Week 7 Bills Injury Review- Dolphins

Breaking down the severity of Williams, Coleman, & Johnson’s injuries.

I love the Buffalo Bills, I really do. But that was one hard game to watch on Sunday. The Bills, coming off a 4-1 start & a bye week, hosted the 0-5 Miami Dolphins at New Era Field. While the final score of 31-21 was not as close the game really was, the Bills nearly gave Miami a win which would have dealt a blow to their playoff chances. Fortunately, the Bills moved to 5-1 with fewer injuries than they had following the Titans win. 

Prior to the game, it was announced that both LB Corey Thompson (ankle sx) & Matt Milano (hamstring) were ruled out indicating that the Bills would be short at the position Sunday. While Milano’s presence was missed, it was still the right move to not rush him back as there is still much more football to be played.

Others coming back from injury included WR John Brown (groin), TE Tyler Kroft (ankle), RB Devin Singletary (hamstring), & CB Taron Johnson (hamstring) were all able to return and did not appear to demonstrate any restrictions, though their production in play greatly varied. Moving to the Dolphins game, reviewing the injuries below:

 

CB Kurt Coleman (hamstring)

Going in chronological order, Coleman suffered a hamstring strain late in the 2nd quarter with 2:15 left on a punt return. It was difficult to see on the broadcast, but this occurred as he ran down the field as a gunner before coming up lame before the ball was even caught. 

Like all the other hamstring injuries this season, expect the Bills to be conservative in slowly bringing Coleman back into the special teams fold. Look for a minimum of 2 games before he is able to return. Observing the hamstring injuries so far this season, most have come on full out sprinting with some change of direction or deceleration incorporated into the injury. This doesn’t mean that the Bills are doing anything wrong in preventing these injuries, it just shows that going all out on every play, even the best, most conditioned athletes can get hurt. 

 

WR Duke Williams (right shoulder)

Williams suffered a right shoulder injury on a 23-yard completion late in the 3rd quarter. After hauling in the catch, Williams fell hard onto his right shoulder before rolling out of bounds in obvious pain. Miraculously, he was able to return late in the 4th quarter in a red zone package on the WR Cole Beasley touchdown. Later, it was reported that he went in for x-rays following the game.

Looking at the actual injury itself, it appears as though Williams suffered either a contusion or AC joint sprain, also known as a separated shoulder. The mechanism of injury for this is falling directly onto a shoulder without the ability to brace against the fall. Considering that he fell more on the top of the shoulder, I believe he may have sustained an AC joint sprain. This is the area that the acromion connects with the collarbone. This allows the collarbone to connect to the scapula and create a framework for the shoulder muscles to connect in order to move freely during arm motion and overhead movement.

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Credit: http://www.dovemed.com

There is a slight chance he could have suffered a glenoid labrum tear, but that is relatively unlikely considering the shoulder was slammed into the ground versus falling on an outstretched arm. If he sustained this, then I expect to see bracing on the area which will be a dead giveaway. There was also a chance he could have sustained some type of clavicle fracture due to the hit, but if he had sustained that, he would not have been cleared to return & a public report would have been made.

The fact that he was able to return to the game even in a limited fashion indicates that this may be more of the AC sprain/contusion variety. He may be limited in practice this week as he recovers, but his availability in practice will further dictate the specifics of the injury. Looking back at past research from other articles, the average time for a player to miss is 9.8 days according to data obtained from the NFL injury surveillance system. The fact that he doesn’t have to throw a football may accelerate his return. It’s very possible he plays next week. If he does miss any time, it should be minimal one game as a precaution.

 

LB Maurice Alexander (left hip)

Alexander, filling in for the injured Matt Milano, suffered a left hip injury while tackling Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki going out of bounds. The tackle itself was clean; the injury occurred when Alexander’s left hip fell on Gesicki’s foot while going down. He attempted to walk back to the field but quickly went down for medical attention, motioning to his left hip/back region.

Thankfully, he was able to return as the Bills were only carrying four linebackers Sunday. This injury may have been a hip pointer which is a deep bruise to the iliac crest. This is the portion of the hip where the core muscles attach and give that distinctive flair out seen in the hips. Considering the muscles attach there; twisting, side-bending, & engaging the core muscles further aggravate the injury with pain being the major limitation.

This may be an injury that Alexander doesn’t miss anytime with or even show up on the injury report. If he does miss anytime, I wouldn’t expect any more than one game. But noting these minor injuries here explain why the player went down & the possibilities of the injury.

