2020 AFC Championship Bills Injury Review- Chiefs

How did Beasley partially fracture his fibula?

Yet again, the Buffalo Bills are not ending the season the way we wish, hoisting the Lombardi trophy. Instead, the Bills lost 38-24 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday evening. To get to championship weekend with a legitimate chance to go play in the Super Bowl is something a large portion of the fan base hasn’t experienced in their lifetime or they are a generation removed. Looking back on this season which includes a 13-3 record, AFC East title, multiple All-Pro/Pro Bowl selections, franchise records, lots of young talent; there’s a lot to look forward to at this stage. 

Despite the loss, there didn’t appear to be any notable injuries that would have affected Buffalo in two weeks had they won. Below are the injury observations and early thoughts on the offseason.

In-game injuries:

WR Cole Beasley (Right calf)

Beasley went down following a catch to move the chains with 6 minutes left, limping off on his right toe to the sidelines. He immediately went to his back and the team began stretching out his calf which kept him out of several plays, most likely dealing with cramping. He returned later in the game, likely sore but finishing the game.

There aren’t any concerns regarding the cramping but noted the only “injury” observed in the game.

Other injury observations:

WR Gabriel Davis (ankle)

Davis was up and down all day prior as to whether he would play. After much consideration, I believed he would not play. The team had activated Kenny Stills from the practice squad for this exact reason yet Davis was a surprise active and Stills sat on the sidelines. 

He ended up playing in only 16 plays or 22% of the offensive snaps. He saw only 3 targets without any catches and saw most of his playing time in the 4th quarter. After the game, Sean McDermott defended playing Davis stating the medical staff felt that Davis could play and contribute. He then added in that he wanted to let guys who helped get them to that point play. 

Based on the video, it appeared he suffered a right low inversion ankle sprain. However, looking at the replay again, Ravens Marlon Humphrey did land on the other ankle as he fell down, and while it isn’t clear if he injured that ankle, it’s possible that could have been hampering him.

Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s fair to wonder if a healthy Stills possibly didn’t know the playbook as well as Davis did. It’s unfortunate that Davis couldn’t contribute at that point but he was a key member in getting the Bills to the AFC Championship.

WR Cole Beasley (Left fibula fracture) 

During locker clean-out day, several members of the Bills were interviewed including Cole Beasley who revealed he suffered a partial fracture of his fibula in Week 16 against the Patriots. 

This was certainly a surprising development as everyone knew he was battling through a knee injury, but not to that magnitude. Frankly, if anyone said that they thought that he did that, then either they are Nostradamus or they are lying through their teeth. 

I had thought that he was dealing with a meniscal injury based on the mechanism shown on film and the trainer pointing to the lateral knee on the sidelines indicating joint line tenderness. It also initially supported the timeline he went through to get back on the field. 

Understanding how he suffered the injury is difficult. He stutter-stepped and then fell down before coming up limping. There was a possibility that he was hit by the Patriots defender going down which could explain the hit to the knee leading to the fracture, but it’s not clear on film. This wasn’t an injury considered as a possibility at the time.

He most likely suffered a partial fibular head fracture as that portion lies right on the outside portion of the knee, hence why the team got away with saying knee on the injury report. They were right, but it was a loose use of the term. This would also support the use of the bracing on the knee during the Colts game to provide support to the area. It is important to note that Beasley was not wearing the brace during the Chiefs game.

Credit: Missoula Bone & Joint

According to the literature, these usually occur as the result of a direct blow to the area. An isolated fibular fracture is quite rare and the literature linked indicates there isn’t a lot of research on frequency. There are other ways to break the fibula but those involve more of the distal fibula down towards the ankle and are typically more severe in nature.

Credit: Sportsspecialists.ca

Either way, it explains why he slowly got better as he went in the playoffs due to the bone healing. As the fibula is a non-weight-bearing bone, it didn’t necessarily impact function, but more pain and tenderness due to the location. Thankfully, he does not require surgery and should have a full recovery without any possibility of long term issues.

Beasley clearly wanted to win and it showed playing through this injury. It’s something that’s respected but it shouldn’t be an expectation to play through this. He will take a much-deserved break to let all his injuries heal and then get back to training.

QB Josh Allen (General injury overview)

Allen also spoke to the media today more so about the AFC Championship loss, but he did reveal that he doesn’t have any crazy injuries and that he’s feeling pretty good. 

He did suffer a left shoulder injury along with injuring his right knee twice along with his ankle during the season. I had thought the shoulder injury was a subluxation which could have led to a labral tear. So based on what we saw back in Week 4, he suffered an AC joint sprain that took roughly 6 weeks to recover from with the bracing and tape. 

I’m glad I’m wrong because like Beasley, he doesn’t have to work through rehabilitation in the offseason and can work on his skillset even further. Things could change as exit physicals occur, but this is what is known at the time of publication.

Other thoughts:

Beasley’s fibular fracture is only the first layer of the onion that will reveal all the injuries various players played through this season. I would expect we see an onslaught of surgeries following the exit physicals this week. 

Already noted, Zach Moss has already gone through his Tightrope procedure on his left ankle and should be rehabbing in the coming weeks. 

As for the offseason for Banged Up Bills, make sure to check back periodically for injury updates. If the Bills report an injury, update, or surgery, it will be found here. Make sure to check out any podcast appearances, my draft prospect work over at Cover 1, draft selection updates/news over at Buffalo Rumblings, and weekly content over at The Game Day NFL.

Thank you to every single person that read the articles along with interacting on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram. It is impossible to be right all the time and while I would like to be, I still strive to give the most complete answers based on the information currently available. This was the most successful year of Banged Up Bills and I truly appreciate all the interactions and support. This is a ton of fun and I want to continue to provide the best content possible to the best fan base. Thank you and Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports

2020 AFC Championship Bills Injury Preview- Chiefs

Will Butler and Davis suit up Sunday? What Chiefs will be effective?

