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

Bills Season Injury Review- Wide Receivers

2018 Bills season review at the Wide Receiver position including injuries & who is likely to make the roster in 2019.

The 2018 Buffalo Bills WR corps weren’t expected to light up the NFL in any fashion but did have several bright spots from young contributors from which the team can possibly build off of going into 2019. Today’s article will review all the injuries sustained during the 2018 season at the wide receiver position.

A total of 12 players suited up for the Bills throughout the season with varying degrees of success. The total wide receiver statistics were: 149 receptions on 290 targets for 1,989 yards and 11 TD’s. While these stats do not jump off the page, they do represent the wide variety of talent on the roster and will identify who is likely to come back next year.

The first players that will be addressed will be veteran players who suited up for the team but have since been released for a variety of reasons and are unlikely to see 2019 in a Bills uniform. Those included are: WR Jeremy Kerley, WR Terrelle Pryor, WR Andre Holmes, and WR Kelvin Benjamin. Starting off with Kerley, he saw action in one game for the Bills this season before his eventual release. He was initially released to provide DT depth moving forward with plans to bring him back into the fold, but that never materialized. Kerley’s stats were as follows: 1 game, 4 targets for 2 receptions and 7 yards and 0 TD’s. He did not suffer any injuries and is not a player that is expected back next season.

WR Terrelle Pryor spent the first part of the season with the NY Jets and was released due to a groin injury. Once healthy, he was quickly signed by Buffalo appearing in 2 games with 1 rushing attempt for -1 yard, 8 targets for 2 receptions for 17 yards and 0 TD’s. He is also another veteran that did not suffer any injuries while in Buffalo and will not find himself on the Buffalo sideline in 2019.

WR Andre Holmes spent the entire 2017 season with the Bills and part of 2018 until his release late in the season. In the 12 games he appeared in, he started 3 and was targeted 23 times for 12 receptions for 157 yards and 0 TD’s. He was eventually released and picked up by Denver and played sparingly for them until an ankle injury forced him to IR. During his time with the Bills, he did suffer a neck injury that did not force him to miss anytime this year but he has had neck injuries in the past; 2017 saw his season end due to a neck injury. It is possible the Bills could take a look at him during free agency, but unlikely as he is no longer productive and is getting older.

Finally, WR Kelvin Benjamin, the receiver that is one Popeye’s biscuit away from a TE according to Booger McFarland. The much maligned wideout suffered a knee injury and brutal hit to the head during this season that did not force him to miss any games. Despite being available every week, appearing in 12 games and starting 10, Benjamin was only able to amass 62 targets for 23 receptions for 354 yards and 1 TD. The overall lack of production along with many instances in where he did not go all out on plays or fight for contested balls led to his eventual release where he was quickly picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs. However, he was found to be a non-factor in the playoffs and his season ended in the AFC championship game not even seeing one snap. Unless the Bills build a Chick-Fil-A in the team facility, there is no way Benjamin will come back to Buffalo and as a result, the Bills are far better off without him.

Next up is young receivers who could make the roster based on strong training camps in 2019 who include: WR Cam Phillips, WR Da’Mari Scott, WR Victor Boldin, and WR Ray-Ray McCloud.

WR Cam Phillips appeared in 2 games hauling in his only target for 1 reception for 9 yards and 0 TD’s. While his playing time was severely limited this year, it appeared as though the coaching staff were enamored by his abilities which led them to keep him on the practice squad after his initial release from the active roster. He may be a quality depth/special teams player going into the 2019 season and as he did not have any injuries, makes for an attractive, cost effective option moving forward at WR.

WR Da’Mari Scott appeared in 3 games for the Bills after spending most of the season on the practice squad for the Cleveland Browns. While Scott did not record any stats during his time with the Bills, he did contribute to several offensive plays and special teams. Like Phillips, he may be a quality depth/special teams player that the front office wants to keep around going into next season if he has a strong training camp.

WR Victor Bolden was another late season addition to the roster after spending most of his season with the 49ers. Like Scott, he did not produce any offensive stats, only receiving 5 kick returns for a total of 116 yards. Based on what the front office sees in him, he could be another option on special teams moving forward until they find higher quality players.

