2020 Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Preview- Colts

Will Beasley & Diggs play Saturday?

The playoffs are here! The Buffalo Bills HOST the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday at 1:05 pm. 25 years is a long, long time between playoff football games in Buffalo. While we all can’t be there, the few that can be will represent us well. Regardless of where everyone may be watching the game, it should be an exciting game, and the chance to advance in the playoffs for the first time since 1995 would be surreal. 

On top of all the excitement, the Bills are fairly healthy heading into this game, with only several concerns with the wide receiver corps. Below is all the injury concerns heading into Saturday’s game and additionally, a breakdown of the Colts injuries heading into the game. 

QUESTIONABLE

WR Cole Beasley (left knee)

At least when Sean McDermott says week-to-week, he means it and has been fairly consistent with that phrasing since coming to Buffalo. However, it is unknown whether Beasley will play Saturday after only practicing once in the past two weeks. He was limited during Thursday’s practice and was observed going through light exercise/jogging and stretching, not stressing the knee at all.

There is no video present of running, jumping, or cutting at full speed to indicate how he will perform. While he doesn’t need the practice, it is concerning whether he was available for the offensive game plan installation. I simply don’t know if he plays. On one hand, it’s the playoffs, if you don’t win, you’re done. But does the team want to risk aggravating his injury and losing him for the remainder of the postseason?

If Beasley does play, I would expect he has difficulty running his routes to the right and having to cut on a dime to that direction having to push off the left knee. I would also expect him to have difficulty with jumping and getting yards after the catch to move the chains. In addition, he would be going up against one of the best slot corners in the NFL in Kenny Moore. Going up against a healthy slot corner with Beasley not being 100% makes me question whether it’s worth getting him out there. Can he tough it out and play? Absolutely, but it doesn’t mean it may be the best option.

The team has expressed confidence in Isaiah McKenzie filling in for Beasley if needed. While McKenzie doesn’t do what Beasley can do, he is still healthier which may be more effective in the short term. But it’s the playoffs, Beasley is a competitor, he wants to play, that’s a given. Just whether he is able. I have detailed my thoughts on the possible injuries he is dealing with here. I also went into detail on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino Friday if you’re looking for any more nuggets of information. 

What this will come down to is: Does the team believe they can perform without him like they did last week? Or will a less than 100% Beasley be more effective than McKenzie in the slot? If I had a gun to my head, I believe that the Bills can win without Beasley for this week especially against elite competition in the slot defensively, and get a healthier version of him in the divisional round. If he plays, fantastic, if he doesn’t, it may be the right decision in the long run.

WR Stefon Diggs (Oblique)

There was a lot of concern with Diggs’ oblique that popped up on the injury report Tuesday. He was limited Tuesday, did not practice Wednesday, but did have a limited practice on Thursday. He is questionable, but it doesn’t mean that he won’t be dealing with some discomfort. To understand what he is dealing with, read below.

Credit: Centenoschultz.com

The obliques are a part of the abdominal muscles positioned on the outside portion next to the “six pack” we all know. They are positioned on both sides connecting to the xiphoid process which is the pointed bottom portion of the sternum and connect down to the upper portions of the hip including the iliac crest, the bony portion of where our waists are located and about where most people’s pants sit. All these abdominal muscles make up what is known as the core. These muscles provide protection to the inner organs and function to flex and rotate the trunk. There are internal and external obliques but we would not really be able to identify which obliques he injured nor is it important to this discussion.

Due to not identifying when or which side he suffered this injury on also limits knowing which side is limited. There was a report that he was grabbing at his side during warm-ups but he was still quite effective during the game and only came out after the half. He also did suffer a late hit from Christian Wilkins during the 2nd quarter that resulted in brief worry for a concussion or other injuries such as this oblique injury, but it is not clear that this is when this injury occurred either.

The only other Bills player that has publicly sustained an oblique injury during Sean McDermott’s tenure is former guard John Miller. He suffered an oblique injury against the Jaguars in 2018 and ultimately missed a game. However, Miller did not practice and was ruled out for the game against the Dolphins. Miller was on the offensive line, bending forward, twisting his upper body, and pushing against large humans while staying upright took an immense amount of strength.

Diggs has the ability to avoid taking hits to the area, minimize the need for blocking, and can generally reduce strain on the area due to his position. He may be slightly limited in which way he turns, how he takes a hit, how he fights for extra yards. He does have a lot of pain management interventions available to him from the team and ways to manage this so he can get through the day. He is the main component of the offense and to lose him for Saturday would be a huge loss. However, he has said he’s fine, he’s been limited two out of the three days, I believe he will play and be quite effective.

To gauge an idea of whether Beasley or Diggs plays based on practice reports from this season, check out the tweet below. 

ACTIVE 

G Jon Feliciano (Left knee)

Feliciano appeared on the injury report following his left leg getting rolled up on just prior to the first Bills touchdown of the day Sunday. He came up limping but did not leave the game. The fact that he practiced in full indicated that it was not a big concern and should be ready to go Saturday. 

TE Reggie Gilliam (Knee/hamstring)

After missing the last two weeks with knee and hamstring injuries sustained against the Patriots, Gilliam appears ready to make his playoff debut. He practiced in full all week and doesn’t appear to be a question mark heading into Saturday. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (Ankle)

Like Diggs’, this ankle injury was not clear on when it occurred or how severe it is. He also does not have a game day designation which is excellent to see considering he may see increased snaps due to Cole Beasley potentially being out. 

His workload may be reduced on special teams with Andre Roberts taking punt and kickoff returns, but McKenzie has clearly shown the ability to be effective when called upon. I doubt that he has any noticeable drop off in play from last week other than a decrease in total touchdowns.

Colts Injury Report:

OUT

T Will Holden (Ankle) 

While Holden is the backup right tackle, the loss of him leaves the Colts very thin at the tackle position in general. They’ve already lost Anthony Constanzo to season-ending ankle surgery and lost his backup La’Raven Clark to a torn Achilles right after. 

They are down to their 3rd string tackle Chaz Green and anyone backing him up will be coming from the practice squad or playing out of position. The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to sack Phillip Rivers 5 times, who is dealing with an injury of his own, so he can be pressured. The Bills could potentially use part of that game plan for success. 

CB Rock Ya-Sin (Concussion) 

He hasn’t practiced all week due to the concussion and anyone that doesn’t practice prior to a game doesn’t play in nearly every instance I’ve seen. TJ Carrie will replace him at CB2.

QUESTIONABLE

DT Deforest Buckner (Ankle)

He originally injured his ankle a few days before Christmas on the 17th, played through it, and has had some great games including a 3-sack performance days after the injury. He either had a high ankle from getting his heel hit or a bad inversion ankle sprain; either or it hasn’t stopped him.

The fact that he is that far out from the original injury and continues to play indicates that he will play Saturday and I would expect that he still gets his numbers.

ACTIVE 

QB Phillip Rivers (Turf toe)

Rivers has been working through a nasty turf toe injury that will require surgery following the season. Despite the injury, he has still been effective in leading the Colts to the postseason as the 7th seed. 

With Rivers continuing to deal with this injury, this could be an opportunity to pressure him in the pocket due to his inability to scramble along with the general immobility he is known for. If the Bills defense can prevent Rivers from hitting his first and second reads, this may allow the Bills to sack and hit Rivers all day. He will already be under pressure due to the left tackle position, his blindside, is manned by Chaz Green, a career journeyman.

CB TJ Carrie (Ankle/shoulder)

Not much is known about Carrie with his respective injuries but he is starting in place of Rock Ya-Sin and according to Joe Marino, he has been a better performer over this season than Ya-Sin. This may only be significant if Carrie goes down with an injury and they lack a backup suitable to keep up with the Bills wide receiver corps. 

RB Jonathan Taylor (Shoulder)

Taylor will be playing and look to build off his performance over the Jaguars last week despite dealing with a shoulder injury. There aren’t any specifics regarding what he did and the fact that he doesn’t have a game day designation indicates that he will be ready to go. 

S Khari Willis (Concussion)

Willis practiced in full coming off a concussion indicating that he has cleared the protocol and will be available Saturday. 

Bills Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

WR Cole Beasley

DE Trent Murphy

TE Tyler Kroft

A Bills playoff game at home where it is supposed to be just above freezing and sunny could work in Buffalo’s favor. They didn’t have to travel, they sleep in their own beds, they are used to the weather here. The Bills are favored at -6.5 which isn’t the biggest line this weekend, but half of the games are expected to be closer in the score.

This will be fun to watch. A talented Buffalo Bills team that is hot entering the playoffs with Pro Bowl and All-Pro talent at multiple positions, a potential MVP at quarterback, and a winning mindset. Despite former Bills quarterback and now Colts head coach Frank Reich returning to town, I don’t believe he brings the magic from “The Comeback” into this game. The Bills should win this one and kicking off a deep playoff run. Enjoy the moment, it’s what we’ve been waiting for the past 25 years!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Week 17 Bills Injury Review- Dolphins

Are there any injury concerns from Sunday?

