Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Linebackers

Will Milano suffer another hamstring strain?

This is Part 9 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 9 consists of the linebacker room.

Not Returning

LB Lorenzo Alexander 

16 games, 7 starts, 9 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 2 sacks, 50 combined tackles, 31 solo, 19 assisted, 4 TFL, 9 QB hits

Newly retired, Lorenzo Alexander brought a lot to the Bills during his four years in Buffalo and really helped set the stage for hopefully long term sustained success. He was an effective leader, willing to do the dirty work on special teams, and guide young players as they entered the league. 

Despite his age and willingness to play anywhere asked, Alexander did not suffer any known injuries during 2019. In fact, he barely showed up on the injury report during his time with only a partially torn hamstring and ankle injury back in 2016. Since then, Alexander has not appeared on the injury reports with the exception of veteran rest days. 

While Alexander certainly suffered injuries that were not reported, he walks away from the game on his own terms, especially coming in as a UDFA, carving out a 15-year career. This was evident by his most recent post where he is wearing a surgery gown, ready to go into surgery for an unspecified procedure. Considering he has the NFL insurance & documentation from the injuries, it is wise to get any ailments addressed now while it is covered.

Bills Mafia thanks him for all that he brought to the area and we wish him well in retirement. 

LB Maurice Alexander 

7 games, 8 combined tackles, 6 solo, 2 assisted

Alexander did not quite have the season that he likely envisioned when he signed with Bills. He came in to compete for a backup job and contribute on special teams which he earned out of training camp. Unfortunately, he suffered a number of injuries and was pressed into playing on defense which likely led to his season-ending on IR.

During his 7 game stint with the Bills, he suffered knee, left hip, and calf injuries, with the knee injury originally occurring against the Bengals. He was questionable for the Patriots game but eventually played. He then suffered a left hip injury filling in for the injured Matt Milano playing against the Dolphins. 

He was later ruled out against the Redskins with a knee injury and then placed on injured reserve the next week with knee and calf injuries. The specifics of each of the injuries were never really divulged but whatever the injuries were, they were severe enough that he ended his season early. He has yet to find a job in 2020 but could find something if injuries occur if rosters expand due to the pandemic.

LB Julian Stanford 

16 games, 1 fumble recovery, 3 combined tackles, 2 solo, 1 assisted

Stanford, a crucial special teams contributor leaves the team following the Bills not signing him to a new contract for 2020. He contributed throughout his time with the Bills & at times was effective when called upon for defense, specifically in the season finale against the Jets. During 2020, he did not suffer any known injuries. He will also be forced to find a new team for 2020 in order to stay in the NFL.

Returning Players

LB Corey Thompson 

12 games, 5 combined tackles, 2 solo, 3 assisted, 1 TFL

For a player that is a backup and mainly special teamer, Thompson was oft-injured throughout the season. Despite all the injuries, he was still able to appear in 12 games and perform well on special teams, with his only defensive performance in the season finale against the Jets. Thompson continued to battle to be relevant on the field this year, but the injuries did take a toll on him.

Thompson’s injuries below:

    • Groin strain

He suffered a groin injury midway through training camp that may have been minor, but he still sat out as a precaution against the Panthers in the preseason. He did not appear to have any recurrence of the injury later in the preseason or regular season, but if not addressed properly, those injuries can linger and cause missed time in chunks as the injury becomes more chronic.

    • Ankle surgery

It was initially reported that Thompson suffered an ankle sprain just prior to the Bengals game which left him designated as questionable. It was also never revealed which side he injured. He ended up playing in the game, recording his lowest snap count of the season with 6 plays, indicating that he was not fully healthy to contribute. 

He missed the next 4 games requiring ankle surgery that was never fully explained why he required the procedure. At the time, it was thought that he may have bone chips or loose bodies floating around in there, causing the ankle to lock up. There are many other possibilities that it could have been, but considering there wasn’t a clear mechanism of injury and lack of reporting regarding the specifics, truly hard to say what he was dealing with.

Whatever it was, it was minor enough to only miss 4 games and then return to play later in the season. My initial guess is that this injury will not linger into 2020, but without more details, I am not 100% certain.

LB Tremaine Edmunds

16 games, 16 starts, 1 INT, 9 passes defended, 1.5 sacks, 115 combined tackles, 66 solo, 49 assisted, 10 TFL, 4 QB hits, 1 safety

Edmunds really can do it all. He has morphed into the middle linebacker that the Bills thought he could be when they drafted him in 2018. He also doesn’t appear to be stopping peaking anytime soon with his best football still appearing to be ahead of him. 

Thankfully he continues to stay healthy, suffering no known injuries in 2019. While he does play an incredibly physical position and is not immune to injury, the fact that he has avoided missing time due to concussions, strains, and sprains bode well for the linebacking corps going into 2020.

LB Matt Milano

15 games, 15 starts, 9 passes deflected, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1.5 sacks, 100 combined tackles, 64 solo, 36 assisted, 7 TFL, 7 QB hits

Matt Milano continues to outplay his original draft position which could set him up nicely for a payday when free agency arrives next year. He started off slow during his rookie year before coming on strong in the second half. He followed that performance in 2018 until an ankle fracture with dislocation stopped him from likely making a Pro Bowl that year. 

Milano came back strong from the injury and had quite a complete season, missing only one game due to injury. 

Below is Milano’s injury breakdown:

    • Left hamstring strain

He suffered the left hamstring strain while trying to catch Titans TE Jonnu Smith on the long reception in the second half. He began to decelerate before grabbing at his left hamstring as he ran out of the frame. He ultimately took 2 weeks to recover from the hamstring strain while only missing 1 game along with a well-timed bye week.

