2020 Week 7 Bills Injury Review- Jets

Are the Bills finally getting healthy?

A win is a win when at the end of the year no matter how easy or ugly the game may have been. An 18-10 score completes the season sweep of the New York Jets and first sweep since 2015. Behind a strong performance of 6 field goals from K Tyler Bass, the Bills found ways to move the ball down the field and score points despite the offense sputtering. The defense came up strong in the second half, only allowing 4 total yards to the Jets offense, finishing with a game-sealing interception. 

To top it all off, there were no publicly reported injuries. In light of the good news, there are still several topics to discuss below as upcoming decisions based on injuries will take place. Check it out below.

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Allen continues to deal with a left shoulder injury sustained in the Raiders game. Against the Titans and Chiefs, he has struggled for accuracy and has not looked himself while wearing a shoulder brace to protect the area. 

He came out sporting a new brace to protect the shoulder but it appears that this is less restrictive than his previous one. I was able to observe that under the shoulder brace, he did have kinesiotape which likely helped support the shoulder but allowed him change the brace without sacrificing stability. It’s also noted that he ditched the brace last week in the 4th quarter against the Chiefs in order to improve his throwing mechanics. 

I will expect to continue to see him wear the brace to protect the shoulder until the end of the season. 

CB Tre’Davious White (back)

White suited up on Sunday after being ruled questionable following Friday’s practice. White played in 100% of defensive snaps. The fact that he plays but is limited during the week indicates that this back issue he has is the pain centered with the goal of reducing activity through the week to be ready on Sundays. This is something to continue to monitor and I expect that this issue will not go away as the season progresses. 

LB Matt Milano (left pectoral) 

Milano played in 33% of snaps indicating that he was likely on a pitch count. I had thought he would miss two games and that appeared to be the case. He was also in on obvious passing downs which supports the notion that he is healthy enough to play but not quite there with regards to tackling fully. His playing time should ramp up for the Patriots game as he will be needed much more against a far better opponent. 

He was noted to be wearing a shoulder harness that limits shoulder abduction and external rotation with those movements placing stress on the healing tendon/muscle. He will likely not be 100% until after the bye, but healthy enough that his presence is greatly needed over the next 3 weeks in order to keep piling up the wins. 

G Jon Feliciano (pectoral tear)

Feliciano continues to wait to return to play following his pectoral tear back in August. I had originally thought that he would return around midseason in Week 8. While not confirmed, his 21-day practice window is closing on Wednesday with the team to make a decision on whether to activate him. It’s likely that he will be activated, but the team intends to use the full window before they make the decision. 

LB Tyrel Dodson (right hamstring)

Dodson was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring strain which indicates that the injury is possibly a Grade 2 strain which will take 4-8 weeks to fully heal. I would speculate that he is closer to the 4-week variety. It’s hard to say how long he’ll be out, but it’s likely that he will be out the next month as he rehabs. 

CB Cam Lewis (left wrist)

Lewis was active Sunday following being deemed week-to-week with a wrist injury sustained in the Chiefs game. It still isn’t clear what he is dealing with, possibly a fracture due to the club, but it’s serious enough to not play against the Jets. It appears that he was available only in the event of an emergency. With the potential return of CB Levi Wallace from IR potentially this week, this could be a one for one swap if the team goes this route. 

S Jaquan Johnson (back)

Johnson popped up on the injury report Friday with a back injury but played on Sunday, appearing in 57% of special teams indicating that this wasn’t a concerning issue. He doesn’t have any known back injuries, but something to note as he has become an important special teams contributor. 

TE Dawson Knox (calf/COVID)

Knox was ruled out prior to Sunday’s contest but was placed on the COVID/Reserve list Saturday after testing positive, also forcing TE Lee Smith, TE Tommy Sweeney, and PS TE Nate Becker onto the list due to being close contacts. While it’s highly unfortunate that Knox contracted COVID, this may benefit Knox in the long run as he can rest for the next week which may allow him to return fully healthy once cleared. According to protocols, if he was asymptomatic, he can return after 10 days from the initial positive test and have two following negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

If he was symptomatic, he would have to wait 10 days from when the symptoms first appeared and at least 72 hours from when he last experienced symptoms. So it’s possible that Knox could return by next week to play, but we won’t know that unless we know that he was symptomatic. This is a waiting game at the moment. Hopefully, Smith, Sweeney, and Becker test negative and can return to their respective roles quickly. To read more about the COVID testing, check this article out.

