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 8 Bills Injury Review- Patriots

What are the concerns with Mitch Morse? How is Matt Milano doing?

A win is a win. Despite 6-2, the perception of the fan base is that the win over the vaunted Patriots was not convincing. No one’s going to look back and say how unconvincing a regular-season win was when a team wins the Super Bowl or makes a deep playoff run. I know we’re not at that point yet, but put it into perspective when you look at a quality of a win. Enjoy a win over a team that has tormented us for the better part of two decades. 

As this season progresses, the wins will continue to become harder to come by especially as the injuries continue to mount. Below are the injuries from Sunday. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse made it through 3 plays before suffering a concussion picking up the block from Patriots S Adrian Phillips in the first quarter. The hit itself appears to be rather benign, but considering Morse’s 4 previously publicly documented concussions, sometimes it does not take much to suffer another concussion. Below is the hit that he likely suffered the concussion.

He was quickly ruled out of the game with an official designation as a concussion and has been placed into the concussion protocol. Now that Morse has suffered 5 concussions, there are concerns about his professional future and health. 

I will say that he is an intelligent individual who has all the resources and information available to him to make an informed decision regarding his career and health. Looking at the research, an article published in 2003, those that suffer 3+ concussions are 3 times more likely to sustain another one. 

Looking at timelines for recovery, on average, it takes 10 days to recover from a concussion. To note, that is looking at the general research; individuals may take considerably longer than 10 days to return to sport. Also to note, the amount of force required to sustain another concussion decreases as the number of concussions increase, leading possibly to why Morse suffered another concussion. He had several factors going against him that at this point, some he simply cannot control.

It is impossible to identify how long he will take to return. When he suffered his concussion last year, the team knew that he could not talk to the media while in protocol and they also took their time to ensure he was fully healthy before returning to play. They were also not in a rush to have the independent neurological consult for clearance as it was the preseason. This may have influenced the length of time he was in the protocol.

It would be reasonable to assume he could return quicker than last time, but impossible to say. The only thing we can go off of is his levels of participation at practice which will be watched closely. Hopefully, he is able to return in a quick but safe manner. Based on his history, I don’t see a scenario where he plays in Week 9. I also don’t envision a scenario where it takes him another 6 weeks to return as in the case with former Bills QB Derek Anderson, but it can’t be ruled out either. We simply need more information before determining return to play.

RB Taiwan Jones (right hamstring)

Jones suffered a right hamstring strain on the kickoff following the second Bills TD of the day. He suffered the injury running full speed down the field and roughly halfway down the field, he began to pull up, grabbing at his right side. He didn’t appear to change direction or slow down, the hamstring simply went. 

He did deal with hamstring injuries last year when he was with the Texans, but it’s not clear that the previous injuries are directly related as there is roughly a year apart. It may simply be that the hamstring was strained as the result of top-end sprinting.

After seeing all the injuries that Jones has suffered, there is not a doubt in my mind that he will return to play eventually or try to at least. Based on how the team manages hamstring strains, he will probably be out 1-3 games but could be a candidate for IR if the strain is severe enough. We will know more in the coming days. 

WR Stefon Diggs (abdomen/neck)

Diggs went down briefly with 4:58 left in the 3rd quarter after catching a 6-yard pass near the sidelines. Upon review of the play, he appeared to get punched in the abdomen and hit on the back of the neck upon getting tackled. He was motioning to his left flank area before he went down to be assessed by trainers.

He was able to return to the game shortly after a break, but it appears that Diggs had the wind knocked out of him based on what’s on film. He is not a player who has been showing up on the injury report this season though there are scares at times. At the time of writing this article, I don’t see an injury that could limit him from playing next week, but players show up all the time on the report with ailments not previously identified.

LB AJ Klein (left knee)

Klein suffered a left knee injury in the 4th quarter with 4:03 left in the game. He was tripped as he was attempting to pursue Patriots RB Damien Harris towards the sidelines. He came up grabbing at his left knee/shin area briefly but was able to return the next play. 

It’s not clear what he exactly did, he looked to get tripped or pushed down, may have been a contusion or the calf area getting struck. It wasn’t serious enough to even miss a play for further evaluation. Considering how Klein was playing on Sunday, he probably could have used the time off the field.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (left leg)

On the same play that Klein went down, Edmunds also suffered a left knee injury that the trainers had to tend to on the field. Looking at the video, he got knocked off balance, having to take a bigger step forward with his left leg to try and stay upright before falling down. He missed two plays before returning to the game signifying that this may not have been serious.

Upon review, it’s possible that he may have slightly hyperextended the knee or hit the ground when he fell, causing momentary pain. It doesn’t appear to be much of anything but will be something to review further if he shows up on the injury report. 

