Phase 3 OTA Week 1 Recap

Assessing the latest injuries following the first week of Phase 3 of OTA’s.

In an offseason that appeared to be going well for the Bills with lots of new faces, a promising outlook, and possible long lasting stability, a jarring reality set in on Day 2. Tuesday brought a wide variety of injury news, some good, mostly bad that puts worry into every Bills fan even though it is May.

The most serious injury of OTA’s came in newly signed TE Tyler Kroft (foot). Unfortunately, he suffered a foot fracture on the first day which will require surgery. Regrettably, this is the same foot that he fractured last year that cost him 11 games. According to Ian Rapaport, this will sideline him for up to 3-4 months. While this is bad news, it’s not totally awful. The 3-4 months recovery timeline tells us several things. This tells us that this injury wasn’t as serious as it could have been. This rules out a Lisfranc as a conservative recovery would be 6 months.

We know that it’s not trauma or a stress fracture as trauma most likely would have been reported and a stress fracture wouldn’t require immediate surgery. This leads us to several possibilities. He could have had an avulsion fracture in where a portion of the bone is pulled away from the bone. He could have a metatarsal fracture in any of the long toe bones of the foot. Or he could have a Jones fracture.

Considering he injured the same foot last year, had surgery, and then fractured again, I am leaning towards the Jones fracture. It’s a surgery that requires stabilization with a screw, it has a known failure rate after the first surgery, and the timeline fits with the reported recovery time. The mechanism of injury is similar to an ankle sprain which can be rather innocent when dealing with positional drills, someone tweaks their ankle, steps funny, pushes off differently. Kroft most likely woke up the next day having issues, had imaging, and found out the bad news.

While he is still a near lock to make the roster, losing him for 3-4 months will allow some of the younger tight ends to get more reps and make the roster. Kroft will likely start the preseason on the PUP list, possibly paving the way to allow someone to get some playing time in place during the preseason. If he is on PUP at the start of the regular season, he wouldn’t be able to return until Week 6 when he is eligible. By then, there could be corresponding roster moves such as injury or insufficient play from other players which may prevent having to cut another TE before the regular season. This designation would also not count against an IR-to-return spot.

Others coming off injury are RB Frank Gore (foot/ankle) and RB TJ Yeldon (groin). There has been a documented injury for Gore at the end of last season which sent him to IR. There has been no known surgeries, but considering that Gore is ancient in NFL terms and these practices are voluntary, it’s an easy out to not participate in drills.

As for Yeldon, he may have tweaked something early on and decided to avoid making things worse rather than trying to go through meaningless drills. For both backs, there is no concern moving forward unless new information comes to light.

Many became worried with the revelation that both newly signed C Mitch Morse and WR Cole Beasley required core stabilization surgery, better known as a sports hernia repair. This is the same type of injury that infamous Bills CB Vontae Davis suffered 2 seasons ago. I detailed his injury when he originally signed with the team, make sure to click the link above for more information. While there is concern that they may not be ready for Week 1, it was revealed that they had their surgery several weeks ago with a general recovery timeline of roughly 12 weeks.

Both could certainly come back sooner than that based on the amount of damage in the region, but having surgery in April gives them a return to full ability in July. These injuries do unfortunately happen considering the positional requirements throughout the season but are able to play through. While there is always concerns for complications, the return to play rate is ~90% for NFL players, I do not expect anything less for Morse and Beasley.

Others nicked up include S Rafael Bush (groin/shoulder) and CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Bush was seen wearing a red non-contact jersey alongside Johnson, but considering these workouts are voluntary, he may be just be cautious as he was dealing with a groin injury last season, according to research by Nick Wojton. Bush also did suffer a shoulder injury last season that may have lingered to the point where he didn’t want to risk anything and could be the true cause of why he was sitting out OTA’s.

Johnson is coming off his labral repair and has made excellent progress to this point. Considering he is 5.5 months out from surgery, he is able to participate in drills but contact is not advised yet, he’ll be ready come training camp. To read more, please check out the article here from Buffalo Rumblings.

