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!!

Phase 3 OTA Week 1 Recap

Assessing the latest injuries following the first week of Phase 3 of OTA’s.

In an offseason that appeared to be going well for the Bills with lots of new faces, a promising outlook, and possible long lasting stability, a jarring reality set in on Day 2. Tuesday brought a wide variety of injury news, some good, mostly bad that puts worry into every Bills fan even though it is May.

The most serious injury of OTA’s came in newly signed TE Tyler Kroft (foot). Unfortunately, he suffered a foot fracture on the first day which will require surgery. Regrettably, this is the same foot that he fractured last year that cost him 11 games. According to Ian Rapaport, this will sideline him for up to 3-4 months. While this is bad news, it’s not totally awful. The 3-4 months recovery timeline tells us several things. This tells us that this injury wasn’t as serious as it could have been. This rules out a Lisfranc as a conservative recovery would be 6 months.

We know that it’s not trauma or a stress fracture as trauma most likely would have been reported and a stress fracture wouldn’t require immediate surgery. This leads us to several possibilities. He could have had an avulsion fracture in where a portion of the bone is pulled away from the bone. He could have a metatarsal fracture in any of the long toe bones of the foot. Or he could have a Jones fracture.

Considering he injured the same foot last year, had surgery, and then fractured again, I am leaning towards the Jones fracture. It’s a surgery that requires stabilization with a screw, it has a known failure rate after the first surgery, and the timeline fits with the reported recovery time. The mechanism of injury is similar to an ankle sprain which can be rather innocent when dealing with positional drills, someone tweaks their ankle, steps funny, pushes off differently. Kroft most likely woke up the next day having issues, had imaging, and found out the bad news.

While he is still a near lock to make the roster, losing him for 3-4 months will allow some of the younger tight ends to get more reps and make the roster. Kroft will likely start the preseason on the PUP list, possibly paving the way to allow someone to get some playing time in place during the preseason. If he is on PUP at the start of the regular season, he wouldn’t be able to return until Week 6 when he is eligible. By then, there could be corresponding roster moves such as injury or insufficient play from other players which may prevent having to cut another TE before the regular season. This designation would also not count against an IR-to-return spot.

Others coming off injury are RB Frank Gore (foot/ankle) and RB TJ Yeldon (groin). There has been a documented injury for Gore at the end of last season which sent him to IR. There has been no known surgeries, but considering that Gore is ancient in NFL terms and these practices are voluntary, it’s an easy out to not participate in drills.

As for Yeldon, he may have tweaked something early on and decided to avoid making things worse rather than trying to go through meaningless drills. For both backs, there is no concern moving forward unless new information comes to light.

Many became worried with the revelation that both newly signed C Mitch Morse and WR Cole Beasley required core stabilization surgery, better known as a sports hernia repair. This is the same type of injury that infamous Bills CB Vontae Davis suffered 2 seasons ago. I detailed his injury when he originally signed with the team, make sure to click the link above for more information. While there is concern that they may not be ready for Week 1, it was revealed that they had their surgery several weeks ago with a general recovery timeline of roughly 12 weeks.

Both could certainly come back sooner than that based on the amount of damage in the region, but having surgery in April gives them a return to full ability in July. These injuries do unfortunately happen considering the positional requirements throughout the season but are able to play through. While there is always concerns for complications, the return to play rate is ~90% for NFL players, I do not expect anything less for Morse and Beasley.

Others nicked up include S Rafael Bush (groin/shoulder) and CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Bush was seen wearing a red non-contact jersey alongside Johnson, but considering these workouts are voluntary, he may be just be cautious as he was dealing with a groin injury last season, according to research by Nick Wojton. Bush also did suffer a shoulder injury last season that may have lingered to the point where he didn’t want to risk anything and could be the true cause of why he was sitting out OTA’s.

Johnson is coming off his labral repair and has made excellent progress to this point. Considering he is 5.5 months out from surgery, he is able to participate in drills but contact is not advised yet, he’ll be ready come training camp. To read more, please check out the article here from Buffalo Rumblings.

