2020 Week 10 Bills Injury Review- Cardinals

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

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

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

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

DE AJ Epenesa (Concussion)

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

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

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

CB Dane Jackson (right knee)

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

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

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

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

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

WR John Brown (right ankle)

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

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

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

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

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

Other injury thoughts:

DT Justin Zimmer (right elbow)

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

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

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Photo Credit: DraftKings Nation

2020 Week 7 Bills Injury Preview- Jets

The injury list is long, pick your poison.

The Bills 4-0 start seems like ages ago following two straight losses to the two best teams that the AFC had to offer last season. Sitting at 4-2, the Bills are still in a prime position to win the division and host a playoff game for the first time in a quarter-century. Despite being in the driver’s seat, it doesn’t feel like they can field a healthy team in order to keep the march going strong. 

In the time writing these weekly injury reports, this is one of the more taxing ones that have been completed. There are simply a lot of injuries. There have been other weeks within a season that have had a lot of designations, but the list thins out or guys get healthy. We are now feeling the effects of injuries piling on top of injuries with multiple guys already ruled out prior to Sunday’s matchup against the Jets. Fortunately, the depth that the Bills have is still sufficient in the short term to get through this week. Below is the extensive list of injuries.

OUT

G Cody Ford (right knee)

Ford is ruled out for Sunday after sustaining what appears to be an MCL sprain to his right knee as the result of getting rolled upon in the 4th quarter. He was able to walk off under his own power before requiring the cart to head to the locker room. I had thought he would benefit from a short term IR stay but the team has not elected to go that route quite yet. Considering he was playing through a groin, possible left shoulder/elbow, and now knee, he could use the break. Regardless of the IR decision, Ford will be out Sunday.

WR John Brown (left knee)

Brown was ruled out for Sunday due to a left knee injury sustained in the Chiefs game. This occurred in the first series as Brown was trying to catch a cross route when he fell onto the left knee. He was hobbled by it the rest of the game and was largely ineffective.

Based on the latest injury alone, he probably could play through it, but considering all the injuries he’s been dealing with including the previous knee injury along with calf and foot issues, he could use a week off and that’s what appears to be happening following a week of DNP’s. The week off should do him some good in order to get ready next week for the Patriots. 

TE Dawson Knox (calf)

Knox will miss his second straight game with a calf injury originally sustained in the Titans loss. The severity is unknown but considering he will now miss two games, this says that it isn’t minor. The literature does show that these can take some time to heal, on average, 17.4 days which means he’s not quite there yet. At this point, he will need full practices 2 out of the 3 days in order for me to be convinced he plays. The more time Knox misses, his 3rd game total due to a concussion, the less he can be relied upon as a weapon for Josh Allen.

Update: Knox has since been placed on the COVID/Reserve list along with Lee Smith, Nate Becker, and Tommy Sweeney.

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

Norman reportedly tweaked the same hamstring from training camp, which according to records, was the left side. He has since been ruled out and we do not know the severity of the hamstring which will make a timeline tough to establish. 

Due to the previous hamstring strain, he was at greater risk of re-injure the area with the literature showing a 33% recurrence rate. Hopefully, the injury was minor and he comes back in time for the Patriots game. If he can’t go, CB Levi Wallace will come off IR, giving the team some options.

LB Tyrel Dodson (right hamstring)

Had Dodson not been injured, we possibly would see Milano sit another week due to the lack of need. However, since Dodson injured his right hamstring on a punt return, Milano may be pressed into service Sunday. Dodson has already been ruled out and may miss the Patriots game as well. Hopefully, Dodson is not out too long to give this team depth and versatility in the second half.

Update: Dodson has since been placed on IR.

QUESTIONABLE

LB Matt Milano (left pectoral)

Milano continues to battle back from a left pectoral strain suffered against the Raiders in Week 4. He appeared to be on track against the Chiefs to play but the research didn’t support a return that quickly with him ultimately missing another week.

He is far more likely to play in the Jets game considering the lack of depth available at the linebacker position. With any injury, he would benefit from additional time off but he is probably healthy enough to play and be effective. I expect him to play with the shoulder harness and give the defense a needed shot to get right for the coming weeks. 

CB Cam Lewis (left wrist)

Lewis continues to practice with a club on his left hand following Sunday’s injury attempting to tackle Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. It’s not clear what he did to the wrist but it’s significant enough that he has to wear a club on his left hand and that he was ruled week-to-week. The one upside to his injury is that he can go out to perform all the duties of the cornerback position with the exception of catching interceptions. Considering the lack of depth, Lewis may be forced to be active but available only in case of an emergency. 