He returned to play against Philadelphia and did not appear to have any issues the rest of the season indicating the strain was mild to moderate. He also dealt with some hamstring issues during his rookie year which is concerning that this may become a more frequent injury for him. Recurrence rates for hamstring strains from year to year can be as high as 30% but vary based on the grade of injury.

It is also interesting to note that the Bills do treat hamstrings incredibly conservatively in order to ensure that they return to play at 100% instead of pushing them and risk re-injury. Considering his history and position he plays, there is concern that he suffers yet another hamstring strain either in training camp or early in the season as everyone adjusts to the abbreviated offseason.

LB Vosean Joseph 

Spent 2019 on IR with a torn labrum in the right shoulder

Joseph, unfortunately, suffered a shoulder injury after getting drafted in the 5th round of the 2019 draft. While Joseph wasn’t a lock to make the roster, the shoulder injury he suffered certainly didn’t help things. It appeared that he tore his labrum at some point during the 2nd preseason game which resulted in going to IR with season-ending surgery. Labral tears are typically full recoveries & the re-tear rates are anywhere from 13-26%. 2020 will hopefully allow Joseph to step up to the active roster and show why the Bills drafted him in the 5th round. 

LB Tyrel Dodson

Dodson spent the season on the practice squad and suspended list due to the domestic violence incident he had with his girlfriend. He ultimately served a 6 game suspension on the commissioner’s exempt list before ultimately being waived and signed to the practice squad. As expected, Dodson did not suffer any known injuries during the season and will hopefully come in ready to play with all his personal issues behind him.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

Phillips spent the second half of the season with the Bills practice squad before signing a reserve/futures contract following the season completion. He enters the 2020 season with no publicly known injuries in the past 3 years and could fight for a practice squad/expanded roster spot if the league allows it. To read more on Phillips, check out the article at Banged Up Bills.

New to the roster

LB AJ Klein

It feels like the Carolina connection is becoming repetitive at this point. Klein is yet another example of a player who found success down south & is reuniting with Sean McDermott. Klein comes in understanding the systems and has shown to be healthy as evidenced by the article over at Buffalo Rumblings. He is certainly a player that can fill the gaps and provide veteran leadership as some of the younger players continue to develop.

LB Tyler Matakevich

Matakevich comes to Buffalo as a special teams ace after 4 seasons in Pittsburgh. The only concern he has injury-wise coming in was a torn labrum several years ago. In the Buffalo Rumblings, it was mentioned that there is an 8-10% chance that he re-tears the labrum. But up above with Joseph, there is a 13-26% chance he re-tears. The difference being the first source is more general population, the second source is more specific to the NFL. Either way, his risk is minimal due to the injury being several years old. 

I’ve read multiple instances where it will not be a good thing if Matakevich is playing defense for the Bills and that still appears to be the case going into 2020. 

LB Mike Bell

Bell is a familiar face, having spent rookie minicamp with the Bills in 2019 as a safety before ultimately being cut. He was out of football in 2019, working on a position change to linebacker and adding 20 lbs to his frame in order to adjust. 

There is a hope that he could transition as Matt Milano did coming out of college, but there is no guarantee that Bell will be able to adapt fully until he spends some time with an NFL roster, whether it is training camp or practice squad. To read more on Bell, check out Banged Up Bills.

2020 Outlook

The linebacker corps come into 2020 fairly healthy with Edmunds, Milano, & Klein locks to make the roster. Between the three, a knee and hamstring injury cost them a total of 2 games last season. There is concern regarding a recurrence of the hamstring strain for Milano going into 2020, but hopefully, he comes into training camp in excellent shape to help mitigate his risks. 

Others that are locked to make the roster include Matakevich, Thompson, & Joseph if he has a healthy training camp. Dodson, Phillips, & Bell all are still in play and will likely be in the plan for practice squad or bottom of the roster decisions for depth insurance. Most of the injuries at the position belonged to Maurice Alexander who takes his baggage with him into free agency. 

I am slightly concerned about the overall depth at the position if the top 3 get injured at any point. It is not realistic that there will be starting-caliber players for depth purposes at any position, but a lot will be riding on the health of the unit to ensure its effectiveness in 2020.

Week 5 Bills Injury Review- Titans

Will the Bills survive Sunday’s injury massacre?

Thank god that game is over. For all you new readers, this is my 3rd season covering Buffalo Bills injuries & while there have been some tough injuries to stomach, today’s game as a whole was painful both literally & figuratively. I do not remember a time where I nearly lost track because the injuries came in so fast. Fortunately, the Bills have a bye next week & it couldn’t have come at a better time. Last time this year, the Bills walked into Houston with no one on the injury report. Amazing how one year can change so much. This is a team that will bend, bend, bend, but not break. As always, injury recap below in chronological order. 

Those ruled inactive prior to the game included: 

WR Robert Foster (groin/turf toe)

TE Tyler Kroft (ankle)

LB Corey Thompson (ankle sx)

CB Taron Johnson (hamstring)

RB Devin Singletary (hamstring)

OG Ike Boettger 

OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)

Thompson & Kroft continue to be out until further notice. Foster, Johnson & Singletary are all dealing with soft tissue strains which could have been aggravated by the slick conditions. Nsekhe is dealing with an ankle injury that appears to have been an aggravation from 2 weeks ago. 

C Mitch Morse (ankle)

Morse was the first injury of the day, dealing with what appears to be a left ankle injury. The injury appears when RB Frank Gore ran up the middle with 9:25 left in the 2nd quarter and appeared to kick Morse by accident. Morse rolls over and appears to be favoring the ankle before getting up, walking with a slightly labored effort. 

He was able to play several more snaps before getting removed in favor of OG Jon Feliciano. Morse did not appear in the game the rest of the day but was on the sidelines appearing to stay loose. 

