Week 14 Bills Injury Preview- Jets II

Assessing the latest Bills injuries including Taron Johnson’s shoulder surgery and Jason Croom’s groin prior to the Jets game.

This has been one of the more busier weeks of the Bills season as the front office is demonstrating “The Process” with moves preparing the team for 2019. If you’ve been under a rock, the team released WR Kelvin Benjamin & WR Andre Holmes, signing CB Denzel Rice & DE Mike Love from the practice squad, and placing C Russell Bodine on injured reserve as the result of a fibula fracture during last week’s game. With all this upheaval along with several injuries, this leaves many questions going into the Week 14 match up against the Jets. As one may fondly recall, the Bills absolutely destroyed the Jets 41-10 in their Week 11 match up behind an effective performance by QB Matt Barkley. This time around, it will be QB Josh Allen vs QB Sam Darnold with both teams jockeying to avoid the AFC East cellar. Today’s post will identify the injuries going into the game and how things may shake out.

Those already ruled out are QB Derek Anderson (concussion) and CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Anderson continues to be limited indicating he is in stage 3-4 of the concussion protocol. I’m waiting for the other foot to drop and he gets placed on IR. At this point, he is taking a roster spot for someone else but his tutelage of Allen appears to be the reason he is still active despite not playing.

Johnson suffered a dislocated shoulder resulting in a torn labrum in his right shoulder during Week 1. He has since then re-injured the shoulder several times, missing only one game right after the initial injury along with wearing a shoulder harness to limit recurrence. He had been reportedly been in a non-contact jersey the past several weeks, giving his shoulder the rest and protection it required to get through the season until the Bills were officially eliminated from the playoffs. As a result, Johnson had successful shoulder surgery on Tuesday to repair his labrum and has since announced his season is done. I am not sure why the Bills are hesitating to place him on injured reserve; this may be due to a contract issue which we as fans are not privy to. The shoulder labrum recovery is a ~6-9 month recovery which will allow Johnson to ready for OTA’s in May-June at least in a limited fashion and fully healthy by training camp. To read more about the surgery that Johnson had, make sure to check out my article on WR Zay Jones who had the same procedure last year with great success.

Listed as doubtful is TE Jason Croom (groin). Upon video review, Croom doesn’t appear to have one play in where he injured his groin. He did not have any targets during the game but was involved in 35% of the offensive snaps and was playing until the final offensive series. Based on the knowledge we have, this appears to be a mild strain and the team is being proactive, allowing him to heal completely before rushing him back onto the field. We have seen most of the muscle strains this season result in minimum 1 game missed and this is no exception. I believe that this is a Grade 1 strain with Croom having the ability to return next week fully healthy. As he is listed as doubtful, most players listed as doubtful do not even play. In the event that he is active, he will likely be limited in offensive packages and used more likely as a decoy. Regardless of status, he should not play.

Listed as questionable is WR Isiah McKenzie (toe). Reports indicated that McKenzie injured his toe late in practice Thursday and was limited Friday, making him officially questionable for the game Sunday. Fortunately, publications state that he feels as though he will be able to go on Sunday which is a good thing as the Bills are expected to only have 5 WR’s available. My suspicion is that he sprained his great toe running a route pushing off too hard or pivoting. It is possible to injure the other toes on the foot, but when it comes to running, the great toe is essential for effective push off required for sprinting. He is truly a questionable decision, but considering the personnel available and his thoughts in the article, I expect that he plays.

G John Miller (oblique) is coming off a strained oblique suffered in the win over the Jaguars. He missed last week but is able to return which fits the timeline regarding muscle strains; I had suspected that he would miss 1-2 games based on the location. There is possibility to re-injure the area, but I would not consider the risk to be significantly greater than when he originally sustained the injury.

Those injured earlier during the Miami game that did not appear on the injury report were LB Tremaine Edmunds (knee/ankle) and S Jordan Poyer (finger). While they may be dealing with some soreness, this was not enough to warrant an injury report slot. Expect both to be key players to slow the Jets offense.

While the Bills are slowly losing players to injured reserve as the season winds down, most starters continue to stay healthy or at least available in order to help the team finish strong over these last 4 games. I believe the Bills will be able to finish this season with a 6-10 or 7-9 record. The big question marks I have are this upcoming Jets game and maybe the second Dolphins game. A 7-9 record would be a great finish after such a terrible start to the season. There’s a lot of promise on this team going into next year, we just have to see how the draft and free agency play to our favor. I believe the Bills will complete the season sweep of the Jets to move to 5-8.

Continue to follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com for the latest injury news and updates coming out of One Bills Drive. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 10 Bills Injury Preview- Jets & Why Josh Allen Shouldn’t Play

Read the latest Bills injury prior to the Jets game including why Josh Allen shouldn’t play this week despite being listed as questionable.

