Bills Preseason Injury Preview- Vikings

Breaking down the latest injuries heading into the preseason finale.

The Bills close out their preseason schedule with the possibility to go 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. While preseason success is not indicative of regular & postseason accolades, the fact that the Bills are able to take their depth and stay competitive is excellent to see. The 4th preseason game is where guys make their last push to show the coaching staff why they need to make the roster and may benefit only several guys. Today’s post will review all injuries but focus on guys who are on the bubble that could likely play Thursday.

Ruled out: C Mitch Morse, DE Jerry Hughes, OL Ty Nsekhe, CB Taron Johnson, OL Quinton Spain, CB Tre’Davious White

All those listed above are likely starters and would have no benefit to playing in a meaningless game.

Morse is still working through the concussion protocol.

Hughes is dealing with a right hand/wrist injury.

Nsekhe is dealing with a knee injury.

Johnson has had a groin strain.

Spain has a foot/ankle injury.

White a quad contusion.

All of these would likely not cause problems during the regular season. However, the spotlight is brighter during the preseason & concerns are heightened. All should be ready for Week 1.

Questionable:

Conor McDermott: concussion

McDermott still appears to be working through the concussion protocol with no official word that he has been cleared. He has been participating in full padded practices which is always a good sign. If he plays Thursday, then that will indicate that he’s cleared & his one last shot to show why he needs to be on the final 53.

CB Cam Lewis- concussion

Lewis suffered a hard hit in the win over the Panthers 2 weeks ago & was removed from the sidelines with a neck immobilizer. He has since returned to practice in a red jersey but like McDermott, if he is not cleared, he may be forced to sit on the sidelines and wait for an IR designation or injury settlement.

TE Kyle Carter- knee

Carter suffered a knee injury in the win over the Lions last Friday. There was not a clear play when it happened, but he may want to play through in order to have a shot to get some extra game film out there. I am unsure whether he is eligible for practice squad still, but tonight will be possibly one last shot for him.

RB Senorise Perry- quadriceps

Perry, once a virtual lock for his special teams prowess is now looking outside in at the 53. He was dealing with a minor ankle injury that he played through in Friday’s game but was later limited by a new quadriceps injury. Like the others, it isn’t clear when this occurred, but he has been unable to practice since then. Depending on the severity of the injury, it is unknown if he will suit up tonight.

WR Robert Foster- turf toe

Foster has been battling a turf toe injury all spring & summer which was confirmed recently. He was limited with mandatory mini camp, appeared to be full go during the early parts of training camp before being hobbled again by the toe. Turf toe is notoriously difficult to fully heal and can linger all season at times. I believe that Foster was fully healthy coming into training camp and then tweaked it 2 weeks ago. He should make this team but may play tonight to ensure his spot.

TE Dawson Knox- hamstring

It appears Knox has his hamstring issues behind him as he was able to play last game without issue. He also did not appear to have any setbacks this past week during practice. He may play tonight to get the reps which I believe will be beneficial in his development but should only see the early part of the game and get out after the 1st quarter.

TE Jason Croom- hamstring

Croom dug a hole that he just can’t get out of with his hamstring issues from the past few months. Recent information came out indicating that he tore his hamstring back during spring practices, worked his way back before re-injuring himself at the beginning of training camp. At times, he has looked awesome in practices, but appeared to have a setback last week which prevented him in playing Friday. Whether he plays tonight is anyone’s guess; his best chance may be to play tonight and get some game film out there in the hopes that someone takes a chance on him or that he comes back to the Bills practice squad.

Released/Injured Reserve

P Cory Carter- knee

Carter was dealing with knee soreness which put him behind in the punting competition over the past 2 weeks. Ultimately, he fell behind too far and was cut. As he had knee soreness and not an outright injury, the team did not owe him an injury settlement and he was free to pass through waivers to find a new home.

OT De’Ondre Wesley- knee

Wesley was injured late in the win over the preseason, he was able to return but was out for the Lions game. There is not clear video available indicating what he injured, but it was enough that the team gave him an injury settlement to go elsewhere when he is ready to play.

DE Mike Love- pectoral

Love appeared to injure his pectoral muscle sometime during Lions game. He was able to play most of the game up to about 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter. There was no clear mechanism of injury which makes identifying his injury difficult. As of now, he will be on the Bills IR for the season unless he reaches an injury settlement before cut down day on Saturday. I have no idea which way the team will lean, but his salary is guaranteed if he’s on IR, so it’s likely he stays with the Bills and focus on himself for next season.

Overall, the Bills have most of their roster filled out with several roster spots up for grabs. It may not be the prettiest game, but it’ll be one last audition for most of the players on the field. Regardless of tonight outcome, we will have our 53 man roster Saturday.

Bills Season Injury Review- Defensive End

Review the Bills injuries at defensive end from 2018 & how this will affect depth in 2019.

The defense is on the board!! Today’s post marks the start for injury positional reviews on the defensive side of the ball. The Bills defense has demonstrated elite talent that has carried the team at times through the past 2 seasons. However, when injuries occurred, the replacements and gaping holes as a result were glaring. Today’s post will review the defensive end position and what this means going forward into 2019.

First up is DE Nate Orchard. The veteran end came to Buffalo off waivers from Cleveland, spending roughly a month with the team. During his time in Buffalo, he appeared in 3 games registering 4 total tackles, 3 solo, 1 assist and was cut on 10/2. He then was picked up by Kansas City for a month before finding a home in Seattle for 2019. He did not suffer any injuries during his time and is not likely to return unless he is some type of camp casualty and the Bills need emergency depth.