This may be more of a contusion, similar to an injury observed with a leg whip. There may have been other possibilities such as a low ankle sprain or mild high ankle sprain not readily noted on film, but this is most likely. This isn’t something that should hold him out for long, but reports indicated he was limping around the locker room after the game as evident by the video below.

During Monday’s presser, HC Sean McDermott noted that if it was needed, Morse could have gone back in and played if further injury occurred. This is incredibly promising as this indicates that the injury alone doesn’t appear to be serious if they were willing to play him. I believe he will be able to play against Miami.

C/G Jon Feliciano (right leg)

Feliciano was injured with 10:40 left in the 3rd quarter when QB Josh Allen threw a costly interception. The offensive mauler was attempting to bring down S Kevin Byard when he fell down attempting to get a tackle. Unfortunately, OT Dion Dawkins fell onto his right leg, leading to the injury. Friendly fire is never ideal but is a part of the game. 

He limped off but amazingly did not miss a snap, keenly aware of the lack of depth at the offensive line Sunday. I’m sure that he has some pain in the leg, but injury-wise, this doesn’t appear to be anything that should cause lasting effects. 

QB Josh Allen (left hand)

On the same play as Feliciano, Allen threw the costly interception and had a minor collision with Titans LB Harold Landry III in where his left hand appears to hit the shoulder pad, namely at the metacarpophalangeal joint. He may have jammed his left thumb or suffered a contusion, causing him to favor the area briefly after the play. Considering this isn’t his throwing hand & he didn’t miss a snap, this isn’t something that the team should be worried about. Even if something did happen such as a minor sprain, this is something that could potentially heal during the bye week. Worst case, he could wear a brace as it’s his non-throwing hand. Unless there is an injury update, consider this injury, like Feliciano’s to be a dead matter. 

OG Cody Ford (concussion)

Ford, unfortunately, suffered a holding penalty on the play that led to his exit from the game due to injury. With 4:53 left in the 3rd quarter, Ford engaged with his defensive lineman assignment & got pulled down, driven headfirst into the ground. It initially appeared as though he got the wind knocked out of him, but reports later indicated he was assessed for a head injury. 

He has since been placed into the concussion protocol since Monday’s press conference. To note, it’s not a guarantee that he moves through the protocol quickly like some of his counterparts. However, having the bye week to recover only benefits him. 

LB Matt Milano (left hamstring)

Milano, a beast all season, continued his stellar play this week until the injury bug hit. Milano tweaked his left hamstring while attempting to slow down & possibly change direction in preparation to take down the Titans TE Jonnu Smith on the long reception. On film, it shows that he grabs at his hamstring towards the very end but is able to walk around afterward.

He was able to participate in one more play before motioning to come out & did not return. Regrettably, the deceleration in slowing down due to the eccentric contraction of the muscle caused the injury. Considering the grass was slick due to the rain, it was smart for him to not return. 

Taking into account the fact that CB Taron Johnson & RB Devin Singletary did not play today due to the same injury, this led to Milano not returning. Based on identifying how the team manages hamstring injuries, it’s very possible Milano misses the Dolphins game. Even then, he could miss the Eagles game as well, but until we have more information, his timeline for return will be very fluid. 

To make a note, Milano dealt with some hamstring issues during his rookie year early on during the Panthers game in ‘17 & missed the playoff game after suffering a hamstring strain against the Dolphins. He did not appear to have any issues last year according to records. While he has a history of hamstring strains, I cannot find evidence that this was the same side nor do I believe that the rookie year strains are affecting his most recent injury.

DE Trent Murphy (concussion)

Murphy has been incredibly healthy all season up until early in the 4th quarter. With 14:12 left, he was closing in for a sack on the left side while LB Lorenzo Alexander was coming from the right. Alexander came in slightly more direct on Titans QB Marcus Mariota before Murphy came slightly outside and collided. As expected with any possible head injury, Murphy was assessed for a possible concussion, ending his day. 

Like Ford, he has since been placed in the protocol & the hope is that he progresses through swiftly. We will probably not know where he or Ford stand until next Wednesday when practice resumes. 

S Jordan Poyer (head)

Similar to Murphy’s hit, Poyer attempted to help take down the ball carrier, assisting LB Lorenzo Alexander before colliding with him with 8:20 left in the 4th quarter. He was quickly assessed, missing several plays. Based on his ability to return to the game, he did not have any concussion-related symptoms, but this doesn’t prevent him from developing issues later on.

Thankfully, there have been no reports of concussion protocol for Poyer, though Matthew Fairburn & Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic reported on the Buffalo Beat podcast that he got a stinger on the play. I haven’t been able to confirm this anywhere else, but when there are questionable head injuries, the team is required to remove the player for further evaluation until a determination has been made. I don’t expect that Poyer will miss anytime or end up on next week’s injury report barring any new information. 

DT Ed Oliver (left foot/ankle)

Finally, the carnage is over, the last injury of the game. Oliver appeared to injure his left foot/ankle with 4:53 left in the 4th as he attempted to tackle Titans RB Derrick Henry. He did succeed in his quest, but in the process, for flipped over & his left foot hit the turf. He was able to get to all fours but appeared in distress immediately. He was able to walk off under his own power after a brief assessment by trainers. He may have suffered a contusion or jammed his ankle as a result of the hard slam. He did not return to the game, but there was not an opportunity to as the offense was able to close out the final minutes of the game & seal the win. This may be yet another injury that may not make much noise & be quickly forgotten about.

This game is done, finito, finished, ceased to continue. The Bills escape Nashville with a hard-fought 14-7 win & a bevy of injuries, but a bye to look forward to next week. As for those still working through injury, this week off will ideally help several key players to recover to make their triumphant return to New Era Field against the Dolphins in Week 7.

Top Photo Credit:

Syracuse.com

Bills Season Injury Review-Linebackers

Read up on the returning & new faces of the LB corps going into 2019 including how injuries may impact them.