We are on the precipice of a truly historical moment for the Buffalo Bills! One more win and the Buffalo Bills will be crowned AFC Champions and return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 27 years! Not only has it been a long time since the Bills have been this far in the playoffs, but it has also felt like a long week as injury updates come out daily on not only the Bills but the status of Patrick Mahomes and whether he would be cleared from the concussion protocol in time. 

Thankfully, at the time of publication, it is one day away from the Bills and Chiefs squaring off for the right to represent the American Football Conference in the Super Bowl. Below are all the injury updates for both the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.

QUESTIONABLE

WR Gabriel Davis (Right ankle)

It was obvious that Davis injured his ankle missing that touchdown pass early in the 2nd quarter that limited him the remainder of the game. Two DNP’s with a limited practice isn’t ideal either, but it is promising. It looks like a low inversion ankle sprain on video, but it could be more based on examination and video angles available. 

It may come down to how much he can run and jump around the field. While he is insanely talented, trying to toe-tap catches and run his routes crisply may make things difficult. Could Kenny Stills play in Davis’s place? Quite possible but he’s only been here a few weeks. Does he have a rapport with Josh Allen? It’s possible the Chiefs could have game-planned for the possibility of Stills knowing that Davis may not play. 

I want to lean towards Davis playing, but as an injured rookie, do they put him out there or let a veteran wide receiver that is healthy play? That’s the one thing we don’t know. 

DT Vernon Butler (Quadricep)

I had originally thought Butler was dealing with a foot injury in the game, but he appeared later on the injury report with a quadriceps injury. He left the game late in the 3rd quarter, right before Taron Johnson delivered the game-sealing pick-six. It’s not clear when he injured the quadriceps but having two DNP’s and a limited practice isn’t a ringing endorsement that he will play. 

A strain can be played through, but the concern is whether he re-injures the quadricep and they do not have a healthy body in his place. Most of the time, a quadricep would require a player to sit out at least one game, but there may not be any next week. 

ACTIVE 

WR Cole Beasley (Left knee)

Beasley re-appears on the injury report Thursday with a knee injury that is likely the same injury he’s been dealing with since Week 16. He was highly productive against the Colts in the Wild Card round but didn’t have much of an impact last week against the Ravens. Considering he was limited Thursday indicates that either he tweaked his knee Wednesday and had to take it easy Thursday, or he tweaked it or took time off at some point during Thursday’s practice. Taking all but one rep or only taking one rep is all the same under the limited designation.

Whatever Beasley is dealing with, he will get it addressed following the season. I had thought if he had sat out against the Colts, he could have been fresher in the next round, but hindsight is 20/20. Ideally, he gets more targets due to taking another week to get healthy.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring)

Details are still scarce regarding Edmunds hamstring. He played in all the defensive snaps Saturday despite his hamstring designation last week. He practiced in full all week and while is likely not 100%, he’s good enough to continue to go out and perform for another week.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Ankle)

Like Edmunds, Jefferson’s ankle injury was not noticeable on film, playing in 46% of snaps which isn’t too far off his usual production from the season. He has no game designation and I would expect his production to not be affected greatly, though his snap could probably increase if Vernon Butler does not play.

DE Darryl Johnson (knee)

After missing last week with a knee injury, Johnson returns to practice with full participation this week. I still have not been unable to find the specifics of the knee injury from the Colts game and the week off appeared to help him greatly. His availability will make Trent Murphy expendable for this game and having Johnson back on special teams may be a difference-maker come Sunday. 

WR Stefon Diggs (Oblique)

The severity of the oblique injury is probably more severe than Diggs and the team has let on, but he continues to produce. I have not observed anything on film that suggests that the oblique is significantly affecting him. Listing the injury may be more of a formality at this point and hopefully the week off in between if the Bills win and make their way down to Tampa.

K Tyler Bass (Right hand)

Bass continues to practice in full dealing with a right-hand injury and wearing at least a brace on the hand. It’s not clear what he is dealing with, but this will not affect his kicking abilities for Sunday.

CHIEFS INJURY REPORT:

OUT

LB Willie Gay (Ankle)

Gay is reportedly dealing with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 17 and is already ruled out. High ankle sprains take some time to come back from and it’s clear that the Chiefs don’t believe he is ready which bodes well for the Bills Sunday. 

QUESTIONABLE

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (left high ankle/hip)

Edwards-Helaire is coming off a left high ankle sprain and hip strain sustained in Week 15. He has been out for an entire month, though only missing 2 games due to the bye week for the number one seed.

While he will not be 100%, having the month off should allow him to come back and be effective enough from the ankle standpoint. Considering that he suffered the hip strain, that should be fully healed by now, but it’s possible that he could be dealing with something greater currently unreported that he will play though. After having as much time off as he did, I fully expect him to play. 

WR Sammy Watkins (Calf)

Watkins has missed the last 2 games with a calf injury sustained in the win over Atlanta. At the time, the calf injury was not perceived as being serious and the thought was that he would be back in time for the divisional game. 

It stands to reason that he could return to play in this game as the stakes are higher. Calf injuries linger due to the demands of the muscle when pushing the foot down to sprint and jump. It could be quite possible that he re-injures the area during the game too, but I don’t foresee the team holding him out again. We all know when Sammy Watkins is healthy, he’s electric. But when he’s not, his production really suffers. I’d expect he plays as well.

CB Bashaud Breeland (Concussion/shoulder)

The concussion is the more worrisome injury than the shoulder as it has not been clarified that he has passed the protocol. He appeared trending in the right direction with limited practices all week but it may not be known that he passes the protocol until game time. He may be one that misses due to not being cleared.

Update: he has since cleared concussion protocol.