Rookie WR David Sills V (hamstring) suffered a hamstring strain in rookie mini camp, these injuries occur despite the best preventative methods out there. He just needs rest and rehab. TE Jason Croom (undisclosed) was seen walking with a trainer, dealing with something, but no further information has come out regarding what he injured.

Finally, C Russell Bodine (shoulder) did not participate in OTA’s as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. I had noted last year that he was wearing a compression sleeve later in the season. He most likely had a shoulder debridement, possible subacromial decompression. This would be similar to what Panthers QB Cam Newton had recently. The procedure would smooth down any arthritic changes in the shoulder or trim back the acromion which could cause impingement leading to weakness, pain, and possible further complications with the rotator cuff if left untreated. He is also coming off a broken fibula requiring surgery that appears to fully healed. Regarding both injuries, he will be fine for camp and this is not worth any further words.

Players that suffered injuries last season that practiced in full were LB Matt Milano (ankle), P Corey Bojorquez (shoulder), and P Cory Carter (knee). Milano is coming off his gruesome fibula fracture with dislocation practicing in full. He appears to be on schedule and working back into football shape as expected.

Bojorquez suffered a torn labrum last season on his bonehead fake FG attempt, he was practicing in full and his shoulder won’t give any issues as he likely had surgery in October and he doesn’t take the regular contact or use the shoulder in a way that Taron Johnson would.

Carter is coming off his ACL tear that cost him all of 2018 due to a direct blow to the knee. He is roughly 9 months out from surgery and should be cleared to resume full activities. There is less concern for him returning from the injury than we saw last year with DE Trent Murphy.

Despite all the doom and gloom of Tuesday, there are still positives to take away as they still have 3 months before a meaningful snap is taken. All will be fine. We will also get to see more action on the 28th which will give us some glimpses into what the mandatory minicamp participation will be like. I believe most of these injuries will not be mentioned in June.

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 14 Bills Injury Review- Jets II

Breaking down the latest Bills injuries following Sunday’s loss to the Jets.

Back to back tough losses really take the wind out of the Bills sails and drops them to 4-9. This was the 3rd loss this season where the Bills had the game in hand but were unable to secure the win. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, we knew that they were going to take a step back this year. However, the mark of a good team is the ability to finish games and beat the teams you should beat. This wasn’t one of those times. Hopefully the Bills can learn from this season and transition into more consistent wins next season. Sunday’s loss also marked one of the most injury riddled days in recent memory and the most since I began this site. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained and what significance they have moving forward.

Starting off with the most serious injury, LB Matt Milano (fibula) suffered an ankle dislocation and fracture late in the 4th quarter at the goal line. This was the result of QB Sam Darnold attempting to dive into the end zone, landing on the back of Milano’s heel, firmly planting the foot in the turf. As the foot is planted, Milano is hit from behind by S Jordan Poyer and Darnold’s body being in the way prevents Milano from falling naturally, instead twisting to the left and snapping his fibula which is the outer portion of the ankle. I had retweeted a rather graphic picture of Milano’s ankle twisted 180 degrees with his heel facing where his toes should be. Thankfully, the tibia, which is the shin bone, was spared due to twisting to the left instead of the right. The ankle broke on what I can only assume based on video is the lower portion of the fibula which is the outside portion of the ankle. There is fairly significant ligament damage based on the twisting but can and will heal up due to the ankle being reduced or put back into place on the field and the ankle will be immobilized for some time due to surgery. Below is a picture of a fractured fibula, though not exactly represented as how Milano’s may look on x-ray.

