Bills Preseason Injury Preview- Vikings

Breaking down the latest injuries heading into the preseason finale.

The Bills close out their preseason schedule with the possibility to go 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. While preseason success is not indicative of regular & postseason accolades, the fact that the Bills are able to take their depth and stay competitive is excellent to see. The 4th preseason game is where guys make their last push to show the coaching staff why they need to make the roster and may benefit only several guys. Today’s post will review all injuries but focus on guys who are on the bubble that could likely play Thursday.

Ruled out: C Mitch Morse, DE Jerry Hughes, OL Ty Nsekhe, CB Taron Johnson, OL Quinton Spain, CB Tre’Davious White

All those listed above are likely starters and would have no benefit to playing in a meaningless game.

Morse is still working through the concussion protocol.

Hughes is dealing with a right hand/wrist injury.

Nsekhe is dealing with a knee injury.

Johnson has had a groin strain.

Spain has a foot/ankle injury.

White a quad contusion.

All of these would likely not cause problems during the regular season. However, the spotlight is brighter during the preseason & concerns are heightened. All should be ready for Week 1.

Questionable:

Conor McDermott: concussion

McDermott still appears to be working through the concussion protocol with no official word that he has been cleared. He has been participating in full padded practices which is always a good sign. If he plays Thursday, then that will indicate that he’s cleared & his one last shot to show why he needs to be on the final 53.

CB Cam Lewis- concussion

Lewis suffered a hard hit in the win over the Panthers 2 weeks ago & was removed from the sidelines with a neck immobilizer. He has since returned to practice in a red jersey but like McDermott, if he is not cleared, he may be forced to sit on the sidelines and wait for an IR designation or injury settlement.

TE Kyle Carter- knee

Carter suffered a knee injury in the win over the Lions last Friday. There was not a clear play when it happened, but he may want to play through in order to have a shot to get some extra game film out there. I am unsure whether he is eligible for practice squad still, but tonight will be possibly one last shot for him.

RB Senorise Perry- quadriceps

Perry, once a virtual lock for his special teams prowess is now looking outside in at the 53. He was dealing with a minor ankle injury that he played through in Friday’s game but was later limited by a new quadriceps injury. Like the others, it isn’t clear when this occurred, but he has been unable to practice since then. Depending on the severity of the injury, it is unknown if he will suit up tonight.

WR Robert Foster- turf toe

Foster has been battling a turf toe injury all spring & summer which was confirmed recently. He was limited with mandatory mini camp, appeared to be full go during the early parts of training camp before being hobbled again by the toe. Turf toe is notoriously difficult to fully heal and can linger all season at times. I believe that Foster was fully healthy coming into training camp and then tweaked it 2 weeks ago. He should make this team but may play tonight to ensure his spot.

TE Dawson Knox- hamstring

It appears Knox has his hamstring issues behind him as he was able to play last game without issue. He also did not appear to have any setbacks this past week during practice. He may play tonight to get the reps which I believe will be beneficial in his development but should only see the early part of the game and get out after the 1st quarter.

TE Jason Croom- hamstring

Croom dug a hole that he just can’t get out of with his hamstring issues from the past few months. Recent information came out indicating that he tore his hamstring back during spring practices, worked his way back before re-injuring himself at the beginning of training camp. At times, he has looked awesome in practices, but appeared to have a setback last week which prevented him in playing Friday. Whether he plays tonight is anyone’s guess; his best chance may be to play tonight and get some game film out there in the hopes that someone takes a chance on him or that he comes back to the Bills practice squad.

Released/Injured Reserve

P Cory Carter- knee

Carter was dealing with knee soreness which put him behind in the punting competition over the past 2 weeks. Ultimately, he fell behind too far and was cut. As he had knee soreness and not an outright injury, the team did not owe him an injury settlement and he was free to pass through waivers to find a new home.

OT De’Ondre Wesley- knee

Wesley was injured late in the win over the preseason, he was able to return but was out for the Lions game. There is not clear video available indicating what he injured, but it was enough that the team gave him an injury settlement to go elsewhere when he is ready to play.

DE Mike Love- pectoral

Love appeared to injure his pectoral muscle sometime during Lions game. He was able to play most of the game up to about 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter. There was no clear mechanism of injury which makes identifying his injury difficult. As of now, he will be on the Bills IR for the season unless he reaches an injury settlement before cut down day on Saturday. I have no idea which way the team will lean, but his salary is guaranteed if he’s on IR, so it’s likely he stays with the Bills and focus on himself for next season.

Overall, the Bills have most of their roster filled out with several roster spots up for grabs. It may not be the prettiest game, but it’ll be one last audition for most of the players on the field. Regardless of tonight outcome, we will have our 53 man roster Saturday.

Bills Preseason Injury Preview- Lions

The Bills may be cautious with injuries, but they are on the mend heading towards Week 1.

Friday marks the 3rd preseason game of the 2019 season against the Detroit Lions. The team continues to improve the overall health but remain cautiously optimistic on several players.

