Bills Season Injury Review- Running Backs

Assessing the 2018 Bills injuries at running back & roster changes for 2019.

The 2018 Buffalo Bills running game didn’t scare people or dictate games as it did several years ago which led to the offense to be rather one dimensional and easy to game plan against. Without LeSean McCoy producing as the engine of the offense, this put the pressure on the passing game which was severely limited secondary to the lack of weapons available. As a result, the team finished 9th in the NFL with 1984 yards total, 15 TD’s, and 4 fumbles. Despite finishing in the top 10 in rushing, the Bills RB’s were oft injured throughout the season and along with an inefficient offensive line, stunted their production greatly. This lack of effectiveness may be a precursor to what is to come next season with how the stable of backs looks in Buffalo.

There were a total of 5 backs that suited up for Buffalo this season including: RB LeSean McCoy, RB Chris Ivory, RB Keith Ford, RB Marcus Murphy, and FB Patrick DiMarco. To note: Taiwan Jones is listed as a RB but nearly all of his contributions to the team came on special teams. As a result, he will be addressed at a later time. Despite so many backs that played for the Bills this season, the leading rusher was QB Josh Allen with 631 yards and 8 TD’s alone. Without Allen, the numbers look drastically different: 1353 yards and 7 TD’s which would have put them 31st in the league. It would be assumed that whoever was under center would have put up their own respective rushing yards, but nowhere near the number that Allen produced.

The first back to assess is RB Keith Ford. The rookie UDFA out of Texas A&M was signed to the active roster in mid December after spending all season on the practice squad. He appeared in 2 games, starting 1 while amassing 21 attempts for 79 yards for 0 TD’s along with 5 targets in the passing game for 3 catches and 21 yards. While Ford’s stats did not jump off the page, he also managed to stay healthy during his two game stretch. He did suffer what appeared to be a mild inversion sprain to his right ankle during the Lions game, but he was able to quickly return after getting taped up and had no ill effects the week after against the Patriots. Despite his limited play, he appears to have found a home in Buffalo next season pending his continued progression as a running back. I would like to see him either on the practice squad again or as a depth piece in the rushing game.

The next back is FB Patrick DiMarco. The 8th year back didn’t do much this season and as a result, did not suffer many injuries. His 2018 stats were as follows: 1 attempt for 9 yards, 4 targets for 3 catches and 62 yards with 0 TD’s. These aren’t exactly eye popping statistics for an offensive captain. Most of DiMarco’s playing came on special teams and he was able to appear in all 16 games as a result. The only injury he sustained was an ankle injury during a punt return in the win over the Lions. He did appear on the injury report later that week but did not miss any time. Despite his leadership role, one has to really wonder if the money that he is getting paid is worth his production. As the team has built their culture, he may be a cap casualty going into next season. He is fine injury wise but in my opinion, not worth the money.

RB Marcus Murphy made his mark as the 3rd down back and on special teams this season with a very strong preseason before coming back down to earth once the regular season started. Murphy struggled with punt and kick returns early on, lessening his role on special teams before his season ended prematurely due to injury. His stat line this year: 11 games with 1 start for 52 rushes for 250 yards, 19 targets for 11 catches and 26 yards with 1 fumble. He missed one game against the Packers due to a rib contusion sustained in the Vikings win. Murphy managed to stay healthy until the Lions game when he dislocated his left elbow late in the 2nd quarter. Unfortunately for him, his season was finished as a result. Normally, dislocated elbows are not season ending but as he only had 2 games left in the season, he would not have been ready to play. Had the Bills been in the playoff hunt, he would have probably stayed on the active roster, but this wasn’t the case this season. His elbow injury should heal fully and not have any complications moving forward. Overall, his injuries were minimal and are not going to have any lasting impact going into next season. He has a very good shot to make the team again, but he will have to fix the mistakes from 2018 in order to have a job in 2019.

RB Chris Ivory served as a back up to McCoy this season and overall did not produce at a level equal to his pay. His stat line is as follows: 13 games played, 1 game started, 115 rushes for 385 yards and 1 TD. In the passing game, he had 21 targets for 13 receptions for 205 yards and 1 fumble. In addition to the lack of production, Ivory suffered a mild foot sprain in the Colts game that did not force him to miss anytime but did affect his production shortly after.

