2020 Week 13 Bills Injury Preview- 49ers

Will Milano and Dodson get activated?

It’s December and the Bills are not only playing meaningful football, but it’s in prime time! In addition, getting this injury report really feels like Christmas with how much improved the report is and for my sake, a much easier review to write up. While there are minimal injury concerns this week, there are still several players to note and watch for Monday’s contest against the 49ers. This is the first time since Week 10 of the 2019 season against Cleveland where there were not any game day designations prior to the game.

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

Allen has practiced in full this week despite dealing with a minor knee and ankle sprain from the result of a Joey Bosa tackle. Fortunately, he did not suffer worse damage despite how rough the injury originally looked. For more details, check out my article from Tuesday that breaks down why he is also dealing with a knee injury on top of the ankle injury. 

Thankfully he can play through a likely minor MCL sprain with bracing and with an effective tape job he can manage the ankle sprain he’s dealing with to play against the 49ers. He may be limited with running but it doesn’t mean that he won’t be mobile. 

G Jon Feliciano (Foot)

Not much is noted about Feliciano and his foot. He did play in all 62 offensive snaps and didn’t appear to require any medical attention during the game. This could be as simple as he was stepped on and made note of it to the training staff. Feliciano was a full participant all week and considering he’s missed enough games already this season, I didn’t expect him to miss for minor ailments. 

DE Mario Addison (Knee/vet rest)

The details of Addison’s knee injury continue to escape me but he is 33 and requires more time to recover than when he started out. The knee may be a chronic issue at this point and the team may be looking to keep him as fresh as possible and for as long as possible. 

TE/FB Reggie Gilliam (Hamstring)

Gilliam’s first appearance on the injury report with a hamstring isn’t all that concerning as he was limited Thursday and practiced full on Friday & Saturday. This may be something that’s sore, something that he wanted to make the team aware of in case it worsens Monday night. His practice participation suggests that this is minor and not something that should hold him out. 

He continues to see most of his time on special teams with 44% of snaps taken there compared to 10% of snaps on offense. I would say his injury risk is higher with a hamstring injury present, but between those two percentages, that’s only 18 plays. He’s on the field infrequently and that may benefit him, in the long run, to get past this hamstring and off the injury report. 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

It’s unclear if this hamstring is a continuation from the last hamstring strain that cost him two games and the bye week or if this is a new issue. Jones has shown the ability, again and again, to play through injuries and if he is practicing in full, this doesn’t concern me for Monday especially with the extra day of rest. 

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral strain)

After missing two games due to a pectoral injury followed by two ineffective games, Milano was placed on IR to take a full month to recover for the final stretch of the regular season. While at the time of publication, the team has not made any official designation on whether they will activate Milano. They have until Monday at 4 pm to make this designation. I fully expect the Bills to wait until the last second for a competitive advantage. 

The only way we find out sooner is if it’s confirmed that Milano travels with the team as injured reserve players don’t travel on game days. I do expect that Milano gets activated as there are open roster spots for him right now and playing against the 49ers would allow for him to get back up to game speed.

Observed in Thursday’s practice is the fact that he continues to wear his shoulder harness on his left arm which isn’t a surprise. I don’t expect him to get rid of that harness until the end of the season to prevent any further issues. It also appears that may be on a pitch count, similar to what he was on earlier and what the expectations would have been for Jon Feliciano if not for Mitch Morse’s concussion.

I expect the team to adhere to the pitch count and to get back in the swing of things as he prepares for bigger opponents such as the Steelers. 

LB Tyrel Dodson (Hamstring)

Dodson is in the same boat with the roster designation and activation for 4 pm Monday. He continued to work back from his hamstring strain suffered against the Chiefs in Week 6. It’s impossible to determine the grade of the hamstring strain by video but considering he was out for 6 weeks, he may have had a Grade 2. The only reservation I have regarding whether it was is whether the team needed to pull him off IR or kept him there to get fully healthy and he was not needed before that especially when Matt Milano was playing after his return. 

