2020 Week 10 Bills Injury Preview- Cardinals

Will Hyde and Ford suit up with their respective ankle injuries?

Things are finally trending up for the Bills on the injury front! While the list is still long, the players are getting healthier which is incredibly important heading into the bye next week. If you look around the league, many teams have long injury lists, but how those injuries have affected those teams’ records is interesting. Some have kept marching along and others have been decimated as a result.

Fortunately, the Bills are in the former group as they prepare to head out to Arizona to play the 5-3 Cardinals. A win Sunday would put the team as just the 8th team in franchise history to go 8-2 through 10 games according to fellow Bills content creator Circling the Wagons podcast. All those but one reached their respective league championship game. The one that didn’t in 1988 still made the AFC title game.

That’s some great information to look fondly back on. But before we start counting the chickens before they hatch, check out the injuries below. 

OUT:

RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring)

Jones misses his second game of the season with a hamstring strain suffered in the win over the Patriots. With how the team has managed the hamstring strains since Sean McDermott has been coaching, for Jones to miss 2 games is no surprise. 

It’s possible that Jones could have been a candidate for IR, but considering the bye is next week, the team can use that to their advantage and avoid roster moves. Hopefully, he comes off the report following the bye. 

QUESTIONABLE:

G Cody Ford (right ankle)

Ford was limited in practice all week with an ankle injury sustained in the win over Seattle midway through the 1st quarter. He later appeared on the sidelines, potentially able to play but never returned. By video, it appears he suffered a low ankle sprain when he got clipped by Zack Moss during the play. 

The fact that he was limited all week says that he can potentially play Sunday if he needs to. He may still be dealing with swelling and pain in the area, making him more of a true game-time decision. I suspect that he plays and allows the Bills to field the offensive line group that they haven’t been able to produce as originally envisioned for Week 1 (Dawkins, Ford, Morse, Feliciano, Williams). If he doesn’t play, then this may be out of an abundance of caution and using the bye week to get healthy.

S Micah Hyde (ankle)

Hyde suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice that left him limited and he did not practice Friday. While he is questionable, it may truly be a game-time decision whether he plays Sunday. We do not have specifics of the injury, only a timeframe of when it occurred. Frankly, I do not like the DNP designation on Friday. Those typically don’t bode well to play Sunday’s from my past observations of the injury report.

To note, he did have left ankle injuries in Week 1 and Week 3 of which he was able to play through. It’s not known whether he injured the same ankle again or if it is the other side. I’m not certain he plays Sunday, but I would be glad to be wrong. 

INJURED RESERVE:

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadricep)

Phillips lands on IR again, this time ending his season with a quadriceps injury. It appears that this is the same injury that he suffered in Week 1 against the Jets, went on IR, and then potentially injured again against the Seahawks. 

It appeared that he had suffered a strain in Week 1, but this seems to be an injury that Phillips cannot get past. His 2020 season consisted of 14 special teams plays over the two games. He goes to IR which ends his season as he has already had one trip to short-term IR. This opens a coveted roster spot for several possible players to be called up for depth.

ACTIVE: 

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Another week, another Josh Allen sighting on the injury report with this shoulder injury. We have seen his play appear to be affected by the shoulder injury with his follow through and ability to throw the deep ball. We have also seen the level of bracing change from a shoulder harness to a brace to kinesotape for stability. This is now 6 weeks he has been on the report. The team obviously won’t tell us the specifics, but we continue to watch and see what’s going on with his play. 

WR John Brown (left knee)

Brown continues to work through the knee injury sustained in practice that caused him to miss the Week 5 matchup against the Titans and re-injured against the Chiefs. Sunday against the Seahawks appeared as though he was finally back on track with a stat line that matched his 2019 levels. He continues to work through these nagging injuries and will hopefully get healthy enough following the bye to become the WR2 that the team envisioned at the beginning of this season. 

G Jon Feliciano (back)

Little is known about Feliciano’s back other than the designation. He has played in 100% of snaps since returning and it’s possible that he has generalized back soreness from getting back into game shape. As he has no designation, this isn’t something I’m concerned about unless he lingers on the report as some of his teammates. 

DE Jerry Hughes (foot)

Hughes has been battling a foot ailment over the past few weeks that hasn’t hampered his abilities to perform. As his snap counts and production have not suffered, it’s hard to identify the actual specifics of the injury. He continues to show up week in and week out since his trade in 2013; I do not expect that to change. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse cleared the concussion protocol Wednesday following his 5th documented concussion in the win over the Patriots. The protocol is there for a reason to ensure players return safely at their own pace. He has cleared protocol, then I would have no reservations about him playing. The chance to suffer another concussion is there, but it has been there the entire time. If he for some reason doesn’t play, it would be deemed a healthy scratch and would likely come at the agreement of Morse, training staff, and the team collectively.

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

With no designation next to his name, Josh Norman returns to the field. This allows the Bills to showcase their cornerback depth for the first time since Week 4 when Norman returned off IR before Levi Wallace got hurt against the Raiders. Hopefully, Norman stays healthy for this game and then uses the bye to prepare for the final stretch of the season. 

While this season has not been what Bills and Norman envisioned, my hope is that he provides needed depth and veteran leadership at the position once the Bills enter the playoffs. I’m excited to see what he and Levi Wallace can do opposite Tre’Davious White for a full game.

CB Tre’Davious White (left ankle)

It seems anytime Tre’Davious White goes down, there is an audible gasp from fans. White has become the heart and soul of the secondary with his exemplary play as he has ascended to the ranks of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. 

He appeared to suffer a medial eversion ankle sprain late in the 4th quarter against the Seahawks. He was in pain on the field before hopping over to the bench to get it taped up, appearing ready to go back in if needed.

He practiced this week with a limited designation on Thursday and full on Friday indicating that this was not going to be an issue. He had also stated to the media that he would play. Despite the injury, he will likely not see any ill effects as he will probably have the ankle taped up and or braced. Arizona has some talented wide receivers and it will be White’s job to lock down whoever it may be, most likely DeAndre Hopkins

G Brian Winters (knee)

Winters appears on the injury report again with a knee ailment. He did exit the game briefly on Sunday with what appeared to be a knee contusion before returning later in the game. While he may have some acute injuries, this may be more of an acute on chronic issue that he continues to battle as the season progresses. 

RB TJ Yeldon (back)

Still, nothing is known about Yeldon’s back injury but he does not have a game status attached to him. This situation reminds me of several years ago when former Bills OL John Miller was on the injury report with an ankle injury for nearly 6 weeks despite not playing. 

Yeldon doesn’t appear to be in the game plans this Sunday and will likely be inactive. However, knowing he is healthy is good to know in the event that either Devin Singletary or Zack Moss goes down in the future. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

S Micah Hyde

TE Lee Smith* active due to TE Tyler Kroft on COVID list

RB Taiwan Jones 

DT Harrison Phillips 

COVID list: Josh Norman, Dean Marlowe, Tyler Kroft, Levi Wallace

Elevated for COVID and PS call ups include Darron Lee, Daryl Worley, Jake Kumerow, Josh Thomas, Dane Jackson

The Cardinals are a talented team but the Bills match up well with them. Looking at the injury report for Arizona, they have several injuries that could impact their ability to match up as well as they have with other teams in the past weeks. Budda Baker is questionable with a groin injury, Kenyan Drake is still working through an ankle injury that you can read more about at The Game Day. Drake may play but I highly question his effectiveness. He may be best served to sit out one more game.