CB Rashad Fenton (Foot)

There aren’t any reports to clarify the status of the foot injury. He was also limited in practice this week and considering Breeland is a true question mark, I would suspect Fenton to play through whatever he is dealing with. 

RB Le’veon Bell (Knee)

Bell is reportedly dealing with swelling in his knee that limited him Thursday/Friday and it’s unknown whether he plays. Considering Edwards-Helaire is likely to play which could keep Bell on the inactive list especially the knee injury appeared to get aggravated later in the week. I anticipate he sits this one out considering the Chiefs have Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson for depth. 

QB Patrick Mahomes (Concussion/left toe)

I think every single person on social media has had an opinion on the status of Patrick Mahomes this week. It has been mind boggling. I laid out the facts of Mahomes time in the concussion protocol at The Game Day, the previous article at Banged Up Bills, and even detailed at Locked On Bills. I had said on Locked On Bills that it didn’t matter why Patrick Mahomes was in the concussion protocol, he was in there and as a result, he has to successfully navigate the protocol. 

He did and we can move past that. His left toe injury will be the biggest concern heading into Sunday’s contest. The injury is detailed above in all of the links. In addition, check out this thread from Erik Turner from Cover 1 using the video to detail how Mahomes was limited with the toe after the injury and how the Bills can game plan against him. Certainly worth the time to read and understand. 

Bills Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

WR Gabriel Davis*

LB Tyrel Dodson

DE Trent Murphy

OL Jordan Devey

TE Tyler Kroft

Practice Squad player

*Kenny Stills to be called up in place of Davis, other call up would be inactive as the team has done in recent weeks.

The Bills can win this one. They really can. I had predicted on Locked on Bills that the Bills would win 28-24. That would cover the spread and take the under according to Pointsbet. The Bills could win this simply because of all the talent missing from the last game. Dawson Knox, Matt Milano, and Harrison Phillips did not play last time. John Brown was injured early in the game and a non-factor. Tre’Davious White was coming off a back injury that forced him to miss the Titans game. Josh Allen was still working through his left shoulder injury sustained in Week 4 against the Raiders. 

The Bills are a hot team right now and fairly healthy as detailed above. The Buffalo Bills may very well be the 2020 AFC Champions and could play in Super Bowl 55. This could really happen. Now all we have to do is sit back, wait for kickoff at 6:40 pm on January 24th, 2021, and enjoy the game. Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

2020 Divisional Round Bills Injury Review- Ravens

How serious are the injuries from Sunday’s game? What is going on with Patrick Mahomes?

Being a Bills fan all these years, you kept hoping that they’d eventually be good again. Now it’s here, it still doesn’t feel real. It really is a weird feeling that the Buffalo Bills are in the AFC Championship game and one win away from a Super Bowl after beating the Baltimore Ravens 17-3 Saturday night.

They move on to play the Kansas City Chiefs dealing with several minor injuries that are worth looking at prior to Sunday night. However, the huge storyline will be whether Patrick Mahomes will be able to play following entering the concussion protocol Sunday that allowed the Cleveland Browns to almost come back and win. All the Bills injuries and thoughts on Mahomes are below.

In-Game Injuries:

DT Vernon Butler (Left foot)

Butler exited the game briefly halfway through the 1st quarter, only observed limping off to the sidelines to get looked at by training staff. Upon video review, it appeared that he had his left foot stepped on during the play. 

He left briefly to get it checked out but came back and likely played through pain for a majority of the game. He likely had x-rays to rule out any fractures, but it may be more pain than anything. 

According to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, Butler didn’t play the entire 4th quarter though that may have been by design rather than injury. It doesn’t appear that he should miss the game but he potentially could be limited in practice this week.

WR Gabriel Davis (Right ankle) 

Davis injured his right ankle trying to extend out for a touchdown catch midway through the 2nd quarter. He came up limping and briefly exited the game, eventually designated as questionable with an ankle injury.

Based on video, this could be a low inversion ankle sprain. He may have also jammed his ankle when his forefoot struck the ground. He was at times in obvious discomfort throughout the game and wasn’t as much of a factor for the remainder.

I would expect him to be limited this week but play Sunday. Having the extra day to rest does help things but tape and toughness will help him get through this latest injury.

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

Allen once again scared everyone when he went down late in the 3rd quarter, pounding the ground in obvious discomfort. Upon review, he injured his right leg in a similar fashion as to when he injured it in the Chargers game. The stress through his right leg is significantly less compared to the previous injury.

It looks like he stressed the knee more so than the ankle since the foot came up off the turf as he went down. He could be wearing a knee brace again next week or he may not need it. What might have helped was the previous injury to the area giving more flexibility to the tissue as it’s still remodeling and healing. 

Allen has played through much worse injuries and thus one won’t change his availability for Sunday. 

TE Reggie Gilliam (Left leg)

Gilliam went down on kickoff following the Taron Johnson interception for a touchdown, quickly requiring the attention of trainers upon going down. His left leg was worked out on the field and left once the defense took the field. He missed the next offensive series before returning, lining up as a fullback.

Considering he came back so quickly especially after dealing with a hamstring injury earlier this season, it’s possible he was dealing with some cramping. He was moving without hesitation supporting that this may be the case. I don’t foresee that he shows up on the injury report and I expect that he’s available for Sunday. 

Other injury observations:

K Tyler Bass (Right hand) 

Bass didn’t get injured but it was noted that he injured his right hand in practice, clarifying the injury report from last week. It looks like a brace on the hand but it didn’t impact his ability to perform. This is really just something to note to clarify to what we already know. 

RB Devin Singletary (Hamstring)

There were reports that Singletary was holding his hamstring following his last carry with 2:41 left in the 4th quarter, limping to the sidelines. He did fall down to his right as though he slipped while he tried to make his cut. Looking at the video, there really isn’t much to look at. He is observed walking around post-game without any noticeable limp or requiring any assistance. It is possible that he was also dealing with cramping, but there doesn’t appear to be anything definitive. If he shows up on the injury report, then we at least know when it occurred. 