The bye is rapidly approaching and the Bills are welcoming it with open arms. Over the past month, injuries have been rapidly piling on, the team is on a 4 game losing streak, and analysts openly questioning whether the Bills could even beat Alabama in a theoretical match up. As fans, while we do support our team though thick and thin, we need a break. Having a showdown against a Jets team that is also having a down season could allow the Bills to secure their 3rd win and rest up for the final 6 games to gain some respectability going into 2019. Today’s article will detail the injuries going into the Week 10 showdown, why QB Josh Allen shouldn’t play, and how things may look after the bye.

Those already ruled out of the Jets game include QB Derek Anderson (concussion), TE Charles Clay (right hamstring), and DE Trent Murphy (right knee). The veteran QB Anderson is still working his way back from a concussion suffered in the MNF loss and has been unable to practice since then. As we have no video of his presence in practice, I can only assume that he is still in Stage 1-2 of the concussion protocol. This would mean that he’s still not at baseline cognitive testing or if he is, he would be in stage 2 which would be a light aerobic graded exercise program which is possibly still bringing on symptoms. It has been noted he has been working with trainers off to the side, but that has been the extent of his activity so far. Until he is able to tolerate his exercise program, he will not be able to progress in his protocol. It is too early to tell whether he will end on IR with his concussion but it is not trending in the right direction.

Murphy is missing his 3rd straight game with a right MCL knee sprain suffered late in the loss to the Colts. While he has not practiced since the injury, it is expected that he is rehabbing daily and working hard to return to the field. The team is taking it slow with his recovery as he has dealt with a multitude of injuries since training camp and do not want to experience further serious injury. When healthy, he is effective, but he must rehab properly in order to be available. Barring any setbacks or unknown information, he should be back after the bye for the final stretch of the season.

Clay is ruled out due to suffering a right hamstring injury early in the 1st quarter of the loss to the Bears. He appeared to tweak his hamstring decelerating, then attempting to change direction, eventually limping off the field. While it is difficult to identify the severity of the hamstring strain on video, it appears to be minor as he did have it stretched out and at one point have his helmet on during the game, implying that he may have wanted to return. As a precaution, not practicing all week along with the bye should allow him to return fully healthy.

To note, WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) appeared on the injury report with a knee injury but was limited only Wednesday, but practiced in full Thursday & Friday. He did suffer a shot to the right knee in the Bears game but only sat out 1-2 plays before returning. This does not appear to be anything more than soreness and should not be a factor in his abilities to play this weekend.

Those ruled questionable are: RB Chris Ivory (left shoulder), WR Andre Holmes (neck), LB Tremaine Edmunds (concussion), and QB Josh Allen (right elbow). Reviewing injuries, Ivory suffered a separated shoulder or AC joint sprain during a failed goal line plunge in the 4th quarter and was ruled out the remainder of the game. While Ivory was limited the past 2 days, it does not appear that he should be ready to take the brutal hits of the NFL. Plus, being limited in practice on Friday is typically not a good sign to play Sunday.

Holmes was dealing with a neck injury that was not apparent in Sunday’s game but it worth noting that he suffered a neck injury that sent him to IR at the end of last season. There was nothing on video that stood out so it is rather difficult to identify specifics of his malady. This may be an injury we have to watch moving forward and see if it limits his reps or abilities on the field. However, the fact that he was able to practice in full the past two days indicates that this may be a minor injury and should suit up come Sunday.

Edmunds is dealing with a concussion suffered at some point in the first half of the MNF game against the Patriots. He did take several shots to the head, most notably against FB James Develin which may have brought on a delayed response in concussion symptoms. As he did not practice last week and was limited this week, he is truly a questionable decision as he will need to be cleared by an independent neurologist before returning to the field. He has been practicing without a red jersey which prohibits contact which is a good sign but no guarantee for clearance. I would estimate that he is in stage 5 of the concussion protocol but has not been cleared yet. We have seen concussions cleared the day before or day of the game such as in the recent case of RB LeSean McCoy. This will truly be a game time decision and whether he clears protocol.

Finally, QB Josh Allen as we all know, injured his right throwing elbow during the Texans game. His absence during the past 3 games along with his rehab has been intensely scrutinized on when he will be ready to return and how he will perform. It was only this week that he began throwing, albeit with a brace and on a limited basis. During the limited video available, he was making a variety of throws around the field which is fantastic to see. However, while he does appear to be ahead of schedule with his rehab, it does not mean that returning to game play ahead of schedule is always recommended. We hear all the time how this player and that player are doing well in their recovery and ahead of schedule. We hear timelines with recovery from injury and always expect to take the under on weeks for them to return. As fans, we then get upset when they’re not back by what could be perceived as unrealistic outcomes for that player as every injury is unique.