However, the big injury appeared to his left shoulder injury. He suffered this injury during the Chicago Bears game during a failed goal line plunge. He suffered what I believed to be an AC joint sprain that game and was unable to return. As a result, he missed the next game against the Jets but was able to return the following week. During the 2nd Jets game in December, he appeared to re-injure the area when his arm got pulled behind him on a run. He left the field favoring his left shoulder and missed the following 2 games despite practicing in full. I believe that he was dealing with pain in the shoulder region which prevented him from absorbing the hits that comes with the position. He was questionable for the final game but did play, having one of his better games of the season. Considering the Bills were also out of the playoff hunt, he may have felt that it wasn’t worth rushing back as he knows that he is on the tail end of his career, having just finished his 8th season. Prior to the season ending, HC Sean McDermott noted that Ivory’s injury was something that required rest in the off season which indicates that this was an injury that was not serious to require surgery.

AC joint sprains typically take several weeks to heal based on the severity of the original injury. I believe what happened to Ivory was that he suffered the AC joint sprain, he was able to come back mostly healed and then re-injured the area, worsening the original injury. Typically AC joint sprains do not require surgery but will require rest and proper rehab. As for 2019, this is not something that will affect him next season and he should return as his contract is not terrible and he provides stability at a weak position.

Finally, the bell cow RB LeSean McCoy. The veteran back had the worst season of his career totaling 14 games played with 13 starts for 161 rushes for 514 yards and 3 TD’s. He also added 46 targets for 34 receptions and 238 yards through the air. McCoy’s struggles could be blamed on several factors such as the off field drama with his ex-girlfriend that is still working through the courts, a subpar offensive line, and playing in his age 30 season which we have seen many running backs take a step back in their production. McCoy also dealt with several injuries that slowed his effectiveness this year.

McCoy saw groin, broken rib cartilage, left ankle sprain, concussion, and hamstring injuries this year. None of these injuries were serious on their own but cumulatively added up. He injured his groin in the preseason but was able to be available for the season opener with no lasting effects. McCoy then cracked his rib cartilage due to C Ryan Groy falling on him towards the end of the play during the Chargers game forcing him to miss one game. This was an injury that was very slow to heal and forced him to play through pain with his production varying. He was able to then play 3 games without further injury before suffering an ankle sprain and concussion on the 2nd play in the loss to the Colts. He thankfully did not miss any games afterward due to having extra time to work through the concussion protocol to be cleared in time for the MNF game. McCoy’s final injury came early in the 2nd Jets game in which he pulled his hamstring and was unable to return. As a result, he missed the next game but was able to return for the final 2 games.

Looking at these injuries, he did not have effective blocking to move the ball as he had in past seasons. The small injuries accumulated throughout the season meant that he was never fully healthy which only made things more difficult to be effective. Fortunately, all these injuries will heal in the off season and should have no lingering issues going into 2019. While he did have the worst season of his career, I believe that he will have a bounce back year in 2019 with a rebuilt offensive line and show why he is still one of the top backs in the NFL. There are some rumblings that he could be a cap casualty but GM Brandon Beane has committed to him and I expect that he will keep his word unlike previous regime’s.

This is one position that needs some serious love over the next few seasons. The position itself chews and spits out players regularly with running backs having the shortest career’s in the NFL. While there is a veteran presence, turnover will be important for 2019 and beyond. I expect McCoy and Ivory to return with Ford staying on the roster in some capacity. Murphy has a shot to stay on the roster but will have to prove his worth and battle in preseason like he did last year. As a fan, I do not see any benefit to having DiMarco come back outside of the leadership role he has, but considering veteran presence leadership is thinning out, he may stick around. It is very possible that the front office spends some draft capital to find a running back to be the heir apparent to McCoy, allowing a rookie to develop. 2019 may very well be a bridge year to 2020 and beyond to reshape the running game and further develop the offense.

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!!

 

 

 

Bills Week 15 Injury Review- Lions

Assessing the latest Bills injuries following the win over the Detroit Lions.

Sunday was certainly a nail biter! The Bills managed to squeak out a win over the lowly Lions 14-13 to move to 5-9 on the season. However, the win didn’t come without sacrifice as injuries continue to mount and will force the team to shuffle the roster around in order to get to the end of the season. Today’s post will assess the injuries sustained and what they mean going forward into Week 16.