Just start calling the Buffalo Bills “Rawhide”! Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’, Rawhide!!! That’s all they seem to do over these past few weeks, Rollin’ over anyone that is in their way, hanging 142 points over the last 3 games on their way to 13-3. This was really a point of emphasis with a 56-26 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday.

This is simply incredible football that we are watching and it sure is fun! I always had this prevailing thought that they would be good again, but it’s here now and it’s really exciting. To see what this team has done not observed in 30 years and they continue to improve is scary. 

On top of that, they enter the postseason with very few injuries after dealing with many around midseason. In fact, they’ve only lost one starter in Cody Ford to a season-ending injury and have weathered many others with their incredible depth. Below are the injuries from Sunday, though it is important to note that the team only reported one injury for the entire day. 

CB Taron Johnson (right shoulder)

Johnson appeared to injure his right shoulder while trying to tackle Durham Smythe early in the game and unfortunately hit Matt Milano’s upper right thigh. He was down briefly while trainers assessed him before coming off for part of the first quarter.

Johnson briefly went to the medical tent to be examined before later returning. The fact that he returned to the game rather quickly indicates that there isn’t much going on other than recovering from a hard hit. He certainly could have had his neck jarred or had the wind knocked out of him, but there doesn’t appear to be any long term concerns for Saturday. 

LB Matt Milano (upper right thigh)

Milano got hit on the upper right thigh area tackling Durham Smythe before fellow teammate Taron Johnson hit him with his right shoulder. Milano was walking gingerly briefly before returning for the next play. 

He didn’t miss time, he will probably be sore, but there doesn’t appear to be anything limiting him for the playoff game. Just a hard hit that’s part of football. 

G Jon Feliciano (left knee)

Feliciano briefly limped around early in the 2nd quarter following a routine running play in the red zone. He continued his block as Zack Moss passed him and as the play began to end, a Dolphins defender rolled into the outside portion of his left leg, knocking him over.

He did not miss any snaps for the remainder of the drive which resulted in the Bills first touchdown of the day. Like all the other injuries, this doesn’t appear to be much of anything to be concerned about for Saturday. 

S Siran Neal (concussion check)

Neal briefly left the game following a knee to the head while trying to tackle DeVante Parker late in the 3rd quarter. The team assessed him for a concussion due to the hit by using his head to take out Parker’s left leg and initially requiring the training staff to meet him on the field. Fortunately, he returned 5 minutes later and resumed playing without missing a beat. 

The only other concern was when Stefon Diggs got hit from behind after he had already slid down midway through the 2nd quarter. Christian Wilkins came in late and hit Diggs on the back of the head, momentarily causing concern for a concussion. Thankfully, Diggs popped right back up and was also able to draw an unnecessary roughness call on Wilkins to continue the drive. 

The Bills did sit some starters and played others through the half which fortunately did not cause any injuries. This also allowed them to keep focused and in their routine for the playoffs.

Overall, this injury report should look pretty clean heading into Saturday’s matchup against the Colts. I expect Cole Beasley and Reggie Gilliam to be on the report with their respective injuries with a close eye on Beasley’s participation availability. Slight chance that Johnson and Feliciano make an appearance, but I don’t see their injuries being significant. Of course, there’s always surprises too. 

It’s the playoffs, Beasley has a chance to play. His practice participation will likely dictate whether he does. The team has indicated that Isaiah McKenzie can fill in for Beasley in the slot which may allow Beasley to get another week off which would be beneficial if it is indeed a meniscal tear of quadricep strain as I had speculated before. 

This will be a short week practice wise and much more will be known by Thursday. Enjoy the week Bills Mafia, this is what we’ve dreamed of for years.

Top Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta/BillsWire-USA Today 

2020 Week 13 Bills Injury Review- 49ers

What happened to Jon Feliciano? Updates on Cody Ford and Isaiah Hodgins

The Bills regime and team as a whole continue to break down barriers and set new standards year by year. The first Bills Monday Night Football win in the 21st century, first since 1999, this time over the San Francisco 49ers 34-24. It seems as though every time there is a stat line that the Bills haven’t accomplished something in a while, the Bills set it as a goal and in most cases, win! It almost seems like Sean McDermott has the proverbial carrot in front of the team, always chasing, never satisfied. 

On top of the team stacking wins, the team continues to avoid serious injury with a flurry of activity early in the game before things calmed down later. Below are the injury highlights and updates on several surgeries over the past week.

WR Cole Beasley (concussion check)

Beasley took a hard hit to the head while hauling in a 31-yard pass in the first quarter. He was slightly slow to get up and returned to the sidelines where he was evaluated for a concussion. Thankfully he did not have any symptoms as he quickly passed through the screening and returned to the field to complete a career day in receiving yards. 

The loss of Beasley underneath would have hurt the Bills as they continued to focus on different aspects of the offense to keep the defense guessing. Even with delayed onset of concussion symptoms, it would have been known by now if Beasley suffered one as he would have been announced to be in the concussion protocol during yesterday’s press conference. Thankfully, he appears to be alright.

RB Devin Singletary (Right knee)

Singletary required medical attention shortly after Beasley went in for his concussion check with a run up the left side with 13:08 left in the 1st quarter. It isn’t clear what Singletary did to his knee, but his right knee was directly hit by Jimmie Ward, leading to Singletary missing several plays. 

He was able to return quickly and play the majority of snaps for the remainder of the game signifying that this was not an injury to be concerned about. He was likely pressed into greater service due to Zack Moss’s fumble, but if there was an issue, I believe the team would have played Moss more to ensure Singletary’s health. I’m not certain that Singletary even shows up on the injury report this week though it is possible with how the team has reported several injuries this year.

RB Zack Moss (Right knee)

Right after Singletary went out, Moss followed behind with his fumble that was initially reviewed but eventually overturned. I had initially thought that he suffered a possible concussion as he got a shot to the head while going down. However, he got up and was walking with some discomfort to the sidelines before Singletary returned. Upon review, the outside of Moss’s right knee was hit as he was going down which explains the discomfort walking to the sidelines. 

Moss eventually was able to return to the game though his lack of play was more due to his fumbling issues in the end zone rather than injury. Based on video, the right knee injury appears to be a contusion or at worst a minor MCL sprain. He was able to play through it and did not have any evidence of bracing on the area later in the game. He is also another one that I wouldn’t expect to be on the injury report, but if he is, this instance may be the reason.

G Jon Feliciano (Left leg/knee)

Feliciano went down with a knee injury with 10:12 left in the 3rd quarter. During the play, he fell forward, the left leg appears to disappear into a pile of bodies before he comes out laying on his right side. There was nothing to suggest that he suffered any injury until trainers began tending to his brace. He missed the rest of the series which resulted in the Isaiah McKenzie touchdown before returning.

Feliciano played up until the 4th quarter following the Gabriel Davis touchdown, leaving the field to be replaced by Brian Winters. Looking at the film, there is nothing to suggest that he suffered a further injury after he returned the first time. Going back to look at the original play again in what I’ll refer to as the “Madden view”, his left thigh did get struck by Kevin Givens which could explain why the bracing needed adjusting. To note, this did take me many viewings with many more slowed down to catch this.

It’s possible he could have a contusion that led to the muscle tightening up as the game progressed, but it’s also possible the game began to tilt more in favor of the Bills and they were able to sub Winters in for playing time. Considering Feliciano was mentioned in Tuesday’s press conference, this is something the team acknowledged and it’s possible he appears on the injury report with a quad or knee injury. However, this appears something he can play through and is minor unless he has multiple DNP’s this week indicating a greater severity than originally appears.

Other injury thoughts:

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano finally returned to play against the 49ers after missing the past month of football recovering from his partially torn pectoral muscle from Week 4. While he only played on obvious passing downs, he was more involved in the defense, seeing 19 snaps which is the same from what he saw in Week 7. 

He was able to get a quarterback hit, fully wrapping up Nick Mullens along with two solo tackles in his limited playing time. Hopefully, the team continues to wean him back in as he slowly regains his starting role. The team can take their time with this due to the emergence of AJ Klein, but this just allows the Bills to scheme various plays to keep the opposing offense guessing. Milano still probably isn’t 100% prior to the injury, but he’s obviously close enough to return playing with improved results.

WR Isaiah Hodgins (Left shoulder surgery)

It was announced Tuesday night on Hodgins’s Instagram and Twitter that he had successful shoulder surgery earlier Tuesday. While the exact details are not known what he required surgery on, the team had alluded to the possibility of this back at the beginning of the season when he was placed on injured reserve.

He was observed wearing a shoulder harness during training camp which suggested that he tore his labrum though there wasn’t any past publicly reported medical history to support that. There also wasn’t anything in camp to suggest he further injured his shoulder other than sitting out several practices. However, Sean McDermott did state that Hodgins was being placed on IR to let the shoulder calm down a little bit and get some strength in it. I had interpreted this as a rotator cuff issue which it very well could have been.