WR Ray-Ray McCloud was a surprise addition to the roster at the beginning to the season following a knee sprain during the Bears preseason game that forced him to miss 2 games as a result. He was able to come back after fully healing and spent most of his time on special teams appearing in 10 games, starting 1. He had 2 attempts for 4 yards rushing to go along wit 6 targets for 5 receptions for 36 yards. As he was a 6th round pick that did not produce when it counted, he may be a player who has to fight in training camp in order to secure a job next season. I see him as a strong possibility to return but buried on the WR depth chart or relegated to primarily special teams.

Others that saw time at the WR position this season in a limited role was WR Deonte Thompson. The veteran receiver spent time with Buffalo last year before returning after a stint with the Dallas Cowboys. During his time in Buffalo, he appeared in 5 games, starting 2. He was targeted 10 times for 3 receptions and 37 yards with 0 TD’s. He dealt with an Achilles strain shortly after he rejoined the team that did not force him to miss any games. Unfortunately, he later suffered a toe injury in the loss to the Patriots in Week 16 which caused him to miss the season finale. I had suspected that he suffered turf toe or a plantar plate injury which would cause him to miss time but as it was the season finale, the team elected to not dress him and shut him down for the year. That injury moving forward would not affect him going into 2019, however, due to his veteran status and lack of production this year, he may be a candidate that the Bills let hit free agency knowing there’s cheaper options after the draft.

Next is the 3 players that made the most impact in the and are certain to make the roster next year. First up is WR Robert Foster. The UDFA burst onto the Bills roster after an up and down training camp appearing in 13 games with 3 starts garnering 44 targets for 27 receptions and 541 yards with 3 TD’s. Along with the unexpected production, Foster did suffer several injuries including very hard shots to the head/neck area and thigh region that thankfully were not serious.

The most significant injury Foster suffered was what appeared to be a thumb injury in the win over the Jets midway through the season which may have been a dislocated thumb. He exited the game briefly but was able to return with a possible thumb spica and gloves to finish the game. This thumb injury was most likely his most serious injury but should not have any long term impact going into next season. Considering the type of relationship that Foster developed with QB Josh Allen, he appears to be a lock on this roster moving forward.

WR Isaiah McKenzie was incredibly productive after being picked up on waivers from the Denver Broncos midway through the season. He appeared in 7 games with 1 start demonstrating versatility with 10 rushing attempts for 66 yards and 2 TD’s to go along with 30 targets for 18 receptions for 179 yards and 0 TD’s. McKenzie appeared to suffer several serious injuries that required the use of the gator to remove him from the field this season but none of the injuries were even remotely serious. He suffered a toe injury in practice back in December that did not appear to affect his mobility in anyway followed by minor ankle tweaks and cramping in his calf which brought on initial fears of an Achilles tear. Thankfully this was not the case, but due to the violent nature of the game, he got banged up pretty good. However, McKenzie should be able to rest up and prepare his body for another year of pro football and build off his excellent 2018 season.

Finally, the most productive receiver on the Bills this year, WR Zay Jones. He appeared in all 16 games for 15 starts with 102 targets, 56 receptions and 652 yards with 7 TD’s. While at times he was streaky with his production, he took a big step forward in both his statistics and health, avoiding the injury report all together this season after a trying off-season in which he got his labrum in his shoulder repaired along with a bizarre incident in LA which resulted in him cutting his knee open trying to kick through a glass window. That knee injury along with the resulting surgeries did slow his participation in the preseason but he quickly was able to come to form during the regular season. He began to show flashes of why he was able to leave college as the NCAA career leader in receptions and will hopefully be able to build off this going into 2019.

Overall, the wide receiver position will have significant turnover with only Jones, McKenzie, and Foster as locks to return in 2019. Phillips, Scott, Boldin, and McCloud are all practice squad or depth options moving forward, but we have seen every preseason someone make that next leap forward as in the case of Foster. In addition, the Bills signed WR Duke Williams out of the CFL to help shore up the WR corps going into training camp. I believe that the WR position is something that will be addressed somewhat in free agency but will be further addressed in the draft. While there are tempting targets early in the 1st round along with big fish in free agency with Antonio Brown and Golden Tate, I believe Brandon Beane when he says they will be judicious and avoid some of the flashy moves that have put the Bills in a bad spot in years past.

Continue to check back 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 online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

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.

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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.

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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!!