Rookie WR David Sills V (hamstring) suffered a hamstring strain in rookie mini camp, these injuries occur despite the best preventative methods out there. He just needs rest and rehab. TE Jason Croom (undisclosed) was seen walking with a trainer, dealing with something, but no further information has come out regarding what he injured.

Finally, C Russell Bodine (shoulder) did not participate in OTA’s as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. I had noted last year that he was wearing a compression sleeve later in the season. He most likely had a shoulder debridement, possible subacromial decompression. This would be similar to what Panthers QB Cam Newton had recently. The procedure would smooth down any arthritic changes in the shoulder or trim back the acromion which could cause impingement leading to weakness, pain, and possible further complications with the rotator cuff if left untreated. He is also coming off a broken fibula requiring surgery that appears to fully healed. Regarding both injuries, he will be fine for camp and this is not worth any further words.

Players that suffered injuries last season that practiced in full were LB Matt Milano (ankle), P Corey Bojorquez (shoulder), and P Cory Carter (knee). Milano is coming off his gruesome fibula fracture with dislocation practicing in full. He appears to be on schedule and working back into football shape as expected.

Bojorquez suffered a torn labrum last season on his bonehead fake FG attempt, he was practicing in full and his shoulder won’t give any issues as he likely had surgery in October and he doesn’t take the regular contact or use the shoulder in a way that Taron Johnson would.

Carter is coming off his ACL tear that cost him all of 2018 due to a direct blow to the knee. He is roughly 9 months out from surgery and should be cleared to resume full activities. There is less concern for him returning from the injury than we saw last year with DE Trent Murphy.

Despite all the doom and gloom of Tuesday, there are still positives to take away as they still have 3 months before a meaningful snap is taken. All will be fine. We will also get to see more action on the 28th which will give us some glimpses into what the mandatory minicamp participation will be like. I believe most of these injuries will not be mentioned in June.

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!!

Bills Season Injury Review- Tight Ends

Bills season injury review at the TE position & how much the position will turn over in 2019!

The 2018 Buffalo Bills tight end position suffered mightily as the result of the anemic passing game and as a result, will lead to significant overhaul going into 2019. The overall stats for the tight end position were 89 targets for 61 receptions for 525 yards and 1 TD. Those stats alone aren’t fantastic for one player, let alone an entire platoon for a team. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained during the 2018 season and how this will affect 2019.

First up is TE Khari Lee. The veteran end has been in the league since 2015 in mostly a special teams role with Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo. Lee spent part of the 2017 season with Buffalo followed by 2 games during Week’s 3 & 4 in which he recorded 1 target for 1 reception for 5 yards and 0 TD’s. While his presence was more felt on special teams and as a blocking end, his offensive production did not warrant his continued presence on the roster. He did not suffer any injuries and depending how things shake out, he could be back in Buffalo if the front office sees any value in him.

Next player up is TE Logan Thomas. The converted QB to TE had his most productive season to date after entering the league in 2016 with Arizona. Thomas appeared in 12 games with 3 starts amassing 17 targets for 12 receptions and 77 yards with 0 TD’s. The converted tight end was able to stay relatively healthy all season minus a minor hamstring strain in practice prior to the Lions game which caused him to miss only one game which was more out of precaution due to the relatively acute nature of the injury. This is also an injury that should not carry over into next season. As Thomas is a restricted free agent, it will be curious whether the Bills retain his services going into 2019. Right now, the Bills have right of first refusal in the event that another team offers him a contract. If he gets a contract and the Bills refuse to match, they would receive a 4th round pick from that team in return for the upcoming draft. Knowing this information, I can certainly see why the Bills are in no rush to offer Thomas a contract, hoping that they can bait another team to offer him. If this plan does not work, I would strongly suspect that the Bills retain his services going into 2019.

The player who disappointed the most was TE Charles Clay. His stat line was as follows: 13 games, 12 starts, 36 targets, 21 receptions, 184 yards, 0 TD’s. I hate to be blunt, but this is terrible for any veteran player, regardless of contract status. For someone who has been in the league for 8 years, he has had his share of injuries, but he just failed to produce all together. He suffered ankle and shoulder injuries early in the season that landed him on the injury report but did not miss anytime. He did miss 2 games due to a hamstring string early in the loss to Chicago. Other than the hamstring, he was relatively healthy, just was far from productive. His defining moment of 2018 was missing the winning TD catch against the Dolphins in the end zone which summed up how things went this year.