Either way, Dodson should be very close, if not 100%, giving the Bills a much-needed boost at linebacker depth heading into the final stretch of the season. I also believe that Dodson will return due to the open roster spots available. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

DT Harrison Phillips

DE Trent Murphy

TE Lee Smith

*With the health of the team, they may not need to have PS callups, leaving 5 players inactive. 

Looking at the game, there is a lot of money going towards the 49ers making this game a pick ‘em which could be a concern Monday night. While bettors do not decide the games, they are betting on an improving 49ers team from a health standpoint and angry that they cannot play in their own stadium due to local restrictions in California. 

While the fan base waits for a designation for Milano and Dodson, the 49ers are in the same boat with QB Jimmy Garoppolo and TE George Kittle as they are finally eligible to return off injured reserve with their respective injuries. However, the team has not activated their practice window according to reports. The Bills appeared to have dodged a bullet in not seeing those two for this game.

The 49ers will be without reserve CB K’wuan Williams (ankle) and CB Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring) is questionable. While these are not starters, the loss of any depth can be tough to overcome if starters go down with an injury. There are still questions that cannot be answered until 4 pm Monday, but this is the best information that we can go off of right now. 

The Bills have an excellent shot to win this game and move to 9-3 on the season. December is the time of the year where this makes or breaks most teams, I believe the Bills have what it takes in order to end 2020 strong and head into the playoffs ready to make a deep run.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills

2020 Week 12 Bills Injury Preview- Chargers

What’s going on with John Brown? How serious is Cody Ford’s knee injury? Will Tommy Sweeney be alright?

Welcome back everyone! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and got a lot done on the bye week. The Bills benefited greatly from the bye, significantly reducing the number of names on the injury report. In turn, a shorter injury report alters decisions on who needs to play and who needs to rest. Below are the injuries and updates. 

OUT

WR John Brown (Right ankle)

Brown continues to be limited with a right ankle injury sustained in the Week 10 matchup against the Cardinals. This initially appeared to be a medial eversion ankle sprain. He did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday, was projected to not practice Thursday due to Thanksgiving and did not practice Friday. Ultimately he was ruled out before Friday’s practice. 

On Locked on Bills, I was more bullish on Brown playing coming off the bye due to him frequently taking rest days early in the week. I also referenced this Instagram post below that he is making progress with his ankle injury.

On top of that, he did have the week off which could have improved the ability to heal. If this is a medial eversion ankle sprain, Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake had a similar injury which caused him to miss 2 games but he came back to play effectively. Brown could have hypothetically come back following the week off and continue to build off his recent progress. 

I had noted in the postgame review from the Cardinals game that he could miss 1-2 games based on the injury and that he now appears to be trending towards that. I will admit that seeing the Instagram post did give me some false hope with the idea that he could suit up faster, but such is the power of social media.

However, if this ankle is worse than originally thought and it could be or it presents more like a high ankle, then he could be out longer. He could potentially be out next week against the 49ers and questionable against the Steelers. This has been a miserable season for John Brown but the hopes is that he can get right when it really counts.

Update: Brown has since been placed on IR.

G Cody Ford (right ankle/knee)

Ford continued to work back from his latest injury suffered against the Seahawks in Week 9. At the time, it appeared as though he suffered a low inversion ankle sprain when he was clipped from behind by Zack Moss on the scoring play by Tyler Kroft

However, it was reported Friday that Ford would be out for the season with a torn meniscus. It was confirmed that he suffered the injury in practice but it did not specify which side he injured. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network stated that he would be out 3-4 months with a full recovery. I agree with that timeline and outlook.

I have detailed out meniscus injuries in the past which you can read here. Looking at Ford’s previous knee injury from against the Chiefs, I have not found any correlation that shows that previous MCL injuries increase the risk for meniscal tears. A previous MCL injury could increase knee laxity but not associated with meniscal injuries. There is research to support knee laxity contributing to future meniscus tears when associated with previous ACL injuries, but that is more due to the rotational component of the knee that the ACL helps stabilize during movement.