Ankle Fx Pre-op.jpg
Credit: ankleandfootnorthwest.com

A lot of chatter on Twitter has been discussed over the Bodine injury compared to the Milano injury. Both injured the same bone but the severity is starkly different. Bodine will be back before Milano in regards to healing and normalcy due to Bodine’s fracture was fairly simple; he suffered a break, there was no dislocation or what appeared to be associated damage to the area. He just required surgery to set the bone and stabilize it in order to heal. Milano’s injury was more severe due to the corresponding ligament damage in the area. He will be immobilized and non-weightbearing post surgery, but as a result of the immobilization with the ligament damage, the ankle will become very tight due to the scarring down of the healing ligaments. This limited range of motion this will require further stretching and rehab interventions to address the tightness coming out of the surgery to regain the mobility required for his position. However, the timelines are still similar with rehab and recovery with the difference being weeks vs months in regards to return in comparison to Bodine vs Milano. I still expect Milano to take between 6-9 months to fully recover, but I’ll take the low side of that recovery which makes him possibly ready to participate in OTA’s.

The most comparable Bills injury is that of RB Travaris Cadet who suffered a similar injury late last year but was able to return in time for training camp. The only difference between the two players is that Cadet was a fringe roster player buried on the RB depth chart and couldn’t make the team. However, he was able to return to full health as evidence in his participation in training camp.

The other significant injury is RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring). Shady suffered a hamstring strain during the first offensive series against the Jets and was initially questionable to return, later downgraded to out. He appeared to pull his hamstring on a 6 yard gain right before the first Bills TD by QB Josh Allen. There was not anything specific regarding the injury; he did cut hard to his right before taking a step forward and going down. He was observed at one point running on the sidelines and cutting to test it out, but it appeared that he was not ready to return Sunday.

Hamstrings are tricky because they range in severity and affect each position differently. With McCoy’s skill set, as poor as it’s been this year, that hamstring is still more vital to his abilities than let’s say an offensive lineman. The veteran running back has since been listed as day-to-day by the team and has had an MRI to determine severity. This tells me that this is most likely a moderate Grade 1 strain. Yes I am splitting hairs here but they performed an MRI which in my observation is only reserved if the physical assessment is not matching up with typical physical examination. Day-to-day indicates that he will be limited with the possibility of playing next Sunday. However, we have seen this wording used in the past and interpreted to eventually missing some time. Typically we are not seeing players who suffer a strain come back this quickly.  But since there is a muscle tear as all strains are classified, once he rests, the muscle does tighten up and the inflammation process begins which limits his abilities. I’m going to be conservative and say he misses next week against the Lions because it’s a game that doesn’t mean anything and Shady has been absolutely been beat up this year, so a week off will only help.

Other players sustaining injuries include RB Chris Ivory (shoulder), WR Robert Foster (right thigh) WR Isaiah McKenzie (left ankle) OL Jordan Mills (left knee), CB Levi Wallace (left ankle), CB Ryan Lewis (concussion), and K Stephen Hauschka (hip/back). Ivory suffered a left shoulder injury running through the linebackers and secondary, landing hard on his left shoulder after being taken down for an 8 yard gain, appearing to favor his left shoulder coming off. If you recall, he suffered what I believed to be a left AC joint sprain back in Week 9 during a failed goal line plunge. He may have aggravated this injury again as he was slowed down and then fell hard to the turf onto the left shoulder and potentially re-spraining the area. He may also be another guy who misses a week, but he would be more likely to play Sunday than McCoy. Overall, AC joint sprains heal on their own with rehab and rest and only require surgery in the event that there is significant trauma to the area.

Foster and McKenzie got banged up on back to back plays at the end of the first half. Upon video review, McKenzie landed awkwardly on his left foot, appearing to tweak his ankle trying to haul in a pass from QB Josh Allen; this occurred with 1:26 left in the 2nd quarter. He was able to return and finish out the game. I would suspect this is nothing more than at most a mild ankle sprain that will may end up on the injury report but should not slow him for next Sunday as he was able to return very quickly after the injury. He did come into the game questionable with a toe injury but this does not appear to be related to the injury he suffered Sunday.