 

CB Kevin Johnson (stinger)

Johnson suffered what has now been termed a stinger following evaluation for a head injury Sunday. These injuries are subtle on film and may not be apparent, but Johnson’s last play during the game came with 3:27 left in the 4th quarter. Johnson managed to tackle Dolphins WR DeVante Parker with assistance from Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds. 

While we are not certain that this play caused the stinger injury, it’s likely due to the fact that his head bent awkwardly & was rolled over as he hit the turf. He initially appeared dazed for a moment following the play & did not return. 

A stinger occurs as the result of the neck getting forcefully sideways and down, putting pressure on the cervical nerve roots coming from the spinal cord. These can be pinched by the vertebrae stacked above & below the nerve or can be the result of a disc protruding out & pushing on the nerve root. The nerve roots can also be overstretched due to traction from the neck getting hit in the opposite direction. A direct blow is yet another way for this to occur.  The pain associated with this is what gives it the name burner or stinger. The nerve root that is compressed sends a pain signal down that nerve & gives the unwelcome sensation. 

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Credit: http://www.aafp.org

This pain would only be produced in the affected nerve roots which means if someone sustains a stinger, they could feel it down in the specific parts of the arm/hand based on which nerve has impinged. This could be felt in places such as the 4th and 5th digits on the hand with resulting grip weakness or difficulty lifting the arm up overhead, indicating the specific nerve root affected. The effects of the stinger may linger for several days or the symptoms could resolve quickly.

Most of the time, these injuries are minor & don’t cause further issues. Return to sport would be indicated when the player is pain-free, full strength and range of motion have returned, and no flare-up of symptoms occurs. If this becomes recurring or linger, then further examination is warranted. This could involve getting an MRI or nerve conduction studies to further identify the specifics of the injury. It could lead to surgical consults if there was a need for cervical fusion due to instability or if the injury was high enough in the cervical region, potentially career-ending as in the case of former Bills C Eric Wood

I do not believe this to be the case. I merely lay out the possibility of the severity of the injury & what this means regarding stingers. It is still too early to determine if he misses any games or will be limited in practice.

Fortunately, the Bills walked away from Sunday with far fewer injuries than in previous contests. The injury report will be far smaller than in past weeks & indicates that the Bills are getting healthy as a critical stretch in their season approaches. While the quality of the opponent’s vary, they still all pose a threat to the Bills playoff chances. This team is built for depth but there is a clear difference between starter & replacement level players, evident over the past few games. This week’s practice will hopefully show progress for Thompson, Milano, and Johnson as the Bills prepare to host the Eagles next Sunday. 

Top Image Credit:

http://www.predictem.com

Week 7 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins

Will Kroft, Johnson, & Singletary finally make their home debuts?

The Bills are back into the swing of things following a well deserved & well-timed bye week. The team has been preparing all week getting ready for a tire fire that is the Miami Dolphins franchise, looking to move to 5-1. While most fans are overlooking this game as a win, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL & this is no exception. Regardless of the opponent, the Bills are getting healthier for the next 11 games. The injury concerns are as follows:

QUESTIONABLE:

LB Matt Milano (left hamstring)

Milano resumed practice Monday performing ladder drills off to the side while everyone else ran through regular drills. Considering that Milano plays such a vital role in the defense & has to react to what he’s seeing in front of him, forcing him to keep up with the play. He will have to backpedal, change directions suddenly, and sprint. These activities will require a full recovery before attempting to return to play.

Milano was limited in practice Wednesday but was running and performing drills, indicating that he may be further along than originally anticipated. He was running a straight line, albeit, not full speed. He was performing tackling drills without much compensation. He is moving well considering he had a hamstring injury, but doesn’t appear to be fully healthy. He has been ruled questionable & I don’t expect him to play. 

LB Corey Thompson (ankle surgery)

As it’s well known now, Thompson has been working back from ankle surgery that has kept him out the past 2 games.

The video showed that Thompson returned to practice in a limited fashion Wednesday indicating that he is approaching his return. He may be nearly healthy & just working to get back into game shape. It is still unknown what ankle he had the surgery on but the video appears to show some greater bulk on the right ankle which may indicate bracing for extra support. He has since been ruled questionable, but I believe he has a shot to play in a special teams role to work back into game shape. He could also be available as an emergency backup in the likely event that Milano doesn’t play. 