Credit: Physio-pedia.com

This discussion is all based on the idea if he tore the meniscus in the right knee which has not been confirmed. If he suffered this on the left side, then this is a moot point. But I feel it is important to note the possibilities Looking back at his college injury history, there is nothing to suggest that he had previous meniscal issues either. This repair decision is a far better option than trimming or removing pieces of the meniscus because that would contribute to further knee degeneration and possibly a shorter career. If you want to remember what the effects of meniscectomies are, recall former Bills tight end Charles Clay.

Update: Ford has since been placed on IR.

ACTIVE

DE Mario Addison (knee/veteran rest)

Considering Addison is a veteran on the wrong side of 30, it’s not surprising that he shows up on the injury report with a vet rest day. He is also listed as a knee injury which hasn’t been a known issue since prior to Week 4 when he injured it in practice. 

He played in 67% of snaps which was tied with Jerry Hughes for the team lead for defensive end snaps. This may be more of a chronic issue though it’s not known which side he is dealing with. Unless more details are known, this will continue to be monitored with overall little concern. 

DE AJ Epenesa (Concussion)

Epenesa suffered his first documented concussion in Week 10, quickly getting ruled out midway through the game. He quickly entered the concussion protocol and working through the system until getting cleared following Wednesday’s practice. 

His recovery fits the timeline seen for a concussion and there is hope he avoids further injury for the remainder of the season. 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

Jones appears ready to return following a hamstring strain suffered against the Patriots on a kickoff in the 3rd Quarter. He has missed two games plus the bye to recover which has fit the timelines we see for hamstring strains. 

He has had a multitude of injuries over his career and to see him deal with another one isn’t really all that concerning. I had thought that Brandon Beane wanted to get whatever was left in the tank and that may be the case. As he practiced in full, he will be expected to return and contribute on special teams. 

TE Dawson Knox (Hamstring)

Knox was a surprise showing up on the injury report in his first game back from COVID. He played in 70% of the snaps but was generally ineffective. This hamstring injury was not noticed on film and the fact that he’s practicing in full after a week off tells me that it was minor in the first place. Hopefully Knox can put it together in the next few games to show he’s worth keeping around next season. 

CB Josh Norman (Illness)

Honestly not sure why Norman is on the injury report. He’s been cleared off the COVID reserve list and he’s practicing in full. Things like this will have me digging into the intricacies of the injury reporting in the offseason to understand designations like this. 

TE Lee Smith (Illness)

Smith was a DNP Friday due to illness which is why he was on the injury report but that doesn’t appear to be affecting his availability for Sunday. As he has been used sparingly this year, this may not matter but for posterity, I must mention. 

DE Jerry Hughes (Back)

Hughes showed up on the injury report with a back ailment that limited him Wednesday but was projected as full on Thursday and practiced in full on Friday. I’m not certain regarding the specifics as to what he was dealing with but until he has multiple DNP’s or is ruled out prematurely due to an injury, I have faith he will play and continue to produce.

Other Thoughts

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder) 

Allen is finally off the injury report following 6 weeks of full participation from the original shoulder injury. I can say for a fact we have seen more severe injuries get minimal to no time on the injury report. Case in point: Jerry Hughes wrist/groin, Jon Feliciano left shoulder rotator cuff tear, Zay Jones/Taron Johnson torn labrum; those are just off the top of my head. 

Either Josh Allen had fully recovered from his shoulder ailment or it is finally at a point where it is no longer an issue. This is something I still continue to watch in his runs, throws, and what he wears on the shoulder. At this point in the season, if these guys can produce and win games, then that’s all the matters because everyone is hurt in the league. It’s a harsh reality, but it is what it is for those that play in the NFL.

TE Tommy Sweeney (Myocarditis)

Tommy Sweeney never had a chance in 2020. He started off on the PUP list due to a possible stress fracture, spending the entire season on there before getting exposed to and contracting COVID.