Most protocols do state that this particular injury takes 6-10 weeks to heal, much less play at full efficiency. Coming off the bye will be 6 full weeks of recovery. While I have stated he appears ahead of schedule due to his throwing program, this doesn’t mean he is ready to fully play. He does have the advantage of highly skilled doctors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers treating him daily which may explain why is moving faster plus his youthful age does help.

Despite performing the ability to throw and go through all his motions, Allen still has not completed a full practice which means he has not gone game speed consistently. We have also have not seen him throw without a brace which currently provides stability and compression to the affected area. Most players do not want to wear any bracing on game day as it affects their movement. The bracing that he is currently wearing in practice would be limiting the ability to naturally move during throwing and could alter his throwing mechanics if he plays long term with it on. Rushing back into the game with a brace may do more harm than good as he may perceive that he is protected from injury from the brace and do more than he should.

From a therapist perspective, it is important to load the injured area and slowly stress the tissues to build up tolerance towards the activity before going full speed. Going too hard, too fast can and does lead to further injury. At this point in his healing process, he would not severely damage the ligament with his current activities unless he were to sustain similar trauma such as the original injury or a fall onto the elbow or outstretched arm, both of which are uncontrollable at game speed. Unfortunately, he could irritate the still healing ligament in his elbow or injure other areas of his arm attempting to compensate for the elbow if he returns too soon. This could lead to a potentially chronic complaint rather than the acute injury that it is currently.

He would benefit from another two weeks off, his body will be two weeks healthier and stronger to withstand the demands of his position to reduce his injury risk. If this were not his throwing elbow, he would have been back much sooner. As a physical therapist, I would want to see that he can make all his throws, that he can make the throws without bracing, that he has no pain up to several days after throwing, and that he has no compensation patterns as a result of the injury. I would also want to see consistency in all areas over a set timeline. One day things can look great, another day, it can be awful. In the video above, we may have just seen a great day; we’re typically not privy to the bad days during practice. At this point in time, there is just too many questions surrounding his abilities and a full week of participation in practice would prove that he’s ready to come back 100%.

This is already a lost season and rushing the future of the franchise out there in meaningless games does nothing for Allen. This would be a prime way to ruin a young quarterbacks development and set the stage to rush back from future injuries before he really understands how his body recovers from injury at the NFL level. I believe the Bills only listed Allen as questionable was due to the public relations angle plus forcing the Jets to consider game planning for him which may get them to overthink their strategy. Just because he looks good, doesn’t mean he is good yet. I expect the Bills to roll out their 4th starting quarterback of the season in QB Matt Barkley with QB Nathan Peterman as backup with a heavy emphasis on the running attack by RB LeSean McCoy & Co.

To add facts on facts, so far through Week 9, 53% of players listed as questionable on game day have been ruled inactive by the Bills. So based on those listed as questionable this week, theoretically, just over half will be ruled inactive; my bets are Ivory and Allen. Edmunds is a wildcard and could go either way but I’m leaning towards him playing. Based on what we know about everyone’s respective injuries, the extra week of rest during the bye will allow everyone in today’s article to come back to play in the Jaguars contest. As for the game prediction, I believe the Bills will get a much needed win over the Jets, moving to 3-7 which will allow them to regroup for the rest of the season.

This wraps up another Bills injury preview here at Banged Up Bills. Continue to follow for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow on Facebook at Banged Up Bills, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit u/BangedUpBills, and online at http://www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 4 Bills Injury Review- Packers

Observing the multitude of injuries suffered by the Buffalo Bills in the loss to the Green Bay Packers.

After such a promising win last week against the Vikings, the Bills returned to their inconsistent ways. They limped out of Green Bay after a 22-0 loss and several injuries that could leave them vulnerable next week at home against the Tennessee Titans. Today’s article will review those injuries and the impact they have on next week.

Those coming off injury were RB LeSean McCoy (ribs), TE Jason Croom (knee), and DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring). All were able to play without limitation, though were not productive. Interestingly, CB Phillip Gaines (elbow) was ruled inactive despite practicing in full this week, indicating that it may have been a personnel decision rather than a medical one.

First up is S Micah Hyde who suffered a groin injury midway through the 1st quarter. He sustained the groin injury during a deep pass despite not being directly involved with the play. Film review shows that he injured his groin backpedaling, keeping up with TE Jimmy Graham. He then began redirecting his focus, turning right to change direction to catch up with the play on the left side and came up hobbling. It appeared that he pulled his left groin performing a move he’s done countless times, a football move, to put it simply. Hyde was able to walk off under his own power but had a noticeable limp, unable to return. It is unknown how severe the injury is; my guess is a Grade 1 groin injury, similar to what DE Trent Murphy sustained during preseason. Hyde could be out 1-3 weeks based on severity, more likely out 1-2 games due to the nature of his position. While stretching, strengthening, and a proper warm up routine can and do reduce the incidence of these injuries, there was nothing he could have done on this play to avoid it, just a hazard of the job.