Dre Kirkpatrick their top corner is also working through a thigh injury and Dionte Thompson addressing a knee injury. On top of that, former Bill Jordan Phillips will miss the game with a hamstring strain. 

Even though the Bills are still working through some injuries, at worst they will not have Micah Hyde, Cody Ford, and they are already without Matt Milano. That is far better than the Cardinals potentially missing most of their secondary along with key offensive weapons. The Bills have shown they can plug up the holes required to get by without them for short durations. 

If the Bills play at all how they did last week, they have a very realistic shot to move to 8-2 heading into the bye. These games are incredibly stressful at times to watch but also insanely fun because this team is competitive and every single play means something now. It’s always been fun to be a part of Bills Mafia, but it’s so fantastic to be a Bills fan when they’re finally winning, it’s been worth the wait!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo News

2020 Week 9 Bills Injury Review- Seahawks

Looks like the Bills may finally be getting healthier.

The Bills are 7-2 for the first time since 1993 and in control of the AFC East following a convincing win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. To put it into context, I was 5 when this last happened. A lot has changed since then, but the Bills are finally contenders again and it’s a great feeling! On top of the excellent start, there were minimal injuries that have been termed day-to-day from Sunday.

In-game injuries:

G Cody Ford (right ankle)

Ford suffered a right ankle injury on the first TD of the day to TE Tyler Kroft. This was the result of Ford getting knocked backward from his block before tripping over RB Zack Moss as he tumbled backward. It wasn’t clear initially what he had injured, but based on how he fell outward, it appeared that he rolled his ankle. It’s also possible he could have stepped on Moss as he came through, leading to the injury. Here’s the play below.

He made it to the sidelines before getting carted to the locker room for further evaluation. He eventually returned to the sidelines later in the game. He was even observed holding his helmet and jogging, ultimately not returning to the game. Considering he was coming off the right MCL injury and now dealing with a right ankle, it appears the team did not want to risk further injury and kept him out as a precaution.

Unless the practice reports show otherwise, he may be limited with an ankle sprain this week and tape it up for Sunday. Small possibility they have him sit to maximize his healing time with the bye coming up.

G Brian Winters (left knee)

Shortly after Ford went down, Winters suffered a left knee injury with 14:23 left in the 2nd quarter. He fell down in a pile of bodies as the pocket collapsed, leading to him having some difficulty getting off the field.

On broadcast, he was observed rubbing the inner portion of the knee indicating a possible mild MCL sprain or patellar contusion. It’s also not clear if this is the same knee that he has been limited with the past 2 weeks. He eventually returned roughly a half-hour later to finish out the game. He may continue to show up on the injury report this week with a knee ailment, but it doesn’t appear that this is a concerning issue.

T Daryl Williams (leg)

Williams may be the most difficult injury to observe on film similar to Winters, also falling in a pile of bodies with 6:40 left in the 2nd quarter. He landed on his left side and appeared to be favoring the left side slightly walking off.

The injury did not appear to be an issue as he returned several plays later and finished out the game. Based on the pile of bodies and short time missed, it was likely that he suffered a general contusion that required brief attention before returning. Normally, injuries to Williams and Winters are inconsequential, but at one point the Bills were without 3 offensive linemen available to protect QB Josh Allen.

CB Tre’Davious White (left ankle)

White sustained an ankle injury late in the 4th quarter with 3:16 left, quickly getting tended to by trainers before hopping off to get taped. Upon further review, it appears he suffered a medial eversion ankle sprain. There was a possibility that he suffered a mild high ankle sprain, but his foot appeared to be pointed down more towards neutral than upward into dorsiflexion, avoiding the more severe injury observed in the top picture below.

White quickly got taped up and was walking around on the sidelines, possibly waiting to return. He was designated as questionable to return but ultimately was not needed as the team iced the game with the recovery of the onside kick.

It appears that White avoided major injury and he should play next week. It’s possible that if the ankle is worse than originally thought, he could miss the next game considering the bye coming up, but the video and sideline impressions following the injury don’t imply that it was.

Other thoughts:

G/C Jon Feliciano (pectoral)

Feliciano continues to play in 100% of the snaps in the absence of C Mitch Morse following his concussion. For someone 3 months removed from tearing his pectoral muscle, he looks pretty good out there. I had hoped that he would be worked in to not stress the surgically repaired area, but at this point, it doesn’t appear to be an option. The band-aid has been ripped off; there is no point in trying to restrict him now. Hopefully, he continues to work back into shape and round into form for the late-season stretch.

LB Matt Milano (pectoral)

Milano was placed on IR on Saturday to better manage his pectoral injury. He missed the Titans and Chiefs game but returned for the Jets and Patriots game, but was on a pitch count and obviously limited. Based on what he was doing out there, he was able to play and did make a difference in pass coverage, but when asked to tackle or stop the run, he simply could not wrap up his tackles. This was a concern of mine returning from the injury and it appears to be true.

I question whether he had a setback with regards to the timeline the team has taken with this injury. He could have re-injured some of the healing tissue in the pectoral region, leading to putting him on the shelf. It’s more likely that they weren’t satisfied with his play and limited availability, leading to the shutdown.

The team saw an opportunity to put him on IR to maximize his healing time while minimizing games lost. He does have to miss 3 games which means he was out for the Seahawks game and will be out for the Cardinals and Chargers game.

In addition, he will use the bye to get an entire month off to recover. A whole month of no football activities to allow the pectoral muscle to heal in addition to the past month of rehab he’s already performed should work out in his favor. With this timeline, he could potentially come back close to 100% when he returns.

I saw some comments on social media questioning the handling of Milano’s injury. I can say with a moderate level of confidence that they handled it the best they could with the information they had at the moment. That’s all you can do in situations like this. They had the physical testing, the imaging, and they made an informed decision. The research supported his ability to return when he did. Injuries like this, a likely Grade 2 strain, do take upwards of 6 weeks to heal, but in the NFL, these players don’t typically get that time to fully recover, leading to him returning after 2 games.

In rehab, I have had countless patients “fail PT” or not progress as expected. This is due to other circumstances that play into the decision-making process or are considered in the plan of care but overtake the issue at hand, preventing the patient from reaching their goals.

Sometimes, those other issues need to be addressed before therapy can be successful. For example, people with arthritic knees that can’t tolerate progressing exercises secondary to pain, sometimes they need a cortisone injection to help calm things down before they can complete PT.

In other cases, a surgically repaired area needs further healing before therapy can be initiated or progressed. Sometimes a chronic health condition can become problematic and must be addressed to maximize rehab. I have had many cases where this needed to be completed in order for the patient to ultimately be successful at rehab.