CB Tre’Davious White (back)

White appeared on the injury report again with his back injury that has been bothering him since the lead up to the Titans game. Outside of it being a pain-related issue, we still don’t have details as to what is flaring things up. 

While he is not playing quite at the level he was last year, he is still playing at an above-average level which makes him still one of the best options on the team even not fully healthy. I expect he plays or at worst, is active but only in case of emergency. It’s unfortunate that the team has to resort to suiting up injured players, but such is the case with the Bills this week. 

ACTIVE

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Allen continues to practice in full with the left shoulder injury sustained in the Raiders game. I have thought his throwing mechanics have changed due to the injury which could explain some of the misses over the last two weeks. I expect him to come off the report soon but to linger on the report as long as he has is important to note later on. I still suspect he tore his labrum or injured his rotator cuff, but I will be looking to see if he continues to wear a brace on Sunday for stability. 

S Jaquan Johnson (back)

Johnson popped up on the injury report Friday with a back designation but practiced in full. There is absolutely no idea what he could be dealing with unless we get more information. Due to the issues in the secondary, any nick or bruise draws concerning responses from the fan base.

Other Injuries:

G Jon Feliciano (pectoral tear)

Feliciano has been discussed in the game plan this week for the first time since before his injury occurred. His 21-day window to practice without counting towards the active roster is rapidly closing and the team will have to make a decision by October 28th.

By the time you’re reading this, Feliciano will likely have been activated from IR. I do not expect him to take all the snaps in his first game back but he should see a decent amount to get live game reps to prepare for the second half of the season. A corresponding move to bring Feliciano back will either mean someone is cut or someone is placed on IR, hopefully, Cody Ford.

TE Tommy Sweeney (foot)

Sweeney is mentioned because he is now eligible to return from PUP following a six-week stay. The team has five weeks to activate him to practice and from there, they have a 21-day window to activate him to the roster. I had thought that he suffered a stress fracture and is still working back from the injury. Considering the struggles that Dawson Knox has had, Sweeney could be a nice addition in the coming weeks. I will be interested to see what the plan is moving forward.

Update: Sweeney has since been placed on COVID/Reserve list.

G Quinton Spain (foot soreness/released)

Spain was a surprise release following two games where he was declared inactive due to foot soreness. While he was a good player last year and had recently signed a contract extension, it simply did not appear to work out due to the team wanting to develop Cody Ford at the guard position. Details aren’t exact with regards to the reasoning of the release, but I would expect it was because he wasn’t happy with his playing time.

While it is not a great look to release a former starter, it is better to cut loose a player who does not want to be there rather than let any potentially negative attitudes fester in the locker room. Best of luck to Spain in his NFL journey as he looks to find a new home.

As a result of this move, the Bills elevated DT Justin Zimmer to the active roster and signed LB Ahmad Gooden to the practice squad.

Inactives:

TE Dawson Knox* COVID

CB Josh Norman

G Cody Ford

LB Tyrel Dodson* IR

QB Jake Fromm

WR John Brown

RB TJ Yeldon

Call ups:

CB Dane Jackson

CB Lafayette Pitts

The only upside is that the Bills are playing the Jets this week. Had we been forced to play another team such as the Patriots or Seahawks, this game could have been rough. Along with having a lesser team in the Jets, they are also dealing with their own injuries seen below. 

Those are some key players that are injured that could make an already depleted team even more susceptible to a loss. But according to Tom Pelissero, QB Sam Darnold is expected to play.

While there are questions about whether the Bills are the real deal following two losses, these are the kind of games where a winning team must come in and do their job, beating a lesser opponent. Ideally, the Bills take care of business and move onto the Patriots in addition to getting healthier as the team enters November and the second half of the season.

Top Photo Credit: BillsWire USA Today

DT Justin Zimmer Injury Profile

#61 Justin Zimmer

Position: DT
Height/Weight: 6’3″/300 lbs.
Age:
College: Ferris State
Year joined Bills: 2020
Acquired: Free Agency via Browns

College Injuries:

No publicly reported injuries.

Pro Injuries:

2016 Bills:

No publicly reported injuries.

2017 Saints/Montreal Alouettes

No publicly reported injuries.

2018 Falcons:

No publicly reported injuries.

2019 Falcons/Browns:

No publicly reported injuries.

2020 Browns/Bills:

Non-football injury, undisclosed, cut, signed by Bills.

General links:

Buffalo Rumblings DT Justin Zimmer Injury Analysis