2020 Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Preview- Colts

Will Beasley & Diggs play Saturday?

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

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

QUESTIONABLE

WR Cole Beasley (left knee)

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

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

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

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

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

WR Stefon Diggs (Oblique)

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

Credit: Centenoschultz.com

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVE 

G Jon Feliciano (Left knee)

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

TE Reggie Gilliam (Knee/hamstring)

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

WR Isaiah McKenzie (Ankle)

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

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

Colts Injury Report:

OUT

T Will Holden (Ankle) 

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

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

CB Rock Ya-Sin (Concussion) 

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

QUESTIONABLE

DT Deforest Buckner (Ankle)

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

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

ACTIVE 

QB Phillip Rivers (Turf toe)

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

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

CB TJ Carrie (Ankle/shoulder)

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

RB Jonathan Taylor (Shoulder)

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

S Khari Willis (Concussion)

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

Bills Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

WR Cole Beasley

DE Trent Murphy

TE Tyler Kroft

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

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

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Week 17 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins

Who will sit on Sunday to prevent injury?

To rest the starters or let them play, that appears to be the big question for the Buffalo Bills heading into Week 17 against the Miami Dolphins. With the #2 seed hanging in the balance with a win, the Bills must balance the roster properly to ensure maximum health but to ensure that they can still win the game. If they do lose and so does the Pittsburgh Steelers, then the Bills still secure the #2 seed. But if the Bills lose and Pittsburgh wins over a hungry Cleveland Browns team, then they secure the #3 seed. I don’t believe it is in Sean McDermott’s DNA to not try and win a game, especially if home-field advantage hangs in the balance.

The roster management will be significantly different from past weeks and we will see more inactives due to preserving health rather than true injuries. This doesn’t mean that everyone will sit, only those that don’t have anything to gain by playing. Below are the injuries and inactives.

OUT 

TE Reggie Gilliam (knee/hamstring)

Gilliam misses his second straight game with a likely left knee injury in addition to a hamstring injury. He has not practiced over the past two weeks and quietly left the game against the Broncos without a clear mechanism of injury other than having his knee taken out from behind him on a special teams play from which he returned later in the game.

We will have to watch the injury report to see if he begins practicing and returns for the playoffs or whether he gets sent to IR to activate someone else from the practice squad. This would then let the Bills sign others to the practice squad as insurance in case further injuries occur.

WR Cole Beasley (left knee)

Beasley missed the past week of practice as expected due to a left knee injury that forced him to leave the game early in the 4th quarter Monday. I had detailed the possibilities of his knee injury that you can find in my article from Wednesday. To summarize, he could have suffered a contusion to the lateral knee, a quadriceps strain, or a meniscus injury. 

My thoughts have not changed from Wednesday and it may be possible that he plays in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but it is far from guaranteed. Looking at recent Bills who have played through meniscus injuries including Kelvin Benjamin and Charles Clay in 2017. Benjamin missed 2 games with his meniscus tear and gutted out the remaining 5 games to the playoffs.

Clay missed 3 total games but 4 weeks total due to having the bye week. His recovery was longer due to requiring surgery to trim the meniscus in order to play and allow his MCL sprain to heal. Both were hot and cold with their production, but let’s face it, Benjamin and Clay are nowhere near the talent level that Beasly possesses. 

The Bills could survive the first round game without Beasley, but if he can play, he will try to perform. Practice next week will be telling as to whether he is trending towards playing or if the team is more cautious.

ACTIVE

G Jon Feliciano (illness)

Feliciano was a surprise addition to the injury report with illness but practiced in full on Friday and had no game day designation. As long as the illness is not COVID, things happen, and as long as he can play, then there are no worries. I am not certain he plays a lot unless Josh Allen plays. This is a game that the Bills can look at backups or find out if any of their pending free agents are worth re-signing. 

Inactives:

TE Reggie Gilliam

WR Cole Beasley

CB Tre’Davious White

C Mitch Morse

WR Stefon Diggs

QB Josh Allen

LB Matt Milano

Outside of Gilliam and Beasley, these inactives are a total guess based on value to the team. To lose Tre’Davious White would be a huge issue and Matt Milano certainly would benefit from being fresh working back from his pectoral injury. While Stefon Diggs did reach his statistical benchmarks for the season for his contract and could rest, Josh Allen is only 40 passing yards from claiming the top spot in Bills history for passing yards. I am sure Allen would want the record, but not if it potentially could mean injury. 

Mitch Morse is a smart bet to not play if Allen does not and with his previous concussion this season, to avoid losing him for the playoffs would not be ideal. I would not be surprised if I am wrong on 5/7 picks because Sean McDermott has been coy on if he would rest starters or not. We will know Sunday at 11:30 am as to their plans. 

The team does have their two standard practice squad call-ups and protected practice squad players which were used on offensive lineman Trey Adams, Jordan Devey, Jonotthan Harrison, and Darron Lee. They also have a COVID emergency callup which could be used on Dane Jackson or Davis Webb. The team has plenty of options in terms of resting players with the use of practice squad guys if they need.

Other injury thoughts:

We do know that John Brown will finally play for the first time since Week 10 to get reps to be ready for the postseason. He would be one that would benefit from time off, but to get even a half of football in would ensure that he is ready for next weekend. His high ankle sprain should be pretty close to if not fully healed up by now and most of the other injuries he was dealing with should be fairly well managed by now. 

The Dolphins are dealing with several injuries for themselves including Jakeem Grant (high ankle), Solomon Kindley (knee/foot), Shaq Lawson (shoulder), and DeVante Parker (hamstring). I would expect all play with the exception of Grant who was reported to miss the game but is currently listed as questionable. Even if he did play, I doubt he would be effective on special teams and offense. 

Either way, this is a must-win game for the Dolphins to control their playoff fate. They could still make the playoffs if the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, or Browns lose which could allow them to enter the postseason, but none of those are guaranteed which forces the Dolphins to play for their lives.

I believe the Bills can still win even with most of the starters resting or seeing minimal playing time. If the Bills do lose this game, this could set up the Dolphins to come back up the next week for the Wild Card game if things fall just right. Either way, this will be enjoyable to watch this game knowing there is little to be concerned for as the team prepares for a home playoff game. The pressure to win will increase following 4:30 pm on Sunday but until then, the fanbase can relax and enjoy the game.

Top Photo Credit: ESPN

2020 Week 15 Bills Injury Preview- Broncos

Will Lee Smith play? Is Tremaine Edmunds alright?

The Bills, owners of a 10-3 record, travel to out west Saturday on a short week to play the 5-8 Denver Broncos who are fighting to stave off an inevitable playoff elimination. This is the third game in primetime in three weeks and yet another opportunity to show that the Bills are the real deal as they attempt to lock up the AFC East and a playoff berth.

Buffalo continues to improve their health and bring more players back, relying less on practice squad players and the use of injured reserve. Tough decisions will be made in the future when John Brown and potentially others need to come back, but there are still several games before they need to make those transactions. For this week, the roster is set and the injury designations are below.

OUT 

S Jaquan Johnson (right ankle)

Johnson missed his second week of practice dealing with an ankle injury sustained against the 49ers late in the 4th quarter. Details have not been revealed regarding the specifics of the injury, but based on the video, it still appears as though he is dealing with a high ankle sprain.