The team should be getting a lot of players healthy this week with the possibility of another name or two popping up on the injury report. Despite not having Knox for the foreseeable future along with potentially G Cody Ford, the additions of Feliciano and Wallace should help immensely in order to allow the Bills to take control of the AFC East next Sunday against the Patriots. 

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo News

2020 Week 5 Bills Injury Preview- Titans

Which of the questionable players will suit up?

Heading into Tuesday’s unusual matchup against the Tennessee Titans, the Bills are fairly beat up with injury designations already determined on Saturday afternoon. While the injury list looks dire, things actually aren’t all that bad. Check out the details below. Let’s hope this game gets played & put in the rearview mirror.

OUT

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano has since been ruled out for Tuesday’s contest which isn’t a surprise considering he did not practice all week.

Milano is coming off what appears to be a left pectoral strain. Based on the literature, it’s no surprise that he will be out for the short term. In my article at Buffalo Rumblings, I had detailed that he would be out at least 2 games and potentially more. The fact that he hasn’t been placed on IR also hints at the timeline the team thinks he may return sooner than later.

QUESTIONABLE

WR John Brown (Left knee)

Brown has been battling calf and foot problems all season, none of which have been serious enough to miss any time. Brown did appear to tweak something on the left side as shown in the video below.

Per the injury report, he is dealing with a knee injury now. While there is video of the injury, it’s hard to discern what he exactly did. In the video, he planted his left foot and pushed right before taking another step and then began hopping in pain.

He took several hard steps on his left leg to turn back to the right to catch the pass. His knee appeared to bow out on the next step, but it’s possible he could have tweaked the MCL or inside knee ligament on the prior step, felt it, took an uneven step which where we saw the bowing out, and then the final hopping off the field.

Credit: PTHealth.ca

If this injury was in isolation, I would say he’s alright to play especially with the few extra days off. But considering he’s dealing with foot & calf injuries, he may be best suited to take a week off. May come down to how he feels. This is one position where the team has healthy depth.

G Cody Ford (Groin/left shoulder)

Ford is battling a groin strain apparently suffered in the Raiders game. Sean McDermott did note that Ford was battling through some things during the Raiders game. I believe he was referring more to the left shoulder which could be anything at this point. There is nothing definitive on film & would need more information for a specific injury. There is a possibility that he’s dealing with a rotator cuff issue or labral injury due to the brace, but something to monitor.

As for the groin, also not sure when he injured it which makes it difficult to determine how it will affect him. The one upside is that playing on the interior part of the line; he will not have to use as much lateral movement or sprinting which can reduce strain on the area. If he doesn’t go, then G Quinton Spain would likely get the start.

RB Zack Moss (Toe)

Moss continues to be limited with a toe injury that appears to be turf toe. He was potentially able to play Sunday against the Raiders, but he ultimately did not suit up.

He has missed the last 2 games which fits in the timeline for a turf toe. The hope is that he returns for Tuesday’s game with a few extra days rest & is more of a factor than RB TJ Yeldon. Considering all the questionable players & that he practiced in full leads me to believe he will play.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (Left quadriceps)

Phillips has returned to practice & began practicing in full which is an excellent sign for the special teams linebacker. He has missed the last 3 games following a quadriceps injury that appeared to be a strain by video.

I expect most of his playing time to be on special teams once again unless he is called upon to play on defense if injury occurs. I also expect that he will continue to be slowly worked back in as he acclimates to not playing football for nearly a month.

Update: Phillips has since been placed on IR. The team promoted LB Deon Lacey in his spot.

WR Andre Roberts (Ankle)

There is no information on Roberts other than he injured his ankle. Nothing on film indicates that he suffered an injury and nothing in the media reports indicate the type of injury he is dealing with. The fact that he hasn’t practiced all week isn’t a great sign either.

The only two instances I could find for a possible injury came in the 1st quarter. The first was a right end around where Roberts lost 3 yards when he was flipped upside down by S Johnathan Abram. The other, three plays later, when Roberts caught a 6 yard pass to the left and was taken down by CB Nevin Lawson.