Once cleared, he continued to work out but may have been having some issues with his endurance which likely led to a consultation with a cardiologist. Regrettably, he was diagnosed with myocarditis, the first known NFL player afflicted with this condition as the result of COVID. 

Myocarditis is a condition in where the heart muscle itself becomes inflamed, this can also affect the electrical system of the heart as well. This can be the result of a virus, fungi, or bacteria among other things. The problem with inflammation of the heart muscle compared to skeletal muscle is that the heart muscle does not have the regenerative properties that regular muscle has. There is some research that shows some recovery can happen, but at a very slow rate. This is why heart attacks are so tough to come back from, the heart muscle is damaged and does not heal as effectively as skeletal muscle.

So is there damage to Sweeney’s heart? I’m not certain of that and I hope not. But he possibly had been having issues with working out after getting COVID which led to the consultation. The hope is that they caught it early enough and prevented any damage from occurring. Research shows that he will have to stop activities from 3-6 months to allow things to recover fully.

If he were to work through this or had a severe case, he could have suffered heart damage, irregular heart beats, or heart attack/strokes. It is a terrible situation for Sweeney but at least he can access some of the best medical care available to ensure that he can return for 2021. It is far too early to tell how this will affect him but any delay in training could impact him for next season. This will be something to continue to monitor. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

WR John Brown* has been placed on IR

TE Lee Smith

DT Harrison Phillips

RB T.J. Yeldon

G Cody Ford* has been placed on IR

There are currently 52 players on the active roster. Transactions may occur later today which can affect the number of inactives.

Looking at the other side, the Chargers are dealing with their own injuries including the potential return of running back Austin Eckler from a Week 4 hamstring injury. This could drastically change up their running game which has been a point of weakness for the Bills in defending the run. The Chargers will already be without Casey Heyward, Melvin Ingram, and Uchenna Nwosu which the Bills could exploit offensively. Despite their record, they are still a talented team and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had shown he was worth the first round draft pick earlier this year. 

Biased view but I believe the Bills have what it takes to win simply due to overall talent and health. The opportunity to stack wins before playing the Steelers will only help in case COVID hits again or an untimely injury occurs, potentially costing the team a win. A reminder: this is the last regular season game at 1:00 pm on Sunday as the team either plays in prime time or on Saturday the remainder of the season. Simply a result of a successful football team. We’re in the final stretch of the season and I’m looking forward to a potentially deep playoff run to start off 2021.

Top Photo Credit: Bills Wire USA Today

2020 Week 4 Bills Injury Preview- Raiders

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

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

OUT

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (left quadriceps)

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

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

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

QUESTIONABLE

DE Mario Addison (knee)

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

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

RB Zack Moss (toe)

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

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

ACTIVE

WR John Brown (calf/foot)

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

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

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

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

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

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

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

TE Dawson Knox (concussion)

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

T Dion Dawkins (right shoulder)

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

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

S Micah Hyde (left ankle)

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

DT Quinton Jefferson (foot)

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

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

DT Ed Oliver (right knee)

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

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

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

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

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

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

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

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

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

Inactives:

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

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

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

Top Photo Credit:

Chris Benoit Facebook/Nate Mendelson Twitter

DE Mario Addison Injury Profile

#97 Mario Addison

Position: DE
Height/Weight: 6’3”/260
College: Troy
Year joined Bills: 2020
Acquired: Free Agency from Panthers

College Injuries:

TBD

Pro Injuries:

2011 Bears/Colts:

No publicly reported injuries.

2012 Colts/Washington/Panthers:

No publicly reported injuries

2013 Panthers:

No publicly reported injuries.

2014 Panthers:

Foot injury, Week 13, missed 0 games.

2015 Panthers:

Shoulder injury, Week 7, missed 1 game. Torn labrum requiring corrective surgery in offseason.

Ankle injury, Week 12, missed 1 game.

2016 Panthers:

Groin strain, Week 8, missed 0 games

Foot injury, Week 11, missed 2 games

2017 Panthers:

Knee injury, Week 4, missed 0 games.