Following the Hyde injury, CB Taron Johnson went down with a R shoulder injury though was able to return shortly later. He originally suffered the same injury in the season opener against the Ravens but has since re-injured his shoulder every game that he has played. He continues to re-injure by the same means; a direct blow to the shoulder during a textbook tackle.

Originally, my thoughts were a stinger due to the direct blow, but he has since been wearing a shoulder harness which indicates some type of shoulder instability seen in AC joint sprains or labral tears. As he continues to injure his shoulder in the same fashion, I am now suspecting a labral tear in his shoulder. His AC joint would have been improving weekly and would not have required a brace as he healed. He continues to require attention from the trainers after each hard hit but was able to return rather quickly to the game which is not uncommon after an injury such as his. He may have noticed pain and weakness to the area but still be able to play the position. Regrettably, Johnson may eventually require surgery similar to what WR Zay Jones had in the off season. It is possible to play with a torn labrum, but the more that the shoulder gets injured, the more damage occurs. During the hit, he is most likely subluxing his shoulder, or partially dislocating due to the direct blow to the shoulder. The more he subluxes, the more tearing/fraying that can occur to the labrum. He may reach a point where the shoulder becomes too unstable or fully dislocates with a hit which may necessitate surgery. He can play next week but his production may eventually suffer. I did note that he began changing his tackling style, leading with his left shoulder to force a QB Aaron Rodgers fumble, but this may not be the best long term solution to get through the season.

WR Kelvin Benjamin suffered a brutal hit to the head attempting to haul in a pass, instead was intercepted by CB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Benjamin was blindsided and went to the ground immediately. He left the game after that hit and was assessed for a head injury but was cleared and returned to the game late in the 4th quarter, though wholly ineffective throughout Sunday, bringing in 1 pass for 35 yards. I don’t anticipate this being an issue this week.

TE Charles Clay suffered a left ankle injury late in the 3rd quarter which required the athletic trainers to tape up his ankle indicating some minor instability following a sprain. He would get the ankle taped up to control for any swelling and provide support so that he could continue playing for the rest of the game. Film review showed that he got his foot caught in bodies rolling on the ground as he tried to get out of the way. Expect him to wind up on the injury report this week with a variety of injuries that may force him into not participating or being limited. However, it is far too early to tell whether these injuries will culminate into missing game time. Prior to the injury, Clay was involved but limited in the passing game, hauling in 4 passes for 40 yards.

Other injuries that did not appear to be that severe included DE Eddie Yarbrough , OT Jordan Mills, and CB Ryan Lewis. During their respective injuries, they appeared to be banged up but were able to return to play indicating that these are injuries not to be concerned with. However, with how this game went, every injury was initially be thought as concerning until ruled otherwise.

Overall, a very tough loss to deal with but one that we should have saw coming. While there will be more bright spots this season, they will also come with bitter tastes left in our mouths in between. As a PT, I want to continue to see these Bills avoid serious injury in order to continue to gel as a unit rather than replacing guys to stop the bleeding from the loss of key starters in the future.

Continue to follow for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and http://www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 3 Bills Injury Recap- Vikings

Dissecting the latest injuries coming out of the Bills win over the Vikings.

Wow, all I can say is, wow! That was quite the performance by both QB Josh Allen and the entire Bills squad as they came in as one of the biggest underdogs in recent memory and blew the Vikings out of the water in their own stadium. While I did predict a loss and many others did, I am quite okay with the results. This win gives true meaning to the term “Any Given Sunday”. As the Bills walk away with a gigantic “W”, letting the NFL know they are not dead in the water, they also walk away with minimal injuries. Today’s post will identify injuries sustained in the game and what this means going forward.

The biggest injury to come out of Sunday’s win is DE Trent Murphy (ankle). The veteran end from Washington in some fan’s eyes has been a disappointment so far after missing the entire preseason with a groin injury with lackluster performances in the 1st two weeks. However, as he has rounded into game shape, his presence was felt in the most recent game with a sack, forced fumble, and two tackles. He continually provided pressure against Minnesota’s woeful O-line which prevented QB Kirk Cousins from showing why he earned that massive contract in the off season.

Murphy sustained a right ankle injury late in the 4th quarter with the game already in hand. During the play, he was in the backfield when one of the Vikings offensive lineman got knocked down and rolled into his ankle. The mechanism initially appeared to favor a high ankle sprain due to him falling down with his foot twisted out. However, it appears that the ankle was merely rolled up on, causing a what appears to be a minor sprain which during Monday’s presser was termed as “day-to-day”. This indicates that this is not severe, he should be available Sunday, and there is no long term damage. To note: this is his right ankle he injured; he tore his left ACL last season. Injuries to the contralateral side can and do occur after major injury such as an ACL, but I believe this is a garden variety sprain and he could be back next week.