He had his left ankle get clipped on the first tackle and on the second, he was twisted down. Hard to identify if this is when he hurt his ankle or what the exact injury could be.

This will be something to monitor as the season progresses.

CB Tre’Davious White (Back)

This has been a mystery. White played in every defensive snap on Sunday & has been fairly durable throughout this season & career. He has not practiced this past week & it’s not clear whether he is even at the facility.

Watching film from Week 4, he appears to move well around the field and is not labored or slow to get up. As this is a back injury, these are harder to identify the injuries as there is typically not bracing or specific movements that are limited by the injury.

More information would be needed in order to identify what he’s dealing with. I could list a bunch of injuries & conditions, but trying to identify this injury is like throwing a dart in the dark at the dart board. The only reason that he could possibly be questionable after not practicing is if it’s a pain related issue where the team is hoping that things can calm down before Tuesday. But even that doesn’t narrow things down.

I have heard severe people say that he got his money & is not playing as hard anymore or that he is attempting to opt out because of the COVID concerns with the Titans with the team saying he has a back injury. Sure, there’s always that possibility that he is phoning it in now that he got paid. If he was, then that was a poor decision by the team to sign him to an extension. If he is not trying anymore, that’s on him. I don’t believe the Bills want guys on the team like that. I personally don’t believe this to be the case.

The COVID concerns are real, but to have the team say he has a back injury in order to keep him away from the facility, that’s a stretch. They could list him with an injury, we do see guys on injury reports often every week and don’t appear to have anything wrong. If I recall, Tom Brady was notorious for that with his right shoulder.

But to fake an injury would go against the competitive balance & intention of the injury report. To use it to cover up for something else makes me think the NFL wouldn’t take too kindly to that.

Right now, I am going with the fact that he has a back injury, details are not available, and the hope is that it isn’t serious. If he doesn’t go, the team has CB Dane Jackson they can call up for depth.

G Brian Winters (Right knee)

Winters appeared to injure his right knee on the same play that Josh Allen injured his shoulder. He fell hard on the right knee and was labored upon getting up and trying to get back into the play.

It appears to be a generalized contusion, but considering he hasn’t practiced in the past week, there’s potential it could be other things. He could have injured the bursa which is a fluid filled sac that helps lubricate the joint. A direct blow to that could cause inflammation to the area, limiting range of motion.

There are other possible injuries that he could have suffered but without more information, hard to establish a timeline. Considering the team has a bevy of offensive lineman, he could afford to sit this week.

INJURED RESERVE

CB Levi Wallace (Left ankle)

This move was a possibility but not certain as low ankle sprains can be played through, depending on the severity. Unfortunately for Wallace, he appears to have suffered a Grade 2 low ankle sprain early against the Raiders. This is due to the fact that he was placed on IR on Wednesday which requires a 3 week stay indicating a timeline for severity.

Credit: Medium.com

According to this picture sent in by a fellow Twitter user, Wallace appears to be off crutches and the swelling in the left ankle looks minimal. However, there is still likely instability due to the ligaments getting stretched out from the injury.

What we also don’t see in this picture is if he is on crutches and he put them down for the picture. We also don’t see how much weight he is putting through his left foot. Both feet could be down but he could be leaning more to the right to off weight the leg. Whatever he’s doing, he can rest for the next 3 weeks now that CB Josh Norman has returned from IR.

ACTIVE

WR Cole Beasley (Left foot)

Beasley continues to battle with numerous injuries including previous injuries to his thumb and hip. After being limited in practice earlier this week, Beasley was a full participant which signifies that he is healthy enough to play. The extra days off will certainly help his foot to heal further which will allow him to make those cuts over the middle effectively and use his speed to work around the field.

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Allen practiced in full every day despite the left shoulder designation from Sunday’s injury. The injury designation officially notes that he does have an injury and that it could affect his ability to play. The concern is that he has either an AC joint sprain, rotator cuff injury, or labral tear.

He did have a brace on for Wednesday’s practice and kinesiotape on for Thursday’s practice. The hope is that he has the AC joint sprain & it’ll heal on its own. My worry still remains that he had more damage in there as mentioned above. I would anticipate to see some bracing on for Tuesday regardless of the injury.

As the season progresses, the injury will become more clear if he takes further hits to the shoulder or if he continues to wear bracing.