As training camp approaches, optimism is high for the linebacking corps in 2019. The spotlight is placed on this unit due to the lack of availability in 2018 that was apparent as key injuries occurred. During the off-season, Brandon Beane made it an effort to find more talent in order to create competition at the position in the event that starters go down. Today’s post will review the injuries from 2018 and if it will impact 2019.

First up is LB Corey Thompson. The rookie UDFA out of LSU appeared in 6 games with 1 start. During his playing time, he was able to rack up 1 forced fumble, 14 combined tackles, 8 solo, 6 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit. Injury-wise, he suffered a minor ankle injury during the loss to the Patriots. Thankfully, this was not an injury that appeared to be serious and does not have any repercussions going into 2019. However, Thompson will have a difficult time making the roster with all the additional depth and will have to make his mark on special teams to have a chance.

Next up is LB Deon Lacey. The veteran linebacker appeared in all 16 games with 0 starts, completing 7 combined tackles, 5 solo, 2 assisted. Most of Lacey’s playing time was spent on special teams where he did not appear to suffer any injuries but he will once again have to fight tooth and nail to earn another spot on the 53 man roster for 2019.

LB Julian Stanford makes the list as another primary special teams contributor from 2018. He appeared in 13 games with 1 start. He accumulated 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 15 tackles, 13 solo, 2 assisted, 1 tackle for loss. While his contributions appear to be more versatile compared to his other special teams’ counterparts, he still is also not a lock to make the roster. Injury-wise, he suffered a broken nose during the last preseason game which caused him to miss the season opener. He also missed the last game of the season due to what appeared to be a high ankle sprain during the loss to the Patriots. This isn’t an injury that lingers but he will still have to fight in order to make this roster in 2019.

Next up is the ageless LB Lorenzo Alexander. Despite his age and time in the league, Alexander continues to produce, appearing in 16 games with 8 starts. During the season, he recorded 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 6.5 sacks, 74 combined tackles, 55 solo, 19 assisted, 11 tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits. On top of his stellar play, he continues to avoid injury through his rigorous recovery routine during the season. He is coming back to the team in 2019 as he is an incredibly vocal leader and will still prove to be valuable on both defense and special teams.

LB Tremaine Edmunds arrives next on the list with a solid rookie campaign but at times had injuries which limited his ability to fully showcase what made him a 1st round pick in 2018. His stats are as follows: 15 games, 15 starts with 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, 121 combined tackles, 80 solo, 41 assisted, 5 tackles for loss, 7 QB hits. While he was incredibly productive as the quarterback of the defense, injuries certainly impacted the ability to maximize his potential.

Edmunds suffered a concussion early in the season during the first Patriots game on MNF in where he collided with FB James Devlin and caused him to miss the next game against the Bears. Edmunds also suffered injuries to his right leg and low back during the season. The right leg injury was due to the foot getting caught in the turf and being hit by a falling body which could have caused some serious damage if he was falling the other way but thankfully he just tweaked things. He also suffered a back injury during the win over the Lions which did not cause him to miss anytime but he was labored in his movements following the hit from OL Frank Ragnow. None of the injuries were serious outside the concussion, but Edmunds has a lot of work to do to improve off his rookie season in 2019.

Finally, LB Matt Milano rounds out the linebacker group from the 2018 season. Milano was on pace for a Pro Bowl season appearing in 13 games with 13 starts accumulating 3 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 sack, 78 combined tackles, 52 solo, 26 assisted, 12 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits before injury struck. Reviewing all his injuries, Milano suffered a head injury during the first game against the Jets. Considering he had the bye week right after the game, it was unknown if he was officially diagnosed with a concussion, but it was not something that appeared to cause any long term issues.

Unfortunately, Milano’s season was cut short with a gruesome ankle injury in where he broke his fibula as the result of QB Sam Darnold falling onto his ankle and Milano getting hit from behind. There was and still is much concern regarding how he is progressing in his rehab which I have detailed in my article with Buffalo Rumblings. He should be 100% going into the season and this is supported by his full participation in OTA’s. He is another component that will continue to shore up the linebacking corps in 2019 and take the defense to the next level.

New faces to the team include 5th round draft pick LB Vosean Joseph, UDFA’s Tyrel Dodson & Juwan Foggie, and FA Maurice Alexander. It’s likely that L. Alexander, Milano, Edmunds, Joseph, and M. Alexander all make the team with Dodson, Thompson, and Foggie possibly making the practice squad as they still have eligibility. As for Lacey, he still has a shot to earn a roster spot but as he is a veteran, there may be cheaper options on special teams. This will be a strong corps regardless who makes the final roster as McDermott has a penchant for linebackers and safeties on special teams. The top half of the linebackers is set, the bottom half will be fun to watch!

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!!

Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- LB

Assessing the LB positional injury review from the 2017 season.

Continuing this off-season is the positional injury review’s of this past season for the Buffalo Bills. Today’s review focuses on the LB position. This was a position of weakness during the 2017 season which was horrendous against the run. Whether this is good or bad, most of the unit returns along with some new faces which allow for greater depth. There was a total of 6 players to suit up at the position with a wide variance of statistical success.

First man up is LB Lorenzo Alexander. The elder statesman of the corps managed to stay incredibly healthy during this past season. He was a frequent participant on the injury report requiring weekly rest days but never for a specific injury. The 34 year old, undrafted free agent out of California has spent 11 years in the league playing a variety of positions which may explain why he has such staying power. His ability to adapt to a variety of positions including offensive tackle, tight end, defensive tackle, linebacker, defensive end, and fullback along with special teams. This has forced him to pay close attention to his body and how it operates to adjust to the demands of the positions which I believe has allowed him to stay in the league as long as he has. Despite being one of the older players on the field, he is still able to produce with 3 sacks, 53 tackles with 12 assisted, and 3 forced fumbles. Unless there are a number of linebackers that impress the coaching staff, expect Alexander to remain on the roster in 2018 and continue to be productive.