The most serious injury of the day happened to RB Marcus Murphy (elbow) who suffered a dislocated elbow late in the 2nd quarter. Murphy ran up the middle and as he began going down, he planted his left arm on the turf and Lions LB Jarrad Davis came in and hit his elbow with enough force that it gave way and dislocated. As expected, he appeared to be in significant pain but was able to walk to the locker room with the assistance of the training staff. After the game, it was reported that the elbow had to be reduced or in other words, put back in place on the field by Ian Rappaport. As a result on the injury, his day was done. While the elbow itself is rather stable, it can dislocate just as any other joint and will still take 1-4 weeks for him to return to full function per most guidelines. My assessment is that it takes the better part of a month for him to regain full function without any associating fractures. If you recall, CB Phillip Gaines sustained the same injury earlier in the season, missing one game. However, Murphy would require greater use of his elbow to cradle the football and fend off defenders which would necessitate a longer recovery. Murphy has since been moved to IR which is the smartest move at this point as there is nothing to play for and he would not be able to return to 100% by the end of the season. He will be able to make a full recovery for OTA’s and have no lingering issues.

Another injury that appeared to be rather serious initially was WR Isaiah McKenzie (calf). The shifty wide out went down suddenly with no contact during a punt return midway through the 3rd quarter. Initial fears were an ACL tear or Achilles due to suddenly going down without contact. An Achilles tear was especially concerning when McKenzie began pointing to his right calf, eventually requiring a cart to get off the field. However, almost miraculously, he was able to return in the 4th quarter and finish out the game. This alone indicates he avoided serious injury with his ability to return. While riding on the cart, it was observed that he had his feet in full dorsiflexion by training staff. Thoughts later by @ProFootballDoc Dr. David Chao, speculated that he may have had a muscle cramp which required stretching and IV to recover. This appeared to be the case as there was no specific mechanism for injury or tell tale signs upon video review. The severity of the injury was magnified due to the presence of the cart which certainly altered my thought process at the time. As expected, McKenzie was still clearly not 100% during his return but was able to be available dealing with some residual pain and soreness. Believe it or not, this is an injury that he should not miss any time with and should finish out the season.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (back) required a quick assessment from training staff after getting blindsided by OL Frank Ragnow early in the 3rd quarter. Walking off the field, Edmunds appeared to be walking gingerly and motioning to his back. Edmunds was able to return to the game next defensive series and did not appear to be laboring through the rest of the game. This is not an injury that I expect him to miss any time or even find his way onto the injury report.

RB Keith Ford suffered what appears to be a left ankle injury late in the 3rd quarter which forced the team to go to FB Patrick DiMarco and at times, empty backfields, briefly before Ford was able to return early in the 4th quarter. The ankle injury that he sustained isn’t conclusive but may have been a typical inversion sprain or contusion that was taped up and allowed him to return. This is not an injury that should sideline him for any duration of time. He should play next week as the Bills have been running 3 running backs all season and with Murphy out, Ford moves up.

FB Patrick DiMarco (thigh/knee) and LB Corey Thompson (left leg) suffered what appears to be hard hits to the left thigh/knee area for both players when trying to run back up field towards the ball carrier on a punt return early in the 4th quarter. DiMarco got tangled up with LS Reid Ferguson who was knocked out of the way by DB Quadre Diggs, forcing Ferguson into DiMarco for some friendly fire. As for Thompson, he got tied up with S Tavon Wilson and went down injuring his left leg in the process. Both were able to return later in the game without any residual effects. No concerns for the rest of the season.

The Bills have since moved Murphy to IR and signed WR Victor Bolden from the 49ers practice squad to fill his roster spot and attempt to find another WR for potentially next year. The Bills should be able to get to the finish line with this roster barring any further injuries, hopefully finishing on a high note by beating both the Patriots and Dolphins. These past few weeks are the fears we all have as injuries can certainly derail a season. While this season is essentially done, it still is terrible to see guys who have worked hard all season end their year prematurely and not on their terms. Regardless, all these injuries still allow the players to come back at full health next season as they march towards a Super Bowl championship.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

 

Week 5 Bills Injury Review- Titans

Read up on the latest injuries following the win over the Titans.

Leave it to the Bills to wait until the last second to pull out a win like that! K Stephen Hauschka’s game winning kick to give the Bills a 13-12 win over the Tennessee Titans propels Buffalo to a 2-3 record and momentum going into their Week 6 showdown in Houston. As always, today’s post will review the injuries sustained in Sunday’s win.

Those ruled out prior to the game include S Micah Hyde (groin), S Rafael Bush (shoulder), and RB Marcus Murphy (ribs). Hyde and Bush were not expected to play this week after not practicing all week and their availability may improve with this week’s practice. However, Murphy was inactive despite practicing in full all week and demonstrating that he was healthy. There is precedent for the Bills to rule a player inactive despite appearing healthy. Just the prior week, CB Phillip Gaines was ruled inactive with an elbow injury despite practicing in full. These may be personnel decisions or may be allowing these players to heal up more before rushing back to full contact.