Inactives:

LB Matt Milano
TE Lee Smith
G Brian Winters
QB Jake Fromm
RB TJ Yeldon

A bye week would be beneficial like it was last year at this time, but the Bills are not due for one for some time. These kinds of weeks will really test the depth at each position and the training staff’s ability to get each guy ready. It is important to note that a player may be active but may not get much play, only available for depth if needed. The team was forced to do this several times last year.

While the Titans are healthier as evidenced by the list below, they also have not had the ability to practice as a team in the last 2 weeks, unless you could the unauthorized practices after their facility closed. They also still have a number of players on the COVID reserve list.

Even if they’re healthier, I would be concerned about in-game injuries due to the sudden ramping back up of game play. I do not wish injury on anyone, but there is a greater risk. That along with not having the ability to fully implement their game plan may help be an equalizer in the game.

Remember, this is a team that was an AFC finalist last year. This team is no slouch. I would expect the Bills to win because I am biased and believe we have the better team. But if they lose, they are a worthy opponent. I’d like to see a win, but more importantly, minimal injuries as the Bills prepare for a short week against the Chiefs in Week 6 at home.

Top Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

2020 Week 4 Bills Injury Preview- Raiders

What is going on with Ed Oliver’s knee? Will Zack Moss play Sunday?

The Bills are getting healthy. Despite the injury list being longer than we would all like, several players are set to return & several more are expected to play despite dealing with injury. While the Bills are not fully healthy, they are in a far better position than the Raiders as seen below who are missing many key contributors which may make the Bills job on Sunday far easier. Below are the Bills injuries heading into Sunday’s matchup.

OUT

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (left quadriceps)

Phillips will miss his 3rd straight game following a quadricep strain in the season opener. Originally, I could not find when this occurred but after further review, I found on the All-22 film that he suffered a quadricep strain with 6:48 left in the 2nd quarter on the kickoff following the Bills 3rd score. He ran down the field and appeared to strain his left quadricep, having difficulty slowing down, occasionally hopping it off.

Since then, he has not practiced with the exception of Thursday & Friday in which he was limited. He likely suffered a Grade 2 quadriceps strain which can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to recover based on the already established timeline. His status poses the question, why didn’t the Bills place him on IR since it is only 3 weeks now? That’s a good question. It’s possible that he was trending towards coming back sooner and had a setback or simply did not respond to rehab as expected.

While he only has 7 special teams snaps as a Bills to his name, the team clearly likes him and is keeping him around despite the ability to stash him on IR. I would need to see a string of full practices out of him before I could even consider him to play in a game.

QUESTIONABLE

DE Mario Addison (knee)

Nothing is known about Addison & his knee that popped up on Friday with a DNP. His status is officially questionable. There wasn’t anything in particular on film Sunday that suggested a knee injury. He did exit the game for cramping in what appeared to be his right leg, but this should not cause knee problems several days later.

He did have a knee injury back in 2017 that he didn’t miss any time with, but I do not believe this is connected nor do we know which side. It’s possible that he hurt his knee Thursday after practice, but any specifics are non-existent. I have to assume he doesn’t play based on the questionable diagnosis, but that guess is as good as flipping a coin and calling heads.

RB Zack Moss (toe)

Moss appears to be trending up from a toe injury sustained in the win over the Dolphins in Week 2. He likely suffered a turf toe injury which can be played through but does benefit from some time off. Fortunately, he’s not a bell cow back for the Bills and he can split carries with RB Devin Singletary and if needed, use RB TJ Yeldon like they did last week.

Moss will probably have a stiff sole and possibly tape to prevent excess movement at the big toe so that he can have that explosive first step. If he doesn’t play, then I expect him to be full-go for Week 5. Without more knowledge to sway either way, I’m leaning towards him playing.

ACTIVE

WR John Brown (calf/foot)

Brown continues to be limited with foot issues since the beginning of the season, adding in a calf strain from the Rams game that caused him to miss the 2nd half.

The foot is more of a pain issue and a nuisance more than anything. The calf strain can linger but if he took himself out Sunday in the second half as a precaution and was DNP Wednesday, limited Thursday, and full Friday, it’s likely that he is healed enough.

The team may also be conservative in his approach during practice due to the heat expected in Las Vegas. This could exacerbate a strain if he gets dehydrated, however, they are in a climate-controlled stadium which may neutralize that factor.