In Milano’s case, they let the research and imaging dictate when he returned. They probably realized he wasn’t as effective as he could have been and ran the risk to suffer further injury and shut him down. Medicine is a lot of trial and error at the end of the day based on the research and experience of the providers treating those issues. The providers are allowed to change their minds if something isn’t working or adverse effects occur. The poor decision would have been to be stubborn and continue to play through the injury, potentially leading to a worse outcome.

Fortunately, the team has the short term IR to allow him to rest and not waste a roster spot. In other years, he probably would have continued to try and gut it out like we saw LB Tremaine Edmunds do earlier this season, though it’s important to note that the injuries were different.

As the theme has been this year, there will likely be an injury here or there that shows up on Wednesday that we did not expect. My hope is that some of these injuries do fall off the list because if the list grows anymore, we may need a magnifying glass to look at some of these names. However, the bye is coming up and while it feels much later than usual, it is perfectly timed. I would rather have a late bye with all these injuries to get right for the final push rather than limp into the postseason. The Bills are 7-2, life is good.

2020 Week 9 Bills Injury Preview- Seahawks

Proceed with caution, this is a long one.

The 2020 NFL season is truly something else. Lately, I cringe a little every time the injury report gets released. There’s a lot of names on that list. It’s at times dizzying to look and see that over 25% of the roster is injured to the point that they may not be available to play Sunday.

Over the past few years, there have been bouts where they have dealt with numerous injuries from week to week, but they have not had this level of injuries for this long of duration since HC Sean McDermott took over in 2017. As always here at Banged Up Bills, every injury is detailed out below to give an idea of the specifics and availability for Sunday’s game against Seattle. 

OUT 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

Jones is dealing with a hamstring strain that appears to be on the right side. He suffered this during kickoff following the second touchdown that put the Bills up 14-6. He was sprinting full speed and the hamstring just appeared to be overworked and it went. 

With how the team handles hamstrings and his positional demands, I do not anticipate him playing Sunday. He would need at least a week off if not more before he could return. It wouldn’t surprise me if he missed the next two games and then used the bye to get some extra rest. His loss on special teams will certainly be missed, but this isn’t something that he can gut out like he has so many other injuries.

C Mitch Morse (Concussion)

Morse suffered a concussion on the 3rd play of the 1st quarter and had to exit the game, quickly receiving the diagnosis. His long history of concussions dating back to his rookie year is well known and this is now his 5th publicly reported documented concussion. 

He was seen on the sidelines working out with training staff indicating that he is at least in Stage 2 of the protocol Wednesday and Thursday. Friday he was seen in a red non-contact jersey indicating Stage 3, very possible Stage 4.

Considering concussions take on average 10 days to return from and add in the fact that Morse has taken longer to return from a concussion, he was not expected to play Sunday. I see a scenario where he misses the next two games and uses the bye to get fully right before fully returning. He could play against Arizona if he clears the protocol, but only the team and he will know which path he wishes to take.

Morse has said that he can only worry about what he can control. He’s going to do everything in his power to return quickly but safely in order to help the Bills during the second half of the season. 

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral)

Milano did not practice this week after playing the last two games. He hasn’t exactly been playing perfect, but he has had to wear a shoulder harness to prevent stressing the healing area. It’s not clear whether he aggravated the injury on Sunday or if they are just trying to manage the injury efficiently. Friday’s press conference appeared to imply that they are trying to rest him as much as possible while allowing him to play as needed. 

My thoughts originally were that they were trying to preserve him for the week to play on Sunday’s. That now does not appear to be the case. It has been a month since he suffered the injury and while the area is healing, playing in a football game the past two weeks hasn’t exactly accelerated the healing process.

I didn’t get the perception that he did suffer an aggravation on film, but we don’t know what the team knows. I can say with 100% certainty that he did not fully tear the area, otherwise, he would have been sent to have it repaired. You can live with a fully torn pectoral muscle in certain cases but not if you want to play NFL football.

It’s also important to note that the last two games have been against AFC East opponents which are more significant for the playoffs instead of the upcoming NFC games. Since the Bills won both games and the NFC games don’t hold as much weight for playoff seeding as a divisional game, it would make sense to rest Milano for this game. 

As he is not playing Sunday, this is the decision that was likely made with the team, training staff, and Milano together to ensure he’s healthy for later in the season. It will be interesting to see if newly signed LB Darron Lee makes an appearance due to the massive struggles of LB AJ Klein last week.

Update: Milano has been placed on IR.

CB Josh Norman (Hamstring)

Norman’s season continues to be a struggle for the veteran corner to stay healthy. He still continues to work through the same hamstring that he originally suffered in the preseason and then aggravated in practice two weeks ago. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to when he returns. My hope is that he takes the time he needs and is healthy for the final stretch. 

RB TJ Yeldon (Back)

I have absolutely no idea what Yeldon could be dealing with. He doesn’t have a publicly known history of back issues and he didn’t play in Sunday’s contest. This ailment either occurred during practice or this is an injury that the public isn’t aware of. As he is rarely active, this is a non-factor for Sunday. 

QUESTIONABLE

TE Dawson Knox (Calf)

Knox has had a rough season this year. He has been dealing with a concussion, a hamstring strain, a calf strain, and now COVID. It’s very possible that Knox’s calf is fully recovered from the original injury sustained against the Titans. On average, it takes about 17.4 days to return to play which is just under 3 weeks. Knox passed that window in terms of recovery time and is questionable to play.

The bigger concern will be how he responds following having COVID. Every day we are still learning the effects the virus has on the body and Knox is not immune to those effects. Right now, I hope that he can come back and just play before we get into considering how much of an offensive threat he can be. Due to the uncertainty of how COVID affected him, I want to say he won’t play, but with the number of injuries all over, he might be forced into being active on game day.

DE Darryl Johnson (Knee)

Johnson continues the trend of mystery injuries from Sunday’s game and it’s difficult to speculate the details. He did practice in full on Friday which was a great sign but was still ruled questionable. Considering DE AJ Epenesa was inactive last week, they could switch these two out. The only reason to play Johnson is his special teams contributions. He is a core special teamer whereas Epenesa has only played any special teams the past two weeks. It may just depend on how Johnson feels Sunday.

DT Vernon Butler (Groin)

Butler is moving in the right direction with a full practice on Thursday and Friday following a limited practice on Wednesday. When he exactly injured the groin against the Jets is not known, but the fact that he is able to return after one game indicates it was not that serious. This may come down to how he feels on game day, but the weather is supposed to be warm and dry, potentially lessening the risk for poor footing, leading to aggravation due to slipping. 

The Seahawks rushing attack will be limited due to the possible absence of RB Chris Carson and RB Carlos Hyde. With the addition of Butler, this will help stymie the run game to limit the weapons available for QB Russell Wilson and give the Bills a chance at slowing the offense. 

G Cody Ford (Right knee)

There is hope that Ford can suit up against the Seahawks on Sunday after missing two games with a likely right MCL injury. He did practice in full on Friday which is typically a good sign to play on Sunday. The team continues to have depth at the offensive line to patch things together, but returning Ford would be huge to help maintain consistency for the run game and pass protection.