It’s curious that he has not been placed on injured reserve, but that may indicate the severity with a possibility that he returns sooner than later. Hopefully, he can return to practice in some capacity next week and begin the process to return in time for the playoffs.

QUESTIONABLE

TE Lee Smith (left knee)

Smith’s knee contusion off Josh Allen’s helmet during the roughing the passer call seemed so minor that I did not bother to include it in the Steelers post-game review. Allen’s helmet hits on the inside portion of the left knee as Smith disengaged his blocker. He was in obvious pain moving his leg after around but stayed in the game.

He may be dealing with pain and swelling in the general area which is why he was limited this past week. It seems rather minor, but clearly, not all the information is known. Based on the video and that he was limited this week in practice, I’d expect that he plays. In my mind, he is a 50/50 shot to play, but the team already knows which direction they will go in for Saturday.

Ideally, he would play as it’s been noted that Denver’s run defense is rather bad and having an extra blocker in Smith would be beneficial to help spring the run game. He continues to be a strong veteran and has a place on this team as both a blocker and leader in order to help take the Bills deep into the playoffs.

ACTIVE

LB Tremaine Edmunds (foot)

Frankly, I am not sure what Edmunds is dealing with. Looking at the game film, he played in every defensive snap and also on two special teams snaps. He kept his feet moving and there weren’t any noticeable instances that he came up limping. He also did not have any mechanisms of injury to either foot that would suggest that something was present.

This could be a chronic issue such as plantar fasciitis or general soreness to the area that flared up which required rest during the week. He did practice in full Thursday and did not have a game designation which is always promising. This may be similar to the Jon Feliciano foot injury; something known but not impacting the overall play.

CB Taron Johnson (concussion)

Johnson appeared to be sail through the concussion protocol, limited all week in practice before practicing in full on Thursday. Typically concussions take upwards of 10 days to recover from, but since this was Johnson’s first documented NFL concussion, he may not be dealing with some of the lingering effects of the hit as some others may.

The return of Johnson especially after what may be his greatest game Sunday would be a great addition to contain the receiving threats Denver possess. I’m surprised that he is cleared, but overall, if he’s able to play, get him out there because he has become a difference-maker.

QB Josh Allen (right knee/ankle)

Allen is still on the injury report despite practicing in full likely due to his status as a quarterback having a higher profile than other positions. The ankle and right knee did not appear to limit his mobility Sunday with his rushing totals increased and running to all sides of the field. I’d expect that he increases his running abilities Saturday but still wear the brace as protection. I don’t anticipate that he will be on the injury report much longer after this week.

Other injury thoughts:

WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain)

Brown has officially been activated to practice and was eligible to play Saturday but was ultimately not activated. It has only been five weeks since his high ankle sprain against the Cardinals; a player can return from a high ankle nearly 100% at around six weeks. If Brown were to return, they would need to cut someone to make room for his roster position, this could occur if they move Jaquan Johnson to IR. 

There was some chatter on social media this week about his sickle cell trait that could be exacerbated by the higher altitudes. Having sickle cell trait is not a contraindication to play football or any sport for that matter, but it is a consideration when looking at the whole person medically. When looking at someone from a medical perspective, having the whole picture of the person influences interventions and decisions. These conditions should not dictate treatment unless there are contraindications, but have to be considered to work for the best interest of the athlete.

If Brown had not been dealing with injuries or this was a game that he was needed in to ensure the team gets the playoff berth, he plays. If this was the playoffs, he plays. The fact that he is coming off injuries and what an exacerbation can do to his performance is the reason any of this is even a consideration. After Saturday, this is a moot point.

There were also questions regarding how the Bills would handle the altitude change. While it can be an issue, there are reasons why it could and it couldn’t. To avoid doubling the word count of this article, go listen to my latest appearance on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino where I detail how the atmospheric pressure affects athletic performance. 

The team would benefit from Brown’s skill set but they have been doing alright with the emergence of Gabriel Davis this season. I expect Brown to be activated to play against the Patriots and work up to the playoffs. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

S Jaquan Johnson

DE Trent Murphy

TE Tyler Kroft

Looking at the Broncos’ injury report, both running backs in Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay are dealing with injuries, designated as questionable, but are expected to play.

They do have several more illness/injuries including to offensive weapons in Noah Fant and Jerry Jeudy though they do not have any injury designations. The one place where the Bills can exploit is the recent loss of Duke Dawson, Essang Bassey, and Kevin Tolliver due to ACL tears, decimating the secondary.

Fortunately for the Bills, kicker Brandon McManus will not be available due to COVID concerns which means rookie Taylor Russolino gets kicking duties. Recently signed to the practice squad in December, he could be rattled by the whole experience of his first NFL action or he may just be another guy trying to earn his place in the league. Either way, the loss of McManus will certainly help keep points off the board for the Broncos.

The Bills have a very winnable matchup against the Broncos to move them to 11-3. This is not a team to take lightly especially playing away from home. While the Bills essentially have the playoffs locked up regardless of this game, they still need the win to lock up the division and control their playoff matchups rather than relying on the wild card seedings.

I do expect the Bills to win again and ideally stay healthy as they close out the regular season. If they control the game like they did last year, I am quite alright with that, but I also anticipate a competitive game. There isn’t much more to say than enjoy the game and Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: Pro Football Talk- NBC Sports

2020 Week 14 Bills Injury Preview- Steelers

Will Feliciano and Roberts be effective Sunday night?

It seems like it’s deja vu for the Bills heading into this week. No no, I’m not talking about 2020, that’s simply Hell at this point. I’m talking about the Bills having the ability to clinch a playoff spot (albeit, with some help) on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers as they did last season. Despite the Steelers owning an 11-1 record, things can and do change quickly in the NFL which means that a stellar record such as that doesn’t assure a win.

The Bills are a team on the rise and must take care of business again on a national stage. They also need to secure this win if they want to lock up the AFC East and potentially have the opportunity to obtain the number one seed. This is a very exciting time as a fan and the fact that the team is getting healthy as the final stretch approaches is fantastic! Below are the Bills’ injuries for Sunday night.

OUT

S Jaquan Johnson (ankle)

Johnson appeared on the injury report after not being noted when it occurred Sunday. Reviewing film, this occurred with 3:44 left in the 4th quarter on a punt return. Johnson tried to double back up to tackle the returner before getting taken out by Tyler Matakevich, hitting his right ankle. Johnson didn’t get up immediately and the camera panned away from the field, preventing further views of Johnson’s reaction or if he required assistance to get off the field.

Looking at limited video and angles available, Matakevich hits Johnson from the outside and strikes his right ankle. I do worry about a high ankle sprain due to the foot being planted in the turf, placing the foot into dorsiflexion with eversion due to the hit from the outside. Add in the fact that he has not practiced this week may shed some light on the severity. 

This will be something to watch in the coming weeks with the possibility of sending him to injured reserve if the injury is as bad as I fear. 

ACTIVE

WR Andre Roberts (Achilles)

Roberts only played in 7 snaps, all on special teams Monday night. In fact, he only really had two plays with the ball where he actually ran. One was a 1st quarter kickoff he brought out for 25 yards that was followed by a routine tackle. The other, a 21-yard punt return early in the 2nd quarter.

