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

2020 Week 13 Bills Injury Preview- 49ers

Will Milano and Dodson get activated?

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

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

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

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

G Jon Feliciano (Foot)

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

DE Mario Addison (Knee/vet rest)

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

TE/FB Reggie Gilliam (Hamstring)

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

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

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

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

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral strain)

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

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

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

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

LB Tyrel Dodson (Hamstring)

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

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

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

DT Harrison Phillips

DE Trent Murphy

TE Lee Smith

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

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

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

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

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

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills

2020 Week 12 Bills Injury Review- Chargers

How did Josh Allen avoid serious injury?

Another week, another stressful win. Consistently winning is something this generation of Bills fans has to get used to. It’s a great feeling, but it would be nice to just absolutely dominate a team from time to time. At the end of the day, I’ll take the win because that shows up in the box score and string together enough wins and that qualifies for the postseason. I am aware the Bills are still not a finished product with glaring mistakes and continued issues, but if they can play like this and be 8-3 with the ability to fine-tune things and peak at the right time, then that’s all that matters. But this isn’t a blog that looks at the play of the Bills, it looks at the injuries of the Bills. Fortunately, there were not many in-game injuries and below are the ones noted in the game.

QB Josh Allen (right knee/ankle)

Josh Allen may very well be Gumby. The way his right leg twisted down under Joey Bosa, affecting his right ankle and knee wasn’t pretty. He walked off the field, misses one play, and then returns to finish out the half before returning is impressive.

Looking at everything after the game and his body of work, it actually looks as though he injured his knee versus his ankle based on the picture below. 

I’m going to walk through the thought process with this injury so you can understand why it’s a knee and not ankle, though it’s quite possible he suffered an ankle injury in addition to the knee injury. During the moment of play, I had originally thought a high ankle sprain based on how the ankle twisted but was not convinced that it was with how quickly he returned and played afterward.

Looking at the play initially, Bosa wraps up Allen and attempts to twist him down. Allen’s ankle gets caught up under Bosa and is pushed into eversion or twisting outward. Allen continues to be dragged down to the turf with his knee taking the brunt of the force as his knee continues to bend into flexion and into a valgus position. By this point, the ankle is pinned under Bosa as he pulls Allen up towards his head to ensure that he is down. The play finishes and Allen is in obvious pain. 

The mechanism for a high ankle sprain was clearly there with the foot in eversion and dorsiflexion as seen below. The mechanism for an MCL sprain was there with the knee bent and in valgus position. Two things really played into Allen’s favor. The fact that Bosa pulled him up over him, relieving pressure on the pinned ankle and the fact that Allen has fairly decent hip internal rotation, allowing the leg to turn out. Had Allen’s hip not continued to turn out to reduce pressure on the knee/ankle, or Bosa didn’t pull him backwards, things could have been much worse. 

Forces showing a high ankle injury
Forces showing an MCL injury
Credit: physioadvisor.com.au

It also helped that Allen was pulled down relatively slowly when it comes to tackling, things weren’t abruptly forced. Another benefit was that Chargers defensive tackle Jerry Tillery bailed out of hitting Allen at the last second, which could have potentially added more force to the stressed knee/ankle and causing further damage. 

Allen played the second half with a hinged brace on the right knee under his pants and socks and was surprisingly effective. Had he suffered a high ankle, he could have still performed and run alright with a tape job, but the swelling would have been set in as the game progressed. I’m not certain he would have been able to run as well as he did if the ankle took the brunt of the injury.

The MCL injury makes more sense because the knee was bent into flexion and stressed into a valgus position which allowed the tissues to stretch and partially tear, resulting in a sprain, but not with the force necessary to really sustain a significant injury.

It would not surprise me and it should not surprise you if Josh Allen shows up on the injury report Wednesday with a knee and ankle designation or one or the other. I personally believe that it will be more of a knee designation based on the bracing observed after the game.

It appears to be a mild MCL sprain which can take 1-3 weeks to fully heal. I’d expect him to deal with some swelling and pain in the area, but since the knee is a hinge joint, he can continue to run but may have difficulty in running to his left due to needing to push off the right side.