He has had his share of injuries this season and the time off may have allowed him to get right in order to return to the left guard position and provide stability on an ever-changing offensive line. 

ACTIVE 

WR John Brown (Knee)

Brown continues to deal with nagging injuries from the beginning of the season with the foot issues progressing into the calf strain, working up to a likely left knee sprain. Wednesday was most likely a veteran rest day but practiced in full on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully, he can get through the next two games before the bye and finally get off the injury report. 

RG Brian Winters (Knee)

Winters appears on the injury report again with a knee injury; the specifics are not known. He is known to wear a knee brace during games on the right side. He did have a left ACL tear several years ago that I had thought he could be dealing with some arthritic changes, but impossible to confirm at this time. This may be an injury that the team continues to manage conservatively throughout the season as he is an older player. 

DE Jerry Hughes (Foot)

Despite the injury designation, Hughes continues to make an impact at the defensive end position while not missing any time. The injury originally occurred in the Jets game and it did not appear to affect him. He played in 62% of the snaps against the Patriots, roughly his normal snap count and there simply isn’t a lot of information regarding the injury. 

The bottom line, it’s going to take more than a foot injury to force Hughes to miss a game. 

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)

Allen continues to appear weekly on the injury report with a left shoulder injury originally sustained in the win over the Raiders. He also continues to wear a shoulder brace to address likely instability from that injury. He continues to practice in full but there is continued concern that he will aggravate the injury with an ill-timed hit or fall. 

This is something that we will likely get much more information on after the season. This is an issue that will continue to be monitored as he appears on the injury report and continues to wear a brace. 

S Micah Hyde (Concussion)

Hyde worked through the concussion protocol this week following his massive hit on Jets WR Breshad Perriman. He was limited in practice Wednesday but fortunately, practiced in full on Thursday and Friday. Per reports, he has since cleared concussion protocol and will suit up for Sunday to give the secondary a huge boost in containing the Seahawks offensive weapons.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Knee)

This is Jefferson’s second week on the injury report with a knee ailment that originally occurred in the Jets game. There aren’t any specifics regarding what he’s dealing with, but he, like Winters, did have an ACL tear several years ago. It’s possible the grind of the NFL season is wearing on his joints and he is dealing with some generalized arthritic pain following the ACL tear. He played last week and I expect him to play again this week.

G Jon Feliciano (Pectoral tear)

Felicano played in every snap Sunday after missing the first 7 games of the season due to the pectoral tear suffered in training camp. I highly doubt this was the plan due to C Mitch Morse exiting the game with a concussion, but he was pressed into service. Feliciano did note that playing center allows him to stay more protected against future injury, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility. 

I personally don’t like the idea of him playing 100% of snaps again, but he appears to be the best option at this time unless G Ryan Bates got up to speed to take snaps at center this week. He should be eased back in, but according to Feliciano, he is at 97% in regards to his recovery, so he may understand the risks involved and decide to play anyway. This will be something I watch for on Sunday with his playing time.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

CB Josh Norman

LB Matt Milano* IR

RB Taiwan Jones

C Mitch Morse

RB TJ Yeldon

DE Daryl Johnson

TE Dawson Knox

The one upside to this game is that the Seahawks are even more injured than the Bills are. The team will be down both RB’s Chris Carson and RB Carlos Hyde. They will also be without their starting cornerback in Shaquill Griffin and starting guard Mike Iupati. They do note on their practice reports the term load management and resting vet, but most are still working through things. 

Looking at this game, I’m biased, I want the Bills to win, but this is a tough offense. Ideally, the defense steps up as it did against Kansas City despite the loss and slows down the Seahawks just enough that the Bills offense can stay ahead. The team also desperately needs this bye week in Week 11 to get right for the final stretch. 

While COVID did mess with our schedule, it did not result in a bye like the Titans and Steelers received in Week 4. That early bye week may come back to haunt those two likely playoff teams come January. The late bye may make the difference for the Bills. I can stomach a loss, but I would rather take a loss and avoid further injuries than win and lose more key pieces. Survive to fight another day and get to the bye week. This should be an entertaining game with the hopes that the Bills move to 7-2.

Top Photo Credit: BillsWire-USA Today

2020 Week 8 Bills Injury Review- Patriots

What are the concerns with Mitch Morse? How is Matt Milano doing?

A win is a win. Despite 6-2, the perception of the fan base is that the win over the vaunted Patriots was not convincing. No one’s going to look back and say how unconvincing a regular-season win was when a team wins the Super Bowl or makes a deep playoff run. I know we’re not at that point yet, but put it into perspective when you look at a quality of a win. Enjoy a win over a team that has tormented us for the better part of two decades. 

As this season progresses, the wins will continue to become harder to come by especially as the injuries continue to mount. Below are the injuries from Sunday. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse made it through 3 plays before suffering a concussion picking up the block from Patriots S Adrian Phillips in the first quarter. The hit itself appears to be rather benign, but considering Morse’s 4 previously publicly documented concussions, sometimes it does not take much to suffer another concussion. Below is the hit that he likely suffered the concussion.

He was quickly ruled out of the game with an official designation as a concussion and has been placed into the concussion protocol. Now that Morse has suffered 5 concussions, there are concerns about his professional future and health. 

I will say that he is an intelligent individual who has all the resources and information available to him to make an informed decision regarding his career and health. Looking at the research, an article published in 2003, those that suffer 3+ concussions are 3 times more likely to sustain another one. 

Looking at timelines for recovery, on average, it takes 10 days to recover from a concussion. To note, that is looking at the general research; individuals may take considerably longer than 10 days to return to sport. Also to note, the amount of force required to sustain another concussion decreases as the number of concussions increase, leading possibly to why Morse suffered another concussion. He had several factors going against him that at this point, some he simply cannot control.

It is impossible to identify how long he will take to return. When he suffered his concussion last year, the team knew that he could not talk to the media while in protocol and they also took their time to ensure he was fully healthy before returning to play. They were also not in a rush to have the independent neurological consult for clearance as it was the preseason. This may have influenced the length of time he was in the protocol.

It would be reasonable to assume he could return quicker than last time, but impossible to say. The only thing we can go off of is his levels of participation at practice which will be watched closely. Hopefully, he is able to return in a quick but safe manner. Based on his history, I don’t see a scenario where he plays in Week 9. I also don’t envision a scenario where it takes him another 6 weeks to return as in the case with former Bills QB Derek Anderson, but it can’t be ruled out either. We simply need more information before determining return to play.

RB Taiwan Jones (right hamstring)

Jones suffered a right hamstring strain on the kickoff following the second Bills TD of the day. He suffered the injury running full speed down the field and roughly halfway down the field, he began to pull up, grabbing at his right side. He didn’t appear to change direction or slow down, the hamstring simply went. 

He did deal with hamstring injuries last year when he was with the Texans, but it’s not clear that the previous injuries are directly related as there is roughly a year apart. It may simply be that the hamstring was strained as the result of top-end sprinting.