QB Patrick Mahomes (Concussion protocol/toe)

Disclaimer: There is more information that must be known throughout the week and will be updated as needed.

Quite possibly the biggest news story of the NFL playoffs, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes exited the divisional round game to be evaluated for a concussion following getting twisted down by Mack Wilson

Considering the possibility of a concussion could prevent Mahomes from playing Sunday, this is enormous in terms of whether the Bills can make the Super Bowl. From what we see right now, I have no idea whether he will play Sunday. Below are several statements regarding concussions and concussion protocol to better understand this process.

  • If someone is evaluated for a concussion but passes, they can return to the game. But if they pass, it doesn’t mean that it is automatic. If the player exhibits something out of character or still shows questionable symptoms, they can be held out as a precaution.
  • Once Mahomes enters the concussion protocol, he has to still pass through the protocol to be cleared to play. Even if he doesn’t officially have a concussion. This also prevents Mahomes from talking to the media and does allow the Chiefs to keep the Bills on their toes as to whether he will play. 
Credit: NFL
  • Most concussions take anywhere from 7-10 days but can take significantly longer to recover from based on a variety of factors. If he does not have a concussion, then that could affect his return to play timeline, but we won’t know until he is cleared. 
  • The doctors, medical staff, players, family, team, etc. will not try to game the system in order to get him to play. If he plays, he’s good to go, if he’s not, then he’s not. There’s no gray area with this decision.

We simply need more information on his head injury and see how he responds in practice this week. As for his toe, that’s where things are a little more clear. He injured the left toe when he was swung backwards on his second touchdown of the day, planting his left foot behind him, bending the toe back suddenly. He was quickly evaluated on the sidelines and eventually returned. He is likely dealing with turf toe based on the area the team was looking at and reports coming out.

He may be limited with general mobility, but this won’t affect him as a passer and only really affect him as a runner, though this late in the year, he was going to play no matter what. It also appears mild enough that it’s just another thing to play through. 

Credit: SPTNY.com

If this hasn’t already felt like the longest week ever, it certainly is considering this article is being released on Tuesday. Take a deep breath and watch the injury reports this week. I expect the Bills to put whoever they can on the report for gamesmanship. I expect Mahomes to be in concussion protocol all week. Things won’t be clear until Friday/Saturday and even then, there still may be uncertainty. Regardless of who plays and who doesn’t play, the Bills have already and will have to continue to beat extremely talented teams to make it to the Super Bowl and win. Enjoy the moment, it’s been a long wait.

Top Photo Credit: Pro Football Focus

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 16 Bills Injury Review- Patriots

How serious is Cole Beasley’s leg injury?

The Patriots have been vanquished! A season sweep completed, the first since 1999! With a dominating 38-9 win over New England, the Buffalo Bills move to 12-3 as they continue to strive towards the AFC’s 2nd playoff seed. On top of that, the Bills continue to have excellent luck with regards to injuries following a rough stretch earlier this season. Below are Monday’s injuries. 

In-game injuries:

S Jordan Poyer (Concussion evaluation)

Poyer was briefly removed from the game following a thunderous hit on Cam Newton going out of bounds with 3:21 left in the 2nd quarter. He appeared briefly dazed standing up which likely signaled the athletic trainers above to flag the hit for a concussion check. Poyer didn’t appear thrilled that he had to leave the game but left to the locker room.

He came back out later having been cleared from the evaluation and didn’t appear to have issues throughout the game. It’s important to have these protocols in place to avoid further complications if there was truly a head injury. Fortunately, he was not diagnosed with a concussion but I don’t expect him to play a lot in Week 17 due to wanting to rest starters. 

WR Cole Beasley (Left knee/leg)

Beasley got up gingerly favoring his left leg following a missed catch with 10:30 left in the 4th quarter. Upon initial review, he either sustained a hit to the outside of his left knee or he suffered a strain of his left quadriceps muscle trying to slow down. In the Twitter thread below, the first angle shows that he may have gotten the knee hit, but the second angle shows a stutter step. 

Based on how he got up and the trainers later assessing his knee along with focusing on the outside portion, it seems like there could be a contusion rather than a strain. He didn’t return to the game but this may have been more precautionary than the actual injury. 

Unfortunately, Sean McDermott delivered some disappointing news Tuesday during his weekly post game press conference. Beasley has been termed week-to-week with a leg injury which usually isn’t a great sign when it comes to availability for next week. From what I’ve understood with Sean McDermott week-to-week is missing at least 1-2 games. 

The team termed it a leg injury which doesn’t give us much information. It could be a contusion as mentioned above, could be a quadriceps strain, or it could be something else like a meniscus injury.

Why meniscus? Because after watching this enough times and researching more, this is a possibility based on the new information we know. 

Meniscus tears usually occur with more of a rotary or pivoting motion with the foot planted, such as changing direction suddenly. They can occur in other ways such as deceleration which is not something I initially considered when looking at the injury by video. The team was focused on the left knee and in a clip from the sidelines, a trainer even motions to the lateral aspect of the knee, right along the tibial plateau area where the meniscus sits where some pain/tenderness may have been felt.

It’s possible when he stutter-stepped due to slowing down, he created a shearing force on the meniscus with the knee in flexion or bent. That sudden stop with his weight still accelerating forward could have sheared a portion of the meniscus. 

Credit: John Hopkins Medicine

Signs of a meniscus tear include clicking, popping, locking of the knee during movement. There is also joint line tenderness present during palpation of the knee along with intermittent residual pain. He may have had difficulty fully extending the leg with imaging later confirming the physical findings. 