Hodgins did return to practice right before Thanksgiving and participated briefly before exiting, not being seen again until this announcement was made public. Once there is more details, a firmer rehab timeline can be established. If it is a rotator cuff repair, he is looking at roughly 6 months; if it is labrum, he is looking at 6-9 months with a more likely return at the 6-month mark due to his positional demands.

G Cody Ford (Right meniscus tear)

It has already been reported that Ford was moving to IR on November 27th with a torn meniscus. This injury was suffered in practice on November 25th according to reports and it was announced he would have season-ending surgery. At the time, it was unknown which knee suffered the injury.

According to Bills Wire reporter Bradley Gelber, Ford had surgery sometime during the first week of December on the right knee as viewed in the picture above. This confirms that he did suffer the right knee meniscal tear which is the same knee injured against the Chiefs. It is possible that he originally tore the meniscus back then, but at the time, the mechanism did not suggest that it was a meniscus, rather, an MCL sprain.

I expect that there are more injuries on the report later Wednesday but hopefully, the list does not grow like it did in past weeks. The Bills are practicing on a short week as they prepare to host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football with the Steelers coming off a loss to the Washington Football Team Monday night. They are dinged up on the defensive side of the ball, losing linebacker Bud Dupree to a right ACL tear last week and their secondary suffering various injuries as well.

It is too soon to tell who will play Sunday for the Steelers but the Bills health is trending upwards allowing a possible mismatch against one of the AFC’s top teams. Like last year, this will be another opportunity for the Bills to showcase their talents on a national stage and garner further respect as they near the playoffs.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Week 8 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

The Bills are banged up, but so are the Patriots. Who will win the injury bowl?

It’s Patriots week! The two times during the season where the Bills play the New England Patriots, a team that has spent two decades tormenting the Bills. But the winds have shifted as they do so often in Orchard Park, this time, in favor of the Bills. The Patriots enter this contest 2-4, the Bills 5-2 with a chance for Buffalo to lock down the AFC East at the midway point of the season. One thing that could stop that is the ever growing list of injuries. Despite the Bills avoiding any in game injuries, there were six new injuries to the report which makes determining who will play all that much tougher. Below is the multitude of injuries.

Ok OUT

G Cody Ford (Right knee)

Ford was ruled out Friday morning during Sean McDermott’s press conference. He appears to be dealing with a right MCL sprain suffered in the loss to the Chiefs. I had said this was a 2-3 week injury and thought he would be best served to get a stint on IR.

The team elected to not go that route and he appears to be trending to try and play in Week 9 despite not practicing the past two weeks. We will see what happens following the Patriots game.

CB Josh Norman (Left hamstring)

Norman misses his 5th game now due to his balky left hamstring injury suffered in training camp. The severity of this latest injury is not known but considering this is the same side and a re-injury, the team is making sure he is absolutely 100% before trotting him back out onto the field.

Defensive backs are already at a higher rate to suffer hamstring strains and then add in the previous injury, this makes for a rough season for Norman. Hopefully he can resume practicing next week.

QUESTIONABLE:

G Brian Winters (Knee)

Winters appeared back on the injury report again with a knee injury though it isn’t clear when he suffered the injury. He played in 97% of snaps indicating that this may not be serious. While it’s not know which side is injured, he did show up on the injury report following the Raiders game with a knee complaint then.

He is an older player that plays a very physical position; he may need the rest from time to time and this may be more of a load management issue. While he is questionable, he did practice in full on Friday which is a good indicator that he should play. I would hope that he rotates with G Jon Feliciano or whoever else plays.

DT Vernon Butler (Groin)

Butler was a surprise on the injury report with a groin injury that wasn’t readily noticed on film from Sunday. He was a DNP for 2 straight days after being limited Wednesday.

Credit: wnyurology.com

While he is an interior line player at defensive tackle, I believe it would be hard for him to generate any power to shed blocks or quickly change direction to tackle a back in the running lane. He has already dealt with a hamstring injury this season and would be best served to sit this one out.

S Micah Hyde (Concussion)

Hyde was eventually diagnosed with a concussion following his bone crushing hit on Jets WR Breshard Perriman. It’s not certain he suffered the concussion from this hit, but it’s a very strong guess. He likely developed symptoms later on, sending him into the concussion protocol.

He was out at practice this week but stayed off to the side on the exercise bike, indicating he was in Stage 2-3. He is listed as questionable indicating the team may try to have him pass the protocol in time for the game Sunday.

Credit: NFL

I don’t anticipate he plays based on the fact that concussions take some time to heal. Literature suggests it takes on average 10 days to return but we have seen players return quicker than that and in other cases much longer. I’m also not certain how he goes through live football reps to ensure he doesn’t have any symptom reproduction afterward as part of the protocol as he didn’t practice this week.

There’s always a chance he could pass the evaluation, but it would be a truly impressive to pass through this quickly. I say he misses this contest.

DE Jerry Hughes (Foot)

Hughes made a surprise appearance on the injury report this week with a foot designation. Despite the injury, he was a terror on the field as he garnered AFC Defensive Player of the Week. With the lack of specifics of what he did to the foot, it’s hard to say what he’s dealing with. Looking back, he has played with far worse injuries and still produced. He has yet to miss a game in a Bills uniform; I don’t expect that to change Sunday.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Knee)

Jefferson also made an appearance on the injury report with a knee ailment. Like most of the injuries, it’s not clear when he suffered the injury, making specifics difficult to discuss. Considering he practiced in full on Friday and with the likely inactive coming for Butler, I’m leaning towards Jefferson playing.

CB Cam Lewis (Left wrist)

Lewis is still battling with a wrist injury that saw him active last week but not play. He was limited all again this week and is questionable. He continues to have the club on his hand which has me believe this may be more than a sprain. He may have fractured a bone in his wrist and simply needs time to heal. If he is looking at a fracture, it could be a 4-10 week timeframe for things to fully heal in there. Without further details, hard to elaborate.

For Sunday, he could sit out which I think is the smart move or he could once again be active but play only in the case of emergency. I envision him sitting this one out.

Update: Lewis has since been placed on IR.

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano was limited all week in a red practice jersey which seemed to worry some members of Bills Mafia. He is designated as questionable but I fully expect him to play Sunday. His pectoral tear is still healing up and will not likely be fully healed until after the bye. He only played in 33% of the snaps on obvious passing downs illustrating his restrictions at the moment. I had thought that could be a possibility in my Buffalo Rumblings article.

He was likely limited due to the team not wanting to have him go through full practices and possibly re-injure the area. He doesn’t need to practice tackling, he needs to work in the game plan. I expect his snap count to increase this week but still rotate with LB AJ Klein to prevent further re-injury.

ACTIVE

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)

I continue to highlight Allen’s presence on the injury report because he clearly did something to the shoulder as evident with the shoulder brace. He’s going to continue playing through it but we’ve seen him have less scrambles and more designed runs or stay in the pocket. I still believe he injured the labrum or the rotator cuff. He continues to practice and play, but there is concern that he re-injures it at some point with a hard hit.

WR John Brown (Left knee)

Brown continues to battle through numerous injuries from earlier this season, but finally appears back on track to play Sunday. Three full days of practice indicates that he will play and with the Patriots potentially without CB Stephon Gilmore, Brown may have himself a day against a weakened secondary. He is still healing from the numerous injuries, but appears healthy enough to play.

WR Isaiah McKenzie (Ankle)

McKenzie only played in 20% of the offensive plays from Sunday but still managed to walk away with an ankle injury. As you see a theme here, there are no specifics on the exact injury as to what he’s dealing with. He did not have a game day designation meaning he will play and hopefully be effective.

Other injury news:

CB Levi Wallace (Left ankle)

Wallace is eligible to return from IR following his ankle injury in the Raiders game. He has missed the last 3 games and is in his practice window where he does not count against the roster.

Looking at the video, he’s moving around fairly well but still having some trouble going to his left and pushing off that side. As he is in the practice window, the team is not obligated to give an injury report or participation designation to him.

If this were a playoff game, I say he can play. While this is an important game, the Patriots are beat up themselves which means the Bills can afford to let Wallace rehab another week before returning to the field.

Update: Wallace has been activated from IR.

G Jon Feliciano (Right pectoral tear)

Feliciano is making his long awaited debut for the 2020 season after tearing his right pectoral muscle while weightlifting shortly after training camp started. I had speculated that he would return after Week 8, he returns before. He is wearing a shoulder harness as I suspected he would and I do not believe he plays the entire game.

I would expect that he rotates in on the line and gets his feet wet as he works back into game shape. He had told reporters that he wanted to come back sooner but they stopped him to essentially protect him from himself. The team made the right move in this case.

If I were the training staff, I would work him in over the next 3 games and then let him play the full games following the bye. He will be 4 months out at that point and while he can still continue to heal, he will be at a much lower chance to re-tear the area.