After seeing all the injuries that Jones has suffered, there is not a doubt in my mind that he will return to play eventually or try to at least. Based on how the team manages hamstring strains, he will probably be out 1-3 games but could be a candidate for IR if the strain is severe enough. We will know more in the coming days. 

WR Stefon Diggs (abdomen/neck)

Diggs went down briefly with 4:58 left in the 3rd quarter after catching a 6-yard pass near the sidelines. Upon review of the play, he appeared to get punched in the abdomen and hit on the back of the neck upon getting tackled. He was motioning to his left flank area before he went down to be assessed by trainers.

He was able to return to the game shortly after a break, but it appears that Diggs had the wind knocked out of him based on what’s on film. He is not a player who has been showing up on the injury report this season though there are scares at times. At the time of writing this article, I don’t see an injury that could limit him from playing next week, but players show up all the time on the report with ailments not previously identified.

LB AJ Klein (left knee)

Klein suffered a left knee injury in the 4th quarter with 4:03 left in the game. He was tripped as he was attempting to pursue Patriots RB Damien Harris towards the sidelines. He came up grabbing at his left knee/shin area briefly but was able to return the next play. 

It’s not clear what he exactly did, he looked to get tripped or pushed down, may have been a contusion or the calf area getting struck. It wasn’t serious enough to even miss a play for further evaluation. Considering how Klein was playing on Sunday, he probably could have used the time off the field.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (left leg)

On the same play that Klein went down, Edmunds also suffered a left knee injury that the trainers had to tend to on the field. Looking at the video, he got knocked off balance, having to take a bigger step forward with his left leg to try and stay upright before falling down. He missed two plays before returning to the game signifying that this may not have been serious.

Upon review, it’s possible that he may have slightly hyperextended the knee or hit the ground when he fell, causing momentary pain. It doesn’t appear to be much of anything but will be something to review further if he shows up on the injury report. 

LB Matt Milano (left pectoral)

Milano did not suffer a re-injury to the area, but his play continues to be compromised due to the injury. This was notable in two places. He played in only 23% of the snaps, down from 33% last week. He also got burned badly by Patriots RB Rex Burkhead on 3rd and 10 with 4:15 left in the 3rd quarter. 

He attempted to grab Burkhead with his left arm as he was falling down, unable to reach him before S Jordan Poyer was able to stop him. Looking at the video, Milano wasn’t in the best position to tackle, but the arm tackle that he has made so many times before could not be completed I believe due to the shoulder harness he is wearing.

The cuff attaches to the arm and has a strap that connects to the chest wall seen in the picture. This is designed to limit abduction and external rotation, similar to cocking back to throw a ball, both movements that could stress the healing pectoral muscle. When he went to tackle Burkhead, his left arm comes up into abduction and quickly snaps back down, indicating that he was suddenly stopped by the bracing. The brace did its job, but this injury continues to limit Milano with his availability and utilizing his skill set. You can see the strap that attaches near the armpit below.

Credit: Breg.com

I have received a lot of questions regarding when he will be fully healthy again. It’s possible that he will be following the bye as it will have been nearly 8 weeks since the original injury. He could hypothetically ditch the brace if the area shows that it’s fully healed. This could obviously change if he re-injures the area or if the team continues to have him wear the brace for further protection. Muscles usually heal up a lot easier due to a rich blood supply to the area, but re-injuries can complicate that healing process.

Those suggesting that he eventually requires surgery, the literature suggests that surgery isn’t performed on partial pectoral tears due to the lack of need. This includes partial tendon tears and tears within the muscle belly. Simply put, Milano needs time to rest. Limiting his snap count to obvious passing downs, limiting his practice reps, and continuous rehab can help maximize the healing process, but he still needs time to rest. Like Edmunds with his shoulder injury, I hope to see that his play improves as the season progresses and that he’s healthier for the playoffs.

G/C Jon Feliciano (pectoral injury)

Week 8 marked the return of G/C Jon Feliciano after suffering a right pectoral tendon tear shortly after training camp started. He had implied that he would return in Week 4, but the team had a say in stopping him from returning sooner to prevent re-injury. The plan appeared to have him worked in and rotate at the guard position, but the injury to C Mitch Morse prevented Feliciano from doing that.

Feliciano ended up playing in 100% of the snaps, all but 3 plays at the center position. G Ryan Bates did come in shortly after Morse went out, but the decision was quickly made to insert Feliciano into the role despite not practicing at the position leading up to the game. With Morse out for an unknown amount of time, the team has to make a decision at center. Feliciano is the obvious choice, but I don’t believe it’s smart to have him play the entire game again coming off an injury such as that, even with the shoulder harness he is wearing, similar to Milano. Just because he played one game like that doesn’t mean that he can’t suffer another injury. 

The team does have options at center including Bates, G Ike Boettger, or practice squad member C Jordan Devey. I’m not certain that rotating at the center position would be great for offensive consistency. To save Feliciano, he should probably switch back to guard, continue to rotate in with someone else and keep another player at center consistently unless more injuries occur. That’s just my opinion, but I’d hate to lose Feliciano just after getting him back and not have Morse for possibly the immediate future. 

Like we have seen every week, I expect to see a surprise injury or a few pop up on the injury report Wednesday. Hopefully, we see the return of S Micah Hyde, DT Vernon Butler, and CB Josh Norman to help shore up the defense as they begin to prepare for Seattle’s high powered offense. We may also see a trade today to bolster the defense as they prepare for the second half of the season. As the season progresses, the hope is that the injury list dwindles in time for the Bills to play their best football in December and make a deep postseason run. 

Top Photo Credit: Billswire.usatoday.com

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Center/Guard

Will Morse, Spain, & Feliciano stay healthy in 2020?

This is Part 6 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 6 consists of the center/guard room.

Players Returning

C Mitch Morse

16 games, 16 starts, 908 snaps, 2 holding penalties

Like most of the other players on the offensive line, Morse is quite tough, not letting most injuries get him down. The Bills free-agent prize of 2019 had high expectations coming to him following a solid career in Kansas City. Regrettably, he brought with him some notable injuries including a long history of concussions. That history continued to follow him to Buffalo along with some other smaller issues that thankfully did not cost him anytime.

Below is Morse’s known injuries:

    • Concussion

Morse suffered a concussion on a rather innocuous hit early in training camp. The time spent in the concussion protocol was extended due to his extensive previous injury history. As a result, he missed the entire preseason and all the contests as he slowly worked his way through the protocol. 

Towards the end of the preseason, it was revealed that Morse cleared the concussion protocol just prior to the cut-down day and was cleared for the regular season. There is the thought that the team purposely did not rush him through the protocol to ensure that he was fully healthy, but that also meant that he was not allowed to speak to the media while in the protocol, thereby reducing the stress of coming to a new team.

    • Right ankle

Morse suffered a right ankle injury when RB Frank Gore kicked him by accident as he ran up the middle in the 2nd quarter of the Titans game. He played a few more snaps that game before sitting out the entire 2nd half as Feliciano took over center duties. Considering all the injuries the Bills were dealing with prior to the bye, they did not want to risk the health of a starting offensive lineman. 

