Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- TE

Season injury review of the tight end position.

Today’s off season analysis focuses on the tight end position for the Buffalo Bills. This season, 4 tight ends suited up for the Bills with varying levels of success. Today’s post will break down the injuries sustained to the TE corps and impact for next season.

First assessment starts with TE Khari Lee. The 3rd year pro found his footing with the Bills for the last 8 games of the season primarily used as a blocking tight end with some occasional work on special teams. He did not see any time on the injury report and saw no targets on offense. As he was only active for half the season and has one year left on his contract, he may be an attractive option to return as he can provide depth.

Next is TE Logan Thomas. The QB turned TE turned some heads this season with his conversion to TE which appears to be working in his favor as he appeared in 12 games for the Bills. While he did not accumulate head turning stats, 7 receptions for 67 yards and 1 TD, he fit into the offense nicely and showed that he is able to play tight end at the highest levels. Thomas recently did have knee surgery which knocked him out of spring practices for the foreseeable future. It did not appear that there was any prior injury as he did not appear on the injury report for any part of the season. Thomas has one year left on his contract and is an exclusive restricted free agent which I expected the Bills to bring back to develop further as a tight end.

TE Nick O’Leary became a increased focal point in the offense and appeared to finally show flashes of what got him drafted out of Florida State. Stats for O’Leary are: 22 receptions for 322 yards and 2 TD’s which are all career high’s for him. Injury wise, the 3rd year pro dealt with late season back pain which was possibly back spasms or pulled muscles which forced him to miss only one game. As O’Leary has improved every season in Buffalo, he is an exclusive restricted free agent, and continues to grow into the offense, it would be a no-brainer to bring him back for next season.

Finally, TE Charles Clay leads the pack with his major knee injury early in the season. If you recall, he partially tore both his MCL and meniscus during the Cincinnati game during a late tackle out of bounds. Clay did have surgery to trim down the meniscus and 3 games, returning for the contest against New Orleans. While his return was remarkable, he continued to appear on the injury report for the rest of the year. His stats overall for the year: 49 receptions for 558 yards and 2 TD’s. While he was a safety valve for Tyrod Taylor, the amount of money paid to him for that production doesn’t equate.

His initial injury from a return to play perspective is unremarkable, but long term concerns remain. I had previously written on his previous knee complaints and my thoughts on how he will fare. Having knee injuries such as this add to the overall damage and may continue to cause problems. While the body has the remarkable capacity to heal and remodel based on injury, sports such as football impede the ability to heal as quickly, leading to greater difficulty to maintain a high level of play. Clay is only 28 years old and while he should have several productive years of football left, this may be limited if he continues to deal with the chronic knee complaints from earlier. I envision a scenario where the Bills let him play out his contract and move on from him as they have several younger, healthier players in the wings and will allow the team to get the salary cap under control.

Overall, the TE position is relatively healthy with the exception of Clay who can still be productive with the proper medical treatment. There are several other players that the Bills have on their radar with the previously mentioned Lee and Thomas. They also have TE Keith Towbridge who spent the year on IR with a foot injury sustained in training camp. The Bills have also recently signed TE Jason Croom to a futures/reserve deal. There will be some players that will be odd man out come training camp but many things can and will happen in the off season.

Continue to check back with me at Banged Up Bills for the latest injury news and analysis. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 11 Injury Breakdown- Chargers

Detailing the injuries prior to the LA Chargers game.

The Bills continue to make moves that make the fan base question the process. Sean McDermott benched starting QB Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie QB Nathan Peterman, this year’s 5th round draft pick. This is curious as the Bills are sitting in the last wild card spot, owning a 5-4 record, and create many questions about the reason behind the decision. However, unless you’ve been under a rock, Tyrod has been awful the past 2 games against the Jets and Saints, exposing the Bills as a possible playoff pretender and into a potential free fall. With the Chargers game coming up and the season potentially slipping away, I do applaud the Bills for attempting to make a change instead of running with a system that is shaky as best and awful at worst. Whatever the decision is, I will trust the process. I believe in year’s past, changes would have not been made and success would have continued to elude this team.