Hip injury, Week 15, missed 0 games.

2018 Panthers:

Shoulder injury, Week 9, missed 0 games.

2019 Panthers:

Groin injury, Week 13, missed 0 games.

Chest injury, Week 14, missed 0 games.

2020 Bills:

Knee injury, occurred during practice week, missed Friday practice prior to Week 4, missed 0 games.

Knee injury, Week 10, missed 0 games.

General links:

Buffalo Rumblings DE Mario Addison Injury History

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Defensive End

Will Hughes continue to stay healthy & productive?

This is Part 7 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 7 consists of the defensive end room.

Not Returning

DE Shaq Lawson 

15 games, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 6.5 sacks, 32 combined tackles, 21 solo, 11 assisted, 13 TFL, 18 QB hits

Lawson finally had his breakout year after being drafted as a 1st round pick back in 2016 that forced the Bills to make a business decision on whether to keep him in 2020. Fortunately for Lawson, he was allowed to walk in where he signed a sizable contract with the rival Miami Dolphins in the hopes of building off his career year. 

He was able to have a stellar year by not having to deal with many injuries which was a stark change from previous seasons. In fact, his only injury was a left hamstring strain late in the Patriots loss just prior to the playoffs. He got up from celebrating a tackle for loss and appeared to tweak the hamstring. It appeared to be minor & forced him from the regular-season finale, but allowed him to play in the playoffs. For his sake, hopefully, he is able to continue to stay healthy & develop as a player. 

Players Returning

DE Jerry Hughes

16 games, 16 starts, 3 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery, 4.5 sacks, 23 combined tackles, 14 solo, 9 assisted, 6 TFL, 9 QB hits

Jerry Hughes is a beast. Simply put, he is a player with a high motor and gives everything he has to the Bills in order to be the best. This includes playing through multiple injuries that would sideline most players. 

Below is Hughes injuries:

    • Right wrist ligament tears

Hughes suffered a right wrist injury early in training camp, possibly in the victory over the Panthers in the preseason. It wasn’t reported as much and he played the entire season with a cast/brace on the wrist, never appearing on the injury report.

Following the season, he announced that he had played through torn ligaments in the wrist which landed the Bills in hot water momentarily. They were cleared of any wrongdoing and Hughes eventually had surgery which was detailed here. He should be fully healthy for the season regarding his wrist. To read more on the wrist injury, check out the article at Banged Up Bills.

    • Ankle

He also suffered an ankle injury around the same time he suffered his wrist injury. He was limited briefly and the ankle was never mentioned again. It was also not known which side he suffered the injury.

    • Groin (core muscle injury)

Showing up on the injury report during Week 7 was a groin injury for Hughes. While groin injuries at his position are not abnormal, the fact that he played through a core muscle injury that later required surgery was. It is common to play through a core muscle injury and have it appear similar to a generalized groin strain. 

Likely, it did not heal up properly and during an exit physical, it was found and needed repair. Most core muscle injury repairs have excellent outcomes and he did get the procedure done at the Vincera Institute outside of Philadelphia where one of the nation’s doctors routinely performs these procedures. Like the wrist, the groin injury should be of no concern moving forward. 

    • Hamstrings

This injury was not listed on any injury reports nor was it a concern during the 2019 season. The only reason this was brought up was due to Hughes mentioning it in an Instagram post noting that his hamstrings were 100%.

He has had previous hamstring strains dating back several years, but none severe enough to have him miss a game. Most of the adductors that attach to the groin where Hughes had his core muscle surgery assist with lateral movement but the adductor magnus in that group has different parts of the muscle. One portion assists with flexion of the hip, the other assists with hip extension, the same motion that the hamstrings perform. 

adductor-magnus-muscle-plain-1
Credit: Yoganatomy.com

This is just a theory, but it’s possible that Hughes was having hamstring issues related to the core muscle injury by aggravating that muscle group during play. This would explain why he said the hamstrings are 100%. There is also the possibility that he did have a hamstring strain that he played through or suffered during the playoff loss to the Texans. 