Brown also has sickle cell trait which could place his body under extra stress and pain if he overworks his body or becomes dehydrated. This is merely a factor the team has to account for but does not limit his abilities. Sean McDermott appeared fairly confident that Brown would be available Sunday which is a ringing endorsement from a coach who says very little.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds finally was able to practice in full following a shoulder injury in Week 1 that caused him to miss Week 2. He did return in Week 3 and was less than effective with a shoulder harness.

Another week of rest & rehab should do him well & he should improve his play. The hope is that he eventually ditches the shoulder harness which would support the AC joint sprain which makes more sense & is less severe than a labral tear. He’s not 100% yet, but I expect him to slowly continue to improve towards a Pro Bowl level. I will also be watching closely how he engages his tackles and if he accepts more hits to the right side.

TE Dawson Knox (concussion)

Knox is slated to play Sunday following a concussion in Week 2 that forced him to miss the Rams game. He has since practiced in full and only has to pass his independent neurological consult if he hasn’t already. He is at a higher risk to suffer another concussion since he has already had one but playing football, he’s at risk regardless.

T Dion Dawkins (right shoulder)

Dawkins took a hard spill on Sunday as the result of trying to avoid Rams CB Troy Hill, somersaulting over him and landing on his right shoulder. The hope is that this is a contusion and is more pain limiting. There is a possibility that he suffered a minor AC joint sprain, but Dawkins was fairly jovial and hanging around following the win Sunday while not appearing to favor the arm.

One benefit of this being his right shoulder is that he plays left tackle. He will have to engage his left arm more, blocking the defensive end around the edge, allowing Dawkins to keep the end in front of him. He will use his right arm, but he can get through the game a lot easier because of this. I really don’t expect much drop off in the quality of play Sunday.

S Micah Hyde (left ankle)

Hyde sprained his ankle going in for a blitz Sunday and rolled it engaging the Rams tackle. Low ankle sprains are painful but easily played through with bracing or tape. My only concern is if he continues to re-injure the area that he misses time. I’m not all that concerned about damage in the short term, it’s easy to manage, but he is an older player and continues to require occasional days off to recover.

DT Quinton Jefferson (foot)

Little is known about Jefferson other than that he’s an older player with a previous Jones fracture from last season. He did have foot soreness in the preseason and is dealing with this again. There are other possibilities such as the plantar fasciitis that John Brown could be dealing with or that Jefferson had his foot stepped on.

This is something that I’m aware of but not concerned about right now, but something to monitor as the season progresses. I will be looking for patterns on the injury report and if he begins to miss snaps/games. For Sunday, he will be good to go.

DT Ed Oliver (right knee)

Oliver’s knee injury appeared pretty innocuous during Week 2 when he attempted to trip the offensive player, getting hit directly at the knee and then hit on the shin.

He was limited Wednesday due to the knee continuing to bother him followed by a DNP Thursday. This sent out a lot of concern to the masses thinking he wouldn’t play, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network indicated that it was a bruise and that the knee was structurally sound. But considering the DNP’s on Wednesday, this was probably done to stagger all the various players out. He likely hyperextended the knee during the original hit which led to the brace, but overall it does mean that the knee is sound as the knee does have some leeway with extension.

However, this picture above began making the rounds late Friday evening which makes me believe something more is going on. Clicking on the picture below, you can see that there is a bandage of Oliver’s medial right knee. Considering this is the location that he was hit, I got to wonder if he got his knee drained due to excess swelling.

This is a common procedure and the knee would be drained in that area. This picture highlights how severe the bruising may actually be. If you compare the right versus left calf, you can also see less definition on the right calf as compared to the left which would further show overall swelling in the knee and lower leg. I reached out to several Bills fans who have greater expertise in those areas and supported my thoughts. Really appreciate their input!

I wouldn’t be surprised to see both a compression sleeve on the knee and hinge brace for support Sunday. This will be something to monitor in the coming weeks.

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

Norman is slated to return to the active roster following a 3-week stay due to a likely Grade 2 left hamstring strain suffered during the first week of real training camp. He appeared on the mend but had a setback at the end of August, forcing him out of practices prior to Week 1.