The 3rd preseason game is typical the dress rehearsal for the presumed starters, but time on the field may be abbreviated. Considering the number of star players around the league going down with senseless injuries, the Bills may keep it to several drives to minimize the risk. Below is several players to watch for in Friday’s game.

Ruled Out:

C Mitch Morse- concussion

The fact that Morse is not playing is not a surprise. The Associated Press’ John Warwow has reported that the team has been precautionary in dealing with his concussion.

What this implies is that the team and Morse jointly decided that he would take his rehab slow despite the possibility that he could have come back to full practices sooner. I am not certain this approach would be available in the regular season, but considering that this is his 4th documented concussion, this is the right approach now. They had the time available to ensure his health & prevent a second concussion that could prematurely end his season.

OL Conor McDermott- concussion

Like Morse, McDermott is dealing with his own concussion. Thankfully, he appears to be moving through the protocol quickly. No announcements have been made whether he has been cleared, but considering the depth issues on the offensive line, not playing Friday may be his best chance to make the roster if further injury along the O-line occurs.

CB Cam Lewis- concussion

Lewis is still working through his own concussion that appeared to be much worse than originally anticipated. If you recall, he was placed in a neck immobilizer following his hit in Friday’s game. He has not been seen at practice which indicates he is likely in Stage 1-2 of the protocol. The Bills could still place him on IR if they wanted to, but may wait to see if he recovers to play in the 4th game.

P Cory Carter- knee soreness

Despite working back from last year’s traumatic ACL tear in the preseason, Carter will miss Friday’s game. The team has described knee soreness as the reason for his absence. It is not known which knee is bothering him. My hope is that it is his kicking leg, but if it is his plant leg, that could be concerning as this was where the ACL tear occurred. Once more information is known, a better prognosis can be identified.

OT De’Ondre Wesley- unknown

Wesley continues to be dealing with an injury that has not been divulged as of Friday. The original injury was sustained in last Friday’s game but he was able to return shortly after. Looking at video, he walked off with about 2:30 left in the 3rd quarter appearing to shake out his right wrist/arm. Watching the play before, he didn’t appear to do anything out of the ordinary which makes identifying an injury extremely difficult. Without further information, he will remain an unknown.

Questionable:

CB Taron Johnson- groin

Johnson suffered what appears to be a minor groin strain following the first preseason game. He was able to play in the 2nd game without issue but considering the nature of the injury, the team may keep him out to keep him healthy for Week 1.

WR Robert Foster- toe

Foster appeared to jam his toe during practice on Monday. He was seen applying ice to the area following practice according to The Athletic’s Matthew Fairburn. If this was his big toe, this may prevent him from effectively pushing off, reducing his explosiveness during running & cutting. This isn’t exactly described as turf toe, but if he continues to work through the injury, it could worsen into a turf toe or another ailment. He may sit as a precaution, but if the injury was truly minor, he may play.

TE Dawson Knox & Jason Croom- hamstring

Knox is already cleared to play Friday according to reports. He had said on One Bills Live that he felt that the training staff took him real slow with his recovery. However, he feels great and ready to go. There is always a chance he could re-injure the right hamstring but far from a guarantee.

Croom on the other hand, continued to sit out practice this week despite getting into pads last week. It is unknown if he had a setback, but missing a 3rd game would certainly sink his chances to make the roster.

DE Jerry Hughes- Hand/wrist

Reports indicate that Hughes was practicing on a limited basis due to injury. Specifically, he was observed wearing a brace on his right hand during practice. Looking at film, there were several instances that he had fallen down to the ground or roughly engaged with offensive lineman. There was not any specific play that pointed to exactly what is going on. As he is a veteran player and he is wearing something that is supportive to an injured area, this may be precautionary and quickly forgotten. It is difficult to identify whether he will play Friday night.

Remember, this is the preseason, teams don’t have to identify specific injuries, they don’t have to play players if they don’t want, they have more flexibility to preserve the health of players, which leads to overblown worries about player’s health.

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. Make sure to follow my work over at Buffalo Rumblings for deep dives on specific injuries throughout the season.

Bills Preseason Injury Preview- Panthers

Detailing the latest Bills injuries prior to the Week 2 preseason game against the Panthers.

The Bills survived a thriller over the Colts last Thursday at New Era Field with a 24-16 win! They managed to play well & avoid major injury which is always ideal in the preseason. Entering Week 2 of the preseason, health concerns of several players still exist. Today’s post will identify those who are questionable & likely out.
 
Ruled out:
 
C Mitch Morse: concussion
 
Morse is still dealing with the after-effects of a concussion diagnosed over 2 weeks ago. He has since progressed to return to full practice with a red non-contact jersey. He has been able to take snaps, run full speed, and do nearly everything except full contact. He will not play Friday due to the obvious concerns of suffering another head injury. He still requires the reps & practice with the first-team offense to be ready for the regular season. His time in the preseason will come, but likely in the 3rd game.
 
RB Frank Gore: veteran rest
 
Gore played in the preseason opener with a strong, but brief outing & avoided injury. He has nothing left to prove to the Bills until the regular season. It was already announced that he would sit out so that RB LeSean McCoy starts. This will allow Devin Singletary, TJ Yeldon, and others to make their case on the final roster.
 