Over Clay’s playing career, he has had a long history of knee and hamstring injuries that caused him to miss time nearly every season. He has also had a smattering of back and ankle injuries that do not appear to be recurring but even though Clay did not miss a lot of games during his career in Buffalo, it always seemed like there was a constant problem he was dealing with which aggravated fans. No one can play forever, but it will be curious to see whether Clay can rebound from the poor season he had in 2018 with a fresh start in Arizona, hoping the dry heat can help keep him healthier. Considering the Bills released him due to not living up to his contract, he will not be in a Bills uniform again anytime soon. He has shown the ability to be productive as evident by his first 3 seasons in Buffalo, but his time in the NFL may be ending unless he finds the fountain of youth.

Finally, the most productive tight end for the Bills in 2018 was TE Jason Croom. The converted wide receiver to tight end was able to put up decent numbers including 15 games, 3 starts, 35 targets, 22 receptions, 259 yards, 1 TD. While these are far from eye popping, they paced the tight end group in his first full year in the NFL. Injury wise, Croom suffered several injuries this season including a low ankle sprain in the preseason against the Browns, a knee injury during practice early in the season prior to the Vikings game, and a mild groin injury suffered in the loss to the Dolphins which caused him to miss one game. Groin injuries can linger if not dealt with properly but as he sat out and did not deal with it for the remaining games, it appears to be a non-issue going into 2019. Considering Croom is the only tight end under contract right now, it is strongly assumed that he will return. However, I do not believe that he will be the top option for the Bills going forward, but will continue to hopefully grow into the position.

Overall, I expect Croom and hopefully Thomas to return in 2019. I expect the Bills to address the position in both the draft and in free agency as there has been much talk regarding how OC Brian Daboll likes to work 2 TE sets in his offense. Considering the money the Bills have to spend this off-season, I expect them to pay a mid level player a decent contract to help give QB Josh Allen another weapon along with drafting some young talent in order to build towards the future. This is one position that will be nearly turned over, but one that is sorely needed.

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!!

 

Week 15 Bills Injury Preview- Lions

Analyzing the latest Bills injuries prior to the game against the Detroit Lions.

For what it’s worth, after that rough loss to the Jets marred by numerous injuries, the injury report for the upcoming game against the Lions is relatively short. Granted, we are missing several starters over the past 2 weeks with CB Taron Johnson, C Russell Bodine, and LB Matt Milano all going to IR with their respective injuries. These are the kind of injuries that if suffered earlier, could have scuttled a promising season had the Bills had several games go their way. However, these injuries only allow these and other on IR to recover appropriately in time for next season. Today’s post will assess the injuries going into Sunday’s tilt against the Detroit Lions.

Already ruled out is CB Ryan Lewis (concussion). Lewis is still working through the league concussion protocol and as he is DNP, he is still in stage 1-2 of the protocol. However, we typically do not see most concussions clear this quickly and Lewis will miss Sunday as he continues to work through the concussion protocol.

Those questionable are K Stephen Hauschka (hip), RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring), TE Logan Thomas (hamstring), and RB Chris Ivory (shoulder). Hauschka has already been ruled available to play Sunday by coaching staff and has been sitting out all week to rest in order to be ready. Thankfully, his skill set does not require constant practice which allows him to get the treatment he needs in order to be 100%. Why he is questionable may be just how the injury list designates how you rule someone based on practice participation.

Things are looking promising for McCoy as he was reported participating in individual drills which is an excellent sign for his overall recovery. However, he is still limited which indicates that he is not able to participate in the entirety of practice and does not appear to be ready for Sunday. As he is a 30 year old running back with a lot of yardage on his legs along with one of his roughest seasons in his career, it would not make sense to get back out there quickly to play for a lost cause. He may be ready but he would be better served taking a week off and coming back against 2 divisional opponents to leave his mark on the 2018 season going into 2019.