Housekeeping:

The Bills have activated TE Lee Smith off the COVID/Reserve list. The team elevated LB Andre Smith to the active roster, cut and re-signed LB Deon Lacey to the practice squad. The team is also in the process of signing former Jets and Chiefs LB Darron Lee to the practice squad.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm
CB Cam Lewis* IR
DT Vernon Butler
S Micah Hyde
RB TJ Yeldon
CB Josh Norman
G Cody Ford

While the Bills continue to battle through the numerous injuries, the Patriots are dealing with their own. On top of all the COVID opt outs, they will also be without WR N’Keal Harry and WR Julian Edelman due to a concussion and knee injuries respectively. There is a possibility their top CB Stephon Gilmore missing the game due to a knee injury. DT Carl Davis has also been ruled out with a concussion.

Looking at the questionables besides Gilmore, there are a lot of significant names on that list. They are one team that is quite possibly as beat up as the Bills are.

Despite all the injuries on both teams, the Patriots still have Bill Belichick. He has been at this a very long time and will adapt his game plan to whatever he has available and may very well still be competitive. I will not count out the Patriots until the clock strikes 0:00 in the 4th quarter with the Bills having more points than the Patriots.

I am expecting the Bills to win this game because I believe they are the better team, but if the Bills struggle early like they did the past few games, this could spell trouble in securing the AFC East crown. With the weather expected to be poor, wet and windy conditions may lend itself to reducing injuries. The Bills need to get through this game with minimal injuries and get to the bye in order to make a deep postseason run.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills

2020 Week 3 Bills Injury Preview- Rams

Make sure to scroll down to the players you’re interested in. It’s a long one.

Heading into Week 3, we got a long injury report here folks. But the Bills have been through this before. They have quality depth and the ability to call up practice squad players that have been in the system before rather than street free agents who don’t know the system. 

While there are a lot of players in today’s report, everyone is still adjusting to the regular season with hitting, conditioning, and getting back into game shape. This is where some preseason games are beneficial to prime their bodies rather than going from 0-100. Ideally we see this drop off as the season progresses. But until then, this week’s injuries are below. 

OUT

RB Zack Moss (toe)

Moss was ruled out of Sunday’s matchup due to a toe ailment suffered in Sunday’s win. This was likely the result of the catch & run midway through the 4th quarter. He eventually returned to the game later, albeit briefly before the game finished. 

Based on the designation of a toe, it sounds like it could be turf toe. There are other possibilities such as a fracture, but he was observed off to the side on the exercise bike and doing individual activities.

PTEducator.com

Turf toe is an injury where the big toe is suddenly hyperextended due to a fall or some other force such as a tackle when the foot is planted into the ground that pushes it past its normal range of motion. Like any other joint in the body, this too can be sprained. The risk for this can be increased with flexible shoes which reduce support around the area of the foot.

Any other toe injury can be conservatively managed and isn’t a problem even in day to day life. But the big toe is vital to walk a heel toe gait pattern; strike with the heel, push off on the toe. The toe is even more vital during running as sprinting is done up on the balls of the feet, placing further stress on the toe. 

The timeline for a turf toe injury can be 2-4 weeks or even more based on severity. Look back at Packers WR DaVante Adams last year for reference. Due to the demands of the big toe, especially with high end athletics, it can be easily re-injured if not managed properly. This is something that can linger for weeks and limit production. 

He is obviously missing this week and potentially next week. Once he returns after the area has had a chance to heal, he can use a stiff sole to help reduce toe extension during push off and taping/bracing to support the area. He may lose some explosiveness after coming back, but if he gives it proper time to heal, then he may be fine. It will be important not to rush back because then he will lose that first step explosiveness and top end speed if he cant push off his toe effectively.

It’s important to note that he had a toe injury back in 2016 during his freshman year at Utah. It’s not certain that it was a turf toe injury, but he missed 2 games as a result. The injuries are not directly related as we don’t know specifics or even side l along with the time span in between. But if this is another bout of turf toe, he may be able to understand his body better and rehab more effectively. I expect TJ Yeldon to get a rare crack at the game day roster. Remember, he’s a 3 down back according to Brandon Beane.

TE Dawson Knox (concussion)

Knox is out with a concussion following Sunday’s win. He has since had 3 straight DNP’s at practice and right now appears to be at about Stage 3 due to participating on the exercise bike and drills. He will now have to go through football specific drills and a full practice without symptom reproduction before he can be cleared by the neurologist. 

It’s rare that a guy is able to return from a concussion in a week’s time and hopefully he can return for Week 4. There were a lot of people who sent video of hits he sustained to the head that game. I do appreciate every one of you for doing that, but it is nearly impossible to diagnose a concussion on video alone unless the individual has been knocked unconscious. Let’s hope he’s back for Week 4.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Phillips continues to be out with a quad injury sustained in the season opener over the Jets. He has not practiced since then and video does not exist of the injury that he sustained on special teams. 

This is appearing to be more of a quadriceps strain and literature for quadriceps strains is more limited than hamstrings, but from what I found, timelines are similar to that of hamstrings. There’s a possibility that this could be a tendonitis as well, but that is something that can be played through more than a strain.

It’s important to note that WR Andre Roberts missed the first two games of the season last year with a quadriceps injury. This may be the same course of action that the Bills take with Phillips or this could be an injury that we don’t have all the facts on yet. We continue to wait and see. 

QUESTIONABLE

LB Matt Milano (hamstring)

Milano has been able to practice in a limited fashion all week after missing Week 2 with a hamstring strain. Hamstrings can take 13-18 days on average to return to play, but his injury may have been truly minor; a term that I’ve come across is “niggle”. I believe Milano had a niggle. 

Could he benefit from another week off? Sure. But if he’s feeling good and he can play, then I can live with that. He is questionable, but a hamstring is not an automatic out for 2-3 games. Some guys can come back the next week, others take much longer. We are seeing that with the setback with CB Josh Norman & this shows that each hamstring is unique. With how practice has been this week, he is still 50/50, but I’m leaning towards him playing Sunday. 

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds has been tricky for me these past 2 weeks. I initially had him as a contusion, possible AC joint sprain. Then he missed the last game which leads me to believe he may have had more of a SC joint sprain or bruised rotator cuff. I’ve studied the film, watched his practice and without a physical examination, I am stumped.

This could be Occam’s razor and I’m overthinking this. The fact that he has had a red non-contact jersey for the last two weeks is concerning, but that may be more to prevent further injury. He may have benefitted from the week off and be ready for Sunday. 

From what I’ve seen, it’s very possible he plays. Especially with the benefit of his skill set against the Rams, it’s an important game to get up for. He’s also 50/50, leaning towards seeing him playing. 

CB Taron Johnson (groin)

Not much is known about Johnson. He has a long history of injuries dating back to his rookie year with the shoulder labral tear followed by a hamstring strain last year. Now he has the groin strain which isn’t great for a defensive back with all the cutting & pivoting he has to do as part of his position. 

He did not exit the game and was a full participant on Friday which is a good sign. However, groin strains, like many other soft tissue injuries can linger and cause problems later. We do have depth at the position, he will probably play, but considering Johnson’s penchant for injury, he may be best served to sit this one out. 

ACTIVE

WR Cole Beasley (hip/right thumb)

Beasley is active despite dealing with two separate injuries. The hip is not all that concerning, it could be more of generalized hip soreness or bruising due to the fact that he had several hard falls during his catches on Sunday. 

However, the injury I am more concerned with is his right thumb injury. He had it heavily taped in practice on Thursday and was in visible pain when catching the ball. 

He may have suffered a mild/moderate thumb sprain, also known as skier’s thumb. He could have fell on the thumb during one of his catches, forcing it into extension and abduction. He could also have gotten it tangled up with a defender, it wasn’t clear on film. He’ll be able to play & still be effective, but with how hard Josh Allen throws and the injury, I hope we don’t see a drop or two due to the pain and resulting weakness in the thumb region. This will be something to monitor on Sunday. 

DT Ed Oliver (right knee)

Oliver suffered his knee injury as the result of a leg block that fortunately was not flagged on Sunday. During replay, his knee gets struck by the Dolphins offensive player and then his shin strikes the player again once the leg kicks forward.

It initially appeared that he suffered a shin contusion which would have been more pain related. But since he struck the knee, it forced the knee into hyperextension. What’s beneficial is that the leg was swinging freely and not in a fixed position. There was some stretching of the knee capsule and overall pain, but structural damage to the area appears non-existent save for maybe bruising due to the hit itself. Fortunately, the knee does have several degrees of hyperextension available in the human body, giving the knee some pliability to reduce the risk of injury. 

He was spotted by The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia wearing a knee brace at practice. I asked Joe for clarification on the type of brace and he said that it appeared to be more hinge like. This would support that his knee was hyperextended and that he is wearing the brace for support. These braces don’t outright prevent injury, but the idea is that the side supports do lock out in full extension and if he were to get hit directly over the knee, the brace would take the forces of the hit and lessen the impact on the knee itself. In addition, the side supports limit medial/lateral movements so if they get hit from the side, the entire leg goes down rather than the valgus force that we see in ACL and MCL tears.