Credit: Liberty Orthopedic

This would explain why he is now week-to-week and fits the information currently available. This is pure speculation as I am processing the newest information. I hope this is not the case but it’s something that has to be considered. There is still a lot of information that we have to see including the body part that the team designates him with on the injury report and his practice availability. 

The best-case scenario is that it’s a lateral knee contusion and the team is being cautious. The next possibility is the quadriceps strain which could be a week-to-week injury that could force him out. This would be the most opportune situation in terms of overall health.

The worst-case would be the meniscus tear and he has to battle through it for the postseason. We saw former Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin deal with this during the 2017 season. I would expect Beasley to do the same. I hope I’m wrong, I want to be wrong, but I am considering all possibilities based on the information at hand.

While it is a shame that he probably won’t get his 1,000 yards, it’s best that he gets the rest he needs in order to perform in the playoffs. I’d expect him to miss Week 17 with a realistic shot at the first playoff game. He will need rest and rehab in order to get the knee well enough for the playoffs and then they can figure out how to address the area afterward. This will be a situation that changes quickly and hopefully 13 days off is enough time to get the knee healthy enough to play. 

T Dion Dawkins (Right elbow)

This wasn’t even noticed during the game until a Twitter follower pointed it out. Dawkins had a brace on his right elbow after the game in a post-game video when Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs were being interviewed. 

Looking back at the film, Dawkins doesn’t appear with a brace until later in the 3rd quarter. He appeared to get hit on the right elbow during a routine run play with 9:21 left in the 3rd. He finished the series and then the next series came out with a brace. This appears to be a general contusion to the area. It did not appear to greatly affect his play, but there may have been pain and swelling the training staff wanted to manage. 

I am not certain if he shows up on the injury report this week. If he does, this appears to be the culprit. If his play is limited next week, it would likely be due to more of the situation than injury. 

Other injury thoughts:

T Ty Nsekhe (groin)

I had thought that Nsekhe would have been ruled out for Monday’s game, but he was active despite barely practicing last week. He only played in 8 offensive snaps towards the end and 6 special teams snaps which is more in line with his overall play from this season. 

He is an older player that appears to understand his role and may have sat last week due to load management. 

WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain/COVID)

Brown was finally activated to the roster after spending time on IR since Week 10 with a high ankle sprain. He appeared on track to play Monday and the general consensus was that he would, but he was deemed a close contact with TJ Yeldon and placed on the COVID/Reserve list.

He must stay on the reserve list for at least 5 days since he last had contact with Yeldon. If he does not test positive during that time frame, then he can come off and play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. He is one player who needs the reps prior to the playoffs in order to get ready. 

Outside of Beasley’s injury, there is little concern for injuries going into Week 17. There always appears to be an injury or two that is a surprise on the report, but that will have to wait. Otherwise, the Bills are hot and healthy as they wait to find out their Wild Card opponent as hopefully the 2nd seed. The championship window is open, the Bills can pass through and hopefully hoist the Lombardi trophy in February.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo News

2020 Week 16 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Will Johnson and Nsekhe play?

Well, this is a fantastic turn of events! The New England Patriots, 6-8 and eliminated from the playoffs. The Bills, 11-3, winner of the AFC East and a playoff spot locked up. This is a welcome change from the last 20 years and is a chance to kick the Patriots while they’re down on national TV. 

While a game against the Patriots is never a guaranteed win, the Bills have shown that they can play with and beat anyone in the NFL. On top of it, the Bills are incredibly healthy compared to the Patriots who listed roughly 40% of their active roster on the injury report. Below is the Bills injury concerns heading into Monday night and a rundown of all the Patriots’ injuries. 

OUT

TE Reggie Gilliam (Knee/hamstring)

Gilliam is interesting because he was designated as probable with a knee injury during the game but eventually returned. It appeared he injured his left knee when he got hit from behind on kickoff with 6:28 left in the 2nd quarter but later returned. He shows up on the injury report with the knee and hamstring and hasn’t practiced all week. His last appearance in the game was with 8:02 left in the 4th quarter when he lined up as a fullback on a run play; there wasn’t a clear mechanism of injury.

He has since been ruled out for Monday’s game but it’s possible that he aggravated his hamstring injury from Week 13 at some point in the game. Since the playoffs are locked up and he has become a core special teamer, he may finally be giving it the rest it deserves. As Gilliam is designated a tight end and plays special team, there could be a one for one swap for Tyler Kroft considering Kroft has played a decent amount of special teams so far this year. 

QUESTIONABLE

S Jaquan Johnson (Right ankle)

Seeing Johnson practice after two full weeks off is promising after he had his right ankle taken out late in the Steelers game. I had thought he suffered a high ankle by the way he got hit from the outside. The fact that he practiced in a limited fashion this week is promising. 

Looking back at the others who have had similar practice designations through the week, the team has been all over the place. We have seen players not practice all week but play Sunday in the case of Andre Roberts, players practice in full but are ruled out on game day such as Vernon Butler, and everything in between. Those that have followed exactly what Johnson did indicates that he will play. He is a vital special teams player; it would be expected that he plays considering Gilliam is out.

T Ty Nsekhe (Groin)

I don’t know what to make of Nsekhe. This was his first extended time playing this year with 30 snaps on offense following mostly special teams snaps during the year. Reviewing the film, there wasn’t anything obvious as to how he would have injured his groin.

Nsekhe did leave practice briefly on Wednesday but later returned but has been DNP all this week except Friday when he was limited. Things certainly aren’t trending towards him playing which is concerning due to the fact that he replaced Daryl Williams last Saturday. Thankfully, the team does not have a designation for Williams which allows them to find a different depth option.

ACTIVE 

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

I’m not sure which joint is still bothering him to be on this injury report, my guess is his ankle. He didn’t wear a brace on the right leg and was running all over without hesitation. This may be more of a formality but this injury isn’t a factor from what we can see with his mobility. 