Those injured during the game were minimal included P Corey Bojorquez (shoulder), CB Taron Johnson (shoulder), CB Tre’Davious White (ankle), and DT Kyle Williams (knee). However, only White made his way to the injury report. Possibly the most serious injury out of the bunch is Bojorquez. He suffered a right shoulder injury on a botched fake field goal attempt and sustained an unlikely injury in the process. He was observed later having had the shoulder wrapped with limited motion during running and in obvious pain at times. Based on the mechanism of injury, it appears that he may have suffered a SLAP lesion of the shoulder. SLAP stands for Superior Labral Anterior and Posterior which means that the top portion of the labrum tears; this is where the long head tendon of the biceps connects at.

Bojorquez suffered the shoulder injury late in the 2nd quarter as the result of the tackle and came up with significant discomfort. The reason why this is at least a SLAP lesion or subluxation and not dislocation is due to the fact that he was able to move his shoulder around and did not appear to require immediate manual reduction of the joint. This injury occurred as he was tackled; his arm was in an abducted and externally rotated position which places a lot of stress on the front part of the shoulder. This is also the motion that is required to throw a football.

As he is falling with his arm in that position, he has a defender falling on his body, preventing him from falling to allow him to brace for impact. When Bojorquez hits the ground, the body weight of the defender plus the ground lead to the arm to hyperflex which possibly led to the SLAP tear. During impact, it is also possible that he may have suffered an anterior subluxation of the shoulder, which is a partial dislocation to the area but able to self relocate. However, of all subluxations/dislocations, this is the most common with 97% of all these injuries occurring in this manner. In dislocations, the labrum tears and leads to instability in the shoulder. In the case of subluxation, there is a joint shift but a lesser chance of injury to the labrum. However, in most dislocations/subluxations, damage does occur and instability is present. This is also evident in SLAP lesions.

Symptoms seen with Bojorquez after the injury would most likely include difficulty with overhead motions, general strength deficits, and complaints of popping, locking, or clicking during movement, among other complaints. As with labral tears, this is not an injury that will heal up on its own and would require surgery to repair the damage. A normal person could live with this injury without surgery but due to the demands of the NFL, he would most likely require surgery later.

Despite this grim prognosis, Bojorquez may not miss any time or have any deficits come next game. He will have to strengthen the area and give it time to reduce pain and weakness, but otherwise he will be able to perform his regular punting duties as required. Thankfully he is not out of the field often and he can still play with his full ability without compensation. The only major deficit he may have is if the Bills want to run a fake field goal play; this may limit his abilities to throw the football effectively. He may eventually need surgery if it continues to give him problems but will not require it immediately; he may use bracing as seen with CB Taron Johnson.

Unfortunately, following with another shoulder injury, CB Taron Johnson suffered a re-aggravation to the right shoulder, as he has had in previous games. He did have to sit out several plays after but was able to return with overall effective play. He will have to continue to tackle with his left side to reduce further injury and missed time. While he continues to injure the area, this can and will lead to less forces required to sublux the shoulder, leading to greater instability and eventual surgery.

DT Kyle Williams suffered a right knee injury in the 3rd quarter but eventually resumed participation. Williams did return to his place in the rotation after sitting out 1-2 series but based on the injury, does not appear to be serious. Williams injured his knee as the result of having his right leg kicked out from under him which resulted in him falling directly on his knee without bracing for impact. This may have been more of falling directly on it and requiring some rest to reduce the initial shock of the impact. While Williams is on the injury report, he is listed as requiring a veteran rest day as he does every week. I do not see this injury causing any long term issues.

Finally, CB Tre’Davious White suffered an ankle injury during Sunday’s win and was limited in practice today. Reviewing film, there was not one specific play that revealed the injury. Add in the fact that White played in every defensive snap and all defensive field goal attempts makes this difficult to diagnose. This may have been an injury that he played through and did not realize until after the game or this may have been an injury that he sustained in practice today. Without conclusive video, it is rather difficult to identify what type of ankle injury he sustained. Either way, he was only limited in practice which on Wednesday is a good sign in order to play Sunday. Based on this information alone, this does not appear to be a serious injury but something that the Bills should be proactive about. This is far from a guarantee, but history serves us well when looking at availability.