Others dealing with injury are CB Taron Johnson (shoulder) and CB Ryan Lewis (cramps). Johnson injured his right shoulder during a tackle in the 3rd quarter, similar to the hit that ended his day in Baltimore. Upon getting up, it was observed that Johnson was wearing a shoulder harness which typically is indicated for shoulder instability. I believe this is the direct result from the Ravens game and reason why he re-injured his shoulder Sunday. I had originally considered the possibility that he injured his AC joint, resulting in a sprain, or suffering a partially dislocated shoulder or subluxation. Reviewing film again, Johnson moves his arm freely walking off the field in Week 1. In Week 3, Johnson was able to return to playing but the hard hits continued to take its toll.

I believe Johnson sprained his AC joint during the initial tackle in Week 1 and is still dealing with some instability. AC joints can and do heal up quicker but still take their required time to rest. That is the most favorable result based on the initial injury. If he suffered a torn labrum via subluxation, he could still play but he may realize that he is not effective, eventually leading him to surgery. However, it is really difficult to determine without further information at this time. I am obviously hoping for the former.

CB Ryan Lewis never had a specific injury identified by the team but I believe that he was dealing with cramping initially as was C Russell Bodine and WR Kelvin Benjamin earlier in the game. However, Lewis went down again late in the game for what appeared to be unknown reasons. During the play, he changed direction suddenly and took a hard step on his right foot and appeared to be favoring it as he jogged into where the play ended. He was standing up, motioning to the training staff before getting down on his hands and knees while he was tended to.  Whether this means anything is to be seen. He may show up on the injury report with some type of ailment such as a calf or ankle or it may have just been fatigue. This was his first NFL game action, he had already been dealing with cramps, and the intensity of his first game plus nerves may have tired him out quicker. They say the game moves even faster at that level; it would stand to reason it requires more thought which could lead to greater fatigue. I do not expect any long term issues.

Other than the above mentioned injuries, those coming off injury appeared to have no ill effects. WR Ray-Ray McCloud was able to make his NFL debut and field at least one punt return for some yardage. It was observed that he wells wearing bracing on the left knee to give medial/lateral support supporting the notion that he had a knee sprain. This was most likely due to requiring extra support to the previously injured knee in the preseason win over the Bears. I do not see this being an issue moving forward with him ditching the brace soon.

Others coming off injury include RB Taiwan Jones. Previously mentioned, he suffered the nasty gash to his forehead in the loss to the Chargers. It appears that his wound was healed up enough in order to play without issue. His wound will only continue to heal without any further issues.

Even with the above mentioned injuries, the Bills continue to show strong depth which allows them to stay competitive in games. The Bills should be able to come in healthier against the Packers next week and set themselves up to steal another win from the NFC North.

Continue to follow for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and http://www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Primer

Reviewing last season’s major injuries and how they will impact the 2018 season.

Training camp is upon us! Thursday is the first full day for the Buffalo Bills to begin training camp at St. John Fisher in suburban Rochester, NY. This training camp, as many others, will shape the 2018 roster. We will see new players rise up to the challenge and find themselves on an NFL roster. Others will experience the heartbreak of falling short of their dreams. Finally, we will see many players whose seasons will end before they even really began due to injury. Today’s post will review some of the high profile Bills players and their previous injuries and what this means going forward. If you would like to listen to the audio version of this article, I appeared on the Cover 1 podcast last night and discussed these injuries, check it out!!

First up is RB Travaris Cadet. The 6th year back was an effective backup behind RB LeSean McCoy and allowed the offense to keep defenses on their toes. Regrettably, Cadet fractured his ankle in a gruesome manner late in the season and was placed on IR. After an injury such as that, there are natural concerns for his ability to recover and rejoin the team. According to what we know regarding the timeline for his recovery, he is fully healed and videos such as this indicate that he is at full health. I do not believe his injury will hold him back; rather his skill may be the biggest detriment as the Bills have loaded themselves up on running back. Look for a full contribution from Cadet and time will tell whether he finds himself on the 53.

Next man up is WR Kelvin Benjamin. The gigantic wideout comes back to the Bills for the final year of his contract and his production this season will determine his future home. Fortunately, Benjamin comes into this season healthy after being limited with a partially torn meniscus sustained in the dumpster fire that was the Chargers game. The 4th year wideout had surgery in the offseason and while he may have issues well after his playing career, he should not have any setbacks in camp as the offending tissue has been excised and rehab fully complete. Hopefully he will have a QB that is more likely to throw, leading to a big season for Benjamin.

