2020 AFC Championship Bills Injury Preview- Chiefs

Will Butler and Davis suit up Sunday? What Chiefs will be effective?

We are on the precipice of a truly historical moment for the Buffalo Bills! One more win and the Buffalo Bills will be crowned AFC Champions and return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 27 years! Not only has it been a long time since the Bills have been this far in the playoffs, but it has also felt like a long week as injury updates come out daily on not only the Bills but the status of Patrick Mahomes and whether he would be cleared from the concussion protocol in time. 

Thankfully, at the time of publication, it is one day away from the Bills and Chiefs squaring off for the right to represent the American Football Conference in the Super Bowl. Below are all the injury updates for both the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.

QUESTIONABLE

WR Gabriel Davis (Right ankle)

It was obvious that Davis injured his ankle missing that touchdown pass early in the 2nd quarter that limited him the remainder of the game. Two DNP’s with a limited practice isn’t ideal either, but it is promising. It looks like a low inversion ankle sprain on video, but it could be more based on examination and video angles available. 

It may come down to how much he can run and jump around the field. While he is insanely talented, trying to toe-tap catches and run his routes crisply may make things difficult. Could Kenny Stills play in Davis’s place? Quite possible but he’s only been here a few weeks. Does he have a rapport with Josh Allen? It’s possible the Chiefs could have game-planned for the possibility of Stills knowing that Davis may not play. 

I want to lean towards Davis playing, but as an injured rookie, do they put him out there or let a veteran wide receiver that is healthy play? That’s the one thing we don’t know. 

DT Vernon Butler (Quadricep)

I had originally thought Butler was dealing with a foot injury in the game, but he appeared later on the injury report with a quadriceps injury. He left the game late in the 3rd quarter, right before Taron Johnson delivered the game-sealing pick-six. It’s not clear when he injured the quadriceps but having two DNP’s and a limited practice isn’t a ringing endorsement that he will play. 

A strain can be played through, but the concern is whether he re-injures the quadricep and they do not have a healthy body in his place. Most of the time, a quadricep would require a player to sit out at least one game, but there may not be any next week. 

ACTIVE 

WR Cole Beasley (Left knee)

Beasley re-appears on the injury report Thursday with a knee injury that is likely the same injury he’s been dealing with since Week 16. He was highly productive against the Colts in the Wild Card round but didn’t have much of an impact last week against the Ravens. Considering he was limited Thursday indicates that either he tweaked his knee Wednesday and had to take it easy Thursday, or he tweaked it or took time off at some point during Thursday’s practice. Taking all but one rep or only taking one rep is all the same under the limited designation.

Whatever Beasley is dealing with, he will get it addressed following the season. I had thought if he had sat out against the Colts, he could have been fresher in the next round, but hindsight is 20/20. Ideally, he gets more targets due to taking another week to get healthy.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring)

Details are still scarce regarding Edmunds hamstring. He played in all the defensive snaps Saturday despite his hamstring designation last week. He practiced in full all week and while is likely not 100%, he’s good enough to continue to go out and perform for another week.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Ankle)

Like Edmunds, Jefferson’s ankle injury was not noticeable on film, playing in 46% of snaps which isn’t too far off his usual production from the season. He has no game designation and I would expect his production to not be affected greatly, though his snap could probably increase if Vernon Butler does not play.

DE Darryl Johnson (knee)

After missing last week with a knee injury, Johnson returns to practice with full participation this week. I still have not been unable to find the specifics of the knee injury from the Colts game and the week off appeared to help him greatly. His availability will make Trent Murphy expendable for this game and having Johnson back on special teams may be a difference-maker come Sunday. 

WR Stefon Diggs (Oblique)

The severity of the oblique injury is probably more severe than Diggs and the team has let on, but he continues to produce. I have not observed anything on film that suggests that the oblique is significantly affecting him. Listing the injury may be more of a formality at this point and hopefully the week off in between if the Bills win and make their way down to Tampa.

K Tyler Bass (Right hand)

Bass continues to practice in full dealing with a right-hand injury and wearing at least a brace on the hand. It’s not clear what he is dealing with, but this will not affect his kicking abilities for Sunday.

CHIEFS INJURY REPORT:

OUT

LB Willie Gay (Ankle)

Gay is reportedly dealing with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 17 and is already ruled out. High ankle sprains take some time to come back from and it’s clear that the Chiefs don’t believe he is ready which bodes well for the Bills Sunday. 

QUESTIONABLE

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (left high ankle/hip)

Edwards-Helaire is coming off a left high ankle sprain and hip strain sustained in Week 15. He has been out for an entire month, though only missing 2 games due to the bye week for the number one seed.

