they have a legitimate shot to win. It will not require perfection, but little to no mistakes to come out victorious. Costly errors will quickly submarine their chances to move to 4-0. If the Bills come out with a W, I expect that New Era Field may shake so hard from the raucous cheering from Bills Mafia that it crumbles to the foundation. LET’S GO BILLS!

 

Week 3 Bills Injury Review- Bengals

What are Feliciano & Harrison Phillips dealing with following Sunday’s win?

The Bills once again found a way to get it done to move to 3-0 Sunday. A close fought game was won in the dying minutes of the 4th quarter with a final score of 21-17. They appeared to dominate early in the game with a 14-0 lead going into the half, but allowed the Bengals to hang around and score 17 unanswered points. Fortunately, RB Frank Gore plowed into the end zone with 1:50 left in the 4th quarter. While Bills Mafia can savor this win, several injuries dampen the excitement.

Prior to the game, it was already known that RB Devin Singletary (left hamstring), CB Taron Johnson (right hamstring), & TE Tyler Kroft (left ankle) all would not be suiting up. All appear to be tracking to return for possibly next week. However, Kroft was observed in a walking boot following the game on his left ankle. Singletary hasn’t had any updates but hamstrings are finicky with the recovery. They all would have been fine options for this week, but having them 100% for the Patriots will be key.

It appeared that CB Tre’Davious White (neck) suffered no ill effects from the last week in a red no-contact jersey as he was able to snag 2 key interceptions, the final which sealed the victory. LB Corey Thompson (ankle) appeared only on special teams due to a low ankle sprain, but was able to contribute in some fashion after being listed as questionable heading into Sunday.

Unfortunately, there was a slew of injuries that varied in severity & will be addressed below.

OG Jon Feliciano (neck)

The offensive mauler suffered a neck injury during the first scoring play late in the 1st quarter. Reviewing film, he got blocked down to the left and appeared to get hit on the right side of the head. He was able to get up and participate in the 2 point conversion before getting to the sidelines where he was initially questionable before being downgraded to out.

Afterward, he was observed walking around the locker room in a neck brace by The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia. Considering the limited video and follow up bracing, this would indicate that he may be dealing with a whiplash injury. This type of injury is more commonly seen in motor vehicle accidents, but can occur with any rapid change in motion in relation to the head. There is always the possibility for a fracture but until the team releases more info, I am leaning towards whiplash.

The neck brace would assist with supporting the cervical region to prevent unnecessary movement. He would likely not wear a neck brace for long, possibly 1-3 days, but hopes that he would be able to begin rehab to restore motion and strength to the area is ideal.

This may be an injury he could miss a few games if my thoughts are correct. Once further information is released, a more definitive timeline can be established.

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe briefly left the game late in the 3rd quarter due to getting bull rushed backwards, possibly jamming his ankle. He thankfully was able to return & continue playing without any apparent drop off in play. I would categorize this more of a contusion & this is something that really should have no impact on practice or the upcoming game this week. It’s also possible that he may have suffered an Achilles strain due to getting pushed back how he did, but he fell down easily and if there was concern for that, he probably wouldn’t have returned. At worst, he may have a wrap or sleeve on the ankle, but this should not affect his availability barring any new information.

WR Cole Beasley (right knee)

The shifty receiver left the game for several plays while dealing with an injury to his right knee. Video replay shows that he got tangled up with his defensive counterpart and he appears to have fallen directly onto the area. Like Nsekhe, he could have a contusion for which he is able to play through. I also do not anticipate this being a factor this week.

DT Harrison Phillips (left knee)

With just under 2 minutes left in the game & the Bills protecting a 4 point lead, Phillips went down with what appears to be a left knee injury. He was pushing forward moving inward/outward before his left knee buckled from under him and he fell down. There did not appear to be any direct contact to the area but an injury clearly occurred. He was briefly assessed before being able to get up and jogged/walked off the field.

Later it was reported that he was going to get X-rays once he was in the locker room. Imaging may be checking to determine if he suffered an MCL sprain with associated damage such as a meniscus or a bone bruise. Considering how he fell, they may have also been checking out his tibial plateau or the kneecap which could have been injured as a result. Reports indicate that he is getting an MRI on the knee today.

UPDATE: Phillips has since been diagnosed with a torn ACL, ending his season.

He tore the same side back in 2015 while in college at Stanford.

Until we get more information on Feliciano, it is difficult to determine timelines at this time. While injuries do occur, the Bills continue to mostly avoid the season ending variety. There may be other injuries to be released later, but this is what is known at this time. If Feliciano is unable to go, rookie OT Cody Ford can slide over or OG Spencer Long can man the spot.

The team does have recent Dolphins cut DT Vincent Taylor or DT Kyle Peko they can bring up now that Phillips is out. The Bills are banged up right now heading into Week 4, but with a good practice this week, what was lost Sunday may be balanced out by with what returns.

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!!