TE Dawson Knox: hamstring
 
Knox continues to work back from his hamstring injury sustained early in camp. Many reports state that Knox is performing rehab, but not cleared to don a non-contact jersey. This is due to avoiding coming back too soon and re-injuring. While he is a lock to make the team, his development has been severely stunted. Hopes are that he gets on the field for the last 2 games to catch up.
 
OL Conor McDermott: concussion
 
Like Morse, McDermott is in the concussion protocol following a hit on Thursday night. He currently wears a red non-contact jersey signifying that he is rapidly improving. Yet, it may not be wise to expose him to live football this week to ensure his long term health. As he is fighting for a roster spot, he may be best to fight another day.
 
Questionable:
 
C Russell Bodine: oblique strain
 
Bodine suffered an oblique strain during last weeks preseason win. He has since worn a non-contact jersey during the two practices in South Carolina. For his health, he may be best suited to sit out this game. Considering he has to fight for a roster spot behind Morse, Long, Feliciano, and even Bates, he may try to play through the injury.
 
TE Jason Croom: hamstring
 
Croom, like Knox, has been battling to get back on the field to show why he needs to make the roster. He appears to be near 100% but is truly questionable whether he plays Friday. This will likely be a player decision to play. I don’t expect that he will re-injure the hamstring again, but there is always a possibility.
 
C/G Spencer Long: knee
 
Cover 1’s Greg Tompsett observed Long as a full participant in practice this past week. Yet, Tompsett noted that Long continues to don a brace and a wrap on the right leg indicating there is still an issue. Considering the hinge bracing, this still supports that he tweaked his MCL. While this is not 100%, this could keep Long out of the 2nd game to ensure his versatility at both positions.
 
There will be other likely starters that will sit out, but not due to injury. Considering the joint practices this past week with the Panthers, I expect more situational football played than all-out war. This should keep the number of injuries down but allow borderline players to showcase their abilities.
 
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 Preseason Injury Preview- Colts

Reviewing all Bills injuries prior to the 1st preseason game against the Colts.

Football is upon us! The first preseason game of the 2019 Bills season is Thursday night against the Colts. While HC Sean McDermott has announced that starters will play the 1st quarter, this doesn’t mean that all potential starters will play. Due to several injuries, the below listed players are either not expected to play or are questionable.

Ruled OUT:

TE Jason Croom & Dawson Knox: hamstring strain

Both tight ends have been out since the beginning of training camp due to hamstring strains. For Croom, this is his 2nd hamstring strain after suffering one during OTA’s in May. Since both have not practiced in full, both are expected to be ruled out. This will give starting reps to TE Lee Smith & TE Tommy Sweeney along with playing time for TE Keith Towbridge, TE Nate Becker & TE Kyle Carter. 

C Mitch Morse- concussion

Morse continues to deal with the after effects of a concussion sustained in the first padded practice of training camp that has caused him to miss nearly two weeks of valuable reps. Even if he is cleared for tomorrow’s game, the missed reps alone will prevent him from effectively playing. 

Considering his concussion history, it would be poor judgement to rush him back into the field which may necessitate the team to keep him out of at least the first 2 games. Based on video, it appears he is in stage 4 of the concussion protocol, but until he is cleared & comfortable with the playcall and pads, he should stay off the field. 

CB EJ Gaines- groin

Gaines suffered yet another injury, this time to his groin while performing 1-on-1 drills during Monday’s practice. Considering the team reports that he will be out a few weeks, he may miss the rest of the preseason while rehabbing. It’s obvious he will not play Thursday. To read more about his most recent injury, check out my article at Buffalo Rumblings.

RB LeSean McCoy- veteran

McCoy will not play against the Colts on a Thursday to avoid injury and ensure that he stays healthy going into 2019. He will play during the Panthers preseason game whereas RB Frank Gore will sit that game and play in the Colts game. This is a smart move and will also let RB Devin Singletary & RB TJ Yeldon touches to see what they have as depth. 

Ruled QUESTIONABLE: 

C/G Spencer Long: knee

Long has been in and out of practice the past week dealing with what the team has described as knee soreness. He has been seen wearing a hinged knee brace and compression sleeve indicating he may have sustained a mild knee sprain. Considering the issues that Morse is dealing with now, Long may be forced to play the first quarter in the even that Morse is not ready to start the season. If Long cannot start, then C Russell Bodine will. 

OL Jon Feliciano: shoulder

Feliciano suffered a shoulder injury during Thursday’s practice and appeared to re-injure the area again during the Friday practice at New Era Field. While there is not video or any descriptors of the injury, it is hard to speculate what he is dealing with. Considering the issues with the offensive line, I would expect the team would want to get him reps for a few series in order to see how things get on the field. However, the team may hold him out as a precaution to see how the rest of the linemen look. 

There appears to always be surprises for preseason games but as they are generally a waste for starters to play, it is expected that others will sit as a precaution. There are many others Bills players listed with ailments but do not appear to be limiting as all have practiced over the last week without issues. 

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!!

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.

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