The punt return is possibly the only play where I believe he could have strained his Achilles. He caught the ball, stepping back hard onto his left foot, eccentrically loading the leg to push off of before accelerating forward. He dodged and weaved through traffic before being brought down at the 31-yard line. 

Credit: SouthEast Podiatry

He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but practiced in full on Friday, but as a veteran, his body may need more rest than recovery from actual injury at this point in the season. He did not have to exit the game for the injury which indicates that this may be more of a minor strain overall. I don’t anticipate this injury to affect his abilities to perform, but will be something to monitor.

G Jon Feliciano (foot/left knee)

Feliciano officially showed up on the injury report with a knee injury along with the foot injury from last week. There are still no specifics regarding the details of the foot injury in which he played 100% of the snaps against the Chargers. As for the left knee, he did get hit in the left knee/thigh area by 49ers defensive tackle Kevin Givens which led to his brief exit followed by his return. He eventually left the game again but that may have been due to the team being up by so much at that point.

By video, it still appears to be a contusion that he can play through. It was somewhat worrisome that he went from full participation on Wednesday to limited on Thursday, but Friday was a full practice and he does not have a game day designation. Overall, he should be able to perform for Sunday night. 

DT Quinton Jefferson (hip)

Jefferson was another surprise addition to the injury report this week with a hip injury. He did play in 44% of the defensive snaps which is slightly lower than his regular playing time, but this may have been due to Harrison Phillips being activated and less due to the injury. It was not clear on film where he suffered his injury and what he exactly did at all.

I did find two possibilities but far from assured this is when the hip injury occurred. The first instance came late in the 1st quarter where he fell hard onto his left hip trying to get into the backfield. The second instance came with 7:05 left in the 4th quarter on the Tre’Davious White interception play. These are the only two instances where he fell hard onto his hip, possibly causing a contusion.

If he suffered some type of groin injury or hip flexor strain, this would be very difficult to find on film without more information. Jefferson did trend upwards this week from a DNP to limited to full on Friday indicating that he may have needed more rest than recovery from injury. If he exits the game Sunday night, this could be an area of concern to look into further.

QB Josh Allen (right knee/ankle)

Josh Allen is simply a tough player. He has battled through injury and adversity this season as he continues to rack up AFC player of the week award, his 3rd such honor this season. His passing ability was not hampered, evident with 375 yards and 4 TD’s. It is important to note that he rushed only 6 times for 11 total yards which supported my theory that he would be limited in his mobility.

Reviewing the box score, he only ran out to his right on passes and only ran to his right or up the middle. He never attempted to stress the right knee and ankle by running to his left unless he was flushed out of the pocket. Whether this was by design or coincidence, that will not be known. Heading into the Steelers game, I would expect that his mobility will increase but not be back to 100% yet with his body now two weeks removed from the original injury. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

TE Tyler Kroft

S Jaquan Johnson

DE Trent Murphy

The Bills certainly have an advantage over the Steelers in the injury department with Pittsburgh dealing with ailments to several key positions including linebacker and cornerback depth.

At linebacker, the Steelers have already lost Devin Bush and Bud Dupree to season-ending ACL tears and are now down a backup, Robert Spillane to a knee injury, likely an MCL sprain. He did not practice all week and this could force Marcus Allen, a converted safety into starting. Add in the fact that Vince Williams was a high-risk COVID exposure and will not play leaving the Steelers linebacking corps extremely thin.

At cornerback, Steven Nelson will play with a knee injury but his counterpart Joe Haden will not due to a concussion from Monday. This forces rookie James Pierre into starting which could really make for a great mismatch for the Bills wide receivers.

The Bills can certainly win this game. They have the talent to do so. The Steelers are a well-coached team and an NFL team doesn’t get lucky and stumble to an 11-1 record, no matter the circumstance. This will still be a hard-fought game but the Bills have the advantage due to lack of injuries and greater depth available. 

Heavy on the bias, but the Bills do have what it takes to win this game. If they don’t, I’d expect it to be close, showing the Bills can keep up with the AFC’s best. Make sure you get all your chores done and possibly get a nap in, it should be an exciting game Sunday night.

Top Photo Credit: Bills Wire-USA Today

2020 Week 13 Bills Injury Review- 49ers

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

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

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

WR Cole Beasley (concussion check)

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

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

RB Devin Singletary (Right knee)

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

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

RB Zack Moss (Right knee)

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

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

G Jon Feliciano (Left leg/knee)

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

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

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

Other injury thoughts:

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

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

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

WR Isaiah Hodgins (Left shoulder surgery)

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

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

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

G Cody Ford (Right meniscus tear)

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

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

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

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

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Week 13 Bills Injury Preview- 49ers

Will Milano and Dodson get activated?

It’s December and the Bills are not only playing meaningful football, but it’s in prime time! In addition, getting this injury report really feels like Christmas with how much improved the report is and for my sake, a much easier review to write up. While there are minimal injury concerns this week, there are still several players to note and watch for Monday’s contest against the 49ers. This is the first time since Week 10 of the 2019 season against Cleveland where there were not any game day designations prior to the game.

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

Allen has practiced in full this week despite dealing with a minor knee and ankle sprain from the result of a Joey Bosa tackle. Fortunately, he did not suffer worse damage despite how rough the injury originally looked. For more details, check out my article from Tuesday that breaks down why he is also dealing with a knee injury on top of the ankle injury. 

Thankfully he can play through a likely minor MCL sprain with bracing and with an effective tape job he can manage the ankle sprain he’s dealing with to play against the 49ers. He may be limited with running but it doesn’t mean that he won’t be mobile. 

G Jon Feliciano (Foot)

Not much is noted about Feliciano and his foot. He did play in all 62 offensive snaps and didn’t appear to require any medical attention during the game. This could be as simple as he was stepped on and made note of it to the training staff. Feliciano was a full participant all week and considering he’s missed enough games already this season, I didn’t expect him to miss for minor ailments. 

DE Mario Addison (Knee/vet rest)

The details of Addison’s knee injury continue to escape me but he is 33 and requires more time to recover than when he started out. The knee may be a chronic issue at this point and the team may be looking to keep him as fresh as possible and for as long as possible. 

TE/FB Reggie Gilliam (Hamstring)

Gilliam’s first appearance on the injury report with a hamstring isn’t all that concerning as he was limited Thursday and practiced full on Friday & Saturday. This may be something that’s sore, something that he wanted to make the team aware of in case it worsens Monday night. His practice participation suggests that this is minor and not something that should hold him out. 

He continues to see most of his time on special teams with 44% of snaps taken there compared to 10% of snaps on offense. I would say his injury risk is higher with a hamstring injury present, but between those two percentages, that’s only 18 plays. He’s on the field infrequently and that may benefit him, in the long run, to get past this hamstring and off the injury report. 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

It’s unclear if this hamstring is a continuation from the last hamstring strain that cost him two games and the bye week or if this is a new issue. Jones has shown the ability, again and again, to play through injuries and if he is practicing in full, this doesn’t concern me for Monday especially with the extra day of rest. 

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral strain)

After missing two games due to a pectoral injury followed by two ineffective games, Milano was placed on IR to take a full month to recover for the final stretch of the regular season. While at the time of publication, the team has not made any official designation on whether they will activate Milano. They have until Monday at 4 pm to make this designation. I fully expect the Bills to wait until the last second for a competitive advantage. 