I’d also expect him to wear the brace for a little while to protect the knee in order to ensure that it heals properly. This might be the milder side of an MCL sprain which heals well to begin with. He should play through this and hopefully avoid further injury in order to wrap up the division and get him much needed rest. 

CB Levi Wallace (right leg)

I’m not sure what to make of this injury. This occurred during the roughing the passer call on Justin Herbert with 11:58 left in the 4th quarter covering Mike Williams. He kept with Williams going out of bounds and he jumped as they both went out of bounds in the end zone. He got up and moments later was down on his left knee.

He required attention from the training staff briefly before missing one play and returning. As he was walking off, he appeared to be shaking out his right leg. There is a thought that he injured the ankle but I’m not certain of that. This will be a wait and see approach if he ends up on the injury report. 

Other injury thoughts:

G Cody Ford (meniscus) & WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain)

Ford ended up on injured reserve with a torn meniscus following a knee injury Wednesday at practice. His recovery timeline is 3-4 months which fits in line with a meniscal repair. This will allow him to have the best outcomes possible with his knee injury and maximize his career to prevent possible problems and chronic issues such as arthritis.

Brown also earned a stay on IR due to a now confirmed right high ankle sprain sustained in the Week 10 Cardinals game. I had originally thought he suffered more of a medial eversion sprain, but according to Adam Schefter, it is a high ankle sprain. 

By the time he is eligible to return in Week 15, he will have had nearly a month to recover. By that time, it will only be a guess if he’s needed or if they wish to keep him on IR until the playoffs. 

LB Matt Milano (left pectoral)

LB Tyrel Dodson (hamstring)

CB Cam Lewis (left wrist)  

WR Isaiah Hodgins (left shoulder)

All are eligible to return from IR and have been activated for their 21-day practice window except Milano as of today. There is a strong chance that Milano gets activated for Wednesday’s practice. There are currently 3 roster spots available for which I believe Milano, Dodson, and Lewis will return. 

Milano will be 8 weeks out from his pectoral injury against the Raiders with 4 weeks since playing football, Dodson is 6 weeks out from the hamstring injury against the Chiefs, and Lewis is also 6 weeks out from his possible wrist fracture against the Chiefs. For their respective injuries, that is adequate time for those injuries to heal, but it is not certain that each are 100%.

There is a chance that Hodgins gets activated but he was put on IR with a shoulder injury sustained in training camp and has been on there ever since. It’s possible that they want to see him in-game action or at least get him on the practice field to see what they have in him. In the coming days, we should see several roster changes. I will also not be surprised to see a few names added to the injury report for various ailments and/or chronic issues.

Overall, the Bills are 8-3 as they head into a Monday Night Football against the 49ers as they set up shop in Arizona as a temporary home due to COVID. The big storylines will be the Bills warding off the demons of the Hail Murray in Arizona, the return of a variety of players from IR on both teams, and whether Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle will be activated for Sunday. Right now, it doesn’t appear to be the case based on their respective injuries, but with the 49ers sitting at 5-6, they still have a shot at the playoffs and the return of those two along with other players could allow them to make a push. We’ll see what happens in the coming days. Regardless of what the 49ers look like, the Bills are still relatively healthy and ready to move on to the next week.

Top Photo Credit: Larrybrownsports.com

2020 Week 12 Bills Injury Preview- Chargers

What’s going on with John Brown? How serious is Cody Ford’s knee injury? Will Tommy Sweeney be alright?

Welcome back everyone! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and got a lot done on the bye week. The Bills benefited greatly from the bye, significantly reducing the number of names on the injury report. In turn, a shorter injury report alters decisions on who needs to play and who needs to rest. Below are the injuries and updates. 

OUT

WR John Brown (Right ankle)

Brown continues to be limited with a right ankle injury sustained in the Week 10 matchup against the Cardinals. This initially appeared to be a medial eversion ankle sprain. He did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday, was projected to not practice Thursday due to Thanksgiving and did not practice Friday. Ultimately he was ruled out before Friday’s practice. 