    • Right 5th digit hand

This injury was the result of engaging his Broncos defender before falling down to the turf, landing on his right hand. He came up grabbing the pinky area running to the sidelines. He was observed on the sidelines the rest of the afternoon with the finger buddy taped to the ring finger, even practicing snapping with QB Matt Barkley. Due to the Bills taking care of business, Morse was once again not needed for the rest of the game. 

    • Right ankle

Morse once again suffered a right ankle injury, this time when Patriots DE John Simon fell on the back of his foot late in the 4th quarter during the second meeting with New England. He was assessed by trainers and did not return to the game despite the Bills still having a shot to win the game. It was later reported that had the Bills had another drive, he would have been able to return which indicated that the injury was not severe. 

Overall, Morse was relatively healthy once he got past his preseason concussion. The finger and ankle injuries are just a byproduct of the position he plays and is not concerning moving forward into 2020. Morse has had 4 documented concussions and there is a concern for a fifth. Looking back at the article from Buffalo Rumblings, players who suffer 3 or more concussions are 3x more likely to suffer another one. Morse is in that danger zone; hopefully, the augmented training camp may reduce his chances for a 5th head injury. 

G/C Jon Feliciano

16 games, 16 starts, 947 snaps, 2 holding, 2 false starts, 1 fumble recovery

Feliciano truly is a warrior. He started all 16 games, was called upon multiple times to play center when Mitch Morse went down and overall was a mauler. He quickly established himself as an anchor at the guard position which really helped solidify the line to ensure consistency. Through all this, he played with multiple injuries that would sideline most players.

Feliciano’s injuries below:

    • Left shoulder rotator cuff tear

Feliciano went down with a left shoulder injury at the Bills home scrimmage at the beginning of August last year. He was done with the practice for the night and at the time, it was not known what he was dealing with. It appeared to be minor and it quickly became a non-issue.

Fast forward to January following the playoff loss, it was revealed that he suffered a rotator cuff tear which required surgery to repair. It’s quite possible to play through a partially torn rotator cuff but the pain at times would be incredibly difficult to manage. According to this most recent video on Twitter, this is confirmation that Feliciano is fully healthy & ready for training camp. This likely indicates that he had the partially torn rotator cuff & he should not be limited in any way.

    • Neck

He suffered what appeared to be a whiplash injury during the 1st quarter of the Bengals game where he got hit from the side by Bengals DT Geno Atkins and slammed into Mitch Morse. He finished the 2-pt conversion before ending his day, getting downgraded to out. He was observed leaving the stadium in a neck brace which worried some people but he ended up getting through practice and playing against the Patriots the next week.

    • Right lower leg

This injury was the result of friendly fire, courtesy of Dion Dawkins falling on Feliciano when he was attempting to make a tackle off the interception thrown by Josh Allen. He did not miss a snap following a defensive play series and was able to return to finish the game. 

Feliciano is yet another lock to make this roster but the big question mark will be whether he will be 100% with his rotator cuff repair. I am leaning towards him being ready to go due to having access to excellent medical care along with the injury likely a partial thickness tear. If he is not ready for training camp, he will be afforded the time to get his shoulder into shape for the regular season.

G Quinton Spain 

16 games, 16 starts 1063 snaps, 2 holding, 2 fumble recoveries

Spain became a valuable contributor to the Bills offensive line, far outplaying his one-year contract. Fortunately, the Bills rewarded him with a 3-year deal following the offseason, ensuring that he will be with the team for the foreseeable future. Along with stellar play, Spain was fairly healthy throughout the season, allowing the offensive line to remain consistent.

Spain’s injuries below:

    • Thumb surgery/ankle contusion/foot soreness

These injuries are lumped together due to occurring all within a short timeframe during training camp & OTA’s. Spain had injured his thumb severely enough that it required surgery which limited him during OTA’s. At the time, I had thought he either suffered a skier’s thumb injury in where the UCL ligament tore or if he suffered a fracture which required surgery to reset the bone. He was eventually able to be ready for training camp & did not have any known issues moving forward.

His foot soreness was reported early on in training camp but did not appear to be much of an issue as he was still playing through it. He suffered an ankle contusion as the result of RB Frank Gore stepping/kicking Spain during a routine play in the preseason and was, unfortunately, a victim of friendly fire. 

    • Foot

Spain showed up later on the injury report with a foot designation following the win over the Dolphins in the first game, though little was known what caused his issue. There wasn’t any mechanism of injury and this did not appear to be a chronic issue requiring multiple weeks on the injury report. 

Spain will make the roster in 2020 and he appears to be in even better shape than last season as evidenced by the picture below. He should continue to make an impact at the position and as long as he stays healthy like he did last season, he will be able to make another significant difference in the offense.

G/C Spencer Long

14 games, 174 snaps

Long, a six-year NFL veteran saw a considerable drop in his snaps compared to his previous seasons playing for the Jets & Redskins due to the presence of C Mitch Morse. He only got considerable playing time in 3 games with most of his other playing time on special teams. Despite the limited playing time, he still suffered several injuries.

Long’s injuries below:

    • Right knee

Long was limited early in training camp with what the team described as “knee soreness”. He had a compression sleeve & a hinged knee brace while on the bike. He may have suffered a minor knee sprain but he has also had previous knee issues dating back to his time with the Redskins. It was not something that appeared to limit him as the season progressed.

    • Ankle

He suffered an ankle injury late in the week prior to the first Patriots game which ultimately caused him to miss the game. During this timeframe, the team was dealing with a variety of injuries, and having Long out did not help things. It was not known which side he injured or how he suffered the injury.

Long was otherwise fairly available but got most of his snaps at guard due to the emergence of Jon Feliciano playing at center as needed. Long has a great shot at making the roster but if he is not in the team’s plans, the Bills can move on from him with a minimal financial penalty. 

G Ike Boettger

2 games, 54 snaps

Boettger continues to be a depth piece on this offensive line where he has been too good to expose to the practice squad, but not good enough to get meaningful playing time. Only appearing in 54 snaps all season with a majority of his time in the regular-season finale. He did not suffer any known injuries during his limited play. 

Considering he knows the playbook & has continuity in the room, he has a shot at making the roster or could be a valuable trade asset especially in the abnormal training camp of 2020.

New to the roster

G Marquel Harrell

Coming from Auburn, Harrell demonstrated the ability to play against elite competition in the SEC. He also comes to Buffalo with his health intact which may play into his favor as he attempts to make the roster. His injury history is detailed here at Banged Up Bills. He has a long way to make this roster, but Brandon Beane’s ability to identify talent may land him on the practice squad or a roster spot down the line as the front office has been known to bring back talent as it’s needed. 

G Evan Boehm

Boehm is a well-traveled man who has suffered a variety of injuries during his various stops in the league. He demonstrates versatility playing at both guard and center which may help him find a spot on the roster, especially if injuries occur. Read his injury history at Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Outlook

A lot will be riding on the health of Morse, Spain, & Feliciano, all locks to make the roster. All had outstanding play despite dealing with various injuries. If one of them goes down, there is depth at the tackle position that could move over to guard or a reserve lineman could step up to play until the starter returns. 