The only way we find out sooner is if it’s confirmed that Milano travels with the team as injured reserve players don’t travel on game days. I do expect that Milano gets activated as there are open roster spots for him right now and playing against the 49ers would allow for him to get back up to game speed.

Observed in Thursday’s practice is the fact that he continues to wear his shoulder harness on his left arm which isn’t a surprise. I don’t expect him to get rid of that harness until the end of the season to prevent any further issues. It also appears that may be on a pitch count, similar to what he was on earlier and what the expectations would have been for Jon Feliciano if not for Mitch Morse’s concussion.

I expect the team to adhere to the pitch count and to get back in the swing of things as he prepares for bigger opponents such as the Steelers. 

LB Tyrel Dodson (Hamstring)

Dodson is in the same boat with the roster designation and activation for 4 pm Monday. He continued to work back from his hamstring strain suffered against the Chiefs in Week 6. It’s impossible to determine the grade of the hamstring strain by video but considering he was out for 6 weeks, he may have had a Grade 2. The only reservation I have regarding whether it was is whether the team needed to pull him off IR or kept him there to get fully healthy and he was not needed before that especially when Matt Milano was playing after his return. 

Either way, Dodson should be very close, if not 100%, giving the Bills a much-needed boost at linebacker depth heading into the final stretch of the season. I also believe that Dodson will return due to the open roster spots available. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

DT Harrison Phillips

DE Trent Murphy

TE Lee Smith

*With the health of the team, they may not need to have PS callups, leaving 5 players inactive. 

Looking at the game, there is a lot of money going towards the 49ers making this game a pick ‘em which could be a concern Monday night. While bettors do not decide the games, they are betting on an improving 49ers team from a health standpoint and angry that they cannot play in their own stadium due to local restrictions in California. 

While the fan base waits for a designation for Milano and Dodson, the 49ers are in the same boat with QB Jimmy Garoppolo and TE George Kittle as they are finally eligible to return off injured reserve with their respective injuries. However, the team has not activated their practice window according to reports. The Bills appeared to have dodged a bullet in not seeing those two for this game.

The 49ers will be without reserve CB K’wuan Williams (ankle) and CB Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring) is questionable. While these are not starters, the loss of any depth can be tough to overcome if starters go down with an injury. There are still questions that cannot be answered until 4 pm Monday, but this is the best information that we can go off of right now. 

The Bills have an excellent shot to win this game and move to 9-3 on the season. December is the time of the year where this makes or breaks most teams, I believe the Bills have what it takes in order to end 2020 strong and head into the playoffs ready to make a deep run.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills

2020 Week 10 Bills Injury Review- Cardinals

Is Brown and Jackson alright? What’s going on with Morse?

The football gods giveth, they also taketh. The Hail Mary pass from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins was truly something else. Those are the kind of plays that demonstrate why the Cardinals traded for him and gave him a big contract extension. I understand he isn’t making those plays week in and week out, but to know you’re never out of a game because a player like him can’t be discounted. Bills fans saw the exact same thing with Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs for the go-ahead touchdown just moments before. 

The loss sucks, but sometimes that’s just how things are. For every loss like the Cardinals, we can get a win as we did against the Rams. The Bills are still 7-3 heading into a much needed and deserved bye week with the ability to get a lot of key players back very soon and others to get healthy. I understand that after years of suffering through the drought, we want every win, we want the ability to leave no doubt in our minds who is the better football team in the NFL. I would also rather take this loss now and have a deep postseason run when compared to the Ravens 14-2 record last year and getting bounced in the divisional round of the playoffs. 

As we head into the bye week, there are several new injuries to monitor that may impact the injury report next week.

DE AJ Epenesa (Concussion)

Epenesa missed the second half of the game due to a concussion possibly sustained with 3:32 left in the 2nd quarter when he took down Kyler Murray from behind to set up 4th down. The play below shows how Epenesa attempted to knock the ball out of Murray’s hand as he took him down, regrettably slamming his head into the turf. He stood up quickly and appeared to be momentarily unsteady before walking off to the sideline motioning to his head. 

He was quickly taken to the locker room for further evaluation of a head injury where he was later ruled out with a concussion. He will enter concussion protocol as does every other NFL player, but time will tell how long it will take him to return. According to what I could find from his injury analysis this summer, this is Epenesa’s first publicly documented concussion. 

There is potential he could move through the protocol quickly, but no guarantees either. Fortunately, he has the bye to work through things to get right for the Chargers game.

CB Dane Jackson (right knee)

Jackson went down with a right knee injury tackling Christian Kirk in the 3rd quarter. He completed the tackle and rolled over, holding his right knee. It’s still not clear what he did to the knee even on the film below. I had initially thought he suffered a hamstring strain as he extended his leg out to grab Kirk, but I’m not certain that is the case. 

It’s very possible he hit the knee on the ground as both he and Kirk were falling. There is also the possibility that Jackson got a cleat to his knee, though slowing down the film, I personally couldn’t see anything. Jackson was observed later on the exercise bike appearing to keep the knee loose to prevent any potential swelling which also dissuades me from considering a hamstring. 

Jackson did return in the final moments of the game as DeAndre Hopkins caught the game-winner. Either Jackson gutted it out because the coaching staff knew he was the best option over Daryl Worley or the injury wasn’t as significant as originally thought. I am going to go with the latter in this case. 

I am also not certain that Jackson will show up on the injury report next week for two reasons. While he is continued to be used as a regular call up or COVID replacement call up, he is not officially on the active roster. Practice squad players are not placed on the regular injury report released through the week. Sometimes they are acknowledged as former Bills offensive lineman Evan Boehm was earlier this season, but I do not believe the team has any obligation to publicly release these details. 

If Jackson gets signed to the open roster spot available due to Del’Shawn Phillips going to IR, then Jackson could be on the injury report. I also don’t believe that the injury is serious enough without more information to determine that he will be on the report.

WR John Brown (right ankle)

Brown suffered yet another lower-body injury, this time on a 24-yard catch midway through the 4th quarter. The play was ultimately negated due to a Brian Winters holding penalty, but Brown made a great catch before coming down hard on his right ankle. Per Sean McDermott, Brown tweaked his ankle.

In the video below, you can clearly see that Brown lands on the right foot, the ankle bows inward before the rest of Brown’s momentum drags him down to the turf, lifting his heel up off the ground before being officially downed.

I had initially thought of an MCL sprain due to how he fell and the valgus angle with the knee pointing inward as he fell, but his medial ankle took the brunt of the injury it appeared. From the video alone, it looks to be a medial eversion ankle sprain, similar to what Tre’Davious White suffered last week. I would say this one was more severe when comparing the two, but Brown may have escaped a worse fate.

When the ankle bows out like that, there isn’t a lot of room for the ankle to move outward, potentially leading to a fracture of the lateral malleolus. However, Brown was able to walk around later under his own power on the sidelines indicating that not to be the case and the fact that the team said he tweaked the ankle. Right now, it seems as though he suffered a medial eversion ankle sprain and may need some time to rehab. 

Thankfully he has the bye next week to allow him at least a full week off to allow for healing. There’s potential that he shows up on the injury report with the ankle injury, but we will have to wait and see. At worst, there is the possibility that he misses 1-2 games which include the Chargers and 49ers games which appear winnable without him. However, there is also a very good chance he suits up against the Chargers and plays if the injury is mild. Next week will tell us much more.