As for Foster, he got hurt on the very next play after hauling in a 17 yard pass from Allen before taking a very hard shot into his right thigh area that drove him out of bounds. This injury appears to be a contusion at worst as he was able to return quickly. He may be dealing with some soreness and may be limited in practice Wednesday, but this also appears to be an injury that should not keep him out Sunday as he has become a vital piece to the limited WR corps.

OL Jordan Mills suffered a left knee injury performing what appeared to be a chop block though he was withering in pain immediately after the play which required training staff to assess his knee. He was able to return the next offensive series and finish out the game. My best assessment is that he came down on his knee hard and he suffered a mild contusion. Mills has had several injuries similar to this this past season in where he goes down, needs to come off, and then quickly returns. I can’t even classify this as an injury per se, sometimes things hurt when you hit a certain way. No concerns for next Sunday.

CB Ryan Lewis suffered a blow to the head which was later diagnosed as a concussion late in the 2nd quarter. We have seen most of the younger players return from concussions quicker than older players such as QB Derek Anderson, but each concussion continues to be unique and only time will tell how Lewis responds while in the concussion protocol. Far too early to tell whether he will be available Sunday.

CB Levi Wallace suffered an odd looking left ankle injury early in the 3rd quarter. He began to suddenly stop and planted hard on his left leg, the ankle buckled as he attempted to pivot and assisted in taking down the ball carrier. I do not believe that he suffered any major injury to the area, coming off may have been more precaution to further assess the injury after the play. He was able to return after several plays and finish out the game. With his stellar play this year, we can not afford to lose anymore players in the secondary in order to finish this season. He should be available for Sunday.

Finally, K Stephen Hauschka (low back/hip) suffered a cheapest of cheap shots by Jets DE Henry Anderson after the blocked FG on the last play in the 2nd quarter. Hauschka was blindsided when he got hit, unfortunately he was unable to react properly and came down hard on his right hip and potentially jarring his back. It was reported that he had x-rays to assess for any damage but based on the hit, it appears as though he suffered a hip pointer injury. An injury such as this is basically a bruise to the bony portion of the hip that is about where most of our pants sit at on our waist. The reason this is so painful is because there are so many muscles that attach to this area which in turn affect how the core muscles perform along with the hip musculature especially with him being a right footed kicker.

The blindside hit clearly affected his ability to kick as he missed a FG try later on in the game and appeared to be limping at times afterward. This is an injury that does not appear to be long term nor should affect him next week due to the limited need of his position. We have also not had any reports that kickers were being brought in which indicates that this is not a severe issue which should make him available for Sunday.

Overall, a very rough day from an injury standpoint. The only silver lining is that we are out of the playoff race which makes these injuries hurt less. The benefit to these injuries now is that all these won’t be long term and allow all to be ready by training camp barring any setbacks or new injuries over the next several weeks.

As a result of all these injuries, the team will have some new faces in the starting lineup. LB Julian Stanford will be starting in place of Milano, RB Marcus Murphy may get the start if Ivory can’t go and RB Keith Ford may be brought up from the practice squad to backup Murphy. This is the time of year that is great for the front office to find out who else they want to keep for next year by seeing how they do in game action now. We know this roster will have more turnover next year; might as well get familiar with some new faces with the idea that they are here next training camp.

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 12 Bills Injury Preview- Jaguars

Read on the latest injuries coming off the bye as the Bills get ready to face the Jaguars.

I hope you all enjoyed your week free of Bills football along with Thanksgiving! As a devoted Bills fan, make sure you are recharged and ready to hunker down to take on the last 6 games of this season. This season has been a dramatic step back from last season’s successes and while it is tough to see that the Bills lose more than they win, they are still building towards something greater than the 2018 season. Regardless of outcomes, I do I enjoy watching the Bills every Sunday and today’s post will review the injuries going into the Jaguars game.