Hughes is a lock to make the roster but all the years of playing through injury compounded with the demands of the position do concern me that he will begin to decline in production or be forced to end his iron man streak due to injury. 

DE Darryl Johnson 

16 games, 1 sack, 11 combined tackles, 6 solo, 5 assisted, 2 TFL, 2 QB hits

Rookie Darryl Johnson had a solid preseason that prevented the Bills from sneaking him onto the practice squad following cut down day. He made the roster as a 7th round pick and quickly found himself in the defensive end rotation early on. 

Unfortunately, that lack of experience playing in the NFL caught up with him and mistakes began to become apparent. He quickly lost playing time as the season progressed and more of his focus was on special teams. Thankfully, he did not suffer many known injuries which allowed him to get through the 16 game grind.

Below is Johnson’s known injuries:

    • Neck 

Johnson suffered a generalized neck strain/sprain during the win over the Giants back in Week 2. He completed a tackle and his neck was snapped forcefully backward as he was falling. He was attended to by trainers but never showed up on the injury report the following week. 

This appeared to be a minor injury and he didn’t appear limited the rest of the season injury-wise. While Johnson has an excellent shot to make the roster, his spot is far from guaranteed due to the talent brought in this offseason. 

DE Trent Murphy 

16 games, 16 starts, 5 sacks, 36 total tackles, 24 solo, 9 assisted, 9 QB hits

Murphy finally started to come around in 2019 after a trying 2018 in which he admittedly rushed back following his ACL tear when he was with the Redskins. While his numbers don’t exactly jump off the sheet, especially considering the money he is being paid, he is still an NFL-caliber defensive end. Fortunately for Murphy, he had significantly fewer injuries than 2018 which was a strong reason why his play improved.

Below is Murphy’s known injury history:

    • Concussion

Murphy suffered a concussion in the win over the Titans in Week 5. He was attempting to close in on a tackle before he received friendly fire, colliding with Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander. He was evaluated for a head injury and his day was done early in the 4th quarter. Thankfully, he did not miss any time due to the well-timed bye placement.

    • Left shoulder/neck

He suffered a left shoulder/neck injury during the Redskins game when he had a pile of bodies fall upon him when he got sucked into the middle of a routine run play. He required medical assessment in the blue tent but was able to return quickly, indicating it was not a big issue.

Murphy has a great shot at making the roster but has fallen out of favor with the fans due to lack of production when compared to the contact. Trading him would make the most sense, but due to the uncertainty of the upcoming season, he may be beneficial to hold onto in case of injury or poor play by a fellow defensive end. Healthwise, he should not have any major concerns outside of continued concussions which are a risk for everyone playing football. 

DE Mike Love

Spent 2019 on IR with a pectoral injury

Love had a strong end to 2018, appearing in 3 games and realizing his dream of playing in the NFL. 2019 training camp came and Love began to make a strong case why he should make the team out of training camp. Unfortunately, in the 2nd half of the Lions preseason game, Love partially tore his left pectoral attempting to make a special teams tackle. He was placed on IR prior to roster cut down day and had resulting surgery shortly afterward. With the uncertain future of both DE Shaq Lawson & Trent Murphy, it’s very possible that Love makes this squad next season as a key linchpin in the dominating defense. To read more on Love’s injury, check out Buffalo Rumblings.

New to the roster

DE Mario Addison

Addison continues the trend of Carolina Panthers coming up north to work with a familiar system & extend their careers. Addison is older & has been incredibly productive during his time in the league. There is hope that he continues that trend with the Bills as they look to replace Shaq Lawson. On top of that, Addison comes to the Bills relatively healthy with details found at Buffalo Rumblings.

DE Bryan Cox Jr.

Despite the name, Bryan Cox Jr isn’t the same athlete as his father was. A slew of collegiate injuries torpedoed his chances at getting drafted and Cox Jr has had his difficulties finding a consistent spot on a roster. His time with the Panthers allowed him to develop as a professional but he soon found himself on the street before signing with the Browns in 2019. 