It will be interesting to see if he plays Sunday with the brace on or if this brace was simply used to help give him some confidence with the knee during practice. If you look closely, fellow DT Harrison Phillips wears one as well when he plays following his ACL tear last year. Overall, I don’t believe Oliver’s quality of play will be affected by the knee injury nor is he at a higher risk to suffer further injury due to Sunday’s hit.

CB Tre’Davious White (shoulder)

Virtually nothing is known about White’s shoulder ailment that had him limited at Wednesday’s practice. He is getting older, he’s a highly paid player who knows he’s valuable to the team, this may have been more of a maintenance day than anything. I could not find anything specific on film to support a shoulder injury and he was able to practice in full Thursday & Friday. I can’t even speculate what he could be dealing with because there is no mechanism of injury. Right now, this is a wait and see approach. 

He did deal with a neck injury last year that caused him to wear the red non-contact jersey for about 2 weeks last year but he did not miss any games or appear to have his play suffer as a result.

WR John Brown (foot, possible plantar fasciitis)

Brown popped back up on the injury report this week with what the team described as “foot soreness”. He was on the injury report last week briefly with the same issue. The fact that he is able to practice in full certain days and then has to be limited others indicates that this may be more of a chronic issue which I believe is plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a tough band of fascia that connects from the heel to the balls of the feet. This acts as a shock absorber and helps keep the structural integrity of the foot intact during walking and running. This effect is known as the windlass mechanism. This allows the foot to stay rigid as the foot goes into push off moving from stance to swing phase. If we did not have the plantar fascia to help keep the foot rigid, then the big toe would not have the leverage to push off as effectively and drive the entire foot forward.

ChoosePT.com

The area of the irritation of the plantar fascia is at the base of the heel, where the fascia originates. Microtears occur due to overuse or excessive running which appears to be in the case of Brown. This appears to be more of a problem this year than other years because of the change in training camp with less ramp up time. If he wears shoes that are not supportive, this could cause the foot to excessively pronate which means the foot rolls inward when walking versus maintaining support during heel toe walking. The overpronation would pull on the plantar fascia during push off using the windlass mechanism and the excessive running could cause microtears, causing inflammation.

Functionally, he will not be greatly affected by this, but it is a painful condition to deal with. He likely wakes up in the morning and has difficulty bearing weight through his foot due to the tissue tightening up throughout the night, making those first few steps during the morning painful. He can rehab to stretch the calf, Achilles, overall improve the range of motion in the ankle and big toe mobility to take stress off the area. He can also get injections to help manage the pain, but this is not something the doctors like to do often because too many injections can increase the incidence for rupture of the affected tissue. These rates are fairly low, but injecting and numbing pain is not an effective solution to manage a condition. It can be an intervention that assists with taking care of a problem, but not the only solution. 

It’s possible that Brown battles with this off and on throughout the season, using rest days and rehab to address the matter. As a treating Physical Therapist, I have found plantar fasciitis to be a stubborn diagnosis, but this does not mean that Brown will not be able to overcome this. The team does have a lot of interventions with the possibility of cupping, laser therapy, acupuncture, injections, iontophoresis with medication, stretching, using night splints, strengthening, taping, footwear modifications, among others. There are far worse injuries that can be played through, but plantar fasciitis is still a troublesome injury. This sounds all doom and gloom, but he will be alright.

Final thoughts:

The team is banged up. This is why I believe some preseason games are good to get the live reps out of the way rather than going from practice and limited contact to full blown games. Even if the starters were playing for two series a game in the preseason, it helps them acclimate slowly to game speed versus full speed right away. The Bills have been through this before with the lengthy injury report. The tweet below shows how things looked last year prior to the Titans game and how things look going into Week 3. 

You’ll also notice that the team does a fairly good job of dealing with injuries in that they don’t become a chronic issue. The training staff likes to address the injury, give it time to heal if possible, and then return to play. We are not seeing the walking wounded out there like some other teams around the league. 

I did note last year that injured players may have been active, but their snap counts significantly reduced in that particular game to prevent further injury. Two instances I can think of were WR Isaiah McKenzie during Weeks 4 & 5 last year and G Cody Ford during Week 8. This team has a plan to get guys healthy and have them available if needed, but not to rely on the walking wounded to play a full game. 

It’s also important to note that CB Josh Norman was observed on the exercise bike this week as he prepares to hopefully get activated from IR following Sunday. He may still not be 100%, but he can begin practicing with the team as they have a 21 day window where he doesn’t count against the roster. If he’s ready, they can activate him, if he’s not, he can be shut down and go back to IR. He can also just stay on there longer and activate his window later, so it’s not certain that he will begin practicing next week.

The same can be said for G Jon Feliciano. Coach McDermott even came out and said that he didn’t want to put guys out there that weren’t ready. Feliciano had said he wanted to come back by Week 4, but I have maintained that he would benefit coming back closer to Week 7 or 8 where he could be more effective. This will be something to continue to monitor.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB Zack Moss

TE Dawson Knox

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

OL Ike Boettger

DE AJ Epenesa

The team will get through this. Years past, injuries would have decimated a promising season, see the 2011 Bills. But the team has quality depth and lots of experience to withstand some of these bumps and bruises. I would grow more concerned if we get a rash of season-ending injuries like in 2011. This is still a talented roster despite the Rams coming to town. Hopefully next week, this report will be a little shorter.

Top Photo Credit: WKBW

2020 Week 2 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins

Will the LB corps survive without Milano & Edmunds?

We knew that injuries during the regular season would be increased due to the lack of preseason, but injuries are taking their toll greater than most Bills fans would like. The big talking points of the week was Josh Allen running the ball along with the injuries to Matt Milano & Tremaine Edmunds. 

We will let the talking heads and Twitter debate the abilities of Josh Allen in the rushing game, but you’re here for the injury breakdown. 

There have been several new developments this week with the injuries that will be described below. The one thing that I want to impart to the readers is how drastically different doing this job is this year. What I’m seeing is not that the injuries change, we are seeing an increase in frequency that was expected, but in how the Bills are using the Injured Reserve designations and Practice Squad call ups. 

We are seeing injuries would normally be played through or that wouldn’t require extensive time missed get that IR designation or missing the game altogether. I have several theories on their roster management in how it pertains to each player, but this will continue to take time to get adjusted to interpreting properly. Make sure to come here for the latest Bills injury impressions.

OUT

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds has been an interesting injury to assess this week. He injured it while trying to tackle Jets WR Jamison Crowder on the 69-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter. The only contact that he made was with the ground falling into the turf. His right shoulder hit the turf hard with his arm close to his body. He played in the extra point play but didn’t appear in distress.

He was assessed in the blue medical tent for a while, later coming out without pads, signifying his day was done. Later in the locker room, he didn’t have any ice, bracing, slings, anything to allude to the severity of the injury.

He then practiced in a limited fashion in mostly individual drills Wednesday and Thursday. Typically limited practices translate towards a player likely suiting up on Sunday. Edmunds was ruled out Friday morning even before practice took place. 

Either this injury is way more severe than we thought, which is entirely possible. Instead of the contusion/minor AC joint sprain, there still is the possibility of a labrum or rotator cuff tear. That is a scary proposition, but if the labrum is torn, I expect to see bracing used next week on the right shoulder. This was not something I observed this week from video available below.

You can also use bracing for a rotator cuff tear, but it is not necessary as we saw with G Jon Feliciano last year. I have thoughts that the shoulder is still a painful shoulder contusion. This is something that he could have played through, but the team is allowing him to be fully healthy and miss a winnable game instead of laboring through the next few weeks with it. If it’s worse, then maybe a trip to the IR would do him good now that it’s 3 weeks in duration instead of 8 weeks. 

The fact that the coaching staff did not get the opportunity to get preseason looks at their other guys may have played into this decision as well. If they know they can be without him, then they can get their backups some of the vital game time reps that they needed to improve as players. Add in the practice squad call ups in with both LB Deon Lacey and LB Andre Smith available, why wouldn’t you want to protect your top assets with other guys who can at least fill in for the time being?

Until we get more information, I don’t believe my eyes are deceiving me. I wonder if this is more of the coaching staff maximizing the new roster rules to a competitive advantage.

LB Matt Milano (hamstring, possibly right)

Since his injury on Sunday, he has been a long shot to play. He had 3 straight DNP’s which usually equate to being ruled out for Sunday. I’ve seen various percentages for return to play, anywhere from 13-18 days on average for a Grade 1 hamstring strain, but Milano would not have fit that timeline anyway. He will miss Sunday, but his absence can be withstood as Miami still doesn’t appear to be a threatening team yet. The hope is that the hamstring was truly minor and he can return next week against the Rams. That’s a big hope for me right now. If not, a matchup in the desert against the Raiders may be more likely.