Thomas may have tweaked his hamstring in Thursday’s practice which led him to report the injury but as he practiced in full Thursday but limited Friday doesn’t bode well for his availability Sunday. As there is not video of what exactly happened, it is hard to speculate whether he will play. Hamstrings are tricky and this may truly be up to Thomas on whether he feels he can perform. Considering it will be cold and the injury is relatively fresh, it may not be wise to try and playing unless he had a good warm up and feels loose.

Ivory exited the game this past Sunday and did not return after falling to his left shoulder hard after an 8-yard run. I believed that he suffered a re-aggravation of his AC joint sprain originally sustained against the Bears. As he is practicing in full, this is an excellent sign in the likely event that Shady is unable to play. However, he was still ruled questionable. Frequently, if someone has practiced in full all week, they are always good to go for Sunday. My only theory that I can formulate is that he was able to participate in practice going through plays and drills but still dealing with pain in the shoulder. Whether he plays may be whether he feels he can absorb the pounding that a running back takes during a game. If Ivory is ruled inactive, the Bills still have RB Marcus Murphy and newly signed RB Keith Ford to handle the run game.

Those cleared to play or Sunday are TE Jason Croom (groin) and QB Derek Anderson (concussion). Croom required a week off after tweaking his groin possibly late in the game against the Dolphins. As he practiced in full this week and was not made a game time decision, expect him to participate fully and potentially take Thomas’ snaps if he is unable to play.

Anderson is finally cleared from the concussion protocol after 7 weeks of not playing or fully practicing. He is expected to be the 3rd string QB and continued mentor to QB Josh Allen. Anderson has been an enigma for the Bills this season. He came in halfway through the season, started 2 games, suffered a concussion during Monday Night Football, and then has been out since. Now, having post-concussion symptoms for this long is not abnormal overall. I have personally worked with patients that have had post-concussion symptoms for months after the initial injury. We have also seen other examples of players dealing with post-concussion symptoms for long duration’s of time, most famously Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. So, its possible that he was dealing with recurring symptoms but my concern was why was he still on the active roster? He will not supplant QB Josh Allen as a starter; QB Matt Barkley is the backup, which leaves Anderson as a body taking up a roster spot. The only theory that I could come up with is that Anderson was still dealing with post-concussion symptoms and still on the active roster for the sole purpose to help prepare Allen each week. If he had been placed on IR, then he would have been able to be around the team but not participate in practice in any form according to IR rules. I suppose having Anderson available during practice to critique Allen during practice acting as a psuedo-coach to assist QB coach David Culley. Regardless of reasons behind his recovery, the important thing is that Anderson is finally healthy, can appear in another NFL game if the opportunity arises, and can finish out the season on hopefully his terms.

The Bills had been hovering around the 50% mark with regards to players with questionable designation playing but that number has since increased to 66% playing recently over the course of the season. Based on these numbers, I expect that McCoy and Thomas to be inactive with Ivory truly questionable and Hauschka playing. This fits the numbers but these are simply trends through the season and not a prediction model. We will see what happens Sunday.

The Bills should be able to handle the toothless Lions with effective ball control and clock management. If they minimize mistakes on special teams and prevent turnovers, then they have an excellent shot to move to 5-9 on the season. Hopefully the Bills can continue to stay relatively healthy and avoid more season ending injuries over the coming weeks. While these games are meaningless, the overall health of each player is still important going into the off season.

Continue to follow for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for listening and GO BILLS!!

Week 14 Bills Injury Preview- Jets II

Assessing the latest Bills injuries including Taron Johnson’s shoulder surgery and Jason Croom’s groin prior to the Jets game.