Next up is LB Preston Brown. The 4th year LB had an incredibly productive season, leading the NFL in tackles with 144 total tackles, 84 solo and 60 assisted and adding in 3 forced fumbles. Brown also thankfully avoided the injury report which is why he was able to be so productive. Despite his availability and production, the Bills did not resign him in free agency, allowing him to sign with his hometown Cincinnati Bengals. While his production is lost, the Bills at least addressed the positional need through the draft with LB Tremaine Edmunds.

Adding the veteran presence of LB Ramon Humber brought mixed opinions from pundits as the veteran has been around the league for 10 years now playing for Indianapolis, New Orleans, and most recently Buffalo. As a 30 year old linebacker, he was able to produce 56 solo tackles, 27 assisted with 1 forced fumble while playing in 13 games and starting 9. Humber only suffered a broken thumb in the win over the Falcons in November, had surgery to stabilize the area, and then proceeded to miss 3 games. During that time, rookie LB Matt Milano stepped in and overtook his starting position, leading Humber to be a depth player, typically what he has been his entire career. The thumb won’t cause any issues coming into the 2018 season but due to his age and ability, he may find himself a camp cut unless he impresses the coaching staff.

Speaking of LB Matt Milano, the rookie 5th round pick out of Boston College impressed many this season with his ability to step up in place of the injured Humber. The rookie saw time in all 16 games and started 5. Milano was able to collect 29 tackles with 14 assists along with a forced fumble with return for a TD and added in 1 interception. While he is not the linebacker that McDermott envisions to run his defense, he has shown the ability to be aware on the field as evident by the statistics he collected this season. Injury wise, Milano stayed relatively healthy, only suffering hamstring injuries early in the season in September and then a more severe injury to the hamstring which kept him out of the playoff loss in Jacksonville. It is unknown whether this was the same side or two separate injuries. As hamstrings are soft tissue and can heal fully, he should not have any setbacks going into this season. He is still a young player and adjusting to the NFL which could put him at risk to develop further hamstring or chronic injuries, but as he sat out the last game and was able to rest, I do not believe this to be the case. Expect Milano to pick up where he left off and continue to produce in 2018.

Rounding out the linebacking corps is LB Deon Lacey and LB Tanner Vallejo. Lacy was largely ineffective, totaling only 1 tackle and spending most of his time on special teams. During his rookie season, he suffered hamstring early in the season and did not appear to re-injure it later. The coaching staff will most likely decide his fate as he was primarily special teams player. As for Vallejo, his rookie season got off to a slow start with a knee injury late in the preseason. After that, most of his playing time was in special teams with no stats recorded on defense. As he was a draft pick of this regime, I expect him to find a place on this roster for next season.

This finishes out the players who suited up at linebacker for the Bills in 2017. The LB position demonstrate significant turnover with my picks of Alexander and Milano locks to return to the roster and Humber and Vallejo competing for backup jobs. Lacey will find himself out of a job unless he impresses in camp. Add in 1st round draft pick LB Tremaine Edmunds out of VA Tech along with UDFA LB Corey Thompson out of LSU, free agent signing of LB Julian Stanford, and practice squad member LB Xavier Woodson-Luster will help reshape this position drastically.

Continue to check back at Banged Up Bills for the latest news updates and articles on the Buffalo Bills. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook and on Twitter @BangedUpBills. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Injury Breakdown- Patriots

Breaking down the latest Bills injury report & thoughts on E.J. Gaines latest injury.

The Buffalo Bills continue to play meaningful games in December! This is quite the rarity, but something the fan base should and is embracing! Regardless of this week’s outcome, the Bills will not be out of the playoffs which sets up a huge showdown with the Miami Dolphins in Week 17! This is an exciting time to be a Bills fan and hopefully a sign of positive things to come!

Today’s post will assess the injury report prior to the game against the Patriots. To earn a win in Foxboro, the Bills must play mistake free football and have everyone still available healthy. Right now, the latter is a distinct possibility. Those not practicing today are as follows: LB Lorenzo Alexander (rest), WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee), CB E.J. Gaines (knee), WR Andre Holmes (neck), TE Nick O’Leary (back), DT Kyle Williams (groin).

Alexander is a seasoned veteran that still puts up solid play at the linebacker position and earns every one of his rest days. Benjamin continues to require extended rest breaks and rehab to manage the pain and swelling that he suffers after each game as a result of the meniscus tear that he will require surgery for at the end of the season. Holmes and Williams continue to deal with their respective injuries that appear to be nothing more than muscle strains which require rest and stretching. O’Leary has been on the injury report earlier this season due to back issues which may be muscle strains as he has had multiple short term complaints rather than a chronic long term issue.

As I stated in my last article, Gaines injured his left knee on a tackle of TE Julius Thomas in the 3rd quarter. After looking at video during coaches film, Gaines was running towards Thomas and had to change direction suddenly. During pivoting on the left knee to go to the right, it appears as though he sprained his left knee as he was able to take one more step and then throw his body into Thomas to knock him out of bounds.

Gaines was carted off the field and tests are still being performed as of today. I suspect a MCL sprain as the primary injury based on video with an ACL/meniscus tears always worst case scenarios. However, had he torn his ACL, that type of news would have been released by now. I suspect that the team is keeping tight lipped so as to not allow teams to game plan as if he doesn’t play. Considering his injury history, I suspect he misses the next game which would be a blow to the secondary as there is an obvious difference when he starts and when he is out.