WR Stefon Diggs (Left foot)

Diggs foot injury was concerning at first until it was reported that it wasn’t overly worrisome. I had thought that he might be limited this week, but fortunately he has practiced in full every day. He may still be dealing with some pain but his foot getting stepped on won’t affect his performance Monday night.

DE AJ Epenesa (Not injury)

Epenesa is on this injury report due to being evaluated for a head injury late in the game Saturday. He was ruled to not have a concussion but apparently since that designation was not made before the end of the game, this designation indicates that there was a potential injury that was cleared. Otherwise, no issues for Monday. 

WR Andre Roberts (Low back)

Roberts has been limited all week with the exception of Friday in which he practiced in full. Considering he is such a vital part of special teams, it was expected that he did suit up since it isn’t ideal that Micah Hyde returns punts. It’s great Hyde is available but to have a Pro Bowl-caliber return man that specializes in trying to flip the field is better. The hope is that he was dealing with general pain or spasms that have since calmed down. 

CB Tre’Davious White (Neck)

White suffered a stinger in the game on Saturday, went out briefly and then came back to finish the game. He has suffered stingers before and for several weeks last season, he dealt with a neck injury, though it did not affect his availability at the time.

He did practice in full this week indicating this isn’t a big issue; it is possible that he is dealing with some general soreness in the neck with certain movements or it is possible that he is still dealing with some occasional numbness/tingling in the neck/arm that isn’t affecting his abilities. If that’s the case, I’d expect him to continue getting treatment to manage his complaints and be ready for Monday. 

T Daryl Williams (Groin)

Williams was the big concern to miss Monday’s game due to exiting shortly after halftime during the Broncos game. The research has shown that he could be out 8-20 days which initially after the injury, seemed like he wasn’t going to play against the Patriots. However, he has practiced all week with a limited designation which indicates that the groin strain isn’t as severe as initially thought. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

T Ty Nsekhe

TE Reggie Gilliam

DE Trent Murphy*

*If John Brown is activated. 

WR John Brown (Right high ankle sprain)

I also expect that John Brown will be recalled from IR back to the active roster and get some playing time to get ready for the postseason. The team has until 4 pm on Monday to make this designation. This squad is quite healthy in the big picture, though most of these guys are banged up and dealing with smaller injuries to varying degrees. 

The Patriots will be without Stephon Gilmore and likely Julian Edelman, both of whom didn’t play in Week 8 when the Bills last played them. Besides that, 20 players were listed on the injury report with limited participation by all and carrying a questionable designation. 

If you want gamesmanship, this is it right here folks. I can say with 100% certainty that 13 of the 20 players listed will play. As for who won’t, that’s anyone’s guess besides Bill Belichick. A small part of me wants to speculate who plays and who doesn’t, but that exercise would be fruitless. If this had serious playoff implications or was a playoff matchup, I’d dig into this, but I’m not going to let Bill Belichick waste any more of my time. He’s already given nearly 20 years of misery to this fan base. 

I do expect the Bills to go 4-0 in December to sweep the Patriots for the first time since 1999. If they do, this will be their highest win total since 1993 and will be the 6th time that they have achieved 12 wins or better in franchise history. I want to continue to see the Bills maximize their offensive firepower as they inch closer to the playoffs to win their first playoff game since 1995 and complete a deep playoff run. Enjoy the moment, Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Week 15 Bills Injury Review- Broncos

How serious is Diggs’ foot injury? What is the latest on Williams, White, and Roberts?

The Buffalo Bills are the 2020 AFC East Champions! That is incredibly satisfying to type, say/hear, read. I’d imagine that tasting a cold Labatt Blue at a tailgate bonfire would give you the final senses of enjoying what this means. It’s been a long 25 years and is another step towards the ultimate goals of a Super Bowl championship for the franchise. Division titles may not be that important to other franchises, but the Bills are not like other franchises. They are the Buffalo Bills, a team with a goal, and division titles with home playoff games are the building blocks.

While the Bills took care of business 48-19 over the Denver Broncos, there were numerous injuries that certainly had the fan base worried on Twitter. Not all the injury news is bad, but there are quite a few heading into Monday night against the New England Patriots. Below are all the publicly known injuries from Saturday.

TE Reggie Gilliam (knee)

Gilliam suffered a knee injury sometime in the 2nd or 3rd quarter and was initially ruled probable to return. It’s not clear when he suffered the knee injury or what he exactly did. My suspicion is that he injured it on a special teams play and was tended to by trainers on the sidelines. The camera angles were awful on special teams Sunday which made finding this injury very difficult. 

He ultimately returned to the game and this doesn’t appear to be a significant issue moving forward. 

TE Dawson Knox (stinger)

Knox left the game briefly for the second time in two weeks with a stinger but was able to return. I had said last week that there was a slight concern that if this occurs again, this could pose a problem or signify that something more is going on, however, there is not any definitive facts to support this at the time. 

It’s not clear when he suffered the stinger, my guess is when caught a long pass with 3:08 left in the 2nd quarter. He was out there until the 2-minute warning but there isn’t a definitive time when he suffered the injury. 

Like last week, I am not certain that he will show up on the injury report with this. Stingers are typically transient and the fact that Knox ended up returning support that this isn’t serious. He does have extra time to rest as the Bills don’t play until Monday night.

OT Daryl Williams (groin)

The injury to Williams may be the most concerning of the bunch due to his position and type of injury. This injury occurred sometime early in the 3rd quarter on the second touchdown run by Josh Allen. It isn’t clear when he suffered the injury, either with 11:32 or 11:05 in the 3rd quarter. The play with 11:32 had Williams lateral stepping and externally rotating his legs which is a classic mechanism to injure the groin in keeping up with his block to keep Josh Allen clean and did not appear labored getting through the next play. The next play was the second Josh Allen rushing touchdown where Williams was in a pile of bodies as Allen snuck in on the right side.