Along with the three previously mentioned locks, I see the possibility of either Boettger or Boehm making the roster, Long as a possibility, though he could be an excellent trade piece as Feliciano has shown how good he is when asked to fill in at center. Harrell is a long shot and may find himself on the practice squad, especially if the rosters get expanded due to the pandemic. This is a strong group of players that could make or break the effectiveness of the firepower at the offensive skill positions. 

Ed Oliver’s Core Muscle Surgery

Will Oliver be ready in time for OTA’s?

A surprise tweet from DT Ed Oliver hit Twitter Tuesday afternoon showing two pictures that he had successful surgery following his rookie year. This created several questions as Oliver did not appear on the injury report all season & only appeared to suffer one known injury following the Titans game in which he sustained a left foot/ankle injury when he tackled RB Derrick Henry. He was able to return following the bye & did not miss any games during this season.

However, Tuesday’s tweet changed things with Oliver in a hospital gown. The Bills had recently performed their end of season exit physicals & issues are found once a full assessment has been performed. We have already observed this with the tweets last week from DE Jerry Hughes & his torn wrist ligaments. Oliver likely had his exit physical & found this issue which required corrective surgery.

Originally, I had thought that he had a routine joint cleanout from general debris such as bone chips, articular cartilage, or frayed tissue due to not appearing on the injury report. But news came out later that he had successful core muscle surgery, commonly known as a sports hernia, announced by Buffalo News reporter Vic Carucci. 

Looking back at the Oliver tweet, there were two clues that indicated that he had core muscle surgery. First, the location was in Philadelphia, PA. Oliver could have had arthroscopic surgery in Buffalo or back in his hometown Houston, or wherever he wanted, indicating that Philadelphia was a specific location. Second, the 2nd picture shows the phrase “Vincera Institute” above his head. This was not readily observed unless you were able to zoom in on the picture but this was a dead giveaway in retrospect to what he had done. Frankly, I missed it the first time around.

The Vincera Institute in Philadelphia is run by Dr. William Meyers, a nationally renowned orthopedic doctor specializing in core muscle repair. From what I’ve read, he is THE guy when it comes to core muscle repair. Meyers is also big against identifying the injury as a sports hernia, hence my use of the term core muscle. We don’t know when Oliver suffered his injury, how long he was dealing with it, & how severe it was.

With regard to the injury itself, there is a multitude of variations according to the Vincera Institute website that frankly, even as a licensed Physical Therapist, were new to me. As there are no specifics to which injury he sustained, below is a general description of a core muscle injury.

groin_injuries
Credit: https://physioworks.com.au/Injuries-Conditions/Regions/groin_pain

Core-muscles-abdominal
Credit: plankpose.com

The adductor muscles in the groin are most commonly injured pictured above, but can also affect the abdominal muscles in the 2nd picture. These injuries can occur with planting the feet & twisting maximally, causing the lower-body injury. They can also occur with violent twisting, kicking, and turning along with blows to the back, anything that overstretches or strains the muscle at its attachment.

These injuries can present as groin strains, oblique strains, or other general injuries around the hip or core region that don’t resolve with proper rest & rehab. A core muscle injury is when the tissue tears & does not heal like a normal strain, commonly with the muscle pulling away from the pubic bone attachment observed in the first picture.

This can present as sharp or stabbing pains with specific movements such as sprinting, kicking, cutting, etc. This can also be tender to touch, little to no pain during rest, and typically isolated to one side. These injuries aren’t always apparent at the time; often minor injuries are able to be played through. The severity of the injury is found later such as during a physical or if the pain becomes too intense to perform an activity.

Fortunately, surgical outcomes are great with at least 90% of repairs in the NFL have shown to resume their normal activities prior to the injury with the control group playing slightly more games and slightly longer careers than those having the surgery. However, the control group in that study were players who had similar careers in relation to experience, statistics, & position played, not indicating that the groin injury itself led to a shorter career. Another study showed 89% of repairs were able to return to the pre-injury level of play with minimal to no pain during a 4-year follow up study. 

Rehab for this surgery can be between 6-12 weeks based on the specific type of core muscle surgery & location. Rehab protocols can be found here & here with most protocols skewing towards a lengthened recovery timeline for a conservative approach.

If Oliver has any concerns regarding his recovery, he can ask fellow Bills players C Mitch Morse & WR Cole Beasley who both suffered similar injuries at the end of the 2018 season which required surgery, causing them to miss some of OTA’s last spring. As of writing, both have not had any known issues regarding re-injury to the area & should continue to stay productive. According to the 2020 NFL offseason schedule, the Bills will start OTA’s April 20th. By then, Oliver will be fully healthy without any limitations.

It’s unfortunate that Oliver suffered this injury, but injuries are a part of football. It is great that he got this addressed now so that he may be fully healthy to attack this first offseason as a professional in order to grow into the next great Bills defensive tackle. I have no concerns regarding this injury & his recovery as he was treated by one of the best in the United States & has an excellent facility to rehab at in Buffalo if he so chooses.

I expect there to be more surprise injuries & surgeries as the offseason progresses, but this is just another one that is being addressed properly & maximizing Oliver’s growth as a professional football player.

Top Photo Credit:

HoustonChronicle.com

Week 17 Bills Injury Preview- Jets

Will this finally be the week that Nsekhe returns?

The big concern going into this game against the Jets is how long starters will play & what players will be inactive. This is especially worrisome due to the recent comments by Jets S Jamal Adams in which he stated they would be hunting along with Jets DC Gregg Williams. Along with that comment, Bills fans have to worry about cheap shots from DE Henry Anderson. If you recall, he blindsided K Stephen Hauschka last season which threw his game off for the rest of the season seen below. 

Thankfully, the Bills continue to manage their injuries well & are not forced to play players who are injured. Below are the injuries prior to the game & inactives.

OUT

WR Andre Roberts (foot)

Roberts was a surprise addition to the injury report following Saturday’s game. Reviewing the film, it’s not clear when he suffered his foot injury. There aren’t many plays that show when he could have possibly injured his foot, but a possible culprit is when he was blocking for QB Josh Allen on a designed run play early in the 3rd quarter, it appears he got kicked on the right ankle.

There was also another point in the 3rd quarter with 3:35 left in where he appeared to be limping slightly after the play. There didn’t appear to be a mechanism of injury prior to this play either which makes this difficult to identify the exact problem. Considering he hasn’t practiced this week & has already been ruled out, we can only hope that he will be ready for the playoffs. 

DE Shaq Lawson (left hamstring)

Lawson has not been able to practice this week due to a hamstring strain suffered in Saturday’s loss to the Patriots. This occurred after a tackle for loss in the backfield during the 2nd half of the game. The actual tackle itself did not appear to be an issue, but rather the celebration afterward. He began to get up & celebrate, grabbing the hamstring in the process.

He was able to continue playing for the rest of the game but the injury appeared to catch up with him later. Even after a slight strain, the muscle is still painful & sore, requiring frequent stretching & controlled movement to allow healing but not overwork the area in order to prevent further injury. As he has already been ruled out, this is the smart move to do considering how valuable he will be in the playoffs. It will be interesting to note how the coaching staff rotates the defensive ends as there are only 4 on the roster.