If Gaines is forced to miss the next game, S Colt Anderson is returning to the roster from IR after breaking his forearm earlier in the season. This is a surprise due to the fact that he saw little playing time when he was healthy and has not made an impact during his time here. However, he provides depth in the secondary and may allow special teams to add a new wrinkle to this week’s game plan.

Those limited in practice are: TE Charles Clay (knee), RB LeSean McCoy (knee), G John Miller (ankle), and WR Deonte Thompson (back). Clay continues to deal with his knee and may forever be listed on the injury report. McCoy continues to take a beating as the workhorse of the offense and while I had originally thought he may be on the report due to a hip, his knee continues to be listed as soreness, though does not appear to limit his ability. McCoy is another player that will require a serious injury to be ruled out.

Miller is still dealing with what I believe to be a high ankle sprain and may be ruled out again on game day. Thompson has seen the injury report several times during the season but is currently dealing with a back injury. It did not appear that an injury forced him out of Sunday’s game, but he took several hard hits that could cause some expected discomfort in the following days.

Finally, those practicing in full are: QB Nathan Peterman (concussion). Peterman continues to bounce back from the concussion in the Colts game and appears to have resolved all issues in order to return to the backup QB position. I do not expect him to play unless QB Tyrod Taylor goes down with another injury at which time he will build off his solid outing against the Colts.

This game against the Patriots doesn’t have the Bills favored, but in the NFL, it’s Any Given Sunday. The Bills have a shot at winning. If they play like they did in the first half of the Patriots game, they have a realistic shot at keeping it close and possibly winning. I believe the coaching staff will bring everything they have in order to win and that includes most of the players on the injury report with the exception of Gaines.

I’m going to boldly predict a Bills win to push them to 9-6 and to the brink of the playoffs! Continue to check back for updates articles injuries as more information is known. Follow me on Twitter @kyletrimble88 for the latest updates and game day analysis. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 11 Injury Breakdown- Chargers

Detailing the injuries prior to the LA Chargers game.

The Bills continue to make moves that make the fan base question the process. Sean McDermott benched starting QB Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie QB Nathan Peterman, this year’s 5th round draft pick. This is curious as the Bills are sitting in the last wild card spot, owning a 5-4 record, and create many questions about the reason behind the decision. However, unless you’ve been under a rock, Tyrod has been awful the past 2 games against the Jets and Saints, exposing the Bills as a possible playoff pretender and into a potential free fall. With the Chargers game coming up and the season potentially slipping away, I do applaud the Bills for attempting to make a change instead of running with a system that is shaky as best and awful at worst. Whatever the decision is, I will trust the process. I believe in year’s past, changes would have not been made and success would have continued to elude this team.

Despite the Bills making this big change behind center, today’s post will once again be focused on the injury report, which unsurprisingly, grows longer as the season progresses. Starting off, LB Lorenzo Alexander, DT Kyle Williams, G Richie Incognitio, and RB LeSean McCoy did not practice yesterday due to a veteran rest day. TE Charles Clay (knee) was limited in practice due to a knee issue which I am quite confident that is related to the original injury that kept him out prior to this game. He is possibly dealing with some mild swelling due to the recent surge in activity, but I do not believe that he re-injured the knee. From my vantage point, it did appear that he was wearing some prophylactic bracing under his pants during the game as expected to decrease the injury risk.

Others not practicing today includes OT Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), K Stephen Hauschka (right hip) and RB Mike Tolbert (hamstring). There is no surprise with Glenn as he has been dealing with his injuries all season. Tolbert is dealing with a hamstring injury which is unknown in severity. I did not see him leave the game or was limited with any of his runs. Hopefully this is not a long term issue as has been the issue with E.J. Gaines.

Hauschka did not practice secondary to a sore right hip which is the leg he kicks with. As Hauschka only deals with kickoffs and field goals, there is limited ability and time for him to injure his hip. Thankfully, kickers do not have to practice much so missing a day is not concerning. The Bills do not have any kickers on the practice squad, but training camp kicker Austin Rehkow is still a free agent and may be an option if Hauschka is unable to go Sunday.

Hughes did not practice yesterday and was limited today, but has been reclassified as a shin/calf injury which does open the door for a variety of other injuries including calf strain, foot flexor tendon injury, or a soleus strain. Considering that his position requires so much energy to push off around the edge, it is common to see a calf strain from time to time. If not managed correctly, this could develop into a tendonitis and could lead to further damage, but the training staff will not let it get to that. As Hughes is also a veteran, limiting him in practice may have been proactive to ensure proper rest and rehab.

Others limited in practice are WR Jordan Matthews (knee) and G John Miller (ankle). Miller is an interesting addition as he has not been active for several games with the recent improved play from G Vlad Ducasse. It is unknown what Miller is dealing with and the fact that he has not been active doesn’t warrant any concern.

Matthews is a new addition to the report after dealing with a thumb fracture earlier this season. There has not been any reports that he sustained any damage or had to leave early but there is concern for a re-aggravation of the knee tendonitis that he was dealing with when in Eagles training camp this season. Tendonitis is an issue that can continue to rear it’s ugly head even after clearing up the original symptoms. Tendonitis is an overuse injury due to repeated microtrauma to the area. If you would like to read more on the issue, please check out my previous article.

When dealing with tendonitis, this is something that a time frame can’t be definitively placed on. He could deal with this the rest of the season or could clear up with proper rehab and rest. This is something that can be played through, but pain may limit the ability to play at full strength.

Finally, WR Zay Jones and CB E.J. Gaines were full participants at practice which is an excellent sign. I originally thought that Jones sustained a high ankle sprain based on the mechanism of his injury during the Jets game, however, it appears he avoided this diagnosis. I did note that I believed that he may have sustained a regular ankle sprain as part of the differential diagnosis. Either way, Zay continues to progress back sooner than expected and this will be an extra weapon for Peterman come Sunday. As a disclaimer, I am only as good as the video available and the reports that surface.