Those coming off injury from the Jets game include LB Matt Milano (concussion) & CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Milano has cleared the concussion protocol and practiced in full which is an excellent sign and should continue his stellar 2nd season as an integral part of the defense. As for Johnson, unfortunately suffered another injury to his right shoulder in where he continues to sublux/dislocate his shoulder during direct blows to the area. He was observed to not wearing his shoulder harness during the Jets game which reduces the shoulder movement in order to limit dislocation which may have resulted in the most recent re-injury. The direct hits to the shoulder continue to dislodge the humerus from the socket, causing pain, weakness, and limited strength. This in turn has caused him to miss short stretches of the season. This is something that he will continue to play through until he feels he cannot anymore or until the end of the season, whichever comes first. He was limited in practice this week and will continue to play at less than 100% until he gets surgery to correct the problem. To note, we have full confirmation of his shoulder injury based on GM Brandon Beane’s appearance on One Bills Live this afternoon, outlined in this tweet here. I expect that Johnson will still suit up come Sunday.

Others practicing in full include RB Chris Ivory (shoulder) and QB Josh Allen (elbow). Ivory was dealing with a left AC joint sprain that caused him to miss the Jets game after suffering the injury during the loss to the Bears. He should have no limitations on Sunday and relieves RB LeSean McCoy as a change of pace back. Allen has been a big talking point when it comes to injury this season, missing 4 games due to the sprained right UCL suffered in the loss to the Texans. He has progressed as expected; Allen himself has reported that his elbow continues to feel better and news reports are showing him making all his passes without obvious compensation. Interestingly, he is still wearing a brace on his right elbow which does concern me, but he may play with the bracing on the elbow as he may be comfortable with the throwing motion with it on. I would prefer to see him play without it, but the medical staff knows best and will ensure that he will minimize re-injury. The only benefit to the brace would be to provide protection in case of a direct blow to the area. While he could re-injure it throwing, the chances are significantly reduced as he has given himself an appropriate time to heal to where he is able to play at a high level. He may not be 100% healed but enough that the medical staff feels he can perform without causing further injury. 

Others limited in practice include: C Russell Bodine (shoulder), QB Derek Anderson (concussion), and DE Trent Murphy (knee). I am not sure what Bodine did to his shoulder as he did not appear to require medical attention during the Jets game but this could be an injury sustained in a previous game with re-aggravation or could be a new injury. Until we have more information, I cannot even speculate what he is dealing with.

Anderson continues to battle back from the concussion sustained late in the 4th quarter of the Patriots loss on MNF. He has been slowly working his way back into shape with his limited designation, but is clearly not ready yet. Based on being limited, he appears to be in Stage 3-4 of the concussion protocol, allowing him to go through sport specific activities and perform aerobic activities. Unfortunately, he has since been ruled out for Sunday’s game, dealing with concussion symptoms for nearly a month now. While this is atypical from what we usually see during a concussion recovery, this would be considered normal for concussion management outside of the NFL as not all concussions are mild with a quick turnaround time. Hopefully he continues to improve and help Josh Allen develop.

Murphy continues to battle back from injury after injury. The latest injury is a right MCL sprain suffered halfway through the 4th quarter in the loss to the Colts. He has since missed 3 games and is slow to return but the vibe is that he will be ready come Sunday to help contain the rushing attack. The veteran DE has had 4 weeks to fully recover which is within the expected recovery times for an MCL injury. With his recent injury history, the Bills training staff were not in a position to rush him back and cause further complaints.

Those not practicing are TE Charles Clay (hamstring) and DE Shaq Lawson   (elbow). Clay pulled his hamstring running a route early in the Bears game and was unable to return. He since missed the Jets game and right now could potentially miss the Jaguars game. Lawson suffered an elbow injury during practice early in the week which makes it nearly impossible to diagnose. Reports indicate that he tweaked his elbow and is considered day-to-day. Until we get further information, I will not speculate as to what he is dealing with at the moment. 