Ideally, a new start with Buffalo will allow him to make the team & establish himself as a consistent option at defensive end as the position begins to turn over. To read more on his injuries, check out Banged Up Bills.

DE AJ Epenesa

Epenesa, the first pick for the Bills in the 2020 draft slid down to the 2nd round which provided Buffalo some value in the pick despite not having a first-round selection. He comes to the Bills as a highly regarded end who can demonstrate strong abilities to rush the passer but also move inside to provide pressure up the middle. In addition, Epenesa has virtually no injuries save for a broken leg in high school. To read up on his injury history, check out Buffalo Rumblings.

DE Johnathan Woodard

Woodard comes to Buffalo as possibly his last chance at finding an NFL home. He reportedly tore his Achilles during training workouts several years ago which certainly stunted his growth over time. He has bounced around from Jacksonville to Atlanta to Miami. He eventually stuck with Miami for 2 years before finding a home in Buffalo. For more information, check out this article at Banged Up Bills.

2020 Outlook

The returning talent along with new signings helps pave the way for turnover in the defensive end room. Most everyone comes with some sort of injuries, but the effectiveness of this unit will depend on the cohesiveness of the players along with Jerry Hughes’s health. There is also concern with Addison as he is getting older, entering his age-33 season. 

Hughes, Addison, Epenesa, and either Johnson or Murphy appear to be locked on this roster. If Johnson or Murphy fails to show the team their worth, there is a possibility one or the other could be looking for a new home quickly. Cox Jr, Woodard, & Love all have a shot to make the roster but will have to unseat Johnson or Murphy in order to make that happen. There are little injury concerns moving forward in 2020 with the exception of Jerry Hughes staying intact. If everyone stays healthy & available, this could be a very effective unit. 

Buffalo Bills & NFL Draft Recap

Recapping the past two months worth of work for your reading pleasure.

Hey there Bills fans! After a long hiatus at Banged Up Bills, I am back with content as we continue to navigate this offseason during the pandemic. As I had said in a previous article, I would only be posting if there was breaking news. During that time, I had been feverishly working with Cover 1 writing up injury draft analysis. I have also been writing up injury reviews for Buffalo Rumblings post draft for our newest Buffalo Bills. 

As I write for my own site, Cover 1, & Buffalo Rumblings, it can be hard to track all the work I did unless you scour the Twitter feed on the side of the webpage. So to make it easy, below are all the newest Bills draft picks and free-agent signings for your reading pleasure. I have also included all my Cover 1 articles, two of the current Bills in Trey Adams & Zack Moss. 

Buffalo Rumblings 

DE A.J. Epenesa 

RB Zack Moss 

WR Gabriel Davis 

QB Jake Fromm

K Tyler Bass

WR Isaiah Hodgins

CB Dane Jackson

S Garrett Taylor

OT Trey Adams

FB Reggie Gilliam

 

Free Agent Signings

OL Garrett McGhin

OL Evan Boehm

CB E.J. Gaines

OT Daryl Williams

DT Vernon Butler

DE Mario Addison

DT Quinton Jefferson

LB Tyler Matakevich

LB A.J. Klein

WR Stefon Diggs

RB Taiwan Jones

CB Josh Norman

 

Cover 1

QB Tua Tagovailoa

EDGE Anfernee Jennings

EDGE Terrell Lewis

OT Trey Adams

CB Bryce Hall

OT Netane Muti

RB Zack Moss

S Antoine Winfield Jr.

LB Justin Strnad

LB Markus Bailey

OT Lucas Niang

WR Bryan Edwards

TE Jacob Breeland

WR Laviska Shenault

 

Podcasts

All Things Buffalo Bills Ep.9 

Locked On Bills 4/1/20

Rockpile Report Episode 189

Continue to check back for more injury history reports on the newest Bills signings as we slog through the offseason. Also, continue looking for position injury recaps as training camp approaches.