This has been one of the more busier weeks of the Bills season as the front office is demonstrating “The Process” with moves preparing the team for 2019. If you’ve been under a rock, the team released WR Kelvin Benjamin & WR Andre Holmes, signing CB Denzel Rice & DE Mike Love from the practice squad, and placing C Russell Bodine on injured reserve as the result of a fibula fracture during last week’s game. With all this upheaval along with several injuries, this leaves many questions going into the Week 14 match up against the Jets. As one may fondly recall, the Bills absolutely destroyed the Jets 41-10 in their Week 11 match up behind an effective performance by QB Matt Barkley. This time around, it will be QB Josh Allen vs QB Sam Darnold with both teams jockeying to avoid the AFC East cellar. Today’s post will identify the injuries going into the game and how things may shake out.

Those already ruled out are QB Derek Anderson (concussion) and CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Anderson continues to be limited indicating he is in stage 3-4 of the concussion protocol. I’m waiting for the other foot to drop and he gets placed on IR. At this point, he is taking a roster spot for someone else but his tutelage of Allen appears to be the reason he is still active despite not playing.

Johnson suffered a dislocated shoulder resulting in a torn labrum in his right shoulder during Week 1. He has since then re-injured the shoulder several times, missing only one game right after the initial injury along with wearing a shoulder harness to limit recurrence. He had been reportedly been in a non-contact jersey the past several weeks, giving his shoulder the rest and protection it required to get through the season until the Bills were officially eliminated from the playoffs. As a result, Johnson had successful shoulder surgery on Tuesday to repair his labrum and has since announced his season is done. I am not sure why the Bills are hesitating to place him on injured reserve; this may be due to a contract issue which we as fans are not privy to. The shoulder labrum recovery is a ~6-9 month recovery which will allow Johnson to ready for OTA’s in May-June at least in a limited fashion and fully healthy by training camp. To read more about the surgery that Johnson had, make sure to check out my article on WR Zay Jones who had the same procedure last year with great success.

Listed as doubtful is TE Jason Croom (groin). Upon video review, Croom doesn’t appear to have one play in where he injured his groin. He did not have any targets during the game but was involved in 35% of the offensive snaps and was playing until the final offensive series. Based on the knowledge we have, this appears to be a mild strain and the team is being proactive, allowing him to heal completely before rushing him back onto the field. We have seen most of the muscle strains this season result in minimum 1 game missed and this is no exception. I believe that this is a Grade 1 strain with Croom having the ability to return next week fully healthy. As he is listed as doubtful, most players listed as doubtful do not even play. In the event that he is active, he will likely be limited in offensive packages and used more likely as a decoy. Regardless of status, he should not play.

Listed as questionable is WR Isiah McKenzie (toe). Reports indicated that McKenzie injured his toe late in practice Thursday and was limited Friday, making him officially questionable for the game Sunday. Fortunately, publications state that he feels as though he will be able to go on Sunday which is a good thing as the Bills are expected to only have 5 WR’s available. My suspicion is that he sprained his great toe running a route pushing off too hard or pivoting. It is possible to injure the other toes on the foot, but when it comes to running, the great toe is essential for effective push off required for sprinting. He is truly a questionable decision, but considering the personnel available and his thoughts in the article, I expect that he plays.

G John Miller (oblique) is coming off a strained oblique suffered in the win over the Jaguars. He missed last week but is able to return which fits the timeline regarding muscle strains; I had suspected that he would miss 1-2 games based on the location. There is possibility to re-injure the area, but I would not consider the risk to be significantly greater than when he originally sustained the injury.

Those injured earlier during the Miami game that did not appear on the injury report were LB Tremaine Edmunds (knee/ankle) and S Jordan Poyer (finger). While they may be dealing with some soreness, this was not enough to warrant an injury report slot. Expect both to be key players to slow the Jets offense.

While the Bills are slowly losing players to injured reserve as the season winds down, most starters continue to stay healthy or at least available in order to help the team finish strong over these last 4 games. I believe the Bills will be able to finish this season with a 6-10 or 7-9 record. The big question marks I have are this upcoming Jets game and maybe the second Dolphins game. A 7-9 record would be a great finish after such a terrible start to the season. There’s a lot of promise on this team going into next year, we just have to see how the draft and free agency play to our favor. I believe the Bills will complete the season sweep of the Jets to move to 5-8.