This wraps up the injury review from Sunday. The Bills continue to be fortunate when dealing with injuries in terms of severity. While some of these injuries are significant in nature, they are able to be conservatively managed until there is a more opportune time to address the long term management of these conditions.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow on Facebook at Banged Up Bills, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 5 Bills Injury Preview- Titans

Dissecting the latest injuries prior to the AFC matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

The Bills roll into Orchard Park with a 1-3 record and much to play for when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. While it is quickly becoming a reality that this team will not look like last year’s surprise playoff team; the fan base is still hoping that there are some positives that can be squeezed out of this season.

According to Friday’s injury report, no one has been ruled out prior to Sunday’s game. Three players have been ruled questionable including: S Rafael Bush (shoulder), S Micah Hyde (groin), and TE Charles Clay (ankle).

Reviewing video, Hyde’s injury was fairly straight forward, pulling his left groin midway through the 1st quarter attempting go upfield and get involved with the play, coming up lame. He was on the injury report the prior week with a toe injury but this is not something that would have caused compensation patterns leading to the injury. He simply performed a football move and it caught him. While he is questionable, he has not practiced all week which historically is not favorable when predicting whether he will play Sunday. He will realistically need at least one more week before he can even consider playing in a game. Expect him to miss this Sunday.

S Rafael Bush injured his shoulder on the last play of the 1st quarter tackling RB Aaron Jones out of bounds. He injured his left shoulder when he got spun around off Jones, falling directly onto his shoulder without having the ability to brace for the fall. He was able to play the rest of the game but was not really directly involved in many plays regarding physical contact after that. His injury was not immediately apparent until reported on the injury report Tuesday. I believe he suffered an AC joint sprain or possible contusion to the general area. Other possibility of a SC joint sprain, though less likely. Typical mechanisms of injury are similar to what was described above; a direct blow to his shoulder. Considering that he was able to play the rest of the game, but take the entire week of practice off suggests that it is a mild sprain/contusion that may take a week to heal.

From my previous article from the Tampa Bay game last year, edited for relevancy:

“On average, the Grade 1 shoulder sprain that Bush possibly could have sustained typically takes 9.8 days to fully recover from according to Dr. David Geier. He will be at day 7 by kickoff Sunday, which may affect his ability.”

It’s possible that he could play, but not practicing all week may have allowed him to heal in order to play, but more realistically, he is not quite ready for contact. Like Hyde, he was unable to practice which almost certainly seals his fate.

TE Charles Clay suffered an ankle injury that on film did not appear serious. He had a Packers defender falling to the ground and fell into Clay’s ankle while he was trying to get out of the way. He was able get the ankle taped up, continue playing and finish the game. It appeared that he got his ankle rolled up on or tweaked as a result. While he was limited Wednesday, did not practice Thursday, he was able to practice in full Friday which is a strong indicator that he will play. In addition to the ankle, he is also dealing with previous shoulder and hip issues from the previous game. He is also a veteran and requires more maintenance which is why he is unable to practice during the week yet play Sunday’s. I would expect him to suit up to be QB Josh Allen’s safety valve.

Other injuries on the report include RB Marcus Murphy (rib), and DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring). Murphy appears to have a generalized rib injury that cost him last week but it appears healed enough to perform this week. Hopefully it is a contusion that continues to heal rather than a broken rib. Lawson missed two games with his hamstring strain and while he did play the entire game, he may have developed soreness as a result, requiring conservative maintenance on it so as to not further irritate the healing tissues. While it is possible to re-injure the area, giving it rest through the week gives him the best shot to play at 100% Sunday.

Others dealing with injury but did not make the injury report: RB LeSean McCoy (ribs/hand), CB Taron Johnson (shoulder), and CB Phillip Gaines (elbow). McCoy has been dealing with cracked rib cartilage that is physically impossible to be healed yet which still limits him despite what he says otherwise. However, reports indicated that he injured his left hand with it visibly wrapped up after the game. Film review was inconclusive whether he suffered any particular injury. To note, he was able to demonstrate effective ball safety, gripping the ball in each hand respectively without compensation during his limited playing time.

CB Taron Johnson has been a bright spot in the defense 4 games into his rookie year. However, he continues to deal with a shoulder injury that appears to be a torn labrum in his right shoulder. This is evident with the use of visible bracing on the right side, he continually injures the area on hard hits but is quicker to return in the game, and the original mechanism of injury. He can continue to play on the shoulder but eventually he may require surgery for long term correction. Until then, he has altered his tackling style, he is wearing bracing, and I’m certain he is doing rehab to strengthen the surrounding muscles around the joint in order to get through the season.