Other injury thoughts:

DT Justin Zimmer (right elbow)

I bring Zimmer up because I noted that he had a hinged brace on his right elbow that I had not noted before Sunday’s game. Looking back at game footage, he has had a brace on the area going back to Week 7 against the Jets. The reason it wasn’t noticeable then was due to the fact that he would wear a sleeve over the area or had a long sleeve shirt on, downplaying the brace.

Prior to the hinged braced, he was wearing a compression sleeve on the area in the Chiefs game. If he had suffered an injury, it’s not publicly known and he still appears to be playing well. I have seen a lot of linemen wearing various bracing on their arms and legs to likely manage general complaints and provide some stability to the area as they play. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse did not play despite being active for Sunday’s contest. It was termed as coach’s decision by Sean McDermott. Jon Feliciano played the entire game at center in his place. There are some possible theories that I have behind why Morse ultimately did not play that I will address below.

Due to several other injuries and open roster spots, Morse may not have had the ability to be a healthy scratch. However, they could have scratched Morse and had Cody Ford active and not play. They have had injured players active before and not play.

The Bills may have also wanted Jon Feliciano to get more reps at the center position as he acclimates back to game action. McDermott did state that they are going week-to-week with offensive lineup combinations and wanted to get another look at them. But Feliciano is better suited at the guard position from what we’ve seen.

His risk to sustain another concussion following this most recent one is higher, but I have not found an exact number that says a person is at X% more likely to suffer another concussion within X days/weeks from the last one after full recovery. He’s at greater risk to suffer another concussion, just like he was prior to the latest head injury. I also see this study and say it has some value, but the research is nearly 20 years old, I do question how accurate it is now.

There has been speculation that Morse needed extra rest and to use the bye along with not playing in order to make sure he’s healthy. Looking at the NFL return to play concussion protocol, from my interpretations, once you pass through the NFL concussion protocol, you are cleared for play. There isn’t any gray area when it comes to this decision. Either you are cleared or not. Extra rest would not necessarily reduce his risk even further.

There are concerns for second-impact syndrome and post-concussive symptoms. I can say with some confidence that neither are in play here. If he was to have the second-impact syndrome, that would imply that he was not fully healthy as he tried to return. That would go against how the protocol’s purpose. The same thing goes for the post-concussive syndrome. If he was still having symptoms, he doesn’t pass through the protocol. Even if he suffered another concussion in warmups, they would have reported it, similar to when Quinton Spain had his foot soreness as a surprise inactive.

The only reason I can consider is that Morse is a veteran player, I am sure he is dealing with the effects of a physical season and it’s possible that McDermott wanted to give him the day off to preserve him for the playoff push. Not allowing Morse to play also eliminates a chance to sustain another concussion or injury in general. However, if a player is healthy enough to play, he was per the concussion protocol, then he should have played. I don’t believe Morse was benched either.

Bottom line, he was deemed healthy per the concussion protocol, he should have played based on that logic. If McDermott wanted to give him the game off, then he probably should have made him a healthy scratch, they have done that in other games for other players when it did not matter. If they wanted to avoid Morse suffering a further injury, then you inactivate him. Extra rest from a head injury could make sense, but not when applying it to the NFL concussion protocol.

Overall, the Bills head into a much-deserved bye week with the ability for most of the team to address some of their injuries as they prepare for the final stretch. There are a lot of injuries to fix along with a lot of game strategies including the anemic run game. Hopefully, there is more news that comes out regarding these injuries and more over the next week and the injury report will be something to watch with regards to how many players are on it and who is on it. I hope the Bills enjoy their week off as they prepare for the final stretch of the season.

Top Photo Credit: DraftKings Nation

2020 Week 10 Bills Injury Preview- Cardinals

Will Hyde and Ford suit up with their respective ankle injuries?

Things are finally trending up for the Bills on the injury front! While the list is still long, the players are getting healthier which is incredibly important heading into the bye next week. If you look around the league, many teams have long injury lists, but how those injuries have affected those teams’ records is interesting. Some have kept marching along and others have been decimated as a result.

Fortunately, the Bills are in the former group as they prepare to head out to Arizona to play the 5-3 Cardinals. A win Sunday would put the team as just the 8th team in franchise history to go 8-2 through 10 games according to fellow Bills content creator Circling the Wagons podcast. All those but one reached their respective league championship game. The one that didn’t in 1988 still made the AFC title game.

That’s some great information to look fondly back on. But before we start counting the chickens before they hatch, check out the injuries below. 

OUT:

RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring)

Jones misses his second game of the season with a hamstring strain suffered in the win over the Patriots. With how the team has managed the hamstring strains since Sean McDermott has been coaching, for Jones to miss 2 games is no surprise. 

It’s possible that Jones could have been a candidate for IR, but considering the bye is next week, the team can use that to their advantage and avoid roster moves. Hopefully, he comes off the report following the bye. 

QUESTIONABLE:

G Cody Ford (right ankle)

Ford was limited in practice all week with an ankle injury sustained in the win over Seattle midway through the 1st quarter. He later appeared on the sidelines, potentially able to play but never returned. By video, it appears he suffered a low ankle sprain when he got clipped by Zack Moss during the play. 

The fact that he was limited all week says that he can potentially play Sunday if he needs to. He may still be dealing with swelling and pain in the area, making him more of a true game-time decision. I suspect that he plays and allows the Bills to field the offensive line group that they haven’t been able to produce as originally envisioned for Week 1 (Dawkins, Ford, Morse, Feliciano, Williams). If he doesn’t play, then this may be out of an abundance of caution and using the bye week to get healthy.

S Micah Hyde (ankle)

Hyde suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice that left him limited and he did not practice Friday. While he is questionable, it may truly be a game-time decision whether he plays Sunday. We do not have specifics of the injury, only a timeframe of when it occurred. Frankly, I do not like the DNP designation on Friday. Those typically don’t bode well to play Sunday’s from my past observations of the injury report.

To note, he did have left ankle injuries in Week 1 and Week 3 of which he was able to play through. It’s not known whether he injured the same ankle again or if it is the other side. I’m not certain he plays Sunday, but I would be glad to be wrong. 

INJURED RESERVE:

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadricep)

Phillips lands on IR again, this time ending his season with a quadriceps injury. It appears that this is the same injury that he suffered in Week 1 against the Jets, went on IR, and then potentially injured again against the Seahawks. 

It appeared that he had suffered a strain in Week 1, but this seems to be an injury that Phillips cannot get past. His 2020 season consisted of 14 special teams plays over the two games. He goes to IR which ends his season as he has already had one trip to short-term IR. This opens a coveted roster spot for several possible players to be called up for depth.

ACTIVE: 

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Another week, another Josh Allen sighting on the injury report with this shoulder injury. We have seen his play appear to be affected by the shoulder injury with his follow through and ability to throw the deep ball. We have also seen the level of bracing change from a shoulder harness to a brace to kinesotape for stability. This is now 6 weeks he has been on the report. The team obviously won’t tell us the specifics, but we continue to watch and see what’s going on with his play. 