Continue to follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com for the latest injury news and updates coming out of One Bills Drive. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 4 Bills Injury Preview- Packers

Assessing the latest Bills injuries prior to the Week 4 matchup against the Packers.

A lot can change in one week. Last week at this time we were hoping that we could stay competitive in a tough road game against the Vikings. After the major upset that the Bills pulled off in Minnesota, this has everyone thinking that they may be able to do it again in Green Bay. As I said last week, Any Given Sunday! Today’s post will look at the injury report and what this means going forward for player availability.

The biggest question going into Sunday’s matchup is whether RB LeSean McCoy (ribs) will be able to play. He has been limited all week due to the cracked rib cartilage sustained against the Chargers which forced him to miss last game. However, Shady has emphatically stated that he will play Sunday. He could reinjure the area leading to more pain and slowing down the already slow healing process. He could also cause additional damage to surrounding areas as the cracked cartilage does provide support to the area and instability within the area could lead to further injury. However, a veteran with as much time in the league as he has knows his body and whether he can be effective. He would probably benefit from additional time off, but he knows his remaining time in the NFL is fleeting and must make every opportunity count. Expect him to play this week.

RB Marcus Murphy (ribs) is also dealing with his injury that has had much less attention devoted to it than McCoy. He may be dealing with a rib contusion which could be expected to heal quicker than McCoy’s injury or even a fractured rib. As McCoy will play, RB Chris Ivory is healthy, this may allow Murphy to rest. I do not anticipate that Murphy will play considering he has been limited all week and that typically does not bode well for playing Sunday.

Others that are questionable are TE Jason Croom (knee) and TE Charles Clay (shoulder/hip). Both injuries are intriguing in that they were not reported during the game, it did not appear that they missed any time besides the plays/packages specifically designed for them, and it puts into question regarding whether they will be available for Sunday. Croom was able to practice in full on Wednesday with limitations Thursday & Friday makes me think he suffered an injury Wednesday which in turn will make it nearly impossible to identify the particular injury. As for Clay, he has a long documented history of knee troubles, however he now has shoulder and hip injuries. Looking at film, there is nothing that appears out of the ordinary with his play nor does he exit for long periods of time indicating that he is injured. While I consider myself an expert on injuries, I cannot state that I was able to determine what happened to either player. There were several instances where Clay was taken to the ground hard and it appeared that he was slow off the snap the next play but he was still able to block and run his routes without any noticeable compensation. This makes it difficult whether both him and Croom will play Sunday. Reports indicated that Clay sat out of practice this week in order to maximize the chances he could play Sunday. However, since this team is TE heavy, they could either roll with two tight ends and add some receivers or Clay could suit up and play.

Others returning to practice is CB Phillip Gaines (elbow). Recapping, he dislocated his elbow in the loss to the Chargers and missed last week’s game. I do not believe he is 100% healed, however, he must be feeling better enough that he can play. I see no reason why he shouldn’t play if he feels he is ready. He may have some protective bracing or compression to the area to prevent it from getting hit and swelling up again.

Also returning to the fold are DE Shaq Lawson and DE Trent Murphy. Lawson suffered a hamstring injury that cost him 2 games and Murphy suffered an ankle injury in the waning minutes of the Vikings win. Lawson appears healthy but may still be limited with situational play or snap count to not re-injure his hamstring and restart the process. Murphy on the other hand appears 100% and should not be limited getting into the backfield.

Overall, expect RB Marcus Murphy and TE Jason Croom to be inactive. While TE Charles Clay is limited, I expect that he will be more ready to play allowing the team to play TE Logan Thomas and TE Khari Lee. Despite the growing injury report, these are still relatively minor compared to some of the other injuries around the league.

Continue to follow 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 www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!!

Preseason Injury Review- Browns

Analyzing the latest injuries following the preseason win over the Browns including AJ McCarron, Kyle Williams, and Cory Carter.