Continuing our trend of injured Bills, TE Charles Clay. The 7th year tight end suffered a partially torn meniscus and MCL tear in the loss to Cincinnati but was able to return down the stretch to push the Bills into the playoffs. Clay should not have any limitations following that injury going into training camp. However, he may continue to have issues with his chronic knee condition he has dealt with in previous seasons. I believe this will slow him down but as he has shown in previous seasons, it really does not stop his ability as he has been able to appear in at least 13 games every year over his career. He will need veteran rest days but should be fully healthy in training camp.

DE Trent Murphy enters his first training camp with the Bills after spending the first 4 years with the Redskins. Up until last year, Murphy had shown the ability to provide pressure on the end and get to the quarterback, racking up 9 sacks in the process in 2016. His 2017 season ended quickly with a torn ACL in the preseason opener and was lost for the season and released afterward. Typical ACL recoveries take roughly a year to return to full form and this is evident with Murphy starting the season on the active roster after being limited in OTA’s. He should not be limited due to his previous injury, but he still carries a higher risk to re-tear his graft or tear the other ACL for up to 2 years.

LB Ramon Humber is another veteran returning to camp this season. The 9th year linebacker had a hot start to his season before suffering a broken thumb in the win over the Falcons last season which cost him 3 games. He was able to return and still contribute, but rookie Matt Milano got some game time experience which allowed him to excel in McDermott’s defense and hold onto the starting job. Humber will continue to provide a veteran presence and leadership on this team going into 2018.

Newly acquired CB Vontae Davis comes from the Colts after an injury shortened season in where he suffered a sports hernia, limiting him to 5 games. Davis elected to take the surgery which led to his release from the Colts, but I believe that he made the right choice in order to extend his career. As indicated in the hyperlinked article, 90% of NFL players who suffer a sports hernia are able to return to the NFL after surgery. While talent may differ due to each player, the ability to come back at all is the most important thing. I believe Davis will not miss a step and will actually be an upgrade to former Bill CB E. J. Gaines.

Our final defensive player on this list today is LB Matt Milano. The rookie linebacker out of Boston College outplayed where he was drafted in the 5th round and provided a bright spot at what was a weak linebacker corps. Milano had issues with his hamstrings last season and continued to be limited during OTA’s. He should be at full health coming into training camp but should be eased in slowly, avoiding game speed reps until he is confident that he is ready. I do not expect him to fully avoid re-injury, but limit the severity of the strain if it does occur again. Look for another solid contribution this year barring major injury.

Rounding out this article is WR Zay Jones. The NFL has not been kind to the rookie WR so far in his young career, suffering what appeared to be the yips early in the season. We now know that this was attributed to a labral tear which limited his ability to catch effectively. He had surgery in late January and should be cleared medically. In addition, Jones also had surgery on his knee in mid May. As he was recently placed on the active/non-football injury list, this indicates this injury occurred in the off-season. Whether this is tied to the well publicized hotel incident is in question, we may never know. Once Jones is cleared medically for his knee, he should not have any further complications moving forward. He will need a big season to right the ship and maintain a long career in a Bills uniform.

This wraps up the the major injuries heading into training camp. We will begin to see a host of new injuries, some minor, some major, but Banged Up Bills will be here to report all of those! As a fan, I am looking forward to this upcoming season after such a memorable 2017. Continue to follow on Twitter @BangedUpBills and at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- WR

Assessing the WR corps injuries sustained this season and impact for next season.

Continuing with the off-season coverage of Buffalo Bills position review, today’s post reviews the WR position. As other posts have shown, no position is immune from injury and lots of analysis continues. A total of 7 wide receivers suited up at the position for the team this season with a variety of outcomes this season. First up is WR Kaelin Clay who came over from the Carolina Panthers in a trade during training camp. Clay did not stay long as he saw 4 targets for 1 reception totaling 28 yards. He was shortly released afterward and reclaimed by Carolina. During his time in Buffalo, he did suffer a foot and back injury which possibly contributed to his lack of productivity but did not cause him to miss time. As he returned to Carolina, finding his way back to Buffalo unlikely anytime soon.

WR Brandon Tate saw most of his playing time during special teams in the return game. Tate’s limited playing time at the position saw him targeted 14 times for 6 receptions totaling 81 yards and 1 TD. Thankfully, Tate did not suffer any injuries this season. The 9th year pro’s value remains at the special team position and with his lack of recent injury history remains an appealing target to bring back with his versatility.

WR Andre Holmes became a steady player after coming from the Raiders last season. While he has career low as a regular player totaling 13 receptions for 120 yards and 3 TD’s, he was still a key depth player, appearing in 14 games. Holmes was limited around Thanksgiving with an ankle injury that he was able to play through. Unfortunately, the 7th year veteran suffered a neck injury which sent him to injured reserve. It is undetermined what type of neck injury Holmes dealt with. Neck injuries are a hot button in Buffalo at the moment with C Eric Wood forced to end his playing career and former S Aaron Williams announcing his retirement shortly after. My educated guess is that Holmes strained several muscles in his neck and wasn’t responding well to treatment, forcing the team shut him down. He still has 2 years left on a 3 year contract at an affordable rate which allows the Bills to bring him back for depth. Pending his neck injury, he should find his way onto New Era Field next season.