He has since returned to practice Wednesday and has not been on the injury report. As of publication, he has not been activated, but the Bills waived CB Cam Lewis, later re-signing him to the practice squad. Considering the position and roster move, it appears a foregone conclusion that Norman will make his debut with the team Sunday. I expect him to work into a split role with CB Levi Wallace to keep the Raiders off balance and to help him adjust to game speed.

Ideally, the time off helped reduce his risk to re-injure the hamstring, but it is not completely absolved. Hopefully, he can find the fountain of youth and rekindle some of his stellar play from his days in Carolina.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm
DE Mario Addison
OL Ike Boettger
RB TJ Yeldon
TE Lee Smith
LB Del’Shawn Phillips

There doesn’t appear to be any surprises for the inactives, more personnel inactives than injuries besides Phillips & Addison. Based on my thoughts that Addison doesn’t play, that allows both DE Darryl Johnson & DE AJ Epenesa to get out there as they have been inactives in past weeks.

The Bills are far healthier heading into this game than the Raiders and I believe more talented. The injuries that we do have are on the mend which can help continue to develop depth in place until the starters are healthy. This is a game the Bills expect to win as they have much greater competition farther ahead, making each week more important than the last. Despite the early injuries, the rust appears to be shaken off and ideally, the quality of the defense continues to improve in order to support the hot start by the offense.

Top Photo Credit:

Chris Benoit Facebook/Nate Mendelson Twitter

TE Lee Smith Injury Profile

#85 Lee Smith

Position: TE
Height/Weight: 6’6”/265 lbs.
Age: 32
College: Marshall
Year joined Bills: 2019
Acquired: Free Agency via Raiders

College Injuries:

TBD

Pro Injuries:

2011 Patriots/Bills:

Ankle injury, Week 15, sent to IR

2012 Bills:

Knee injury, Week 15, missed 0 games

Back injury, Week 16, missed 0 games.

2013 Bills:

No publicly reported injuries.

2014 Bills:

Toe injury, Preseason, missed 1st 2 games.

2015 Raiders:

Wrist injury, Week 10,missed 1 game.

2016 Raiders:

Fibula fracture, Week 4, missed 13 games.

2017 Raiders:

No publicly reported injuries.

2018 Raiders:

No publicly reported injuries.

2019 Bills:

No publicly reported injuries.

General links:

2020 Bills Injury Preview- Tight Ends

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Tight End

Will this be Knox’s breakout year?

This is Part 4 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 4 consists of the tight end room.

Players Returning

TE Jason Croom

Spent 2019 on IR with a right hamstring injury. 

Croom has been an interesting case. He was too good to cut outright but not good enough to bring back up to the roster. He missed most of training camp due to a nagging hamstring injury. He ended up playing in only the 4th preseason game against the Vikings, grabbing 2 catches for 27 yards.

Surprisingly, he made the 53 man roster and then was immediately placed on IR which gave the team the ability to call him back up later if there were other injuries. Fortunately, the Bills were incredibly healthy last season and his services were not needed. 

Reports later came out that he tore his hamstring during spring practices and just wasn’t able to fully get healthy, immediately re-injuring the hamstring again. It has been a year since Croom injured his hamstring and there haven’t been any reports stating that he isn’t healthy. There is a chance he could reinjure the area again, but the time off from football along with rest and proper rehab should reduce that. The only possibility of this becoming an issue again is if he hasn’t been keeping up with conditioning. Training camp will quickly reveal if Croom is 100% again.

TE Tyler Kroft 

11 games, 3 starts, 14 targets, 6 receptions, 71 yards, 1 TD

Kroft did not have the season anyone envisioned for him coming from Cincinnati in the offseason. His production simply did not meet the contract he signed. He dealt with several injuries that really prevented him from contributing in a meaningful way. 

Below is his injuries:

    • Right foot fracture

In 2018, he missed 11 total games dealing with a broken foot, likely a Jones fracture which required surgery. He managed to get through the offseason before getting to Phase 3 of OTA’s where he broke the same foot again on the first day. He eventually spent all of training camp on the PUP list before getting activated to the 53 man roster on cut down day as he continued to work back into shape.

    • Left ankle sprain

As Kroft was rounding into form and preparing to play against his old team in Week 3, he sprained his left ankle during a routine practice. While the ankle sprain wasn’t much of an issue, it held him out an additional 2 weeks until he made his season debut against Miami in Week 7.