CB Taron Johnson (right hamstring)

Johnson has been an enigma this season, coming back from a torn labrum last season that ended his season prematurely. He appeared incredibly healthy & ready to take the next step until he suffered a right hamstring strain during the Jets game. He has since missed the past 4 games that makes me believe he suffered some type of setback prior to the Patriots game. 

It’s a shame that his body does not appear to withstand the rigors of the NFL game. This doesn’t mean he won’t even be able to play again, but he may need to reinvent himself in order to last longer than 1 season in the league. 

This week’s practice was promising that he was practicing in full, but no other updates other than his availability was noted. Interestingly though, he has been ruled questionable. The only possibility is that he wants to test it out to ensure that he is truly ready. He’s been out long enough that he should be fully healthy & regain his starting role in the secondary.

WILL PLAY:

WR Robert Foster (turf toe/groin)

Foster continues to battle through a recent groin injury & what is now a possible lingering turf toe injury. While the groin injury is more pronounced, the toe is still likely causing issues regarding running efficiency. 

However, things are looking promising for Foster as he was able to practice in full this week indicating that while he may not be 100%, he is closer to playing this week as indicated by the practice designation. Players are deemed to practice in full if they take all the normal reps at that position. They are limited if they miss reps by design or due to injury. If they did not take reps, but practiced on the side, then they are did not participate.  Thankfully, Foster will be able to play Sunday. 

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

We still don’t know the specifics dealing with Nsekhe, coming off a minor Week 3 ankle injury followed by a Week 4 injury that appears to have been either a contusion or high ankle sprain. According to still pictures from Monday’s practice, this may be more of a contusion as he did not appear to have any bracing on the right ankle. Other shots showed that he was able to go through blocking drills without any significant issues. 

Wednesday’s practice noted that he did not practice due to requiring a veteran rest day, but the video showed him performing warm-ups and side-stepping drills. Fortunately, Nsekhe was able to practice in full Thursday despite the cold & rainy weather which indicates that this supports the contusion theory. Friday’s injury report states that he will play Sunday.

There is a concern that Nsekhe is unable to hold up through an entire game, much less than an entire season. He is 33 years old in a physically demanding position with nearly a decade of professional football to his resume. Whether he can withstand full games anymore is only something that Nsekhe & the training staff know. If OT Cody Ford continues through his development, there is hope that Nsekhe can sink back into a reserve role. Until then, he will rotate with Ford unless the team says otherwise.

TE Tyler Kroft (left ankle/right foot)

Kroft is finally looking good after an incredibly trying season thus far. The video below shows that the right foot appears to be completely healed up & the left foot/ankle accepting dynamic weight bearing activities during the cone drill. He doesn’t appear to miss a step, he doesn’t appear to favor one side or slow down when pushing off. I’m very optimistic about him finally making his season debut. He was able to practice in full this week which is about as good of a sign as one can get.

RB Devin Singletary (left hamstring)

Without question, Singletary will play Sunday! He looks excellent on video, there haven’t been any changes in how he looks from the last video available & barring a meteor hitting Buffalo, he should play, even if the weather isn’t ideal. At some point, an athlete has to play. The conditions will only be so ideal or so much rest will help. He may get injured, but any guy can be injured on any given play. Singletary continues to look good in practice this week & there should be no reason why he can’t play Sunday. 

OT Cody Ford & DE Trent Murphy (concussions)

Both Ford & Murphy are working back from concussions sustained in the Titans game and appear to be making some progress. Reports from Monday’s practice indicated that both were working through the protocol performing light aerobic exercise which indicates that appear to be in Stage 2 of the concussion protocol.

However, this week’s practices indicated that both were able to practice in full signifying that were in Stage 5, requiring that they needed to be cleared by an independent neurologist. Monday’s practice may have been just the nature of the activities they were performing rather than the actual stage of recovery. They have both appeared to have been cleared by the neurologist which indicates they will play Sunday. 

WR John Brown (groin)

Brown was a surprise addition to the injury report Wednesday with a groin injury & was limited in practice. His snap counts from the past 5 games can be seen below & did not greatly differ from game to game. 

Reviewing game footage from the Titans game didn’t reveal any specific instances of injury which leads me to believe that he suffered the injury during Wednesday’s practice. Thursday’s practice was more promising in that he moved well on film, but did not show his full abilities. However, he has since been ruled in to play but it will be interesting to see if his snap count is affected by the groin & addition of Foster. 