As for Gaines, the fact that he is at full practice on a Thursday indicates that he will be starting Sunday. After seeing what the Saints did to the Bills defense this past Sunday, he is a welcome addition. As of right now, he is at a very high risk for re-injury due to his recent injuries and style of play, but if he is healthy, there is no reason that he is unable to contribute to the secondary.

As stated multiple times this season, the Bills continue to avoid the major injury bug. The Bills have four players on IR: TE Keith Towbridge, S Colt Anderson, RB Taiwan Jones, and WR Jerry Butler. This isn’t a group of players that strike fear into any team. They are still in better shape than other teams and while the team is not performing as expected, the depth that has been there since the beginning of training camp will be key down the stretch if they continue to be in the hunt for that long elusive playoff spot.

As a fan, I’m disappointed in how the team has played the past two games despite the hot start. I will still trust the process and know that McDermott is making decisions to better the current situation. I know complaining won’t change the current situation but will continue to have opinions because we are all entitled to that. If the Bills lose to the Chargers Sunday, then the season may be over. If they win, we’ll see what happens. The Drought has to end sometime, with how this season has been going, why not roll the dice?

Continue to check back with the latest articles and updates. For the latest and game day updates, follow me on Twitter at @kyletrimble88. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 8 Injury Breakdown- Raiders

Assessing the latest Buffalo Bills injury report and implications for Sunday’s match up against the Oakland Raiders.

Since today’s injury report was released today, relatively nothing new has occurred injury wise with the Bills. LB Ramon Humber and TE Charles Clay continue to be on the mend with their respective injuries. RB LeSean McCoy, DT Kyle Williams, LB Lorenzo Alexander did not practice secondary to requiring a rest day. Those guys go hard every Sunday, a rest day is more than well deserved. CB E.J. Gaines (hamstring), S Jordan Poyer (knee), and G Richie Incognitio (ankle) did not practice secondary to their recent injuries.

I had previously given my thoughts on Gaines and Poyer in my last article. With soft tissue injuries, there are general guidelines based on severity, but it ultimately come down to each player’s response to the injury. I still believe Poyer may be able to play Sunday, but the Bills continue to be proactive, releasing CB Tony McRae and signing CB Lafayette Pitts, who has spent time with Miami and Jacksonville the past 2 seasons.

G Richie Incognito did injure his ankle early in the 2nd quarter, sat out several plays, and was able to return to the game. It appears as though he may have sprained his ankle, which is not surprising considering his position. Considering he was able to continue playing, sitting out today’s practice especially in the rainy weather, ensured that he could have an additional day to rest his ankle. With proper bracing, Incognitio may be able to play Sunday, but not knowing the severity clouds my ability to make a definitive prognosis.

It is worth mentioning that WR Jordan Matthews is no longer listed on the injury report. While I am not an expert yet in the reporting of injuries to the NFL, this indicates two things. This indicates that Matthews did not have a set back in his recovery from thumb surgery. This also indicates that he is most likely not back at 100% though. Just because he is not listed does not mean that he is still not still healing. I expect him to continue wearing his brace for protection for at least another 1-2 games until team doctors can be confident that he will not re-fracture the area.

The only other notable injury is LB Preston Brown. He was able to participate in practice despite a shoulder injury. There is not any information other than the official press release to indicate the nature of the shoulder injury. Brown’s job is to throw his body at a moving object and stop it in its tracks. I expect that his shoulder will hurt from time to time due to the repeated impacts. As the NFL injury rules are quite strict, it is in the Bills best interest to report all injuries. As there is no information on the shoulder and he was a full participant, this does not concern me at all and does not indicate any underlying chronic issues.

Minimizing the injuries continue to be a focus of this team and while the secondary has taken a hit, the team as a whole continues to be relatively healthy. The secondary was awful last year; so far it has exceeded expectations, but this will be an area that Oakland will attempt to exploit in order to win. This will be an area that I expect the Bills to continue to address on the waiver wire and in next year’s draft. I still believe the Bills have the talent to win this game, but if the Bills have to lose, I would rather be it this game than a winnable game such as the Chargers or Jets in the next several weeks. My football predictions may not be accurate, but my knowledge of the injuries are. That’s why you are here reading.

Look for future posts including my thoughts on Sean McDermott and the culture he is instilling in Buffalo. I will continue to report on the Buffalo Bills injuries as they occur and begin to incorporate new items into my posts as they become relevant. As always, thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!

Week 3 Recap- Broncos

Analyzing the Buffalo Bills injury report following the Week 3 win over the Denver Broncos.

The Buffalo Bills stole a crucial win from the Denver Broncos on Sunday, winning 26-16 during possibly the hottest game ever in Buffalo. The Bills played a solid game despite some parts of the first half that were sloppy. Tyrod Taylor pulled it together and moved the ball well, giving up no interceptions, fumbles, or making any poor choices. I do not believe he is the long term starter for this team, but he is what will work for now until Nathan Peterman develops or the Bills draft a QB next year.

Breaking down this week’s Buffalo Bill’s injury report, well, there’s not much to go over. Sunday’s game showed the first time in recent memory where a player did not go down with injury for either side. As I was at the insanely hot game Sunday, I did not have the vantage points that I normally have on TV. One Bills player did get assessed by training staff but was able to walk off on their own power. This indicates that either they were possibly dealing with cramping or got banged up. Considering the heat Sunday, cramping is the likely culprit.