While he will not be 100%, having the month off should allow him to come back and be effective enough from the ankle standpoint. Considering that he suffered the hip strain, that should be fully healed by now, but it’s possible that he could be dealing with something greater currently unreported that he will play though. After having as much time off as he did, I fully expect him to play. 

WR Sammy Watkins (Calf)

Watkins has missed the last 2 games with a calf injury sustained in the win over Atlanta. At the time, the calf injury was not perceived as being serious and the thought was that he would be back in time for the divisional game. 

It stands to reason that he could return to play in this game as the stakes are higher. Calf injuries linger due to the demands of the muscle when pushing the foot down to sprint and jump. It could be quite possible that he re-injures the area during the game too, but I don’t foresee the team holding him out again. We all know when Sammy Watkins is healthy, he’s electric. But when he’s not, his production really suffers. I’d expect he plays as well.

CB Bashaud Breeland (Concussion/shoulder)

The concussion is the more worrisome injury than the shoulder as it has not been clarified that he has passed the protocol. He appeared trending in the right direction with limited practices all week but it may not be known that he passes the protocol until game time. He may be one that misses due to not being cleared.

Update: he has since cleared concussion protocol.

CB Rashad Fenton (Foot)

There aren’t any reports to clarify the status of the foot injury. He was also limited in practice this week and considering Breeland is a true question mark, I would suspect Fenton to play through whatever he is dealing with. 

RB Le’veon Bell (Knee)

Bell is reportedly dealing with swelling in his knee that limited him Thursday/Friday and it’s unknown whether he plays. Considering Edwards-Helaire is likely to play which could keep Bell on the inactive list especially the knee injury appeared to get aggravated later in the week. I anticipate he sits this one out considering the Chiefs have Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson for depth. 

QB Patrick Mahomes (Concussion/left toe)

I think every single person on social media has had an opinion on the status of Patrick Mahomes this week. It has been mind boggling. I laid out the facts of Mahomes time in the concussion protocol at The Game Day, the previous article at Banged Up Bills, and even detailed at Locked On Bills. I had said on Locked On Bills that it didn’t matter why Patrick Mahomes was in the concussion protocol, he was in there and as a result, he has to successfully navigate the protocol. 

He did and we can move past that. His left toe injury will be the biggest concern heading into Sunday’s contest. The injury is detailed above in all of the links. In addition, check out this thread from Erik Turner from Cover 1 using the video to detail how Mahomes was limited with the toe after the injury and how the Bills can game plan against him. Certainly worth the time to read and understand. 

Bills Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

WR Gabriel Davis*

LB Tyrel Dodson

DE Trent Murphy

OL Jordan Devey

TE Tyler Kroft

Practice Squad player

*Kenny Stills to be called up in place of Davis, other call up would be inactive as the team has done in recent weeks.

The Bills can win this one. They really can. I had predicted on Locked on Bills that the Bills would win 28-24. That would cover the spread and take the under according to Pointsbet. The Bills could win this simply because of all the talent missing from the last game. Dawson Knox, Matt Milano, and Harrison Phillips did not play last time. John Brown was injured early in the game and a non-factor. Tre’Davious White was coming off a back injury that forced him to miss the Titans game. Josh Allen was still working through his left shoulder injury sustained in Week 4 against the Raiders. 

The Bills are a hot team right now and fairly healthy as detailed above. The Buffalo Bills may very well be the 2020 AFC Champions and could play in Super Bowl 55. This could really happen. Now all we have to do is sit back, wait for kickoff at 6:40 pm on January 24th, 2021, and enjoy the game. Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

2020 Week 15 Bills Injury Preview- Broncos

Will Lee Smith play? Is Tremaine Edmunds alright?

The Bills, owners of a 10-3 record, travel to out west Saturday on a short week to play the 5-8 Denver Broncos who are fighting to stave off an inevitable playoff elimination. This is the third game in primetime in three weeks and yet another opportunity to show that the Bills are the real deal as they attempt to lock up the AFC East and a playoff berth.

Buffalo continues to improve their health and bring more players back, relying less on practice squad players and the use of injured reserve. Tough decisions will be made in the future when John Brown and potentially others need to come back, but there are still several games before they need to make those transactions. For this week, the roster is set and the injury designations are below.

OUT 

S Jaquan Johnson (right ankle)

Johnson missed his second week of practice dealing with an ankle injury sustained against the 49ers late in the 4th quarter. Details have not been revealed regarding the specifics of the injury, but based on the video, it still appears as though he is dealing with a high ankle sprain.

It’s curious that he has not been placed on injured reserve, but that may indicate the severity with a possibility that he returns sooner than later. Hopefully, he can return to practice in some capacity next week and begin the process to return in time for the playoffs.

QUESTIONABLE

TE Lee Smith (left knee)

Smith’s knee contusion off Josh Allen’s helmet during the roughing the passer call seemed so minor that I did not bother to include it in the Steelers post-game review. Allen’s helmet hits on the inside portion of the left knee as Smith disengaged his blocker. He was in obvious pain moving his leg after around but stayed in the game.