C Mitch Morse (right ankle)

Morse sat out the rest of the Titans game as what appeared to be a precaution to avoid worsening any injuries. He appeared to be dealing with a contusion suffered midway through the 2nd quarter. While there is pain, there isn’t much that is functionally wrong. He should not have any issues come Sunday & continue to demonstrate why he’s one of the highest paid centers in the NFL. This week’s practice supported how he is recovering with no bracing or difficulties observed according to reports. He at most may have had his ankle wrapped in prewrap & tape, but this would not be concerning for his ability to play Sunday.

QB Josh Allen (hand)

Allen appeared on the injury report this week with a hand injury but was able to practice in full. To specify, he injured his left hand when he threw his interception against the Titans in where he hit his hand against Harold Landry III’s shoulder pads.

This may a contusion that he is still having some pain with, this may also be a minor sprain of the metacarpophalengeal joint due to the direct hit on the shoulder pads. He may have some bracing to the area at worst, but unlikely as it would restrict his ability to grip the football if he were to run or have to protect the ball. 

However, as pointed out by a follower on Twitter, the injury report indicated the right hand was injured. This is a new development & previously unknown what caused this. As he practiced in full, this may not be an issue, but certainly, something to monitor. 

My predictions for inactive’s are:

LB Matt Milano

OG Ike Boettger

OG Ryan Bates

S Jaquan Johnson

S Dean Marlowe

WR Isaiah McKenzie

TE Tommy Sweeney

This is a very winnable game to get to 5-1. This Bills team is not what we are used to seeing, getting full of themselves, beating them at their own game when cupcakes like this come up on the schedule. This is a team that is built to play, a team that knows their role each and every Sunday. This team may not be the most talented, but they are certainly one of the hardest working. The bye week really made a difference in health & allowed the Bills to get back in the right frame of mind for the next 11+ games. 

 

Buffalo Bills Bounty of Free Agents!

Analyzing the most recent Bills acquisitions & injury concerns moving forward into next season.

Whooo wee! What a week for the Buffalo Bills! 8 free agents total after the national media stated that Buffalo was not a place that free agents wanted to go? Where else would you rather be than Buffalo, NY?! The front office is building something special here, or they’re at least trying to. This has a totally different feel from past years where a free agent or two would show up and they were a piece that maybe fit part of the puzzle, but didn’t complete it. These most recent acquisitions are far from completing the puzzle, but the total picture is certainly coming together better than in past seasons. Today’s article will review the acquisitions and my thoughts on their injuries going into 2019.

First up is CB Kevin Johnson. The former 1st round pick recently released by Houston has had a litany of injuries during his short career in the NFL. To review, he has had Lisfranc and Jones fractures, wrist fracture, sprained MCL, and multiple concussions. In my article I wrote for Buffalo Rumblings, I dove into his injury history and my thoughts on the signing.  Make sure to check out the above linked article. He is overall a low risk, high reward signing due to his contract and has clearly demonstrated the ability to play when healthy. If he is able to avoid some of the seriousness of the injuries in the past, he could help resurrect his career and have a new start in Buffalo.

Next up is C Mitch Morse. The former starting center from Kansas City quickly found his way to Buffalo to become the NFL’s highest paid center. However, his arrival does not come without concern. During his also short career in the league, Morse has suffered 2 concussions which caused him to miss 3 games his rookie year, a foot injury costing him 10 total games with a trip to IR in 2017, and a concussion that caused him to miss 5 games in 2018. As with Kevin Johnson, I detailed my thoughts on Morse with Buffalo Rumblings.  While he is still young and highly talented, there is concern if he were to suffer another concussion at such a collision heavy position in the trenches with sub concussive hits nearly every play. The talent is there which makes the money worth it, but the Bills must have a contingency plan in place if injury occurs in order to ensure that the signing of Morse works in their favor.

Continuing to go down the list is WR’s Cole Beasley & WR John Brown. Both veteran receivers come via Dallas & Baltimore, respectively. Both have demonstrated effective play making abilities which appealed to both the front office and QB Josh Allen. After last year’s pitiful wide receiver production, significant upgrades at the position were a must. Injury wise, both look overall good. Beasley has only missed 1 game in his career due to illness and for the most part, manages to stay off the injury report only dealing with a knee & ankle injuries along with a concussion. As for Brown, most of his injury concerns involve hamstring strains along with a quad and toe injury that cost him 4 games in 2017. These are excellent signings by the Bills and really demonstrate the urgency to get the offense moving.