On Locked on Bills, I was more bullish on Brown playing coming off the bye due to him frequently taking rest days early in the week. I also referenced this Instagram post below that he is making progress with his ankle injury.

On top of that, he did have the week off which could have improved the ability to heal. If this is a medial eversion ankle sprain, Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake had a similar injury which caused him to miss 2 games but he came back to play effectively. Brown could have hypothetically come back following the week off and continue to build off his recent progress. 

I had noted in the postgame review from the Cardinals game that he could miss 1-2 games based on the injury and that he now appears to be trending towards that. I will admit that seeing the Instagram post did give me some false hope with the idea that he could suit up faster, but such is the power of social media.

However, if this ankle is worse than originally thought and it could be or it presents more like a high ankle, then he could be out longer. He could potentially be out next week against the 49ers and questionable against the Steelers. This has been a miserable season for John Brown but the hopes is that he can get right when it really counts.

Update: Brown has since been placed on IR.

G Cody Ford (right ankle/knee)

Ford continued to work back from his latest injury suffered against the Seahawks in Week 9. At the time, it appeared as though he suffered a low inversion ankle sprain when he was clipped from behind by Zack Moss on the scoring play by Tyler Kroft

However, it was reported Friday that Ford would be out for the season with a torn meniscus. It was confirmed that he suffered the injury in practice but it did not specify which side he injured. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network stated that he would be out 3-4 months with a full recovery. I agree with that timeline and outlook.

I have detailed out meniscus injuries in the past which you can read here. Looking at Ford’s previous knee injury from against the Chiefs, I have not found any correlation that shows that previous MCL injuries increase the risk for meniscal tears. A previous MCL injury could increase knee laxity but not associated with meniscal injuries. There is research to support knee laxity contributing to future meniscus tears when associated with previous ACL injuries, but that is more due to the rotational component of the knee that the ACL helps stabilize during movement.

Credit: Physio-pedia.com

This discussion is all based on the idea if he tore the meniscus in the right knee which has not been confirmed. If he suffered this on the left side, then this is a moot point. But I feel it is important to note the possibilities Looking back at his college injury history, there is nothing to suggest that he had previous meniscal issues either. This repair decision is a far better option than trimming or removing pieces of the meniscus because that would contribute to further knee degeneration and possibly a shorter career. If you want to remember what the effects of meniscectomies are, recall former Bills tight end Charles Clay.

Update: Ford has since been placed on IR.

ACTIVE

DE Mario Addison (knee/veteran rest)

Considering Addison is a veteran on the wrong side of 30, it’s not surprising that he shows up on the injury report with a vet rest day. He is also listed as a knee injury which hasn’t been a known issue since prior to Week 4 when he injured it in practice. 

He played in 67% of snaps which was tied with Jerry Hughes for the team lead for defensive end snaps. This may be more of a chronic issue though it’s not known which side he is dealing with. Unless more details are known, this will continue to be monitored with overall little concern. 

DE AJ Epenesa (Concussion)

Epenesa suffered his first documented concussion in Week 10, quickly getting ruled out midway through the game. He quickly entered the concussion protocol and working through the system until getting cleared following Wednesday’s practice. 

His recovery fits the timeline seen for a concussion and there is hope he avoids further injury for the remainder of the season. 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

Jones appears ready to return following a hamstring strain suffered against the Patriots on a kickoff in the 3rd Quarter. He has missed two games plus the bye to recover which has fit the timelines we see for hamstring strains. 

He has had a multitude of injuries over his career and to see him deal with another one isn’t really all that concerning. I had thought that Brandon Beane wanted to get whatever was left in the tank and that may be the case. As he practiced in full, he will be expected to return and contribute on special teams. 

TE Dawson Knox (Hamstring)

Knox was a surprise showing up on the injury report in his first game back from COVID. He played in 70% of the snaps but was generally ineffective. This hamstring injury was not noticed on film and the fact that he’s practicing in full after a week off tells me that it was minor in the first place. Hopefully Knox can put it together in the next few games to show he’s worth keeping around next season. 