Before I can be sure of a true timeline, he will have to have at least 1 full practice but would do better with 2-3 before I could say he’d be out there. If he continues to miss & be limited, then it was likely more severe and he’s looking at 3+ weeks, similar to what the team has done in the past. There is a possibility that he goes on IR which Sean McDermott had alluded to in Friday’s press conference, but now it’s too early..

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Phillips is out with a quadriceps injury after missing 3 straight practices. He only played in 7 special teams plays according to snap counts. He did not appear in the game again following the kick-off which resulted in a touchback following the score that sent the Bills to a 14-0 lead. On broadcast, the camera pans towards the location of the ball, unfortunately away from the Bills running down the field. For All-22, that play does not exist. For whatever reason, there were glitches and delays for All-22 this week and that play may have been a casualty. 

Until he resumes practicing and getting full practices in, we are left to guess the injury and when he returns. Considering this was a touchback, this leads me to believe it may have been more of a quadriceps strain sprinting or slowing down rather due to the lack of contact. This could also be from a previous play that he could not continue to play though. I didn’t see any major contact for him, but some injuries are virtually impossible to spot on film.

ACTIVE

WR John Brown (foot)

Everyone was quite worried about Brown missing practice Wednesday with a foot ailment. Little information is known other than Stefon Diggs had no idea he wasn’t at practice. 

Brown could have had some general soreness from Sunday due to getting actual game reps, he could have had it stepped on, he could be dealing with plantar fasciitis with sudden overloading of the tissues due to the loss of reps from preseason. There could be a Morton’s neuroma where a nerve in the foot between the metatarsals is irritated, leading to pain. 

He could have strained some of the musculature in the foot, he could have stubbed his toe at home, there’s just so many possibilities that it’s impossible to pinpoint without Brown or the team noting what he’s dealing with. 

Film review didn’t show anything definitive but he may have been limping a little after plays in the 4th quarter. Could have been fatigue, could have been the foot, but there was not anything definitive on film to suggest an injury. 

He did practice in full on Thursday and Friday, not receiving an injury designation for Sunday. This will be one to watch in case he has issues later. Right now, I don’t have any reason to believe that this is a huge concern. He will be someone to watch closer on Sunday. 

WR Vernon Butler (hamstring)

Butler missed last week with a hamstring strain despite being questionable. While the weather is supposed to be much warmer and still wet, the extra week to recover along with full practices all week only made him more available. I’m excited to see how he will perform. There is still concern he could re-injure the hamstring, but after 3 weeks since the original injury, the risk continues to lessen, but not eliminated. Keep in mind, every injury is unique and responds differently to treatment.

LB Tyrel Dodson (neck)

Excellent to see Dodson cleared to play for Sunday following exiting the game late with what we now know was a neck injury. Looking back, he may have suffered a generalized neck strain or whiplash when he completed his tackle. There may have been more soreness and limited movement rather than outright damage. 

He is taking over starting for Tremaine Edmunds on Sunday which will be a huge test calling out plays for the defense. This is his opportunity to show why the team stuck by him last year following his domestic violence issues last year and keeping him on the roster this year. 

DE Jerry Hughes (calf)

Hughes was a surprise addition to the injury report Thursday with a calf ailment. He was limited on Thursday but able to practice in full on Friday. He may have had some calf soreness that he missed some drills for, leading to the limited designation, he may have injured it Thursday, little is known. 

This is yet another soft tissue ailment that we expect to see early in the season. With the calf, I am slightly worried about his ability to explode off the line with that first step and get around the edge. He might have a little less explosion, but to the casual fan, may not be noticeable.

Whatever it is, Hughes will play through it, we saw that last year with his wrist and groin. Right now, I consider this to be something to note, like a timestamp, in case issues occur later. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (hamstring)

Like Hughes, McKenzie was limited Thursday but with a hamstring. He may have been feeling something and pulled himself out or injured it the day before. Considering he is cleared for Sunday makes me think it’s not a glaring concern. 

But hamstring strains don’t just disappear. We will have to watch if this is recurring. I also did observe last year that despite an injury, players were still active but played little or not at all due to the Bills not being able to field a full roster otherwise. I don’t believe this to be the case, but sometimes injured players have to be active. 

Once again, something to note and reference in case of injury later.

Inactives:

LB Matt Milano

LB Tremaine Edmunds

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

G Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

QB Jake Fromm

Final thoughts:

It’s easy to worry about all the soft tissue injuries and the linebacker corps. This was going to happen when the preseason did not allow guys to prime their bodies to game time action. The Bills also have a lot of depth available to withstand most of these injuries. They have also been churning the bottom of the roster and practice squad bringing in free agents weekly, trying to find out who else they can bring in if further injury occurs. 

The Bills are still in great shape heading into Sunday with the Dolphins not having starting linebacker Elandon Roberts out with a concussion. DE Clayton Fejedelem is doubtful with a pectoral injury and WR DeVante Parker is questionable with a hamstring. 

A doubtful designation isn’t a great chance to play and considering the weather mentioned above being warm and wet, I don’t believe Parker plays, especially after injuring last Sunday. If he does play, then I expect him to be limited and increase the potential for this to linger all season. Not the best idea for your top receiving option.

The Dolphins are better than the Jets, but this is an opportunity for the Bills offense to take control now that the defense is not at full strength. With the rain, I expect to see some injury incidence reduce due to the poorer footing, but the risk isn’t totally eliminated. I expect a Bills win and hopefully to write a much shorter article postgame.

WR Isaiah McKenzie Injury Profile

#19 Isaiah McKenzie

Position: WR
Height/Weight: 5’9”/173 lbs.
Age: 25
College: Georgia
Year joined Bills: 2018
Acquired: Waivers via Denver

College Injuries:

TBD

Pro Injuries:

2017 Broncos:

Low ankle sprain, Week 6, missed 1 game.

2018 Broncos/Bills:

Toe injury, suffered in practice prior to Week 15, missed 0 games.

2019 Bills:

Ankle injury, Week 3, missed 0 games.

Left knee hyperextension, Week 11, missed 0 games.

2020 Bills:

Hamstring strain, Week 2, missed 0 games.

Ankle injury, Week 7, missed 0 games.

Ankle injury, Week 17, missed 0 games.

General links:

2019 Bills Injury Review- Wide Receiver

2020 Bills Injury Preview- Wide Receiver

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Wide Receiver

Some concerns going into 2020.

This is Part 3 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 3 consists of the wide receiver room.

Not Returning

WR Zay Jones

5 games, 2 starts, 18 targets, 7 receptions, 69 yards

Jones had an uneventful 2019 season with Buffalo, quickly losing his place as the top receiver from 2018. Unfortunately, 7 receptions for 69 yards in 5 games won’t cut it on most teams in the NFL. He was quickly traded to Oakland for a 2021 5th round pick to salvage his career. Injury wise, Jones battled several injuries this past season with a hamstring that kept him out of minicamp followed by some back soreness early in training camp. During the regular season, he dealt with a shoulder injury that limited him prior to the Patriots game but did not appear to affect his play. As he moved on from the Bills, he is just another player to have graced the halls of One Bills Drive.

Returning

WR Robert Foster 

13 games, 2 rushing attempts, 29 yards, 18 targets, 3 receptions, 64 yards 

Robert Foster is incredibly perplexing. Here is this UDFA that made the team out of training camp in 2018, was cut, resigned to the practice squad, and then resigned to the active roster. From there, he tore it up down the stretch and appeared to show his value to the team. Come 2019, he was merely an afterthought in the offense as seen in the stats above.

In addition, Foster suffered several injuries that didn’t help his cause which made 2019 an overall down year for him. Below is his injuries:

    • Left Turf Toe

The season did not start well for Foster, suffering a left turf toe injury during spring practices that he appeared to re-aggravate shortly into training camp. He battled through this injury for much of the preseason and was never quite 100% heading into the regular season. He battled with the turf toe into Week 1 before it apparently got well enough that it was no longer listed on the injury report. Without the big toe to push off of during running, he would not have had the ability to get a strong push off at the line of scrimmage or get up to speed.

    • Right shoulder

Also during training camp, he suffered a right shoulder injury that didn’t appear to hamper him but is something to note. It was later described as shoulder soreness, but considering the physicality of the game, any injury can certainly make even the routine tasks more difficult.

    • Groin

During practice prior to the Week 4 matchup against the Patriots, Foster injured his groin during a routine practice which led to him missing both the Patriots & Titans game heading into the bye week before he was cleared to play against Miami. It’s not certain that his previous turf toe issues would have led to the groin, but it’s a possibility and didn’t help his case playing in the offense down the stretch.

He will have to improve his worth on offense and continue to impress as a gunner on special teams. He will have to maximize his health along with anything else the team asks of him in order to make the roster in 2020. 

WR Cole Beasley 

15 games, 10 starts, 106 targets, 67 receptions, 778 yards, 6 TD’s

Beasley really made the most of his first season in Buffalo, quickly becoming a great option for Allen in the slot in order to move the chains. In addition, he stayed relatively healthy, the benefactor of his time in the league, knowing how to take care of his body. 