LB Matt Milano (left pectoral)

Milano did not suffer a re-injury to the area, but his play continues to be compromised due to the injury. This was notable in two places. He played in only 23% of the snaps, down from 33% last week. He also got burned badly by Patriots RB Rex Burkhead on 3rd and 10 with 4:15 left in the 3rd quarter. 

He attempted to grab Burkhead with his left arm as he was falling down, unable to reach him before S Jordan Poyer was able to stop him. Looking at the video, Milano wasn’t in the best position to tackle, but the arm tackle that he has made so many times before could not be completed I believe due to the shoulder harness he is wearing.

The cuff attaches to the arm and has a strap that connects to the chest wall seen in the picture. This is designed to limit abduction and external rotation, similar to cocking back to throw a ball, both movements that could stress the healing pectoral muscle. When he went to tackle Burkhead, his left arm comes up into abduction and quickly snaps back down, indicating that he was suddenly stopped by the bracing. The brace did its job, but this injury continues to limit Milano with his availability and utilizing his skill set. You can see the strap that attaches near the armpit below.

Credit: Breg.com

I have received a lot of questions regarding when he will be fully healthy again. It’s possible that he will be following the bye as it will have been nearly 8 weeks since the original injury. He could hypothetically ditch the brace if the area shows that it’s fully healed. This could obviously change if he re-injures the area or if the team continues to have him wear the brace for further protection. Muscles usually heal up a lot easier due to a rich blood supply to the area, but re-injuries can complicate that healing process.

Those suggesting that he eventually requires surgery, the literature suggests that surgery isn’t performed on partial pectoral tears due to the lack of need. This includes partial tendon tears and tears within the muscle belly. Simply put, Milano needs time to rest. Limiting his snap count to obvious passing downs, limiting his practice reps, and continuous rehab can help maximize the healing process, but he still needs time to rest. Like Edmunds with his shoulder injury, I hope to see that his play improves as the season progresses and that he’s healthier for the playoffs.

G/C Jon Feliciano (pectoral injury)

Week 8 marked the return of G/C Jon Feliciano after suffering a right pectoral tendon tear shortly after training camp started. He had implied that he would return in Week 4, but the team had a say in stopping him from returning sooner to prevent re-injury. The plan appeared to have him worked in and rotate at the guard position, but the injury to C Mitch Morse prevented Feliciano from doing that.

Feliciano ended up playing in 100% of the snaps, all but 3 plays at the center position. G Ryan Bates did come in shortly after Morse went out, but the decision was quickly made to insert Feliciano into the role despite not practicing at the position leading up to the game. With Morse out for an unknown amount of time, the team has to make a decision at center. Feliciano is the obvious choice, but I don’t believe it’s smart to have him play the entire game again coming off an injury such as that, even with the shoulder harness he is wearing, similar to Milano. Just because he played one game like that doesn’t mean that he can’t suffer another injury. 

The team does have options at center including Bates, G Ike Boettger, or practice squad member C Jordan Devey. I’m not certain that rotating at the center position would be great for offensive consistency. To save Feliciano, he should probably switch back to guard, continue to rotate in with someone else and keep another player at center consistently unless more injuries occur. That’s just my opinion, but I’d hate to lose Feliciano just after getting him back and not have Morse for possibly the immediate future. 

Like we have seen every week, I expect to see a surprise injury or a few pop up on the injury report Wednesday. Hopefully, we see the return of S Micah Hyde, DT Vernon Butler, and CB Josh Norman to help shore up the defense as they begin to prepare for Seattle’s high powered offense. We may also see a trade today to bolster the defense as they prepare for the second half of the season. As the season progresses, the hope is that the injury list dwindles in time for the Bills to play their best football in December and make a deep postseason run. 

Top Photo Credit: Billswire.usatoday.com

OL Jordan Devey Injury Profile

#60 Jordan Devey

Position: OL
Height/Weight: 6’6″/320 lbs.
Age: 30
College: Memphis
Year joined Bills: 2020
Acquired: Free Agency via Raiders

College Injuries:

TBD

Pro Injuries:

2013 Ravens/Patriots:

No publicly reported injuries.

2014 Patriots:

No publicly reported injuries.

2015 49ers:

No publicly reported injuries.

2016 Chiefs:

Ankle injury, Week 7, missed 1 game.

2017 Chiefs:

No publicly reported injuries.

2018 Chiefs:

Torn pectoral muscle, side not specified, Week 7, went to IR, missed 11 games including playoffs.

2019 Raiders:

Groin injury, Week 3, missed 0 games.

Torn pectoral muscle, side not specified, Week 4, went to IR, missed 12 games.

General links:

Torn pectoral, both instances