Finally, CB Phillip Gaines is coming off a right dislocated elbow that forced him to miss one game. However, he was inactive despite practicing in full the week of the Packers game which indicated that he may have been held out due to personnel needs rather than injury. Regardless of reason, the extra time off allowed him to heal even more and he may not require any bracing given the time frame.

Overall, anticipate Hyde and most likely Bush to miss the Titans game with Clay playing with several nagging injuries. These thoughts are further solidified with the signing of S Dean Marlowe and releasing TE Khari Lee. This indicates that at least one safety is certain to miss and the thinning of the TE depth chart indicates Clay is playing. The others mentioned above are expected to play but have injuries that do not require treatment by training staff but could still limit their effectiveness. This game should allow the Bills to get their first home win of the season and move to 2-3 to maintain some level of respectability in the AFC.

Continue to follow Banged Up Bills for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow on Facebook at Banged Up Bills, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 4 Bills Injury Preview- Packers

Assessing the latest Bills injuries prior to the Week 4 matchup against the Packers.

A lot can change in one week. Last week at this time we were hoping that we could stay competitive in a tough road game against the Vikings. After the major upset that the Bills pulled off in Minnesota, this has everyone thinking that they may be able to do it again in Green Bay. As I said last week, Any Given Sunday! Today’s post will look at the injury report and what this means going forward for player availability.

The biggest question going into Sunday’s matchup is whether RB LeSean McCoy (ribs) will be able to play. He has been limited all week due to the cracked rib cartilage sustained against the Chargers which forced him to miss last game. However, Shady has emphatically stated that he will play Sunday. He could reinjure the area leading to more pain and slowing down the already slow healing process. He could also cause additional damage to surrounding areas as the cracked cartilage does provide support to the area and instability within the area could lead to further injury. However, a veteran with as much time in the league as he has knows his body and whether he can be effective. He would probably benefit from additional time off, but he knows his remaining time in the NFL is fleeting and must make every opportunity count. Expect him to play this week.

RB Marcus Murphy (ribs) is also dealing with his injury that has had much less attention devoted to it than McCoy. He may be dealing with a rib contusion which could be expected to heal quicker than McCoy’s injury or even a fractured rib. As McCoy will play, RB Chris Ivory is healthy, this may allow Murphy to rest. I do not anticipate that Murphy will play considering he has been limited all week and that typically does not bode well for playing Sunday.

Others that are questionable are TE Jason Croom (knee) and TE Charles Clay (shoulder/hip). Both injuries are intriguing in that they were not reported during the game, it did not appear that they missed any time besides the plays/packages specifically designed for them, and it puts into question regarding whether they will be available for Sunday. Croom was able to practice in full on Wednesday with limitations Thursday & Friday makes me think he suffered an injury Wednesday which in turn will make it nearly impossible to identify the particular injury. As for Clay, he has a long documented history of knee troubles, however he now has shoulder and hip injuries. Looking at film, there is nothing that appears out of the ordinary with his play nor does he exit for long periods of time indicating that he is injured. While I consider myself an expert on injuries, I cannot state that I was able to determine what happened to either player. There were several instances where Clay was taken to the ground hard and it appeared that he was slow off the snap the next play but he was still able to block and run his routes without any noticeable compensation. This makes it difficult whether both him and Croom will play Sunday. Reports indicated that Clay sat out of practice this week in order to maximize the chances he could play Sunday. However, since this team is TE heavy, they could either roll with two tight ends and add some receivers or Clay could suit up and play.

Others returning to practice is CB Phillip Gaines (elbow). Recapping, he dislocated his elbow in the loss to the Chargers and missed last week’s game. I do not believe he is 100% healed, however, he must be feeling better enough that he can play. I see no reason why he shouldn’t play if he feels he is ready. He may have some protective bracing or compression to the area to prevent it from getting hit and swelling up again.

Also returning to the fold are DE Shaq Lawson and DE Trent Murphy. Lawson suffered a hamstring injury that cost him 2 games and Murphy suffered an ankle injury in the waning minutes of the Vikings win. Lawson appears healthy but may still be limited with situational play or snap count to not re-injure his hamstring and restart the process. Murphy on the other hand appears 100% and should not be limited getting into the backfield.

