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!!