Credit: TeachMeAnatomy.info

Williams did not return and veteran Ty Nsekhe played admirably through the rest of the game in place. I have noted that groin injuries are difficult to determine on film unless it is blatantly obvious.

Credit: WNYUrology

Per the research, Williams could be out anywhere from 8-20 days with the average time off of 14 days and return to play pain free within 3 week. The overall re-injury rate is 8% once returning to play. I don’t see him playing Monday night unless his practice report says otherwise. 

At this point, let him rest and get ready for the playoffs. This also allows Nsekhe to get some needed reps in case injury occurs in the postseason.

WR Andre Roberts (low back)

The versatile return man suffered a low back injury sometime in the 3rd quarter, though it isn’t obvious when he suffered the injury. He was only noted as having a low back injury when the team reported it after Micah Hyde began returning punts in his place. It was initially thought Roberts was benched due to his muffed catch which resulted in a Broncos score, but the injury ended his day.

On his last return before going out, he was tackled by 3 different Broncos players and appeared to take a good shot to the low back. This could be a simple contusion, back spasms, or something else not known without further examination.

He will be one to watch on the injury report whether he practices at all this week. He does have the extra time to rest with the Monday night game but this is going to be a wait and see. 

CB Tre’Davious White (stinger)

The veteran cornerback scared the fan base when he went down briefly following a routine tackle on Tim Patrick in the 4th quarter. 

On review, I had no idea what he had injured because the hit seemed so routine and clean. Looking at where the trainers were looking at and how he hit, it looked to be the right shoulder area where he suffered the stinger. 

He did suffer a stinger on what appeared to be the left side last year in the Steelers game, but last year’s stinger doesn’t appear to have any correlation with this most recent one. White must have hit just right that he sustained the injury but was able to quickly return. He should be fine to play unless he has persisting symptoms for which he would likely end up on the injury report. 

CB Levi Wallace (right ankle)

Wallace is an interesting injury. He suffered an ankle injury shortly after White went down with his stinger. He ran down the field and then came back to try to scoop the ball up off the turf as it was dropped for a possible interception by Taron Johnson. He didn’t appear to roll it or sustain any visible injury. He did take an extra step onto his right leg when trying to reach down for the ball, possibly jamming up his ankle a little bit, but he quickly returned to the game.

For those thinking he re-injured his ankle from the Raiders game, it was his left ankle which ultimately sent him to IR for 3 weeks. This doesn’t appear to be anything long term and the extra time off should do well for Wallace to play Monday. 

DE AJ Epenesa (head)

Epenesa went to the sidelines under protest to get evaluated for a head injury while trying to avoid a late hit with 5:46 left in the 4th quarter. He flipped over Drew Lock and hit with his right shoulder and head on the turf. 

The team did not announce that he was in the concussion protocol during Monday’s press conference. The in game checks are precautionary and part of the concussion protocol, but it does not appear that he has entered it at this point. Wednesday will be telling if he shows up on the report with anything at all. 

DT Vernon Butler (left ankle)

During the same play that Epenesa got injured, Butler had his left ankle rolled up on moments before as the defense attempted to contain Drew Lock. Butler required an assessment by the training staff on the field and missed several plays but was able to return. 

He may have tweaked the ankle, but appeared to avoid serious injury as he played the rest of the game. I question if he even shows up on the injury report. 

WR Stefon Diggs (left foot)

This injury may be the most worrisome injury at least from a social media standpoint from Saturday. Diggs was quietly carted to the locker room with a foot injury late in the 4th quarter. 

He came back out on the cart with his left shoe off and hopping around on the sidelines leading to a lot of speculation as to what happened. Fortunately, I found what he did and when he suffered the injury. 

This occurred with 7:16 left in the 4th when Diggs was engaged with his block on a Zack Moss run to the right. Diggs disengages and while attempting to get out of the way of the play, gets his left foot stepped on. He immediately began to limp around briefly before setting up for the next play. During that play, he took several steps but did not try to be actively engaged in the play possibly due to the pain.

Diggs later left the field and then refined as mentioned earlier. By video, this seems like he got cleated on the outside portion of the foot and he should be fine. The reports coming out after the game were optimistic and Monday’s press conference only reinforced that news. 

Since this is more of a pain issue, I would not be concerned with Diggs being limited or even DNP Wednesday and Thursday. The team has off Friday for Christmas and then practices Saturday. Even if he’s limited every day, I’d still expect him to play Monday.

Overall, the Bills are in decent shape despite all the injuries from this game. The only ones I want to watch closely are Williams, Roberts, and to a lesser extent Epenesa. It would not alarm me if there were a few extra names on the injury report in addition to what’s in the article today. 

The Bills have the division locked up but can still fight to maintain the 2nd seed which will guarantee them 2 home playoff games and even 3 if the Chiefs get knocked off. They currently have the tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost unexpectedly to the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. 

I would hope the Bills can begin to rest some starters but I don’t expect everyone to sit right away. This is a Bills team that is smart with their sports medicine and will not jeopardize health to maximize winning. These next few weeks are all about taking care of business and hitting the playoffs hot so Buffalo can get a long awaited deep playoff run. There is still a lot of football to play and it’s great knowing the Bills took care of business. 

Top Photo Credit: DraftKings Nation

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 Review- Steelers

What is going on with Morse, Knox, and Johnson?

These are the Buffalo Bills that I’ve waited to cheer for since I converted to my fandom to full-fledged Bills membership many years ago. To see this organization win as they have and know that they are not mortgaging the future to win now is incredibly pleasing. This continues to be a week-to-week league and the Bills have shown that they can get the job done nearly every week. The true test will be the playoffs, maximizing the winning window that Buffalo has not had in nearly a generation.