Next up is WR Deonte Thompson. The 8th year pro was quite productive after coming over to the Bills after being cut by Chicago earlier in the season. Playing in 11 games, he was able to snag 27 receptions for 430 yards and 1 TD. While none of these numbers are eye popping, the receivers as a whole were down due to QB Tyrod Taylor’s limited passing abilities. Thompson suffered several injuries throughout the season including an ankle injury sustained during the Chargers loss in which he attempted to catch a ball while going out of bounds. Towards the end of the season Thompson suffered a nondescript back injury during the first Patriots game. He then suffered a shoulder injury that was either identified later in the week or injured in practice which placed him on the injury report but did not cause any time missed. As Thompson is getting older and a unrestricted free agent, roster turnover will determine if he returns. As he earned the veteran minimum for his experience, he may command more money in free agency but an affordable option to bring back for next season.

Assessing the receivers who have some injury questions for next season include WR Jordan Matthews. The 5th year pro suffered a series of injuries that eventually landed him on IR for the end of the season. Starting off, Matthews sustained a chip fracture during the first practice after he was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia. The chip fracture limited his ability to participate during the preseason but he was able to return to start the season. After getting used to the offense, Matthews sustained a thumb fracture during the crucial win over the Falcons. Matthews only missed one week and was able to return far faster than anyone had expected. This is another injury that will not cause any issues next season.

However, Matthews’ knee landed him on IR and while there is not one particular injury that landed him there, it may have been a recurrence of knee tendonitis he was dealing with during the early parts of training camp when he was still with the Eagles. This knee injury may determine how much he can command on the open market. His stats for the season included 27 receptions for 282 yards and 1 TD may limit his bargaining power considering he is in the same class as former Bill Sammy Watkins, along with Odell Beckham Jr., & Mike Evans. Considering his contemporaries, he could command more money than what the Bills are willing to pay and I expect the front office to move on from Matthews.

WR Zay Jones suffered an up and down rookie season which is not uncommon for a new player to the NFL. Unfortunately, expectations may have been set too high as he came out of college as the all time leader in receptions which did not initially translate well to the NFL. Jones’ stats were similar to other receivers on the team with 27 receptions for 316 yards and 2 TD’s. A slow start to the season along with several now known injuries were contributing factors to his lackluster season. Jones suffered an low ankle sprain which had appeared to be a severe knee injury during the Jets game. Thankfully, his knee hyperextended and his ankle absorbed the brunt of the force causing the sprain. This did not force him to miss additional games outside of some plays in an ugly loss to the Jets.

The unknown injury that came out after the season in an interview with Zay’s father revealed a torn labrum in what was possibly his left shoulder. He did appear on the injury report during the last week of October but this did not force him to miss anytime. My article on his injury appears here, please take the time to read. He has since had successful surgery to fix the tear and should be back in time for the regular season. He will continue to be an integral piece of the offense and production should increase if the QB position improves.

Finally, WR Kelvin Benjamin was the biggest acquisition by the Bills this season of unexpected trades. Upon arriving to Buffalo, Benjamin never really took off, injuring his knee in his 2nd game against the Chargers which resulted in a partially torn meniscus. Missing 2 games to rehab and recover, he was able to return against the Colts and play through the injury for the rest of the season. His production, 16 receptions for 217 yards for 1 TD, was limited as expected but playing through the injury did not cause further injury. He has since had successful knee surgery to shave down the partial tear and will be able to return in time for OTA’s. As for injury risk next year, his previous ACL tear is more of a long term concern to re-injure than the meniscus tear. Benjamin will be back next year and pending salary cap ramifications, I hope the Bills find a way to keep him long term.

The Bills WR corps will look different next year with the exception of Jones, Holmes, and Benjamin. There is the possibility of Thompson coming back along with futures contracts of WR Malachi Dupre, WR Quan Bray, and preseason favorites WR Brandon Reilly and WR Rod Streater. In addition, the Bills also had WR Jeremy Butler on injured reserve due to a concussion during the preseason. The Bills are building something to create more stability in the offense and give either QB Tyrod Taylor or whoever the new Bills QB will be more weapons to energize the offense and build off the anemic passing offense of 2017.

Continue to check back with me regarding injury updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Kelvin Benjamin’s Partial Meniscectomy & Recovery

Detailing the injury process of a meniscus tear, the surgical procedure known as a partial meniscectomy and recovery.

As the season is over, several Bills players are slated for surgical procedures to address injuries sustained during the season. Kelvin Benjamin is one of them.