Overall, while the list does look long, with QB Derek Anderson ruled out, TE Charles Clay is doubtful, and those questionable include: C Russell Bodine, CB Taron Johnson, DE Shaq Lawson, and DE Trent Murphy. Clay will not play and even if he somehow suits up, he will not be effective. Those questionable that I expect to play are Murphy and Johnson. We do not know whether Bodine or Lawson are ready to play based on the fact that we do not know the extent of their injuries. If they do indeed sit out, this fits with the roughly 50% of questionable’s not playing this year. I do have a feeling Lawson will be available.

With injuries beginning to take their toll, this is also the time of year where we begin to see players go on IR quickly if they have an injury that will take longer to heal than the remainder of the season so that the team can roster healthy players or guys they want to take a longer look at in game action. Do not be surprised if we see players such as QB Derek Anderson and CB Taron Johnson go on IR in the near future so they can fully address their medical complaints in order to be healthy next season.

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

Week 10 Bills Injury Review- Jets

Analyzing the latest Bills injuries following the beat down of the Jets and how the roster looks going into the bye.

This team, one week you’re ready to swear them off for good, next week, can’t get enough. What a complete win by the Bills over the Jets 41-10 to move to 3-7 sliding into the much needed bye week! There are so many positives coming out Sunday’s game, I will leave that to the pundits who know football more than I do to diagram the X’s and O’s. It was a fun win and reassures me that there is talent on the team, the coaching staff does have a plan, and hopefully next year they begin to bring personnel in to turn their grand plans into solid results. However, I am always here to assess the injuries sustained in the blowout and how they affect the Bills going into the Jaguars game two weeks from now.

Going in chronological order of injuries, starting off with WR Robert Foster (thumb). The rookie wide out sustained some type of left thumb injury early in the 1st quarter which required an assessment by trainers. At one point he was questionable to return, eventually returning to haul a huge pass from QB Matt Barkley in the 3rd quarter and finish with 105 yards on the day. As to the specific injury, he may have suffered a dislocated thumb.  He was observed going to the locker room with a trainer stabilizing the left hand at the carpometacarpal joint which is the lower portion of the thumb that connects to the wrist. While that does sound nasty, it is relatively minor. My guess is he somehow injured it on the fake punt play, it appeared he may have hit his thumb against a Jets defender coming down with the ball or he suffered it where there is no video available. In the event of a thumb dislocation, the thumb would be reduced and put back into place, he would be fitted with a thumb spica which is a small brace which would allow him some mobility to the area but reduce further injury. Foster was wearing gloves on both of his hands which prevent us from identifying if there is bracing under for support next time we got a close up. As he was able to return to the game, the week off should be good enough to allow him to heal effectively.

DE Jerry Hughes suffered a right knee injury during a tackle in the backfield and was able to walk off midway through the 2nd quarter. Upon review, he was pivoting up on his toe and rotating to the left, the mechanism suggested a minor MCL sprain but Hughes was observed jumping around and shaking his knee out, also grabbing at the front of the knee. He also did come down hard on the knee which then we are considering a contusion to the area which would explain the limping. Either way, he was able to return and continue to provide pressure on QB Josh McCown all day. The injury appeared to be minor and something that does not concern me moving forward.

CB Taron Johnson (shoulder) exited the game once again midway in the 2nd quarter and did not return. It appears that he suffered a re-aggravation of his right shoulder injury he has been dealing with all season. It is quite possible he subluxed the shoulder once again despite bracing to the affected area, though I was not able to see him wearing it Sunday. He suffered the injury on a hard tackle midway through the second quarter, tackling the offensive player with his left shoulder, and coming down hard on his right. After the play he was able to move it around, giving several high fives after shaking it out briefly. Interestingly, despite the upbeat activity after the play, Johnson did not return to the game which makes me suspect a subluxation as there is already laxity in the joint from previous injury. This means that less force is required to disrupt the joint, leading to easier and easier injures. This is something that he has experienced previously and may require rest and rehab in order to get ready for Week 12. It may be realistic that the Bills shut him down later this season if he continues to re-injure the area so that he can have surgery and be ready for OTA’s.