CB Josh Norman (Illness)

Honestly not sure why Norman is on the injury report. He’s been cleared off the COVID reserve list and he’s practicing in full. Things like this will have me digging into the intricacies of the injury reporting in the offseason to understand designations like this. 

TE Lee Smith (Illness)

Smith was a DNP Friday due to illness which is why he was on the injury report but that doesn’t appear to be affecting his availability for Sunday. As he has been used sparingly this year, this may not matter but for posterity, I must mention. 

DE Jerry Hughes (Back)

Hughes showed up on the injury report with a back ailment that limited him Wednesday but was projected as full on Thursday and practiced in full on Friday. I’m not certain regarding the specifics as to what he was dealing with but until he has multiple DNP’s or is ruled out prematurely due to an injury, I have faith he will play and continue to produce.

Other Thoughts

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder) 

Allen is finally off the injury report following 6 weeks of full participation from the original shoulder injury. I can say for a fact we have seen more severe injuries get minimal to no time on the injury report. Case in point: Jerry Hughes wrist/groin, Jon Feliciano left shoulder rotator cuff tear, Zay Jones/Taron Johnson torn labrum; those are just off the top of my head. 

Either Josh Allen had fully recovered from his shoulder ailment or it is finally at a point where it is no longer an issue. This is something I still continue to watch in his runs, throws, and what he wears on the shoulder. At this point in the season, if these guys can produce and win games, then that’s all the matters because everyone is hurt in the league. It’s a harsh reality, but it is what it is for those that play in the NFL.

TE Tommy Sweeney (Myocarditis)

Tommy Sweeney never had a chance in 2020. He started off on the PUP list due to a possible stress fracture, spending the entire season on there before getting exposed to and contracting COVID.

Once cleared, he continued to work out but may have been having some issues with his endurance which likely led to a consultation with a cardiologist. Regrettably, he was diagnosed with myocarditis, the first known NFL player afflicted with this condition as the result of COVID. 

Myocarditis is a condition in where the heart muscle itself becomes inflamed, this can also affect the electrical system of the heart as well. This can be the result of a virus, fungi, or bacteria among other things. The problem with inflammation of the heart muscle compared to skeletal muscle is that the heart muscle does not have the regenerative properties that regular muscle has. There is some research that shows some recovery can happen, but at a very slow rate. This is why heart attacks are so tough to come back from, the heart muscle is damaged and does not heal as effectively as skeletal muscle.

So is there damage to Sweeney’s heart? I’m not certain of that and I hope not. But he possibly had been having issues with working out after getting COVID which led to the consultation. The hope is that they caught it early enough and prevented any damage from occurring. Research shows that he will have to stop activities from 3-6 months to allow things to recover fully.

If he were to work through this or had a severe case, he could have suffered heart damage, irregular heart beats, or heart attack/strokes. It is a terrible situation for Sweeney but at least he can access some of the best medical care available to ensure that he can return for 2021. It is far too early to tell how this will affect him but any delay in training could impact him for next season. This will be something to continue to monitor. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

WR John Brown* has been placed on IR

TE Lee Smith

DT Harrison Phillips

RB T.J. Yeldon

G Cody Ford* has been placed on IR

There are currently 52 players on the active roster. Transactions may occur later today which can affect the number of inactives.

Looking at the other side, the Chargers are dealing with their own injuries including the potential return of running back Austin Eckler from a Week 4 hamstring injury. This could drastically change up their running game which has been a point of weakness for the Bills in defending the run. The Chargers will already be without Casey Heyward, Melvin Ingram, and Uchenna Nwosu which the Bills could exploit offensively. Despite their record, they are still a talented team and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had shown he was worth the first round draft pick earlier this year. 

Biased view but I believe the Bills have what it takes to win simply due to overall talent and health. The opportunity to stack wins before playing the Steelers will only help in case COVID hits again or an untimely injury occurs, potentially costing the team a win. A reminder: this is the last regular season game at 1:00 pm on Sunday as the team either plays in prime time or on Saturday the remainder of the season. Simply a result of a successful football team. We’re in the final stretch of the season and I’m looking forward to a potentially deep playoff run to start off 2021.

Top Photo Credit: Bills Wire USA Today