He may be dealing with pain and swelling in the general area which is why he was limited this past week. It seems rather minor, but clearly, not all the information is known. Based on the video and that he was limited this week in practice, I’d expect that he plays. In my mind, he is a 50/50 shot to play, but the team already knows which direction they will go in for Saturday.

Ideally, he would play as it’s been noted that Denver’s run defense is rather bad and having an extra blocker in Smith would be beneficial to help spring the run game. He continues to be a strong veteran and has a place on this team as both a blocker and leader in order to help take the Bills deep into the playoffs.

ACTIVE

LB Tremaine Edmunds (foot)

Frankly, I am not sure what Edmunds is dealing with. Looking at the game film, he played in every defensive snap and also on two special teams snaps. He kept his feet moving and there weren’t any noticeable instances that he came up limping. He also did not have any mechanisms of injury to either foot that would suggest that something was present.

This could be a chronic issue such as plantar fasciitis or general soreness to the area that flared up which required rest during the week. He did practice in full Thursday and did not have a game designation which is always promising. This may be similar to the Jon Feliciano foot injury; something known but not impacting the overall play.

CB Taron Johnson (concussion)

Johnson appeared to be sail through the concussion protocol, limited all week in practice before practicing in full on Thursday. Typically concussions take upwards of 10 days to recover from, but since this was Johnson’s first documented NFL concussion, he may not be dealing with some of the lingering effects of the hit as some others may.

The return of Johnson especially after what may be his greatest game Sunday would be a great addition to contain the receiving threats Denver possess. I’m surprised that he is cleared, but overall, if he’s able to play, get him out there because he has become a difference-maker.

QB Josh Allen (right knee/ankle)

Allen is still on the injury report despite practicing in full likely due to his status as a quarterback having a higher profile than other positions. The ankle and right knee did not appear to limit his mobility Sunday with his rushing totals increased and running to all sides of the field. I’d expect that he increases his running abilities Saturday but still wear the brace as protection. I don’t anticipate that he will be on the injury report much longer after this week.

Other injury thoughts:

WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain)

Brown has officially been activated to practice and was eligible to play Saturday but was ultimately not activated. It has only been five weeks since his high ankle sprain against the Cardinals; a player can return from a high ankle nearly 100% at around six weeks. If Brown were to return, they would need to cut someone to make room for his roster position, this could occur if they move Jaquan Johnson to IR. 

There was some chatter on social media this week about his sickle cell trait that could be exacerbated by the higher altitudes. Having sickle cell trait is not a contraindication to play football or any sport for that matter, but it is a consideration when looking at the whole person medically. When looking at someone from a medical perspective, having the whole picture of the person influences interventions and decisions. These conditions should not dictate treatment unless there are contraindications, but have to be considered to work for the best interest of the athlete.

If Brown had not been dealing with injuries or this was a game that he was needed in to ensure the team gets the playoff berth, he plays. If this was the playoffs, he plays. The fact that he is coming off injuries and what an exacerbation can do to his performance is the reason any of this is even a consideration. After Saturday, this is a moot point.

There were also questions regarding how the Bills would handle the altitude change. While it can be an issue, there are reasons why it could and it couldn’t. To avoid doubling the word count of this article, go listen to my latest appearance on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino where I detail how the atmospheric pressure affects athletic performance. 

The team would benefit from Brown’s skill set but they have been doing alright with the emergence of Gabriel Davis this season. I expect Brown to be activated to play against the Patriots and work up to the playoffs. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

S Jaquan Johnson

DE Trent Murphy

TE Tyler Kroft

Looking at the Broncos’ injury report, both running backs in Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay are dealing with injuries, designated as questionable, but are expected to play.

They do have several more illness/injuries including to offensive weapons in Noah Fant and Jerry Jeudy though they do not have any injury designations. The one place where the Bills can exploit is the recent loss of Duke Dawson, Essang Bassey, and Kevin Tolliver due to ACL tears, decimating the secondary.

Fortunately for the Bills, kicker Brandon McManus will not be available due to COVID concerns which means rookie Taylor Russolino gets kicking duties. Recently signed to the practice squad in December, he could be rattled by the whole experience of his first NFL action or he may just be another guy trying to earn his place in the league. Either way, the loss of McManus will certainly help keep points off the board for the Broncos.

The Bills have a very winnable matchup against the Broncos to move them to 11-3. This is not a team to take lightly especially playing away from home. While the Bills essentially have the playoffs locked up regardless of this game, they still need the win to lock up the division and control their playoff matchups rather than relying on the wild card seedings.