Kroft never got the reps needed with Josh Allen in order to be successful & allow him to become a weapon in the offense. While the foot fracture was a fluky thing, once the screw is removed following a re-fracture in a Jones fracture repair, the injury doesn’t appear to be recurrent. What this means is that he is unlikely to suffer another similar injury to the area. 

TE Dawson Knox

15 games, 11 starts, 1 rushing attempt, 9 yards, 50 targets, 28 receptions, 388 yards, 2 TD’s

Knox quickly became a favored target in the offense despite coming out of Ole Miss with little production. During his rookie season, he nearly eclipsed the entirety of his college production. He managed to put together a solid season despite dealing with several injuries along the way, including one that cost him most of training camp. Knox was overall fairly available, only missing the final regular-season game against the Jets due to resting for the playoffs. 

Knox’s injuries:

    • Hamstring

Knox suffered a hamstring injury early on in training camp during routine drills. This injury cost him the better part of a month, later returning to play in limited amounts against both the Lions and Vikings in the preseason, not getting any catches during this time. While it did appear that the hamstring was a Grade 1 due to some of the progress observed, a rush back to the field was not in the cards for Knox until he was 100% healthy.

    • Knee

He was dealing with some “knee soreness” prior to the second matchup against the Dolphins down in Miami. This injury did not hold him out from playing or appeared to affect him in any way. At the time, I had thought maybe he was hitting the proverbial “wall” due to the increased level of competition along with a longer season when compared to college football. The injury did not show up again later that season & appear to affect his play.

Like Croom, there is concern that Knox could re-injure his hamstring strain. There is reason to believe that Knox has taken extra steps to ensure that he comes to training camp in shape and will be more diligent in preparing his body to reduce his injury risk.

TE Tommy Sweeney

6 games, 1 start, 13 targets, 8 receptions, 114 yards

Sweeney was the less-heralded other tight end selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. He didn’t have the same impact that Knox has in his first year with the Bills, but Sweeney also did not have any known injuries. While he was inactive most weeks, he did appear in a handful of games early on as TE Tyler Kroft worked his way back into the lineup. Once Kroft returned, Sweeney was expendable and was not called upon until the regular-season finale against the Jets. 

TE Lee Smith

16 games 5 starts, 5 targets, 4 receptions, 31 yards, 1 TD

Smith is about as durable as they come. He didn’t miss any games and also did not appear to suffer any known injuries. While he wasn’t very productive in the offense, he continued to excel as a blocking tight end and as a leader in the locker room. As Smith increases in age, he will eventually be phased out, but as long as he continues to be a leader and effective blocker, he will be hard to beat out for a spot on the team.

TE Nate Becker

Becker spent the 2019 training camp with the team after getting cut by Detroit prior to training camp. He did not survive training camp cuts and was later signed to the practice squad where he sat for the remainder of the season. He did not appear to suffer any known injuries. To read more on Becker’s previously known injury history, click here.

2020 Outlook

The tight end room is not an area where major injuries happen. A foot fracture, ankle sprain, and a pair of hamstrings make up the entirety of the injuries to the position. None of the injuries appear to be chronic or likely to recur in 2020. While Knox & Smith are locked to make the team next year, Sweeney still appears to be a strong shot to make the roster again. Croom better produce at a high level & show the team that he has something from 2018 to indicate to the team that he plans on sticking around. 

Unless Becker somehow unseats Smith by dramatically improving his blocking skills, the lineup will likely be Knox, Smith, & Sweeney for 2020. The tight end position for the Buffalo Bills is not a sexy one at all, but it hopefully will become a position that grows in importance as Josh Allen improves his game. 

 

Week 17 Bills Injury Preview- Jets

Will this finally be the week that Nsekhe returns?

The big concern going into this game against the Jets is how long starters will play & what players will be inactive. This is especially worrisome due to the recent comments by Jets S Jamal Adams in which he stated they would be hunting along with Jets DC Gregg Williams. Along with that comment, Bills fans have to worry about cheap shots from DE Henry Anderson. If you recall, he blindsided K Stephen Hauschka last season which threw his game off for the rest of the season seen below. 

Thankfully, the Bills continue to manage their injuries well & are not forced to play players who are injured. Below are the injuries prior to the game & inactives.