Injury wise, Beasley didn’t deal with much and the injuries he did had are listed below:

    • Right knee

He suffered a right knee injury during the Bengals game, getting tangled up with his defensive counterpart and falling to the ground. He missed several plays but quickly returned indicating it wasn’t serious, likely a contusion.

    • Ankle

Beasley showed up on the injury report for the week following the loss to the Patriots but did not miss the Titans game. There wasn’t any real information regarding the ankle injury or even which side it was on. Looking back even now, it’s hard to say what he was really dealing with.

    • Left ankle

He ended up hurting the other ankle in the win over the Broncos when he got his ankle kicked out from under him while attempting to block for RB Devin Singletary. He was in obvious pain and was tended to by trainers, but was able to walk off briefly before returning later in the game to score a touchdown.

Overall, Beasley continues to stay healthy and a valuable contributor to the offense. He gets dinged up here and there but there are not any long term concerns moving forward in 2020.

WR Isaiah McKenzie 

15 games, 8 starts, 8 rushing attempts, 49 yards, 39 targets, 27 receptions, 254 yards, 1 TD

McKenzie is in a unique situation in which he was at times productive as an offensive threat, but never at times consistent to be a game-changer. He appeared in 15 games, inactive for the Eagles game, and suffering minimal injuries. 

Below is McKenzie’s injuries from 2019:

    • Ankle

He showed up on the injury report just prior to the first Patriots game with an ankle injury that was not apparent on film. He was questionable for the Week 4 matchup but ended up playing in only 1 offensive snap.

    • Left knee

McKenzie appeared to hyperextend his knee hauling in a pass when he had a defender fall on his leg. He was able to get up under his own power and limp off the field before the half but was able to return to finish the game.

McKenzie better hope for a perfect training camp plus several injuries in order to make this roster. He may be a better candidate to get traded as the likelihood that injuries occur around the league due to the shortened offseason due to the pandemic. 

WR Duke Williams 

4 games, 3 starts, 19 targets, 12 receptions, 166 yards, 1 TD

Fan-favorite Duke Williams came down from the CFL and the fan base became enamored by the long shot to make the roster. He eventually did make the roster and caught the game-winning touchdown against the Titans but was quickly relegated to the inactive list after 3 total games. He played in the regular-season finale and the playoff game with mixed results, leading to questions regarding his future.

Williams’ injuries below:

    • Right shoulder

Williams injured his right shoulder while catching a pass going out of bounds playing against the Dolphins during the first meeting. According to video, it appeared as though he suffered an AC joint sprain which had him limited in practice the following week and highly unproductive against the Eagles.

    • Left low ankle sprain

He hurt his ankle in the playoff loss to the Texans in which he stepped awkwardly out of bounds, appearing to hyperextend his knee. Upon further review, he suffered a lateral low ankle sprain which took the brunt of the forces through his body rather than a more dreaded knee injury.

Williams still has the talent to play in the NFL. The big question will be whether he will be with the Bills or another team. He is talented, but it’s not known if he’s talented to stick with arguably the best top 3 wide receiver group in the league. His injuries overall aren’t ones that carry over into the regular season, but he will need to stay healthy in order to have a shot.

WR John Brown 

15 games, 15 starts, 2 rushing attempts, 7 yards, 115 targets, 72 receptions, 1060 yards, 6 TD’s, 1 pass, 1 completion, 28 yards, 1 TD

John Brown can really do it all. After spurning the Bills in 2018 for the Ravens, he came to Buffalo on a one year deal and quickly became a favorite of Josh Allen’s. Brown’s versatility to stretch the field, get involved in both the running and passing games made him invaluable in offensive game planning. He appeared in all regular-season games besides the meaningless season finale. 

On top of that, Brown was healthy as seen below. 

    • Groin

Brown suffered a minor groin injury that appeared following the Titans win that wasn’t apparent on film. He showed up on the injury report but did not miss any games as a result. He did have the benefit of having the bye week to recover from any issues he was having but it didn’t appear to be an issue down the stretch as he continued to be highly productive.

Brown is a lock for the team in 2020 and the groin injury he suffered likely healed up on its own. There is a chance he could suffer another groin injury in the future, but that would be more on the nature of his positional demands rather than a chronic injury. 

WR Ray-Ray McCloud

McCloud is a familiar face that returns to Buffalo for the 2020 season after spending 2019 with the Carolina Panthers for 6 games after getting claimed off waivers following training camp. He got most of his work on special teams before getting waived and picked back by Buffalo for the practice squad. 

Considering McCloud was a draft pick of this regime, they like to hold onto their own, but he may have a lot of men to fight against for a roster spot, more likely a practice squad position. He didn’t suffer any known injuries and his availability & experience may be the reason he finds a job in 2020.

WR Nick Easley

Easley spent the entirety of the 2019 season on the practice squad and did not appear to suffer any known injuries during weekly practices. While he continues to be a developmental player, his path to the roster continues to be limited due to the depth

New to the roster

WR Stefon Diggs

In March, the Bills shocked the football world and traded for the disgruntled Minnesota wideout in a deal that some called overpayment and others stating it was the right move. As the 2020 NFL draft played out, it appeared to be the right move as Diggs comes with far more experience and a readiness to contribute compared to rookies having to get up to speed. 

In addition, Diggs also comes to Buffalo with minimal injury history which is detailed out in the article at Buffalo Rumblings

WR Gabriel Davis

The 4th round pick out of UCF followed the trend of the Bills drafting players with no injury concerns or that would require rehab during the pandemic. As a mid-round pick, Davis has virtually assured a roster spot and will greatly benefit from learning under some of the veteran receivers in the room, not forced into playing often early on. To read up on Davis’ injury history, check out the article at Buffalo Rumblings

WR Isaiah Hodges

A 6th round pick out of Oregon State, Hodges also comes to the Bills with little injury concerns and a legitimate chance to earn a roster spot, if not a practice squad spot. To read up on Hodges injury analysis, check out the article at Buffalo Rumblings.

2020 Outlook

This is a deep position on the roster. Brown, Beasley, Diggs, Davis, & Hodges all should make the team out of training camp. McKenzie and Williams have a shot at unseating one of the players listed above with a stellar training camp. McCloud & Easley also are capable of making the roster but are more suited for the practice squad as they have become projects of this team. As for Foster, he could make this team if he finds his 2018 form, and if he stays healthy. Both are big ifs. The best part about this is that if anyone does go down with an injury, there is another guy to step up that at least knows the system. 

Week 17 Bills Injury Review- Jets

How bad are Wallace & Nsekhe’s ankle injuries?

Good thing that the game didn’t count for anything as the Bills finished 10-6. That 13-6 loss to the Jets was a rough one to watch, bringing shades of the past decade back with backups & fresh players off the street merely competing because there was no one else healthy. On Sunday, that wasn’t the case as Sean McDermott did his best to rest as many starters as he could in order to prepare for the playoffs. Unfortunately, there were a number of injuries varying in severity that will put some player’s availability in question for Saturday. 

CB Levi Wallace (right ankle)

Wallace scared a lot of people when he went down while catching an interception early in the 1st quarter without being touched. He was able to secure the ball before requiring assistance from training staff to get off the field. As with any non-contact injury, the knee is quickly assessed for any ligamentous instability before further evaluation is necessary in other areas. 

It was determined that Wallace suffered an ankle sprain, specifically a medial eversion ankle sprain. I had originally thought that he suffered a mild high ankle sprain as the mechanisms are similar, but he suffered the medial ankle sprain due to the foot being more in a neutral to plantarflexed position pushing off on the toe rather than the dorsiflexed, everted position seen with a high ankle. It is hard to decipher on film & I’m only confident in the medial ankle due to the recent reports. 

Wallace was observed leaving the locker room in a walking boot which is pretty standard following injuries such as this. He is considered day-to-day which usually translates out to missing a week or two. Medial ankle sprains have an incredibly strong ligament known as the deltoid ligament that prevents movement inward which helped reduce the severity of the injury.

We will have to see how he performs in practice this week. If he can’t go, capable CB Kevin Johnson gets the start against his former team. 

S Siran Neal (right side stinger)

Neal suffered a stinger during a tackle during the 2nd quarter where he hit directly over the top of his shoulder on a routine tackle. He was visibly uncomfortable, shaking his right arm out & moving around, trying to shake things out. 

That direct hit caused the stinger due to the sudden shoulder depression pulling on the cervical nerves just enough that he felt it down the arm to need a few plays off. Like Tre’Davious White against them Steelers game, the actual hit wore off & he was able to return. As long as Neal doesn’t continue to suffer these, then this shouldn’t be an issue moving forward. 

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe made his triumphant return after missing 5 weeks with a severe ankle injury in the win over Miami. Nsekhe was slowly reintroduced into the game plan & was rather unremarkable during his play. 

In a stroke of bad luck, Nsekhe went down again in the 3rd quarter with a Jets defender falling on the back of his foot as he went down. Nsekhe was immediately down on the ground rolling around in obvious pain. Trainers quickly came out to assess the ankle & got him off the field for further assessment. 