Overall, expect RB Marcus Murphy and TE Jason Croom to be inactive. While TE Charles Clay is limited, I expect that he will be more ready to play allowing the team to play TE Logan Thomas and TE Khari Lee. Despite the growing injury report, these are still relatively minor compared to some of the other injuries around the league.

Continue to follow for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive! Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills and www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!!

Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- RB/FB

Season ending review of the Buffalo Bills backfield and implications for next season.

The Buffalo Bills had a variety of personnel in the backfield this year which leaves many questions regarding roster turnover for next year. Many factors go into these decisions based on production, salary, and injuries. Today’s post will address the RB/FB positions for the Buffalo Bills

This past season, there were 6 running back/fullback’s listed on the roster that saw playing time. Starting off, RB Marcus Murphy appeared in one game against the Miami Dolphins in relief for LeSean McCoy due to his sprained ankle. The most recent backfield addition thankfully suffered no injuries during his short stint with the team and showed the ability to play in the NFL. His future with the team remains murky at best as he is an unrestricted free agent and there is a dearth of talent at the position ahead of him.

Next up is RB Taiwan Jones. Jones actually never saw a carry in the RB position, instead was targeted 2 times resulting in 1 reception for 11 yards. Most of his game action occurred on special teams which unfortunately ended his season. The 7th year back broke his forearm during an onside kick return during the Week 9 loss to the Jets. Along with the fracture, Jones dealt with a knee injury early in the season that did not cause him to miss any time. Jones is also an unrestricted free agent and while his forearm is not concerning, his age and effectiveness may leave him without a team during the off season.

Travaris Cadet headlines the next RB in this post. Cadet as you may recall, suffered a traumatic left ankle fracture and dislocation during a routine play against the Patriots. Up to that point, Cadet was an effective change of pace back who allowed McCoy to stay fresh through games. Surgically, Cadet had his ankle relocated and then had a plate with screws inserted to stabilize the area. A typical rehab protocol allocates for 12+ weeks to return to walking, but may take much longer to return to full game speed. Cadet also suffered a concussion in December prior to the ankle which did not cause him to miss time. The 6th year journeyman is an unrestricted free agent and with a long recovery time factored in, his ability to recover fully will determine whether he has a roster spot next season.

Another back who saw no time in the backfield is RB Joe Banyard. The veteran back only saw time on special teams and while he does not have the carries that similar backs have at his age, he does not appear to be able to carry a workload for a NFL team. As he is a free agent right now, I do not see him on the roster for next year.

Patrick DiMarco was used sparingly in the offense this year at the fullback position. While he only saw 2 attempts for -2 yards, he saw some time in the receiving game and as a blocking fullback. DiMarco saw injuries to his ankle during the Kansas City game but did not miss any time. The 6th year fullback may find himself back on this roster next year as he was signed for 4 years for $8.4 million dollars.

The back who saw the most time in the backup role is Pro Bowl FB Mike Tolbert. The 10th year veteran carried the rock 66 attempts for 247 yards and one TD. He became the ire of the fan base due to his use during 3rd and long with short passes or runs that shut down offensive drives. Analyzing his injury complaints, he suffered a knee injury early in the season and sustained a moderate hamstring strain that sidelined him for 3 games. While he was able to return for the Colts game, he appeared to be limited until the regular season finale. Hamstring strains and tears not managed correctly can continue to limit players through the season. With the off-season to recover, he should not have any recurring issues, but his use in the offense and an unrestricted free agent determines whether he returns next season.

Finally, RB LeSean McCoy, the engine of the Bills offense continues to climb up the rushing ranks past the all time greats. Fortunately, McCoy only had a variety of minor injuries through the season which did not affect his production. The only significant injury McCoy sustained was a sprained ankle in the season finale against the Dolphins which did not limit his productiveness in the Wild Card loss against the Jaguars. Other issues McCoy dealt with included wrist, groin, and knee injuries in addition to illness that did not force him to miss any time.

McCoy has been incredibly resilient during this season & career but is approaching his age 30 season. As history has shown, many running backs begin to suffer decline in production around this time and McCoy is no exception. Those that have rushed for 1000 yard seasons after their age 30 season have seen a drop in production 1-2 years afterward. For those that rushed for over 1000 yards either did not accumulate the yards early in their careers or they were true outliers. I expect to see McCoy return to the starting RB role next season and continue to produce for the short window he has left.

While none of these small injuries are concerning for long term, that long term wear and tear adds up and he will eventually decline. With McCoy’s production both on the ground and in the receiving game, he is vital to the Bills successes. However, the Bills are aware of this and will hopefully address the backfield in the off season. As much as both McCoy and the Bills would like to remain productive, it is inevitable that he will decline in ability and relinquish his role.