WR Andre Roberts comes to Buffalo after a season with the Jets in which he earned an All-Pro nod on special teams. Like Beasley & Brown, Roberts comes with several injuries, but minimal concerns. Roberts has saw time with Arizona, Washington, and the New York Jets suffering shoulder, ankle, and quad injuries missing only 3 games total as a result. He did suffer a knee injury that sent him to IR and prematurely ended his 2015 season with Washington. Other than a back injury in 2018 that he did not miss time with, Roberts will significantly upgrade the special teams group and provide a dynamic returner not seen since CB Terrance McGee.

Moving onto the offensive line depth, the Bills signed both OT Ty Nsekhe & OG Jon Feliciano from Washington & Oakland respectively. Nsekhe has had quite the journey to the NFL, starting his career in 2009 playing in Arena Football for several years before getting a crack at the NFL with the Colts. He then proceeded to bounce around in the CFL, more Arena Football, and cups of coffee with St. Louis and New Orleans before solidifying a job with Washington. I am unaware of his injury history during his time in other organized leagues, but his NFL injury list is short with foot/ankle injuries in 2016 along with a core muscle injury in 2017 that caused him to miss 5 games. Last season, he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss 2 games but considering his age of 33, most guys are exiting the league, Nsekhe appears to continue improving. He has demonstrated the ability to play well when called up to start along with demonstrating the ability to play multiple positions, but understands how to be an effective backup.

Feliciano is cut from the same cloth as Nsekhe, however, not bouncing around from various professional leagues. The veteran guard has spent his entire career with Oakland before signing with Buffalo a few days ago. Along with moving across the country, Feliciano comes with several calf injuries and a concussion over his career. However, while he can start in spot situations, his ability to understand O-Line coach Bobby Johnson’s game plan allows him to fit in nicely and allow to be an effective piece moving forward in 2019.

TE Tyler Kroft comes from Cincinnatti after playing 4 years for the Bengals. Kroft began coming on as a tight end as TE Tyler Eifert began suffering injuries which limited his ability on the field. Unfortunately, Kroft had difficulty staying healthy at times, suffering a knee/ankle injury at the end of 2016 followed by a foot injury that caused him to miss 11 games with a trip to IR, ending his season prematurely. While he is a young player to help open up the offense, he is far from the answer moving forward and will complement any draft pick or future tight ends signed to the roster.

Finally, old man RB Frank Gore. This man has been playing so long, he predates the injury reporting on pro-football-reference.com. While his injury history may have a few blank spots, his career has been defined by his durability. After suffering two ACL tears in college, Gore was able to find a home in San Francisco for many productive years until 2014. He has had a smattering of injuries over the course of his productive career with most notably shoulder injuries during his rookie year, a broken bone in his hand a few ears after that, and a hip injury that sent him to IR and ended his 2010 season early. Other than the hip, he suffered a foot injury which ended his season in Miami 2 games early. Many consider Gore to be a future Hall of Famer with his dominance at the position and his overall stats. Despite going into his age-36 season, Gore has managed to keep injuries to a minimum and avoid some of the larger injuries that spell out shorter careers in an already high turnover position that is running back. While he will not be as productive in past seasons, he should be able to be an effective back up behind RB LeSean McCoy and provide leadership to a young team. I believe that he will show some of the younger players how to prepare mentally to maximize their skills on the field while also minimizing injuries in order to stay healthy.

Overall, I like most of these signings. I do not expect every once of these to be a slam dunk upgrade, some will simply not work out. Gore was an odd one considering the age, but if there is still something left in the tank, the Bills want to ride him until there’s fumes. I have concerns about the Johnson & Morse signings, but if both stay healthy, they could turn out to be lucrative in the long run. I like the offensive line depth that the front office focused on because no NFL team is immune from injury, it is imperative that the backups are able to play effectively until the starter returns. Nothing will torpedo the Bills 2019 season more than poor depth. Finally, the WR & TE signings signal that they are serious about taking QB Josh Allen to the next level and show everyone how he can throw it over them there mountains. I don’t believe the Bills are done in the free agency market; they are showing that they are willing to bring in anyone they feel that can upgrade the quality of play on the field. Just think, we still have 6 weeks before the NFL draft and me personally, I’m pumped!

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!!