DE Mike Love appears next in today’s review, appearing in 3 games without any stats. He was signed from the practice squad late in the season to assess what the team has for depth going forward. Due to his limited playing time, he did not suffer any injuries but should come back next season as he is a cheap option for depth and could continue to develop behind veterans at the position.

DE Eddie Yarbrough rounds out depth at the end position during today’s article. The 3rd year player out of Wyoming continues to demonstrate solid play worthy of a roster spot, evident with the Bills resigning Yarbrough to a 1 year extension as a ERFA. The youthful end appears in 15 games accumulating 29 total tackles, 21 solo, 8 assisted with 4 tackles for loss. In addition, Yarbrough managed to avoid injury which was key as several veterans mentioned later were not as lucky, leading to Yarbrough getting valuable playing time. He should be back next season and barring a sudden influx of talented defensive ends, should make the 53 man roster.

DE Shaq Lawson begins the run on injured ends in this article. The former 1st round draft pick has begun to show flashes of brilliance of why he was drafted 19th overall in 2016, but has not been able to consistently string together a season in which he can demonstrate he is the best defender out on the field. During the 2018 season, Lawson appeared in 14 games with 6 starts, accumulating 1 forced fumble, 4 sacks, 30 total tackles, 18 solo, 12 assisted, and 5 tackles for loss. While these are acceptable numbers from a rotational defensive end, more should be expected from a once highly drafted player.

Lawson suffered minor injuries this season, missing 2 games due to a pulled hamstring early in the season trying to chase down Ravens QB Joe Flacco. After the hamstring, Lawson was questionable with an elbow injury sustained in practice prior to the Jacksonville game but the specifics of the injury were not disclosed and he did not miss any time. Going into next season, Lawson will be healthy but have to fight incredibly hard to justify sticking around past next season. He will make the 53 man roster, but he needs to stay healthy and shine like a first round pick should if he wants several more years in Buffalo.

DE Jerry Hughes continues to be a monster coming off the end and is one of the few moves along with RB LeSean McCoy that made former Bills GM Doug Whaley look halfway competent. Hughes came over in a player for player trade from the Colts for LB Kelvin Sheppard in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. The dominant end started all 16 games, accumulating 3 forced fumbles, 7 sacks, 37 total tackles, 30 solo, 7 assists, 13 tackles for loss. He showed up this season and was clearly the best defensive end for the Bills this season. In addition to his dominant play, he was able to remain healthy, only suffering a right knee injury that may have been a minor knee sprain or contusion during the Jets game but did not miss anytime. Even though he is going into the last season of his contract, he is clearly a lock for the 53 man roster. He still demonstrates an ability to play at a high level and should garner another contract before his time in Buffalo is through.

Finally, DE Trent Murphy rounds out the defensive end position. The beleaguered end from Washington just could not stay healthy this year. Even though Murphy only missed 3 games this season, he was never quite healthy. He appeared in 13 games with 10 starts racking up 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 24 total tackles, 14 solo, 10 assisted, 5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks. Despite the average stats for a player making the money that he is, he constantly dealt with injury which led to his down year. Early in training camp, Murphy suffered a groin strain that appeared to be minor, appearing to come back too quickly, and re-aggravating the issue. As a result, he missed the rest of the preseason and never quite got the reps he needed to improve his football skills after missing all of the 2017 season with an ACL tear.

Once returning to the field during the regular season, Murphy had a breakout game against the Vikings with a sack, two tackles, and a forced fumble. Due to needing as many game reps to get back into shape forced him to play into the 4th quarter which led to a right ankle injury that was the result of getting rolled up on. He did not miss any time but was limited afterward. Murphy then sustained another ankle injury, though it wasn’t clear which ankle he injured during the loss to the Texans. Video review shows him taking an awkward step with what appeared to be his left foot. He did miss some time but was able to return.

Unfortunately, the next week wasn’t any kinder to Murphy as he sustained another late 4th quarter injury, this time injuring his right knee. He was in the process of engaging an offensive player during a block when another player got thrown into his knee with his knee bent and foot on the ground. The mechanism suggested an MCL sprain and as a result, missed 3 games but also had the benefit of the bye week to recover. But Murphy wasn’t done with injuries; he sustained some type of chest injury in the win over the Lions late in the season that did not force him to miss anytime. Once again, Murphy did not miss many games, but he was clearly not at 100% throughout the entire season.

There have been some calls for the Bills to release him after an underwhelming performance in 2018. However, I believe that Murphy will bounce back with a strong season in 2019. He will have the benefit of not having to recover from a season ending injury such as the ACL in 2017. While all the injuries were minor, cumulatively, they took their toll. He will have the ability to heal up completely and focus on football and injury prevention rather than rehab. There has also been multiple instances in which a player has a down year following an ACL tear followed up by an improved year as the player returns to baseline 2 years after original injury. While we hope that Murphy can regain some of his 9 sack season during his last season in Washington, any improvement over last year will be gladly taken. Expect him to make the 53 man roster with a significant bounce back year in 2019. I am high on Murphy taking the next step forward as an important cog in the defense.

Overall, expect Hughes, Lawson, and Murphy return as the top end players at defensive end. Yarbrough will continue to be a depth piece and Love has a chance to make the roster with a strong training camp, but could more likely be on the practice squad. DE Eli Harold also has a strong chance to make the roster after time with San Francisco and Detroit, but is far from guaranteed. To read more on Harold, his injury profile can be found here. I also expect the Bills to address defensive end in the draft at some point which could reshape this position based on what round a defensive end is picked.

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