There are not any new additions to the Bills injury report with many subtractions from last week. Finding their way off the injury report is S Colt Anderson, TE Charles Clay, DE Shaq Lawson, WR Kaelin Clay, LB Deon Lacey, LB Matt Milano, and TE Nick O’Leary. All of these players were dealing with a variety of complaints that do not appear to be long term issues. One note that I would like to make is Shaq Lawson. It was reported that he was dealing with a nerve contusion last week which affected his foot. As I thought previously, it did not affect his overall play with 1 solo tackle, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, and 1 QB hit. While he did not light up the box score in previous games, he still played in 60% of the snaps, which is in line with the other defensive starters. I do not expect that this injury will reappear again this season.

Those currently on the injury report include LB Lorenzo Alexander and DT Kyle Williams due to rest. Two veterans that give it their all every Sunday, they benefit more from rest than practice. Next up is LeSean McCoy with a wrist injury. This is 3 weeks now that he has been dealing with a wrist injury sustained in the home opener when diving into the end zone. He may be dealing with a mild wrist sprain that the team wants to ensure that does not get worse. I do not believe that this injury is any worse or is part of something larger at this time.

A positive sign for this week is that DT Jerel Worthy is listed as a full participant in practice. This is a huge step forward from the past several weeks. If you recall, Worthy sustained a significant concussion in the preseason finale against the Lions. Considering that he is a full participant indicates that he is in Stage 5 of the concussion protocol. This means that barring any recurrence of symptoms over the next several days, he should be cleared to return to play against the Falcons on Sunday. This is supported by the Bills roster cut of DT Deandre Coleman, signed last week.

DT Marcell Dareus and OT Cordy Glenn have made themselves comfy on the report this week. Dareus was listed as a limited participant. Considering there was video of him last week in an air cast performing upper body work indicates that he continues to deal with a mild lateral ankle sprain. If this injury was significant, he would not have been doing activities in standing and may have had a walking boot, creating more stability. Expect him to play Sunday and shut down the potent Falcons running game.

Finally, OT Cordy Glenn continues to deal with foot/ankle injuries. As I have said before, I continue to maintain that he has instability within the ankle/foot region due to repeatedly spraining the areas. Are these injuries that he could play through if this were the playoffs, quite possibly. However, it is still early in the season and Dion Dawkins held his own against the talented Broncos D-line. I expect the training staff to continue to bring Glenn along slowly to ensure that the O-line has the depth required to get through the season.

I still believe that McDermott is rotating through players more frequently to reduce overuse injuries and keep the integrity of the roster intact. As the season continues on, I will continue to address injuries that occur plus outline any injuries that can become common or chronic. Once again, thank you for reading and look for further updates, GO BILLS!!

Week 3 Injury Breakdown- Broncos

Analyzing the Buffalo Bills injury report for Week 3.

Week 3 is upon us! As we head into the match up at home against the Denver Broncos, I will review the team injury report and breakdown expectations for the players on the report. Unfortunately, the Bills injury report will continue to grow through the season. However, most injuries so far have consisted of minor problems that if managed correctly, will not become a problem long term.

Getting several of the names out of the way early are LB Lorenzo Alexander, RB LeSean McCoy, and DT Jerel Worthy. I address these players first because they are not serious issues or have already been addressed. Alexander is on the list due to rest, McCoy due to his wrist which does not appear to be a serious injury as he was listed as a full participant. Finally, Worthy is still in the league concussion protocol and still not practicing, which likely means he is still having symptoms during regular aerobic activities.

Those carrying over from last weeks injury report are S Colt Anderson, TE Charles Clay, and OT Cordy Glenn. Colt Anderson continues to deal with a foot injury and continues to somehow be on the roster. Clay was on last week due to shoulder complaints; this week is knee, which continues to be a long term issue year after year. Glenn reappears on the list due to re-aggravation of the foot/ankle area.

New to the injury report are DE Shaq Lawson, WR Kaelin Clay, DT Marcell Dareus, LB Deon Lacey, LB Matt Milano, and TE Nick O’Leary. Kaelin Cray is dealing with a foot injury, yet not much is known about the current injury. Clay did suffer a broken foot last year during training camp with the Ravens. He was eventually cut in November from injured reserve and essentially sat out last season. Hopefully, this is not something that will keep him out for long. Deon Lacey, Matt Milano, and Nick O’Leary are all dealing with hamstring injuries which can continue to be tricky due to the demands of their specific positions. Lawson’s injury was detailed greatly in my last post and should not affect him for long term. To note, all were full participants on Friday which indicate that they will most likely play Sunday.

It was reported today that both Cordy Glenn and Marcell Dareus will not play Sunday due to the previously reported injuries. I had initially thought that Dareus’ injury was not major due to the fact that he returned to the game against the Panthers. He most likely sustained a sprained ankle and the team is possibly being cautious to ensure that he will be available later this season. With Dareus ruled out, the Bills signed DeAndre Coleman to the roster. Coleman was in training camp and during the offseason, released during cut down day. Considering that Jerel Worthy and Dareus is out, depth will be crucial to place pressure on the Denver offense and contain the run game.

With Cordy Glenn ruled out of the game Sunday, expect Dion Dawkins and Ryan Groy to see increased playing time. This will be the first true test for Dawkins, which I believe he will step up and fill in, demonstrating why the Bills picked him in the 2nd round. As for what Glenn is dealing with, possibly a foot sprain leading to further instability and pain. There are reports that he has issues with both feet/ankles, but unable to confirm each individual issue as that kind of detail typically isn’t released. At this point, I say keep him out until he is ready to play. I have outlined my thoughts on Glenn in the past, I still maintain that the previous issues are contributing towards this current one.

While missing Glenn and Dareus in the lineup, the depth is finally there to deal with these losses. All of the players except Worthy, Dareus, and Glenn practiced in full on Friday which leads me to believe that most of them will either be ready to play for Sunday or have their snap counts limited. Please continue to ask questions, leave comments, and educate yourself on Buffalo Bills injuries. I continue to be open to ideas and will address injuries that require further explanation. Once again, thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!!