Outside of McCoy and DiMarco, I expect this backfield to be turned over with fresh legs and develop the next running back for the Bills. As I am not an expert in roster management and salary cap issues, it’s possible that others from this article find their way back to the roster as depth players. The Bills do have RB Aaron Green on a futures contract but is not guarantee to make the team next season. Injury wise, everyone can come back healthy with proper rehab and time, but it will all depend on personnel needs.

I did not forget Kyle Williams contribution of his memorable rushing touchdown during the season finale. As this was atypical, I will not categorize him in with the RB’s, but give him the words and thoughts he deserves during his position review. Continue to check back with me for the latest updates on Bills injuries and season reviews. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Injury Recap- Dolphins & Playoffs

Detailing LeSean McCoy’s ankle injury and impact it has on Sunday’s playoff game.

THE BILLS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS! No this is not a typo, they finally ended The Drought; it is over, dead, gone, finished! This is a wonderful feeling that I’m trying to describe in the written word and it just isn’t quite coming to fruition at this moment. I suppose that my thoughts on The Drought finally ending could be summed up in another article for another time. As for today and every previous article, today’s post will identify injuries sustained in Sunday’s game and impact that they have on Sunday’s playoff game in Jacksonville.

It has been heavily documented and discussed RB LeSean McCoy’s ankle injury sustained in the 3rd quarter of Sunday’s game. It has since been revealed that McCoy sprained his ankle and there may be a possibility that he can play next Sunday. Looking at video, a lateral ankle sprain is pretty consistent with reports. It is difficult to see due to video angles, but as McCoy steps with his right ankle, he is being tackled to the turf. While tackled, his toes are planted in the ground, he is tackled with his body going left. This puts extra torque through the ankle joint, the ankle snapped up off of the turf as a result and he suffers a sprained ankle.

I had some initial thoughts that he fell directly onto the toe/midfoot leading to a sprain of the big toe or turf toe or a Lisfranc sprain of the midfoot. Thankfully, the lateral ankle took the brunt of the injury. This is beneficial because if McCoy is unable to push off his toe or midfoot during running, he would be even more ineffective. McCoy will be limited in lateral movements but with the proper rehab he can play in some fashion Sunday. This rehab includes range of motion stretching, pain/swelling management, light strengthening, and bracing to the area to limit further damage. Based on video, the ankle was injured, but the injury to the ankle appears to be less severe than what it could have been. As I am not the evaluating therapist, I am unable to determine severity so mechanism of injury, video, and knowledge of the area will have to do.

I believe McCoy will play in his biggest game in a Buffalo Bills uniform. I do not anticipate that he will miss the game, but may require a decreased work load to decrease injury and ensure effectiveness during each run. It does help that the field conditions will be ideal for footing and assist in reduction for re-aggravation of his injury. If McCoy is limited, both FB Patrick DiMarco and FB Mike Tolbert are available along with RB Marcus Murphy are able carry the workload. The Bills also recently signed RB Aaron Green to the practice squad to be called up in the event that McCoy does not play.

OT Jordan Mills injured his ankle late in the 2nd quarter during a block where he was forced to backpedal while blocking Cameron Wake. On video replay, he has to take several hard steps backwards and steps awkwardly on his left ankle. There did not appear to be any rolling of the foot inward which rules out a lateral ankle sprain but his foot was planted and his knee buckled in which could result in a inversion sprain or midfoot sprain due to the sudden jarring motion during the forced planting. Mills was unable to return but may also be limited for Sunday’s game. If Mills is unable to go, OT Seantrel Henderson will get the start.

As for other injuries, there does not appear to be any other injuries that should impact the roster ahead of Sunday’s game. I expect to see McCoy and Mills on the injury report along with WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee), TE Charles Clay (knee), DT Kyle Williams (groin), WR Deonte Thompson (shoulder/back). All should play without question but no one is close to 100% at this point in the season. With how this season has progressed and the injuries sustained, it will take some serious injuries to keep any of the players out from attempting to play. I do not anticipate any surprises on the injury report tomorrow, but anything can happen.

Look for articles regarding changes in the injury report later this week, my thoughts on ending The Drought, and anything else that I believe is warranted to write about. For the latest updates and game time updates, follow me on Twitter @kyletrimble88. As always, thank you for reading, the Bills have finally made the playoffs, and GO BILLS!!