Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- TE

Season injury review of the tight end position.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 7 Recap- Buccaneers

Breaking down the latest on EJ Gaines and Jordan Poyer injuries and following the exciting win over the Buccaneers.

The Buffalo Bills continue to thrill and excite the fan base with a fantastic 30-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! Despite giving up 27 points to the Bucs, the Buffalo defense made key stops including a late fumble recovery by Tre’Davious White to set up the game winning field goal. Buffalo is now 4-2, including 3-0 at home, making Sean McDermott the first Bills head coach to start 3-0 at home. These Bills continue to impress, but key injuries may derail the good times.

Thankfully, the Bills injuries continue to occur at a minimum, but injuries in the secondary may be ill timed with the Oakland Raiders offense coming to life. CB E.J. Gaines suffered a hamstring injury during a tackle on DeSean Jackson early in the 3rd quarter. Gaines was able to walk off on his own power but was unable to return. As reports are minimal at best to avoid giving a competitive advantage to their opponents, Gaines has been listed day-to-day. Based on this report, he may have suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain.

If you recall from my article on hamstrings, this is something that can be managed conservatively and is a week-to-week injury. It’s possible that he may be able to play in time for the Oakland game, but considering that Gaines had a hamstring injury in training camp and is just recently coming off a groin injury, this doesn’t bode well. Unfortunately, these are soft tissue injuries and while can be reduced, they are not fully preventable.

I would not hang the “injury-prone” tag on Gaines though at this time. During each time he has been injured, he has been going all out trying to make the play. I would rather have him go all out trying to make a play rather than a player taking it easy, such as CB Stephon Gilmore, who we dealt with for far too long last season. However, I believe based on all the previous history, he misses next week. As Brandon Beane has been known to do, he has been preemptive, signing CB Tony McRae and releasing WR Kaelin Clay with the uncertainty following the injury.

This signing was also made with the recent injury of S Jordan Poyer. His injury came on the last play of the game in which Tampa Bay attempted their pathetic imitation of the Music City Miracle. They were playing the Bills, you’re not going to fool them twice! Video of the play shows a player hitting Poyer low and Poyer reporting he felt a pop. Based on video, it appears he did injure his right knee, though the injury does not appear to be as severe as it could have been.

During the hit, Poyer was able to begin lifting his leg and turn his hip inward away from the hit, allowing him to deflect some of the force on the knee joint. As he was able to walk off with the trainers, this also indicates that this may be a Grade 1 MCL sprain. Thankfully, this MCL sprain is nowhere near the severity of the Charles Clay injury. I believe there is a better shot at Poyer playing Sunday than Gaines at the moment. This week’s practice will dictate how each player responds to the injury. I believe that the Bills could go without one of these players, but not both.

Finally, WR Jordan Matthews was able to suit up and play, recording 3 targets for 2 catches for 10 yards. While this is not the type of production the Bills had hoped for, this far exceeded expectations considering he is still coming off a broken thumb. It was a stretch that he was able to play this week, it appeared that he was used more as a decoy to help in allowing WR Deonte Thompson to make his mark after being signed off the street earlier last week. Having Matthews return to play gives Tyrod another weapon going into next week’s game against the Raiders.

Despite missing TE Charles Clay and using a less than effective Jordan Matthews, Tyrod Taylor was able to spread the ball around to Thompson, Logan Thomas, Nick O’Leary, LeSean McCoy, and even Zay Jones. Despite missing some top end talent on the roster, the Bills still benefit from the depth at each position which allows for a next man up mentality. I believe this is why the Bills have been able to stay in every game this season and win the close ones such as Sunday’s game. This formula will not work every week, but the Bills have to begin winning the close ones in order to have a shot at turning their years’ long misfortunes around.

The Bills aren’t losing anyone to season ending injuries, unlike many other teams in the league. Depth continues to be a concern, but it is not as though other teams lose their starting player and a Pro Bowl caliber replacement is warming the bench. I believe with this depth and team first mentality, the Bills can beat the Oakland Raiders and move to 5-2 on the season. The Raiders do have a talented offense lead by Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, but if the secondary can get healthy in time, this should limit the effectiveness of the passing game. With how the Bills defense has played this season, I expect McDermott and Frazier to draw up a defensive game plan to limit the Raiders offense.

I know that many Bills fans are still on the edge despite a 4-2 start. The Bills have been here several times in the past with poor finishes. This may be another year in which that’s the case. Experience, injuries, schedule all play a part in the rest of the season. Time will tell how the rest of the season plays out; I will continue to hope for the best, but prepare for moments that remind me why I am a Bills fan. Until then, I will continue to cheer and enjoy the moment. Thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!