It was difficult to see what Nsekhe exactly injures as the bodies were in the way, but it’s clear that his ankle was rolled upon. He may have avoided serious injury due to his shoe getting knocked off during the play, preventing his foot from being planted. Nsekhe was also observed wearing an ankle support to limit medial/lateral movement which redistributes the forces away from the ankle. 

The hope that is he suffered a contusion to the area & can work through this injury to be available for Saturday. Some detractors may be out there saying he should have not been playing after coming off an ankle injury. I fully support the coaching & medical staff to allow him to get out there in order to get live reps and allow him to play if he’s healthy. Nsekhe is a veteran, he knows his body & the risks he would take in return to play. It comes down to simply horrible luck & there isn’t much else to be said.

OT Cody Ford (right trapezius/neck)

Ford suffered his own injury later in the 3rd quarter where he appeared to injure his right trapezius or neck. There wasn’t much of a mechanism of injury but Ford came off grabbing at his right trapezius muscle. This muscle connects up to the back of the head, out to the shoulder, and down to the middle of the back. This assists with head extension & shrugging the shoulders.

Trapezius
Credit: Youtube.com

The only possible place that I see where he could have injured this area would be when he took on the Jets defender, lost his block and had his head turned inward to the left & hit the back of G Spencer Long

Ford kept motioning to the area & even pointed to the training staff where his pain was at. He may have overstretched the muscle getting his head forced to the left & hitting Long. He may have also suffered a minor stinger due to the head stopping suddenly. 

Either way, he was able to return and outside of some stiffness & soreness, this shouldn’t limit him for Saturday.

CB Taron Johnson (right ankle)

Johnson was the last injury of the day when he got bowled over by Jets running back Le’Veon Bell. Johnson attempted to square up with Bell & plant his feet, getting knocked backward & injuring the right ankle. The injury occurred when Johnson was trying to keep his foot planted & got pushed, over pronating his foot & placing stress through the medial ankle. 

Johnson was able to walk off with a noticeable limp but was quickly able to begin running on it, even able to return at the very end to ensure that WR Isaiah McKenzie did not have to fill in at cornerback. This is similar to what Wallace dealt with earlier in the game but obviously less severe & less eversion noted at the ankle. This isn’t something that I expect will keep him out for the playoffs. 

Other observations 

Out of the inactives, the only known ones prior to the game were WR Andre Roberts & DE Shaq Lawson with their respective injuries. Having RB Devin Singletary, TE Dawson Knox, WR John Brown, WR Cole Beasley, & CB Tre’Davious White made the most sense being inactive due to how vital they are at their respective positions. 

McDermott & the medical staff did the best with what they could. There are injuries the public isn’t aware of despite my best efforts. There are also strategies in getting other players snaps in case the top players do go down. 

It wasn’t an ideal situation, but the other option was to play the starters & suffer injuries prior to the playoffs. The injuries suffered Sunday are absorbable especially at CB & OT as the team has managed without so far. 

There’s a lot going on this week prior to the game Saturday & it’ll be exciting to see how the Bills stack up against the Texans. This is a winnable game, especially with the defense that has performed all season when asked. If the Bills get beat, it will be because of talent & not because the Bills beat themselves or were too injured.

Top Photo Credit:

DemocratandChronicle.com

Week 11 Bills Injury Review- Dolphins

How severe is Nsekhe’s injury?

Another week, another win. The Bills move to 7-3 on the season with a convincing win over the Miami Dolphins in Miami Sunday afternoon. This is the best start for the Bills since 1999 & 10th time in franchise history that they started 7-3, all previous Bills teams made the playoffs with varying degrees of success. While the Bills are continuing to march towards the postseason, they will be without a key contributor moving forward. This & other injuries will be detailed below. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (left knee)

McKenzie suffered a left knee injury when he caught a pass going out of bounds with :55 left in the 2nd quarter. CB Nik Needham was close by but unable to break up the pass, instead falling & hitting McKenzie’s lower leg. It appeared to hyperflex his left knee, causing McKenzie to get up & limp off the field. 

Thankfully this was close to halftime where he was able to get some rest & get a quick assessment to ensure he could play in the 2nd half. This injury appeared to be minor & is not something I expect him to show up on the injury report with later this week.

S Siran Neal (concussion)

Neal suffered a concussion midway through the 2nd quarter on the kickoff with 7:41 left following Hauschka’s FG. Unfortunately, the video is not available yet as there was a touchback & the camera followed the ball & not the players. It was reported he was shaken up on the play, but once All-22 comes out, we may get a clearer view of what exactly happened. Neal enters the concussion protocol with no guarantee he is cleared for next Sunday. 

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe suffered a rather severe right ankle injury with 9:14 left in the 3rd quarter. This was a routine run play by Singletary up the middle when Nsekhe’s foot was caught from behind by Dolphins DE Avery Moss, landing on the back on Nsekhe’s heel, forcing the ankle to roll under the big man violently before his body caught up & he falls down in obvious pain. 

He was immediately placed into in an air cast & carted off, waving to fans but in significant discomfort. The result: a likely ankle dislocation with fibula fracture. There is a concern that he suffered a tibia fracture as well, but he may have spared the more significant bone due to the ankle rolling as much as it did before he fell over. 

300px-Fibula_Fracture
Credit: physio-pedia.com

According to Monday’s press conference, more tests were being performed on Nsekhe’s ankle with no definitive answer at this time. 

This could be for several reasons: 

  • The swelling may have been so great that imaging did not show the true extent of the damage.
  • There isn’t an actual break but significant ligament damage on the lateral portion of the ankle.
  • The Bills know exactly what is going on (they likely do) & are sitting on the info because they have no reason to release it until they feel they’re ready or can sign someone to replace his roster spot. 

images (1)
Credit: physiodirectnz.com

Looking at an alternative video angle from Thad Brown, there is the possibility that Nsekhe avoided a break but dealing with quite a severe inversion ankle sprain. He would have injured the anterior talofibular & calcaneofibular ligaments when Moss landed on his ankle. There is a slight chance he avoided a fracture due to observing the heel sliding out, relieving pressure off the fibula as he went down. 

The sheer fact that he was placed into an air cast & carted off without the ability to place weight through his leg isn’t ideal. His season is possibly done, heading to IR for surgery & rehab if my original suspicions are confirmed. I am not certain but if you go on NFL Gamepass & watch the replay, it appears as though the snap of the bone is audible. I’ve played it multiple times in a row. 

This may be a similar injury to what LB Matt Milano suffered last season. if so, a recovery timeline for Nsekhe would be 6-9 months with my guess being closer to 8-9 months. There are several factors including: 

  • Nsekhe is 34 years old, Milano was 24 during his injury.
  • Nsekhe is 6’8”, 325 lbs. Milano is 6’0”, 225 lbs. 
  • Nsekhe’s bones are thicker & are required to accept more weight than Milano’s, requiring a longer healing time & associated recovery.

While 34 is still a youthful age, it is getting up there when it comes to the NFL. Nsekhe can & should make a full recovery, but considering the mileage on his body, it’ll be interesting to see whether he is able to return to full form in order to compete for a roster spot next year. He should be close to, if not fully ready for training camp & should be able to participate in OTA’s in 2020. He is clearly a talented player, the Bills have him under contract for another year, it may come down to how he looks in camp.

For the interim, OT Cody Ford slides into the starting role he has alternated with Nsekhe all season. OT Ryan Bates will likely move to back Ford up. Once Nsekhe moves to IR, the team may elect to fill his roster spot with practice squad players OT Brandon Hitner or OT Victor Salako. The other option is to find a street free agent or another player off another team’s practice squad. Either way, GM Brandon Beane already has a preliminary plan in place. 

Other observations from today’s game injury-wise include noting Nsekhe’s replacement OT Cody Ford is still wearing a hinged elbow brace with a compression sleeve on the left elbow from the injury in the Eagles game. Each week he wears this brace further confirms that he suffered some type of injury to the UCL ligament in the right elbow & the brace provides protection as the ligament heals. 

Other injury news to note is that DE Jerry Hughes was active & played his usual snap count, highest among the DL group. I had originally stated that Hughes would miss the game & I was wrong. While I did not observe every single snap, he did not appear to be compensating or limited. This also creates the thought that the team is not sold on rookie DE Darryl Johnson. While no one expects that Johnson can be an effective player such as Hughes, it shows that an injured Hughes is still better than a healthy Johnson. 

The loss is Nsekhe is going to hurt. While he is older, he showed the ability to play very well with the offensive unit. Ford is able to step in & contribute, but his play has been marred by penalties & inconsistent play. He will suffice, but the quality of play at the position will suffer. However, the Bills are 7-3 & even with a 3-3 finish to the season will give the Bills double-digit wins for the first time this millennium. The Bills are still very much in control of their destiny & can make noise in the playoffs if they played like they did Sunday.