I do expect the Bills to win again and ideally stay healthy as they close out the regular season. If they control the game like they did last year, I am quite alright with that, but I also anticipate a competitive game. There isn’t much more to say than enjoy the game and Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: Pro Football Talk- NBC Sports

Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Preview- Texans

What is the status of Nsekhe, Roberts, Lawson, & Wallace?

Well, we’re finally here, the playoffs are upon us! We are moments away from the Bills playing in Houston on Wild Card Weekend for the first NFL game of 2020! The Bills are beat up but still in a better spot than the Texans. While I could detail out every injury for Houston & compare it to how the Bills could take advantage, I may be better off writing the sequel to War & Peace. But if you want to get some detailed analysis of the Texans injuries, check out my latest appearance on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino. I have nuggets on JJ Watt, Johnathan Joseph, Bradley Roby, & Will Fuller V. Make sure to check out the pod below!

Locked On Bills 

If you want to know why Houston DE JJ Watt is able to come back so quickly from his pectoral tendon tear, check out my latest article at Buffalo Rumblings!

JJ Watt’s Unexpected Return

As this blog is a Bills based site, the Bills injuries are below & my impressions of them.

QUESTIONABLE

DE Shaq Lawson (left hamstring strain)

Lawson continues to recover from his hamstring strain suffered late in the Patriots loss but appears on the right track. He has been limited the past week, but with controlled activities, he has looked great on film.

I’ve stated all season that the hamstrings are vital for running & blocking, important responsibilities for a defensive end. It’s not a muscle group that can be babied or managed with certain bracing or necessarily protected. Even with the best rehab & rest, injuries can still occur and Lawson may be a casualty of that. 

He missed the Jets game & would probably benefit from another week off, but considering each game now is single elimination, Lawson should not miss. I have a strong suspicion that he plays.

WR Andre Roberts (foot)

Little is still known about Roberts’s foot other than it cost him another game against the Jets. Matt Parrino of NYUp.com noted that he was taking punt & kick returns in practice, accelerating up the field without issue. Any foot injury would limit sudden acceleration as the toes & foot act as a lever to push off the ground to move forward. 

If he had something such as turf toe, a foot sprain, fracture; there would be difficulty getting up to speed & slowing down. As long as Roberts is able to play Saturday, then it won’t really matter what’s wrong as long as he can add another dimension to the team.

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle contusion)

Nsekhe continues to work back from his right ankle that cost him 5 games this season. He was rolled up on again Sunday & but appears to be working through the injury just fine. This appears to be more of a contusion which was supported by the fact that he’s practicing all week & only has a brace on, the same one that he appeared to be wearing on Sunday.

I feel strongly that Nsekhe will suit up Sunday & will be in a rotation with OT Cody Ford with Ford taking a bulk of the snaps. 

CB Levi Wallace (right medial ankle sprain)

Wallace is the big iffy for Saturday. At the end of the day, he is still dealing with an ankle sprain that requires rest. The part of the ankle he injured was the medial side which is the inside portion of the ankle. The deltoid ligament is the strong inside portion of the ankle that provides stability between the tibia, talus, calcaneus, & navicular. This is the reason why it is so difficult for the inside portion of the ankle to suffer a sprain. If the outside portion of the ankle had the same type of structure, I would imagine we would all run very differently. You can see the makeup of the deltoid ligament below.

Deltoid-Ligament-Structure-location
Credit: medicpassion.com

The next picture below is a great example of how the injury occurred with Wallace with regards to the motion & the area injured. To note, the ligament does not likely tear that severely for Wallace or a fracture sustained as dictated in the picture.

medial-ankle-sprain419
Credit: http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/

If this was a regular-season game, Wallace would surely miss Saturday. Considering it’s the playoffs, I imagine that he will try to suit up with a heavy tape job similar to the one seen below. His major limitations will be pivoting, attempting to stay with his assignments. He will be able to run straight & cut off the left ankle, but forcing Wallace to jump, cut to the right, and backpedal will limit his effectiveness. I expect that CB Kevin Johnson gets the start & majority of snaps with Wallace as a backup or used in certain packages. 

Probable Inactives:

TE Tommy Sweeney

DT Vincent Taylor

S Kurt Coleman

S Dean Marlowe

OG Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

OG Ryan Bates

The Bills are in a great position to win their first playoff game since 1995 & move to the divisional round against a likely rematch with the Ravens. I could see this Bills team make a run like the Jaguars did a few years ago; anything can happen in the playoffs. 

On top of that, the injuries listed today won’t be real factors outside of Wallace heading into next week. There is always the possibility of new injuries, but thankfully the injuries we do have are at positions of depth at OT & CB. 

Regardless of the outcome, you will be hearing from me next week. However, I highly anticipate that I will be coming to you with an injury review & preview heading into the divisional round. GO BILLS!

Top Photo Credit:

USAToday.com