WR John Brown (left knee)

Brown continues to work through the knee injury sustained in practice that caused him to miss the Week 5 matchup against the Titans and re-injured against the Chiefs. Sunday against the Seahawks appeared as though he was finally back on track with a stat line that matched his 2019 levels. He continues to work through these nagging injuries and will hopefully get healthy enough following the bye to become the WR2 that the team envisioned at the beginning of this season. 

G Jon Feliciano (back)

Little is known about Feliciano’s back other than the designation. He has played in 100% of snaps since returning and it’s possible that he has generalized back soreness from getting back into game shape. As he has no designation, this isn’t something I’m concerned about unless he lingers on the report as some of his teammates. 

DE Jerry Hughes (foot)

Hughes has been battling a foot ailment over the past few weeks that hasn’t hampered his abilities to perform. As his snap counts and production have not suffered, it’s hard to identify the actual specifics of the injury. He continues to show up week in and week out since his trade in 2013; I do not expect that to change. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse cleared the concussion protocol Wednesday following his 5th documented concussion in the win over the Patriots. The protocol is there for a reason to ensure players return safely at their own pace. He has cleared protocol, then I would have no reservations about him playing. The chance to suffer another concussion is there, but it has been there the entire time. If he for some reason doesn’t play, it would be deemed a healthy scratch and would likely come at the agreement of Morse, training staff, and the team collectively.

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

With no designation next to his name, Josh Norman returns to the field. This allows the Bills to showcase their cornerback depth for the first time since Week 4 when Norman returned off IR before Levi Wallace got hurt against the Raiders. Hopefully, Norman stays healthy for this game and then uses the bye to prepare for the final stretch of the season. 

While this season has not been what Bills and Norman envisioned, my hope is that he provides needed depth and veteran leadership at the position once the Bills enter the playoffs. I’m excited to see what he and Levi Wallace can do opposite Tre’Davious White for a full game.

CB Tre’Davious White (left ankle)

It seems anytime Tre’Davious White goes down, there is an audible gasp from fans. White has become the heart and soul of the secondary with his exemplary play as he has ascended to the ranks of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. 

He appeared to suffer a medial eversion ankle sprain late in the 4th quarter against the Seahawks. He was in pain on the field before hopping over to the bench to get it taped up, appearing ready to go back in if needed.

He practiced this week with a limited designation on Thursday and full on Friday indicating that this was not going to be an issue. He had also stated to the media that he would play. Despite the injury, he will likely not see any ill effects as he will probably have the ankle taped up and or braced. Arizona has some talented wide receivers and it will be White’s job to lock down whoever it may be, most likely DeAndre Hopkins

G Brian Winters (knee)

Winters appears on the injury report again with a knee ailment. He did exit the game briefly on Sunday with what appeared to be a knee contusion before returning later in the game. While he may have some acute injuries, this may be more of an acute on chronic issue that he continues to battle as the season progresses. 

RB TJ Yeldon (back)

Still, nothing is known about Yeldon’s back injury but he does not have a game status attached to him. This situation reminds me of several years ago when former Bills OL John Miller was on the injury report with an ankle injury for nearly 6 weeks despite not playing. 

Yeldon doesn’t appear to be in the game plans this Sunday and will likely be inactive. However, knowing he is healthy is good to know in the event that either Devin Singletary or Zack Moss goes down in the future. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

S Micah Hyde

TE Lee Smith* active due to TE Tyler Kroft on COVID list

RB Taiwan Jones 

DT Harrison Phillips 

COVID list: Josh Norman, Dean Marlowe, Tyler Kroft, Levi Wallace

Elevated for COVID and PS call ups include Darron Lee, Daryl Worley, Jake Kumerow, Josh Thomas, Dane Jackson

The Cardinals are a talented team but the Bills match up well with them. Looking at the injury report for Arizona, they have several injuries that could impact their ability to match up as well as they have with other teams in the past weeks. Budda Baker is questionable with a groin injury, Kenyan Drake is still working through an ankle injury that you can read more about at The Game Day. Drake may play but I highly question his effectiveness. He may be best served to sit out one more game.

Dre Kirkpatrick their top corner is also working through a thigh injury and Dionte Thompson addressing a knee injury. On top of that, former Bill Jordan Phillips will miss the game with a hamstring strain. 

Even though the Bills are still working through some injuries, at worst they will not have Micah Hyde, Cody Ford, and they are already without Matt Milano. That is far better than the Cardinals potentially missing most of their secondary along with key offensive weapons. The Bills have shown they can plug up the holes required to get by without them for short durations. 

If the Bills play at all how they did last week, they have a very realistic shot to move to 8-2 heading into the bye. These games are incredibly stressful at times to watch but also insanely fun because this team is competitive and every single play means something now. It’s always been fun to be a part of Bills Mafia, but it’s so fantastic to be a Bills fan when they’re finally winning, it’s been worth the wait!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo News

2020 Week 9 Bills Injury Review- Seahawks

Looks like the Bills may finally be getting healthier.

The Bills are 7-2 for the first time since 1993 and in control of the AFC East following a convincing win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. To put it into context, I was 5 when this last happened. A lot has changed since then, but the Bills are finally contenders again and it’s a great feeling! On top of the excellent start, there were minimal injuries that have been termed day-to-day from Sunday.

In-game injuries:

G Cody Ford (right ankle)

Ford suffered a right ankle injury on the first TD of the day to TE Tyler Kroft. This was the result of Ford getting knocked backward from his block before tripping over RB Zack Moss as he tumbled backward. It wasn’t clear initially what he had injured, but based on how he fell outward, it appeared that he rolled his ankle. It’s also possible he could have stepped on Moss as he came through, leading to the injury. Here’s the play below.

He made it to the sidelines before getting carted to the locker room for further evaluation. He eventually returned to the sidelines later in the game. He was even observed holding his helmet and jogging, ultimately not returning to the game. Considering he was coming off the right MCL injury and now dealing with a right ankle, it appears the team did not want to risk further injury and kept him out as a precaution.

Unless the practice reports show otherwise, he may be limited with an ankle sprain this week and tape it up for Sunday. Small possibility they have him sit to maximize his healing time with the bye coming up.

G Brian Winters (left knee)

Shortly after Ford went down, Winters suffered a left knee injury with 14:23 left in the 2nd quarter. He fell down in a pile of bodies as the pocket collapsed, leading to him having some difficulty getting off the field.

On broadcast, he was observed rubbing the inner portion of the knee indicating a possible mild MCL sprain or patellar contusion. It’s also not clear if this is the same knee that he has been limited with the past 2 weeks. He eventually returned roughly a half-hour later to finish out the game. He may continue to show up on the injury report this week with a knee ailment, but it doesn’t appear that this is a concerning issue.

T Daryl Williams (leg)

Williams may be the most difficult injury to observe on film similar to Winters, also falling in a pile of bodies with 6:40 left in the 2nd quarter. He landed on his left side and appeared to be favoring the left side slightly walking off.

The injury did not appear to be an issue as he returned several plays later and finished out the game. Based on the pile of bodies and short time missed, it was likely that he suffered a general contusion that required brief attention before returning. Normally, injuries to Williams and Winters are inconsequential, but at one point the Bills were without 3 offensive linemen available to protect QB Josh Allen.