OG John Miller suffered what appeared to be a right knee injury on the scoring play by WR Zay Jones late in the 3rd quarter. Video is limited but he was pancaked and rolled back onto his own leg, appearing to twist his knee going down. He was able to walk off with a minor limp but yet another injury that does not appear to be serious. In the event that he needs to sit out any time, the coaching staff have been working in additional lineman to find the right scheme fits to spring the running game which appeared to be the case Sunday.

The most serious injury of the day is LB Matt Milano (head). The stalwart linebacker suffered a hard hit early in the 4th quarter that snapped his neck to the left upon contact with Milano going down instantly. It is unknown whether he lost consciousness but he was eventually able to stand up and enter the medical tent. On broadcast and initially getting up, he was favoring his left arm which may indicate that he suffered a stinger based on how he hit and the angle of his head/neck upon impact, but the more concerning injury is the blow to the head. He was eventually brought to the locker room for further evaluation but looking at video, there is cause for concern with a concussion. Whether he actually sustained one is not known yet, but in the event that he did, he will enter the concussion protocol as QB Derek Anderson is currently working through. Time will tell how he responds and hopefully he is cleared as he is having another standout season after a stellar rookie campaign.

Those that were questionable today going into the game were LB Tremaine Edmunds (concussion) and WR Andre Holmes (neck). Both appeared to play with full effectiveness and did not appear to be limited in their availability during Sunday’s win. I do not anticipate that they will continue to deal with their recent complaints and use the bye to rest up.

Overall, the Bills are in good shape going into the bye. While they are missing a lot of starters now, everyone with the exception of QB Derek Anderson appear to be ready to come back 100%. After the performance of QB Matt Barkley, there is question whether he should continue playing or to hand the reins over to QB Josh Allen. If Allen is 100%, play him and see what he can do. If there is any lingering issues which are possible considering the injury, rest him until he has no complaints or concerns. Barkley will eventually get figured out by opposing defenses which supports the idea that Allen should start, but at least the Bills have options moving forward. Personally, I would like to see Barkley or Allen starting Week 12 against the Jaguars, Anderson tutoring Allen as the 3rd QB, and QB Nathan Peterman cut and brought back on the practice squad to develop and be available if things go south.

As a fan, I am looking forward to having a week off from football. I do love the Bills, but they are mentally fatiguing at times and we all need rest. I suggest you all do the same. Over here at Banged Up Bills, continue to look for new content to help gear up for the remainder of the season. Feel free to ask questions or engage in discussions, I want you, the reader, to learn and understand these injuries so that you are a more educated fan and not a mindless lemming that is confused by clueless media reports regarding the health of the Buffalo Bills.

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

Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Primer

Reviewing last season’s major injuries and how they will impact the 2018 season.

Training camp is upon us! Thursday is the first full day for the Buffalo Bills to begin training camp at St. John Fisher in suburban Rochester, NY. This training camp, as many others, will shape the 2018 roster. We will see new players rise up to the challenge and find themselves on an NFL roster. Others will experience the heartbreak of falling short of their dreams. Finally, we will see many players whose seasons will end before they even really began due to injury. Today’s post will review some of the high profile Bills players and their previous injuries and what this means going forward. If you would like to listen to the audio version of this article, I appeared on the Cover 1 podcast last night and discussed these injuries, check it out!!

First up is RB Travaris Cadet. The 6th year back was an effective backup behind RB LeSean McCoy and allowed the offense to keep defenses on their toes. Regrettably, Cadet fractured his ankle in a gruesome manner late in the season and was placed on IR. After an injury such as that, there are natural concerns for his ability to recover and rejoin the team. According to what we know regarding the timeline for his recovery, he is fully healed and videos such as this indicate that he is at full health. I do not believe his injury will hold him back; rather his skill may be the biggest detriment as the Bills have loaded themselves up on running back. Look for a full contribution from Cadet and time will tell whether he finds himself on the 53.