The Bills got their first win of the preseason with a decisive 19-17 win over the Cleveland Browns Friday night. While we saw some good things including the continued emergence of RB Marcus Murphy and darts thrown by QB Josh Allen show that there is some talent on this team and should be a force to reckon with this coming season. However, with all the good also comes the bad. The Bills have been relatively healthy over the course of this preseason, getting some bumps and bruises along the way but avoiding serious injury. Unfortunately, the Bills luck ran out Friday night on the shores of Lake Erie. Today’s post will review injuries sustained Friday and what this means going forward.

Prior to the game, DE Trent Murphy and WR Brandon Reilly were ruled out prior to the game with groin and rib injuries respectively. Hopefully both will be able to return to full health very soon and bolster depth going forward. The biggest injuries sustained Friday night with regards to name recognition were QB AJ McCarron and DT Kyle Williams. The former Alabama QB came from Cincinnati in the off season and was expected to compete for the starting job. Regrettably, McCarron reportedly sustained a hairline fracture in his collarbone towards the end of the 1st quarter.

The play that McCarron potentially suffered his collarbone fracture seemed pretty innocuous. He was tackled hard with most of his weight coming down onto his right shoulder but was able to finish the series. He did not appear to have any initial discomfort or favoring the injured area. Reports do not state which collarbone he fractured but my guess is the right side which is his throwing arm. However, after today’s press conference, there is question regarding the severity of the injury as McCarron is getting a second opinion which may change his availability. Once we have confirmation one way or another, I will be able to elaborate more.

DT Kyle Williams suffered what appeared to be a season ending injury early in the 2nd quarter. This occurred when he was getting blocked and a Browns offensive player fell into his right leg and he went down immediately in pain. The initial fear when a knee is bent like that with an outside force on the knee is an ACL tear. Thankfully, he avoided the dreaded injury and only sustained a MCL tear. The MCL is the ligament on the inside of the knee and is a commonly injured ligament during knee sprains. It appears as though Williams suffered a Grade 2 sprain which should heal on its own and will not require surgery.

Had Williams foot been planted in the ground when he got hit, he would have most likely torn his ACL and ended his final season. This is an injury that will take 4-6 weeks to heal which means he should be able to come back for Week 4 against the Packers. If things go well, Week 2 against the Chargers. As he is older, he will most likely be on the slower side of this timeline and lets face it, Kyle Williams is a national treasure when it comes to Bills fans. Training staff will not rush him back to the field unless he is truly ready to play. Once he returns, he should have no performance issues with the exception of some pain/swelling initially after playing.

One player who was hit hard by the injury bug was P Cory Carter who suffered a torn ACL after a collision late in the 3rd quarter. His plant leg was fully extended as he came down and the Browns defender rolled into his leg, preventing him from landing safely, causing his knee to hyper extend and tear the ACL on the second small hop in the above posted video. Prior to this injury, reports were coming out that he was having a solid camp and really challenging for the starting position. I have detailed ACL tears in a previous article, please check it out. Carter will be out for the entire year. I wish him the best of luck in his recovery. To note, this is the first ACL tear for the Bills since TE Chris Gragg tore in the preseason in 2016.

Another player that has had a very strong camp and warrants a roster spot is TE Jason Croom. The WR turned TE injured what appeared to be his left ankle on a punt return play the next play after Carter was injured. On the play, Croom went downfield and changed direction quickly to tackle the punt returner and LB Tanner Vallejo attempted to do the same thing, missed, and rolled into Croom’s ankle. He was able to walk off under his own power with a noticeable limp and was done for the night. It appeared as though he may have a low ankle sprain at worst. However, he was able to practice today according to reports which is something to watch for as the week progresses.

Others injured Friday include S Siran Neal, CB Taron Johnson, and OT De’Ondre Wesley. Neal was injured after a hard tackle and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him but was able to return later in the game. Johnson suffered a crackback block at the hands of WR Jarvis Landry who infamously ended the career of former Bills S Aaron Williams, thankfully no long term issues. Finally, OT De’Ondre Wesley appeared to tweak his ankle and came off the field but was able to return. I don’t see anything that warrants further concern. Also today, S Kelcie McCray was not practicing but film did not reveal any injuries at first glance.