Despite the Bills making this big change behind center, today’s post will once again be focused on the injury report, which unsurprisingly, grows longer as the season progresses. Starting off, LB Lorenzo Alexander, DT Kyle Williams, G Richie Incognitio, and RB LeSean McCoy did not practice yesterday due to a veteran rest day. TE Charles Clay (knee) was limited in practice due to a knee issue which I am quite confident that is related to the original injury that kept him out prior to this game. He is possibly dealing with some mild swelling due to the recent surge in activity, but I do not believe that he re-injured the knee. From my vantage point, it did appear that he was wearing some prophylactic bracing under his pants during the game as expected to decrease the injury risk.

Others not practicing today includes OT Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), K Stephen Hauschka (right hip) and RB Mike Tolbert (hamstring). There is no surprise with Glenn as he has been dealing with his injuries all season. Tolbert is dealing with a hamstring injury which is unknown in severity. I did not see him leave the game or was limited with any of his runs. Hopefully this is not a long term issue as has been the issue with E.J. Gaines.

Hauschka did not practice secondary to a sore right hip which is the leg he kicks with. As Hauschka only deals with kickoffs and field goals, there is limited ability and time for him to injure his hip. Thankfully, kickers do not have to practice much so missing a day is not concerning. The Bills do not have any kickers on the practice squad, but training camp kicker Austin Rehkow is still a free agent and may be an option if Hauschka is unable to go Sunday.

Hughes did not practice yesterday and was limited today, but has been reclassified as a shin/calf injury which does open the door for a variety of other injuries including calf strain, foot flexor tendon injury, or a soleus strain. Considering that his position requires so much energy to push off around the edge, it is common to see a calf strain from time to time. If not managed correctly, this could develop into a tendonitis and could lead to further damage, but the training staff will not let it get to that. As Hughes is also a veteran, limiting him in practice may have been proactive to ensure proper rest and rehab.

Others limited in practice are WR Jordan Matthews (knee) and G John Miller (ankle). Miller is an interesting addition as he has not been active for several games with the recent improved play from G Vlad Ducasse. It is unknown what Miller is dealing with and the fact that he has not been active doesn’t warrant any concern.

Matthews is a new addition to the report after dealing with a thumb fracture earlier this season. There has not been any reports that he sustained any damage or had to leave early but there is concern for a re-aggravation of the knee tendonitis that he was dealing with when in Eagles training camp this season. Tendonitis is an issue that can continue to rear it’s ugly head even after clearing up the original symptoms. Tendonitis is an overuse injury due to repeated microtrauma to the area. If you would like to read more on the issue, please check out my previous article.

When dealing with tendonitis, this is something that a time frame can’t be definitively placed on. He could deal with this the rest of the season or could clear up with proper rehab and rest. This is something that can be played through, but pain may limit the ability to play at full strength.

Finally, WR Zay Jones and CB E.J. Gaines were full participants at practice which is an excellent sign. I originally thought that Jones sustained a high ankle sprain based on the mechanism of his injury during the Jets game, however, it appears he avoided this diagnosis. I did note that I believed that he may have sustained a regular ankle sprain as part of the differential diagnosis. Either way, Zay continues to progress back sooner than expected and this will be an extra weapon for Peterman come Sunday. As a disclaimer, I am only as good as the video available and the reports that surface.

As for Gaines, the fact that he is at full practice on a Thursday indicates that he will be starting Sunday. After seeing what the Saints did to the Bills defense this past Sunday, he is a welcome addition. As of right now, he is at a very high risk for re-injury due to his recent injuries and style of play, but if he is healthy, there is no reason that he is unable to contribute to the secondary.

As stated multiple times this season, the Bills continue to avoid the major injury bug. The Bills have four players on IR: TE Keith Towbridge, S Colt Anderson, RB Taiwan Jones, and WR Jerry Butler. This isn’t a group of players that strike fear into any team. They are still in better shape than other teams and while the team is not performing as expected, the depth that has been there since the beginning of training camp will be key down the stretch if they continue to be in the hunt for that long elusive playoff spot.

As a fan, I’m disappointed in how the team has played the past two games despite the hot start. I will still trust the process and know that McDermott is making decisions to better the current situation. I know complaining won’t change the current situation but will continue to have opinions because we are all entitled to that. If the Bills lose to the Chargers Sunday, then the season may be over. If they win, we’ll see what happens. The Drought has to end sometime, with how this season has been going, why not roll the dice?

Continue to check back with the latest articles and updates. For the latest and game day updates, follow me on Twitter at @kyletrimble88. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!