While a 10-3 start is incredible, the Bills still need to secure the AFC East to get a home playoff game and potentially control who they play in the postseason. After a rough portion of the season where injuries beget injuries, the Bills are getting healthy at the right time. Thankfully there were injuries that did not lead to any concern for the remaining schedule. 

C Mitch Morse (left elbow)

Morse exited the game for several series after sustaining a left elbow injury during the second Bills drive. He was observed on the sidelines getting his elbow taped up. This tape job was performed to limit hyperextension to the elbow according to a Twitter follower who happens to be an ATC below. This could have been protecting the distal biceps required for elbow flexion or it could have been protecting from elbow hyperextension if he had gotten hit up underneath the arm. 

Looking at the film, it’s not clear when he suffered the injury. I didn’t see a specific instance where he gets his elbow hit that required attention. He was wearing bracing before the injury occurred and has often worn bracing to the area in general. The type of bracing did not change after indicating that the taping may have needed to be replaced. 

Credit: Buffalo News

He was able to return after some time off and testing the area on the sidelines though it did initially appear at times he had trouble engaging blocks with his left arm. Pain and swelling are likely to present which may have been more of a factor in getting things taped back up after examination of the area. 

I’m not certain that he will miss any time with this injury as he was able to return and the elbow is a stable joint limiting further injury. Add in bracing/tape and he should continue to play through this ailment. This one will be one to watch on the injury report this week but I’m not concerned long term.

TE Dawson Knox (stinger)

Knox startled everyone by grabbing at his head and falling to the turf shortly after a routine block in the 3rd quarter. Fortunately, he was able to walk off under his own power and the initial pain appeared to subside. Based on how he was grabbing his neck/right trapezius on the sidelines, I had thought he suffered a stinger due to how he was hit. He was later reported as having a stinger, confirming my thoughts.

Stingers occur when there is a sudden compression or stretch to the cervical nerves that branch off the neck. This can cause a temporary intense shock down the nerves of the neck that can be felt down the arm in some cases. This can be the result of the nerve getting compressed coming out between the cervical vertebrae or this could be the result of a herniated or bulging disc in the area pressing on the nerve. Stingers typically don’t last long and aren’t recurrent unless there are underlying issues such as a disc issue like we saw happen with Eric Wood back in 2017. I am not implying that to be the case, rather just to give context to the situation. 

Credit: AAFP.org

Like Morse, he also sat out briefly before returning and creating several plays later that helped cement the win for the Bills. This injury isn’t something that I expect to see on the injury report unless he is dealing with continued soreness to the area or there are persistent symptoms. 

CB Taron Johnson (concussion)

Johnson was downgraded to out in the 3rd quarter with a concussion while trying to tackle Steelers back James Conner. He was whisked away to the blue medical tent for further evaluation and eventually to the locker room where they officially diagnosed him with a concussion. 

From what I’ve found, this is Johnson’s first documented NFL concussion. They take on average 7-10 days to recover from which means his timeline to play Saturday against the Broncos isn’t great. He could pass through the protocol quickly but isn’t likely considering the research. I don’t anticipate him playing Sunday and based on the severity, only time will tell how much he will really miss. Until Johnson returns, Siran Neal will likely get increased playing time. 

Other thoughts:

QB Josh Allen (right knee)

Allen continues to work back from his right knee injury still sporting the hinged brace. His 6 rushes for 28 yards is an uptick from last week and he showed a greater ability to use the entire field to run as needed. He had an effective run to the left, showing the ability to push off his right leg and overall showed greater confidence. 

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano performed well last week seeing 19 snaps before increasing his total snaps increase to 27 which was 47% of the total snaps. He continues to wrap offensive players up with greater ability and show why his presence improves the defensive performance. 

I’m unsure what the team will do with playing time as AJ Klein has shown an ability to play with placed in the right situation. He may continue to split reps to preserve his health or it may be best from a defensive scheme. Either way, it’s a great situation to have and if Milano needs to play more, he can, but if he’s not needed, then this reduces the risk of either re-injury or other injuries.

WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain)

The Bills practice on a short week with the Denver Broncos on Saturday at 4:30 pm. This game is being played in Denver which could have an impact on the availability of John Brown. He is eligible to return this week, he has been activated for practice, but I’m not certain that he does. 

He is still coming off his high ankle sprain suffered against the Cardinals in Week 10 and he also has sickle cell trait that he has battled through during his career. He has played in Denver before but not since 2014 where he had two receptions for 4 yards. The lower oxygen levels due to the higher altitude could cause his body to fatigue quicker leading to potentially more injuries. To read more on the effects of sickle cell trait, check out this article from Dr. Melanie Friedlander over at Steelers Depot.

I’m not implying that this will prevent him from playing, it hasn’t in the past, but it is a variable that has to be considered especially coming off the numerous injuries this season. This is something that both Brown and the medical staff have likely discussed with his return to play timeline from the high ankle sprain.

With the emergence of Gabriel Davis and a Broncos team on the cusp of playoff elimination, I believe the Bills can survive another week without Brown. They can have him come back in Week 16 to get reps in against playoff-caliber teams in the Patriots and Dolphins before the playoffs start. The 6 total weeks off for the high ankle sprain would allow him plenty of time to come back fully healthy in time for the playoffs. 

It is remarkable that the Bills can suffer all these injuries and just fill the gaps with backup talent until the starters come back to perform. We’ve seen plenty of other teams suffer several injuries that simply derail their playoff hopes and yet the Bills continue to march through. A win this Saturday would lock up the AFC East and allow the Bills to consider resting starters as able. The only downside would be that a win for the Patriots or Dolphins may allow them to get into the postseason which would not be ideal to play the same team 3 times in a season, regardless if there was a regular-season sweep. 

Continue to watch the injury report and updates coming out of Banged Up Bills and One Bills Drive as the Bills head out to Denver to attempt to move to 11-3 on the season. 

Top Photo Credit: MSN.com

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