Finally, QB Nathan Peterman appeared to sustain an injury in the last series of the game. Upon review, he took a low tackle which appeared to hit his knee but when he came up, he was hopping on his right leg and favoring his left. He was able to walk it off and finish the series but when he kneeled down to run out the clock, he did a reverse lunge and appeared to stumble backwards. It appeared as though he injured his left ankle. He may have twisted/tweaked it but as he was practicing today, it does not appear to be serious. Further reports will be made available if this becomes a problem.

Overall, the Bills escaped Cleveland without major losses.  They also have 9 days before their next game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, there are two more preseason games which mean two more possibilities for players to get hurt before the regular season. While all injuries cannot be prevented, preventative measures such as exercises/practice and limiting playing time appear to be the only way for now.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and injury analysis as the season progresses. Follow on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Facebook at Banged Up Bills, online www.bangedupbills.com and on reddit at u/BangedUpBills. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- TE

Season injury review of the tight end position.

Today’s off season analysis focuses on the tight end position for the Buffalo Bills. This season, 4 tight ends suited up for the Bills with varying levels of success. Today’s post will break down the injuries sustained to the TE corps and impact for next season.

First assessment starts with TE Khari Lee. The 3rd year pro found his footing with the Bills for the last 8 games of the season primarily used as a blocking tight end with some occasional work on special teams. He did not see any time on the injury report and saw no targets on offense. As he was only active for half the season and has one year left on his contract, he may be an attractive option to return as he can provide depth.

Next is TE Logan Thomas. The QB turned TE turned some heads this season with his conversion to TE which appears to be working in his favor as he appeared in 12 games for the Bills. While he did not accumulate head turning stats, 7 receptions for 67 yards and 1 TD, he fit into the offense nicely and showed that he is able to play tight end at the highest levels. Thomas recently did have knee surgery which knocked him out of spring practices for the foreseeable future. It did not appear that there was any prior injury as he did not appear on the injury report for any part of the season. Thomas has one year left on his contract and is an exclusive restricted free agent which I expected the Bills to bring back to develop further as a tight end.

TE Nick O’Leary became a increased focal point in the offense and appeared to finally show flashes of what got him drafted out of Florida State. Stats for O’Leary are: 22 receptions for 322 yards and 2 TD’s which are all career high’s for him. Injury wise, the 3rd year pro dealt with late season back pain which was possibly back spasms or pulled muscles which forced him to miss only one game. As O’Leary has improved every season in Buffalo, he is an exclusive restricted free agent, and continues to grow into the offense, it would be a no-brainer to bring him back for next season.

Finally, TE Charles Clay leads the pack with his major knee injury early in the season. If you recall, he partially tore both his MCL and meniscus during the Cincinnati game during a late tackle out of bounds. Clay did have surgery to trim down the meniscus and 3 games, returning for the contest against New Orleans. While his return was remarkable, he continued to appear on the injury report for the rest of the year. His stats overall for the year: 49 receptions for 558 yards and 2 TD’s. While he was a safety valve for Tyrod Taylor, the amount of money paid to him for that production doesn’t equate.

His initial injury from a return to play perspective is unremarkable, but long term concerns remain. I had previously written on his previous knee complaints and my thoughts on how he will fare. Having knee injuries such as this add to the overall damage and may continue to cause problems. While the body has the remarkable capacity to heal and remodel based on injury, sports such as football impede the ability to heal as quickly, leading to greater difficulty to maintain a high level of play. Clay is only 28 years old and while he should have several productive years of football left, this may be limited if he continues to deal with the chronic knee complaints from earlier. I envision a scenario where the Bills let him play out his contract and move on from him as they have several younger, healthier players in the wings and will allow the team to get the salary cap under control.

Overall, the TE position is relatively healthy with the exception of Clay who can still be productive with the proper medical treatment. There are several other players that the Bills have on their radar with the previously mentioned Lee and Thomas. They also have TE Keith Towbridge who spent the year on IR with a foot injury sustained in training camp. The Bills have also recently signed TE Jason Croom to a futures/reserve deal. There will be some players that will be odd man out come training camp but many things can and will happen in the off season.

Continue to check back with me at Banged Up Bills for the latest injury news and analysis. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!