CB Tre’Davious White (left ankle)

White sustained an ankle injury late in the 4th quarter with 3:16 left, quickly getting tended to by trainers before hopping off to get taped. Upon further review, it appears he suffered a medial eversion ankle sprain. There was a possibility that he suffered a mild high ankle sprain, but his foot appeared to be pointed down more towards neutral than upward into dorsiflexion, avoiding the more severe injury observed in the top picture below.

White quickly got taped up and was walking around on the sidelines, possibly waiting to return. He was designated as questionable to return but ultimately was not needed as the team iced the game with the recovery of the onside kick.

It appears that White avoided major injury and he should play next week. It’s possible that if the ankle is worse than originally thought, he could miss the next game considering the bye coming up, but the video and sideline impressions following the injury don’t imply that it was.

Other thoughts:

G/C Jon Feliciano (pectoral)

Feliciano continues to play in 100% of the snaps in the absence of C Mitch Morse following his concussion. For someone 3 months removed from tearing his pectoral muscle, he looks pretty good out there. I had hoped that he would be worked in to not stress the surgically repaired area, but at this point, it doesn’t appear to be an option. The band-aid has been ripped off; there is no point in trying to restrict him now. Hopefully, he continues to work back into shape and round into form for the late-season stretch.

LB Matt Milano (pectoral)

Milano was placed on IR on Saturday to better manage his pectoral injury. He missed the Titans and Chiefs game but returned for the Jets and Patriots game, but was on a pitch count and obviously limited. Based on what he was doing out there, he was able to play and did make a difference in pass coverage, but when asked to tackle or stop the run, he simply could not wrap up his tackles. This was a concern of mine returning from the injury and it appears to be true.

I question whether he had a setback with regards to the timeline the team has taken with this injury. He could have re-injured some of the healing tissue in the pectoral region, leading to putting him on the shelf. It’s more likely that they weren’t satisfied with his play and limited availability, leading to the shutdown.

The team saw an opportunity to put him on IR to maximize his healing time while minimizing games lost. He does have to miss 3 games which means he was out for the Seahawks game and will be out for the Cardinals and Chargers game.

In addition, he will use the bye to get an entire month off to recover. A whole month of no football activities to allow the pectoral muscle to heal in addition to the past month of rehab he’s already performed should work out in his favor. With this timeline, he could potentially come back close to 100% when he returns.

I saw some comments on social media questioning the handling of Milano’s injury. I can say with a moderate level of confidence that they handled it the best they could with the information they had at the moment. That’s all you can do in situations like this. They had the physical testing, the imaging, and they made an informed decision. The research supported his ability to return when he did. Injuries like this, a likely Grade 2 strain, do take upwards of 6 weeks to heal, but in the NFL, these players don’t typically get that time to fully recover, leading to him returning after 2 games.

In rehab, I have had countless patients “fail PT” or not progress as expected. This is due to other circumstances that play into the decision-making process or are considered in the plan of care but overtake the issue at hand, preventing the patient from reaching their goals.

Sometimes, those other issues need to be addressed before therapy can be successful. For example, people with arthritic knees that can’t tolerate progressing exercises secondary to pain, sometimes they need a cortisone injection to help calm things down before they can complete PT.

In other cases, a surgically repaired area needs further healing before therapy can be initiated or progressed. Sometimes a chronic health condition can become problematic and must be addressed to maximize rehab. I have had many cases where this needed to be completed in order for the patient to ultimately be successful at rehab.

In Milano’s case, they let the research and imaging dictate when he returned. They probably realized he wasn’t as effective as he could have been and ran the risk to suffer further injury and shut him down. Medicine is a lot of trial and error at the end of the day based on the research and experience of the providers treating those issues. The providers are allowed to change their minds if something isn’t working or adverse effects occur. The poor decision would have been to be stubborn and continue to play through the injury, potentially leading to a worse outcome.

Fortunately, the team has the short term IR to allow him to rest and not waste a roster spot. In other years, he probably would have continued to try and gut it out like we saw LB Tremaine Edmunds do earlier this season, though it’s important to note that the injuries were different.

As the theme has been this year, there will likely be an injury here or there that shows up on Wednesday that we did not expect. My hope is that some of these injuries do fall off the list because if the list grows anymore, we may need a magnifying glass to look at some of these names. However, the bye is coming up and while it feels much later than usual, it is perfectly timed. I would rather have a late bye with all these injuries to get right for the final push rather than limp into the postseason. The Bills are 7-2, life is good.

2020 Week 9 Bills Injury Preview- Seahawks

Proceed with caution, this is a long one.

The 2020 NFL season is truly something else. Lately, I cringe a little every time the injury report gets released. There’s a lot of names on that list. It’s at times dizzying to look and see that over 25% of the roster is injured to the point that they may not be available to play Sunday.

Over the past few years, there have been bouts where they have dealt with numerous injuries from week to week, but they have not had this level of injuries for this long of duration since HC Sean McDermott took over in 2017. As always here at Banged Up Bills, every injury is detailed out below to give an idea of the specifics and availability for Sunday’s game against Seattle. 

OUT 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

Jones is dealing with a hamstring strain that appears to be on the right side. He suffered this during kickoff following the second touchdown that put the Bills up 14-6. He was sprinting full speed and the hamstring just appeared to be overworked and it went. 

With how the team handles hamstrings and his positional demands, I do not anticipate him playing Sunday. He would need at least a week off if not more before he could return. It wouldn’t surprise me if he missed the next two games and then used the bye to get some extra rest. His loss on special teams will certainly be missed, but this isn’t something that he can gut out like he has so many other injuries.

C Mitch Morse (Concussion)

Morse suffered a concussion on the 3rd play of the 1st quarter and had to exit the game, quickly receiving the diagnosis. His long history of concussions dating back to his rookie year is well known and this is now his 5th publicly reported documented concussion. 

He was seen on the sidelines working out with training staff indicating that he is at least in Stage 2 of the protocol Wednesday and Thursday. Friday he was seen in a red non-contact jersey indicating Stage 3, very possible Stage 4.

Considering concussions take on average 10 days to return from and add in the fact that Morse has taken longer to return from a concussion, he was not expected to play Sunday. I see a scenario where he misses the next two games and uses the bye to get fully right before fully returning. He could play against Arizona if he clears the protocol, but only the team and he will know which path he wishes to take.

Morse has said that he can only worry about what he can control. He’s going to do everything in his power to return quickly but safely in order to help the Bills during the second half of the season. 

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral)

Milano did not practice this week after playing the last two games. He hasn’t exactly been playing perfect, but he has had to wear a shoulder harness to prevent stressing the healing area. It’s not clear whether he aggravated the injury on Sunday or if they are just trying to manage the injury efficiently. Friday’s press conference appeared to imply that they are trying to rest him as much as possible while allowing him to play as needed. 

My thoughts originally were that they were trying to preserve him for the week to play on Sunday’s. That now does not appear to be the case. It has been a month since he suffered the injury and while the area is healing, playing in a football game the past two weeks hasn’t exactly accelerated the healing process.

I didn’t get the perception that he did suffer an aggravation on film, but we don’t know what the team knows. I can say with 100% certainty that he did not fully tear the area, otherwise, he would have been sent to have it repaired. You can live with a fully torn pectoral muscle in certain cases but not if you want to play NFL football.