OUT

WR Andre Roberts (foot)

Roberts was a surprise addition to the injury report following Saturday’s game. Reviewing the film, it’s not clear when he suffered his foot injury. There aren’t many plays that show when he could have possibly injured his foot, but a possible culprit is when he was blocking for QB Josh Allen on a designed run play early in the 3rd quarter, it appears he got kicked on the right ankle.

There was also another point in the 3rd quarter with 3:35 left in where he appeared to be limping slightly after the play. There didn’t appear to be a mechanism of injury prior to this play either which makes this difficult to identify the exact problem. Considering he hasn’t practiced this week & has already been ruled out, we can only hope that he will be ready for the playoffs. 

DE Shaq Lawson (left hamstring)

Lawson has not been able to practice this week due to a hamstring strain suffered in Saturday’s loss to the Patriots. This occurred after a tackle for loss in the backfield during the 2nd half of the game. The actual tackle itself did not appear to be an issue, but rather the celebration afterward. He began to get up & celebrate, grabbing the hamstring in the process.

He was able to continue playing for the rest of the game but the injury appeared to catch up with him later. Even after a slight strain, the muscle is still painful & sore, requiring frequent stretching & controlled movement to allow healing but not overwork the area in order to prevent further injury. As he has already been ruled out, this is the smart move to do considering how valuable he will be in the playoffs. It will be interesting to note how the coaching staff rotates the defensive ends as there are only 4 on the roster.

QUESTIONABLE

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

I feel like we have been having the same conversation for the past 6 weeks regarding his injury. But new information is available! He finally appears to have made the expected progress, participating in practice on Thursday & looking quite well on film. He is moving with the fluidity of someone who is close to returning & appears to be close to 100%. 

Considering how he is moving, I’m making the assumption that he could have returned sooner, but how OT Cody Ford was playing, he wasn’t needed immediately. At this point, it is unnecessary for Nsekhe to play in Week 17, but he has missed the last 5 games which means he would benefit from some live reps in order to prepare for the playoffs. 

CLEARED TO PLAY

C Mitch Morse (right low ankle sprain)

Morse scared many Bills fans late in the 4th quarter in which he had his ankle rolled up on, reportedly feeling several pops & having difficulty walking on it initially. Fortunately, he was able to practice in full this week & not appear to have any limitations despite what appears to be a low ankle sprain. 

Morse is yet another starter that may play several series but overall benefit from a well-deserved rest day or even being declared inactive in order to ensure his health.

OTHER INJURIES

DT Harrison Phillips (left ACL)

Phillips has been out since September, diligently working back from a torn ACL that ended his season prematurely in the win over Cincinnati. Occasionally, news is released of Phillps attending practice, performing his rehab, & still participating in team activities. While it wasn’t expected that Phillips would return until next season, it’s great to see the progress being done in rehab. In the first tweet, below is Phillips running on an underwater treadmill to reduce the stress that land-based running would cause. In the other tweet, you can see the progress that Phillips has made & is demonstrating the proper muscle control during his step-up routine with a weighted vest. 

Even though he is unable to play this year, Phillips still understands his job & purpose on the team which further validates the culture that has been instilled at One Bills Drive. I expect to see more clips in the near future & see him inch closer & closer towards returning to football activities.

Probable Inactives:

TE Lee Smith

RB Frank Gore

S Micah Hyde

S Jordan Poyer

DE Shaq Lawson

WR Andre Roberts

G Quinton Spain

This would be a game that the Bills would be foolish to not play all their reserve players for much needed live snaps. It is probably the best bet to allow some of the veteran players a true rest day, have all the starters play several series & then act as backups in order to get through the game. It would be great to get to 11 wins, but not at the cost of a key contributor going down. 

The Jets are still a talented team, this is the NFL after all. But this is the best-case scenario in where the backups can get extensive playing time & get some film for next season when the roster churns over. Plus, I don’t think in any circumstance that Terry or Kim Pegula are forcing the coach to play certain players as in the still hotly debated topic of QB Doug Flutie or Rob Johnson. This will be a good game to allow the Bills to play & not worry about the outcome. There are bigger fish to fry next week with either traveling to Kansas City or Houston, both being true tests.

Top Photo Credit:

SBNation.com