Next man up is WR Kelvin Benjamin. The gigantic wideout comes back to the Bills for the final year of his contract and his production this season will determine his future home. Fortunately, Benjamin comes into this season healthy after being limited with a partially torn meniscus sustained in the dumpster fire that was the Chargers game. The 4th year wideout had surgery in the offseason and while he may have issues well after his playing career, he should not have any setbacks in camp as the offending tissue has been excised and rehab fully complete. Hopefully he will have a QB that is more likely to throw, leading to a big season for Benjamin.

Continuing our trend of injured Bills, TE Charles Clay. The 7th year tight end suffered a partially torn meniscus and MCL tear in the loss to Cincinnati but was able to return down the stretch to push the Bills into the playoffs. Clay should not have any limitations following that injury going into training camp. However, he may continue to have issues with his chronic knee condition he has dealt with in previous seasons. I believe this will slow him down but as he has shown in previous seasons, it really does not stop his ability as he has been able to appear in at least 13 games every year over his career. He will need veteran rest days but should be fully healthy in training camp.

DE Trent Murphy enters his first training camp with the Bills after spending the first 4 years with the Redskins. Up until last year, Murphy had shown the ability to provide pressure on the end and get to the quarterback, racking up 9 sacks in the process in 2016. His 2017 season ended quickly with a torn ACL in the preseason opener and was lost for the season and released afterward. Typical ACL recoveries take roughly a year to return to full form and this is evident with Murphy starting the season on the active roster after being limited in OTA’s. He should not be limited due to his previous injury, but he still carries a higher risk to re-tear his graft or tear the other ACL for up to 2 years.

LB Ramon Humber is another veteran returning to camp this season. The 9th year linebacker had a hot start to his season before suffering a broken thumb in the win over the Falcons last season which cost him 3 games. He was able to return and still contribute, but rookie Matt Milano got some game time experience which allowed him to excel in McDermott’s defense and hold onto the starting job. Humber will continue to provide a veteran presence and leadership on this team going into 2018.

Newly acquired CB Vontae Davis comes from the Colts after an injury shortened season in where he suffered a sports hernia, limiting him to 5 games. Davis elected to take the surgery which led to his release from the Colts, but I believe that he made the right choice in order to extend his career. As indicated in the hyperlinked article, 90% of NFL players who suffer a sports hernia are able to return to the NFL after surgery. While talent may differ due to each player, the ability to come back at all is the most important thing. I believe Davis will not miss a step and will actually be an upgrade to former Bill CB E. J. Gaines.

Our final defensive player on this list today is LB Matt Milano. The rookie linebacker out of Boston College outplayed where he was drafted in the 5th round and provided a bright spot at what was a weak linebacker corps. Milano had issues with his hamstrings last season and continued to be limited during OTA’s. He should be at full health coming into training camp but should be eased in slowly, avoiding game speed reps until he is confident that he is ready. I do not expect him to fully avoid re-injury, but limit the severity of the strain if it does occur again. Look for another solid contribution this year barring major injury.

Rounding out this article is WR Zay Jones. The NFL has not been kind to the rookie WR so far in his young career, suffering what appeared to be the yips early in the season. We now know that this was attributed to a labral tear which limited his ability to catch effectively. He had surgery in late January and should be cleared medically. In addition, Jones also had surgery on his knee in mid May. As he was recently placed on the active/non-football injury list, this indicates this injury occurred in the off-season. Whether this is tied to the well publicized hotel incident is in question, we may never know. Once Jones is cleared medically for his knee, he should not have any further complications moving forward. He will need a big season to right the ship and maintain a long career in a Bills uniform.

This wraps up the the major injuries heading into training camp. We will begin to see a host of new injuries, some minor, some major, but Banged Up Bills will be here to report all of those! As a fan, I am looking forward to this upcoming season after such a memorable 2017. Continue to follow on Twitter @BangedUpBills and 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!!