The 4th year WR’s partial meniscectomy has been long expected following his Week 11 injury against the Chargers. Benjamin had to miss several games following the injury but was able to return to play through the final stretch of the season, becoming a buoying presence for the wide receiver corps, helping the Bills to the playoffs. Today’s post will briefly review what a meniscus tear consists of, mechanisms of injury, and the surgical procedure and rehab that generally speaking is required to return to full health. For a greater detailed description of the meniscus and its role in knee movement, please reference my previous article.

The meniscus lies over the tibia and acts as a shock absorber between the tibia and femur. It is made up two wedge shaped areas that assist in deepening the area that the femur articulates with the tibia. During meniscus tears, a rotational force is applied to the area while the knee is bent resulting in a shearing motion, causing a portion of the meniscus to tear. There are many types and degrees of meniscus tears that could occur which include complete or partial, horizontal or vertical, longitudinal or transverse.

knee meniscus teear zones.jpg
Credit: http://samimimd.com/services/knee/knee-meniscus-repair/

Symptoms of meniscal tears typically consist of pain, tenderness, and swelling, locking or clicking during knee movement, and initial difficulty in placing weight through the knee. Meniscal tears are typically seen in conjunction with MCL sprains/tears and ACL tears due to the rotational forces through the knee during impact. The size and location of the tear can vary, which determines the most effective course of treatment.

Thankfully, Benjamin only requires a partial meniscectomy which is typically a 4-6 week recovery to return to baseline. During a partial meniscectomy, an orthopedic surgeon goes in arthroscopically via two small holes in the knee. Once inside, the surgeon inserts a camera to observe the affected areas. From there, other tools are introduced to grab at the offending area and cut out the frayed portion of the meniscus. A shaver is introduced to smooth down the area to remodel and prevent any any future fraying or breakdown of the tissue.

Rev39634b.jpg
Credit: https://nydnrehab.com/what-we-treat/knee-pain/meniscal-tears/

After the surgical procedure is completed, rehab is introduced to restore the knee to full function. Immediately after any surgery, the body enters an inflammatory phase which can last up to 48 hours after the insult to the area. Typically pain and swelling are addressed first through the time tested RICE method. This includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This helps alleviate post surgical swelling and pain as if the leg is in a dependent position, the excess fluid builds up in the knee and lower leg, causing extra pressure on the surrounding tissues. Other ways to manage the pain include the use of a TENS unit which provide superficial electrical stimulation over the skin to assist in desensitizing the area to reduce pain.

Once pain and swelling have improved, range of motion and strengthening is implemented to focus on returning the knee to normal function. Range of motion exercises include alternating between bending and straightening the knee through stretching to normalize function. This can be accomplished through heel slides in lying or sitting, stretching with the use of a towel or belt to pull the knee into flexion, or assistance from a physical therapist through passive motion to increase range.

There are countless strengthening exercises that can be performed but simple exercises after surgery include quad sets which encourage knee straightening, short arc quads to improve quadriceps strength, hip flexion, abduction, and adduction strengthening for weight bearing and return to walking, and ankle pumps. Progression of strengthening include closed chain exercises which are where the foot is in contact with the ground include stationary bike, modified lunges, terminal knee extension, squats, etc. Further exercises included open chain exercises in where the foot is off the floor includes long arc quads, step ups, balance and proprioceptive exercises as knee function improves. Finally, running, cutting, plyometric activities are incorporated to increase towards return to sport. A general rehab protocol can be found here. Successful outcomes as high as 90% are reported and able to return to pre-injury level of activity.

Benjamin will return to full function without any complications barring infection in time for OTA’s. He will most likely work with medical staff to return to game form which will take several months. This is possibly why he did not have surgery during the season. With Benjamin’s previous history of knee injuries which include an ACL tear, knee sprain, and most recently, a meniscus tear, there is some concern for future injury. However, while he is at higher risk for injury due to the previous ACL tear, there is little evidence that I have found that supports increased risk of re-tearing the meniscus greater than normal rates.

As with other injuries, there is only so much that can be done for prevention. Strengthening, agility, and proprioceptive activities are key to reduce future injury. In the case of Benjamin’s injury, external forces through the joints can not be entirely prevented. Benjamin may be wearing a brace as he returns to his prior form to control any swelling. He may elect to play with a hard brace to prevent hyperextension, though this would reduce mobility leading to him declining this option.

Over the years, the Bills have witnessed rashes of injury, and the teams success this season in successfully rehabbing players like Kelvin very much assisted in 2017’s outcome. The Bills are primed with draft picks, free agency cap space, and what appears to be an the ability to bring players back healthy. This will allow them to address other needs this off season rather than having to plan for the unknown in terms of the return of injured contributors from 2017. Continue to check back for with me for Bills injury news, reviews by position and draft pick injury analysis. Follow me on Twitter @kyletrimble88, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!