It’s also important to note that the last two games have been against AFC East opponents which are more significant for the playoffs instead of the upcoming NFC games. Since the Bills won both games and the NFC games don’t hold as much weight for playoff seeding as a divisional game, it would make sense to rest Milano for this game. 

As he is not playing Sunday, this is the decision that was likely made with the team, training staff, and Milano together to ensure he’s healthy for later in the season. It will be interesting to see if newly signed LB Darron Lee makes an appearance due to the massive struggles of LB AJ Klein last week.

Update: Milano has been placed on IR.

CB Josh Norman (Hamstring)

Norman’s season continues to be a struggle for the veteran corner to stay healthy. He still continues to work through the same hamstring that he originally suffered in the preseason and then aggravated in practice two weeks ago. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to when he returns. My hope is that he takes the time he needs and is healthy for the final stretch. 

RB TJ Yeldon (Back)

I have absolutely no idea what Yeldon could be dealing with. He doesn’t have a publicly known history of back issues and he didn’t play in Sunday’s contest. This ailment either occurred during practice or this is an injury that the public isn’t aware of. As he is rarely active, this is a non-factor for Sunday. 

QUESTIONABLE

TE Dawson Knox (Calf)

Knox has had a rough season this year. He has been dealing with a concussion, a hamstring strain, a calf strain, and now COVID. It’s very possible that Knox’s calf is fully recovered from the original injury sustained against the Titans. On average, it takes about 17.4 days to return to play which is just under 3 weeks. Knox passed that window in terms of recovery time and is questionable to play.

The bigger concern will be how he responds following having COVID. Every day we are still learning the effects the virus has on the body and Knox is not immune to those effects. Right now, I hope that he can come back and just play before we get into considering how much of an offensive threat he can be. Due to the uncertainty of how COVID affected him, I want to say he won’t play, but with the number of injuries all over, he might be forced into being active on game day.

DE Darryl Johnson (Knee)

Johnson continues the trend of mystery injuries from Sunday’s game and it’s difficult to speculate the details. He did practice in full on Friday which was a great sign but was still ruled questionable. Considering DE AJ Epenesa was inactive last week, they could switch these two out. The only reason to play Johnson is his special teams contributions. He is a core special teamer whereas Epenesa has only played any special teams the past two weeks. It may just depend on how Johnson feels Sunday.

DT Vernon Butler (Groin)

Butler is moving in the right direction with a full practice on Thursday and Friday following a limited practice on Wednesday. When he exactly injured the groin against the Jets is not known, but the fact that he is able to return after one game indicates it was not that serious. This may come down to how he feels on game day, but the weather is supposed to be warm and dry, potentially lessening the risk for poor footing, leading to aggravation due to slipping. 

The Seahawks rushing attack will be limited due to the possible absence of RB Chris Carson and RB Carlos Hyde. With the addition of Butler, this will help stymie the run game to limit the weapons available for QB Russell Wilson and give the Bills a chance at slowing the offense. 

G Cody Ford (Right knee)

There is hope that Ford can suit up against the Seahawks on Sunday after missing two games with a likely right MCL injury. He did practice in full on Friday which is typically a good sign to play on Sunday. The team continues to have depth at the offensive line to patch things together, but returning Ford would be huge to help maintain consistency for the run game and pass protection.

He has had his share of injuries this season and the time off may have allowed him to get right in order to return to the left guard position and provide stability on an ever-changing offensive line. 

ACTIVE 

WR John Brown (Knee)

Brown continues to deal with nagging injuries from the beginning of the season with the foot issues progressing into the calf strain, working up to a likely left knee sprain. Wednesday was most likely a veteran rest day but practiced in full on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully, he can get through the next two games before the bye and finally get off the injury report. 

RG Brian Winters (Knee)

Winters appears on the injury report again with a knee injury; the specifics are not known. He is known to wear a knee brace during games on the right side. He did have a left ACL tear several years ago that I had thought he could be dealing with some arthritic changes, but impossible to confirm at this time. This may be an injury that the team continues to manage conservatively throughout the season as he is an older player. 

DE Jerry Hughes (Foot)

Despite the injury designation, Hughes continues to make an impact at the defensive end position while not missing any time. The injury originally occurred in the Jets game and it did not appear to affect him. He played in 62% of the snaps against the Patriots, roughly his normal snap count and there simply isn’t a lot of information regarding the injury. 

The bottom line, it’s going to take more than a foot injury to force Hughes to miss a game. 

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)

Allen continues to appear weekly on the injury report with a left shoulder injury originally sustained in the win over the Raiders. He also continues to wear a shoulder brace to address likely instability from that injury. He continues to practice in full but there is continued concern that he will aggravate the injury with an ill-timed hit or fall. 

This is something that we will likely get much more information on after the season. This is an issue that will continue to be monitored as he appears on the injury report and continues to wear a brace. 

S Micah Hyde (Concussion)

Hyde worked through the concussion protocol this week following his massive hit on Jets WR Breshad Perriman. He was limited in practice Wednesday but fortunately, practiced in full on Thursday and Friday. Per reports, he has since cleared concussion protocol and will suit up for Sunday to give the secondary a huge boost in containing the Seahawks offensive weapons.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Knee)

This is Jefferson’s second week on the injury report with a knee ailment that originally occurred in the Jets game. There aren’t any specifics regarding what he’s dealing with, but he, like Winters, did have an ACL tear several years ago. It’s possible the grind of the NFL season is wearing on his joints and he is dealing with some generalized arthritic pain following the ACL tear. He played last week and I expect him to play again this week.

G Jon Feliciano (Pectoral tear)

Felicano played in every snap Sunday after missing the first 7 games of the season due to the pectoral tear suffered in training camp. I highly doubt this was the plan due to C Mitch Morse exiting the game with a concussion, but he was pressed into service. Feliciano did note that playing center allows him to stay more protected against future injury, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility. 

I personally don’t like the idea of him playing 100% of snaps again, but he appears to be the best option at this time unless G Ryan Bates got up to speed to take snaps at center this week. He should be eased back in, but according to Feliciano, he is at 97% in regards to his recovery, so he may understand the risks involved and decide to play anyway. This will be something I watch for on Sunday with his playing time.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

CB Josh Norman

LB Matt Milano* IR

RB Taiwan Jones

C Mitch Morse

RB TJ Yeldon

DE Daryl Johnson

TE Dawson Knox

The one upside to this game is that the Seahawks are even more injured than the Bills are. The team will be down both RB’s Chris Carson and RB Carlos Hyde. They will also be without their starting cornerback in Shaquill Griffin and starting guard Mike Iupati. They do note on their practice reports the term load management and resting vet, but most are still working through things. 

Looking at this game, I’m biased, I want the Bills to win, but this is a tough offense. Ideally, the defense steps up as it did against Kansas City despite the loss and slows down the Seahawks just enough that the Bills offense can stay ahead. The team also desperately needs this bye week in Week 11 to get right for the final stretch. 

While COVID did mess with our schedule, it did not result in a bye like the Titans and Steelers received in Week 4. That early bye week may come back to haunt those two likely playoff teams come January. The late bye may make the difference for the Bills. I can stomach a loss, but I would rather take a loss and avoid further injuries than win and lose more key pieces. Survive to fight another day and get to the bye week. This should be an entertaining game with the hopes that the Bills move to 7-2.

Top Photo Credit: BillsWire-USA Today