QUESTIONABLE

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

I feel like we have been having the same conversation for the past 6 weeks regarding his injury. But new information is available! He finally appears to have made the expected progress, participating in practice on Thursday & looking quite well on film. He is moving with the fluidity of someone who is close to returning & appears to be close to 100%. 

Considering how he is moving, I’m making the assumption that he could have returned sooner, but how OT Cody Ford was playing, he wasn’t needed immediately. At this point, it is unnecessary for Nsekhe to play in Week 17, but he has missed the last 5 games which means he would benefit from some live reps in order to prepare for the playoffs. 

CLEARED TO PLAY

C Mitch Morse (right low ankle sprain)

Morse scared many Bills fans late in the 4th quarter in which he had his ankle rolled up on, reportedly feeling several pops & having difficulty walking on it initially. Fortunately, he was able to practice in full this week & not appear to have any limitations despite what appears to be a low ankle sprain. 

Morse is yet another starter that may play several series but overall benefit from a well-deserved rest day or even being declared inactive in order to ensure his health.

OTHER INJURIES

DT Harrison Phillips (left ACL)

Phillips has been out since September, diligently working back from a torn ACL that ended his season prematurely in the win over Cincinnati. Occasionally, news is released of Phillps attending practice, performing his rehab, & still participating in team activities. While it wasn’t expected that Phillips would return until next season, it’s great to see the progress being done in rehab. In the first tweet, below is Phillips running on an underwater treadmill to reduce the stress that land-based running would cause. In the other tweet, you can see the progress that Phillips has made & is demonstrating the proper muscle control during his step-up routine with a weighted vest. 

Even though he is unable to play this year, Phillips still understands his job & purpose on the team which further validates the culture that has been instilled at One Bills Drive. I expect to see more clips in the near future & see him inch closer & closer towards returning to football activities.

Probable Inactives:

TE Lee Smith

RB Frank Gore

S Micah Hyde

S Jordan Poyer

DE Shaq Lawson

WR Andre Roberts

G Quinton Spain

This would be a game that the Bills would be foolish to not play all their reserve players for much needed live snaps. It is probably the best bet to allow some of the veteran players a true rest day, have all the starters play several series & then act as backups in order to get through the game. It would be great to get to 11 wins, but not at the cost of a key contributor going down. 

The Jets are still a talented team, this is the NFL after all. But this is the best-case scenario in where the backups can get extensive playing time & get some film for next season when the roster churns over. Plus, I don’t think in any circumstance that Terry or Kim Pegula are forcing the coach to play certain players as in the still hotly debated topic of QB Doug Flutie or Rob Johnson. This will be a good game to allow the Bills to play & not worry about the outcome. There are bigger fish to fry next week with either traveling to Kansas City or Houston, both being true tests.

Top Photo Credit:

SBNation.com

Week 16 Bills Injury Review- Patriots

Will Morse play Week 17?

Tom Brady has to retire soon right? He’s now 32-3 against the Bills despite many, many close losses by the Bills over that timeframe. I want to be mad, but Tom Brady has to retire soon right? I can’t even be that mad because the Bills already locked up a playoff spot which gave this game little to no meaning with an AFC East title possible, but unlikely. Plus, there have been 7 instances since 1970 where a team sweeps a division rival in the regular season & loses in the playoffs. 

Why not make it 8 if we get them in the divisional round or AFC Championships? Anyway, the Bills came out of the Patriots loss again with minimal injuries. Check them out below.

DE Shaq Lawson (left hamstring)

Lawson suffered what appears to be a minor hamstring strain at the beginning of the 4th quarter on a tackle for loss in the backfield. He came up ready to celebrate and immediately grabbed at his left hamstring, limping slightly around the field. However, he continued to play & maintain his regular rotation on the line, not immediately appearing limited.

The tackle itself didn’t appear concerning, which is why I didn’t feel that he suffered any injury upon the initial replay. On later drives, I was able to see that he occasionally motioned to the left side, but not really favoring the side too much. Sad to say, his celebration may have caused the strain.

The team has been incredibly conservative with hamstrings, but considering that he continued to play through the injury, it may not be a concern. I believe that the injury is hurting him more after playing in where the muscle has tightened up due to the injury from inflammation rather than during the game in where he was able to stay loose. The Bills only have 4 defensive ends on the roster & I expect that he continues to play unless he is dealing with a moderate strain. I believe he may be limited somewhat in practice this week but this will be a non-issue by Sunday.

C Mitch Morse (right ankle)

Morse suffered a right ankle injury as the result of Patriots DE John Simon falling on the back of his ankle, forcing it to twist out with a few minutes left in the 4th quarter. He came up hobbling, appearing to try to shake out the ankle before completing one more play in where Josh Allen converted the 4th & 1. Morse was evaluated by trainers on the field & required some assistance to walk off. He did not return & his absence was noticeable as the Bills drove down the field to attempt to tie the game. 

His injury appears to be a routine low ankle sprain which really isn’t all that concerning. I am sure he is hurting but it was later reported that if the Bills had another drive, he probably would have been able to come back according to The Athletic’s Matthew Fairburn. 

 

Considering the Bills do have some depth on the line, I could see a scenario where Morse is active but does not play. This isn’t implying that he won’t be healthy enough, but I believe he would be an emergency option in case G Jon Feliciano or even G Spencer Long go down if they play in his place. 

WR Andre Roberts (unspecified)

I wait until the Monday afternoon press conferences for reports such as these. More often than not, there are these injuries that aren’t apparent during the game & then they appear on the injury report. Reviewing the game film, Roberts was involved in 13 offensive snaps & 8 special teams plays. From my viewpoint, he stayed pretty clean during the game. There were a few instances where he got hit or bumped from behind, ankles got clipped on a return, but no glaring instance where he came up limping, appeared limited, or took a shot. 

It’s interesting that they note that the injury is unspecified. I wonder if it’s gamesmanship on the Bills part here. Even though they are playing a meaningless game against the Jets, they still need to safeguard the players for the playoffs & limit information coming out. To delay even a few days what Roberts could be dealing with could be a competitive advantage. They will eventually have to reveal it on the injury report, but my guess is he’s dealing with some type of strain or contusion, leaning more towards strain in the lower body.

I suspect this because he’s unspecified, his moneymaker is his legs & on special teams, and the injury isn’t obvious. My immediate guess is a calf or hamstring strain. To note, Roberts did deal with a quadriceps injury that kept him out of the 1st two games this season, but it’s unlikely that these are related. 

It’s simply too soon to tell whether he will suit up Sunday or if he will be a person that gets some much-needed rest. 

Other Notes:

DT Corey Liguet played after being ruled questionable for the 2nd straight week with a knee injury. I still don’t have specifics & likely won’t for some time. He did not appear to be limited, playing in 29% of the snaps, which has been on par for him the past few games. His knee continues to be something to note, but until more information is available, then speculation is all we have.

I do not recall a time when the Bills had a meaningless game to play. This is fantastic to note that there are games still to play but the Bills do not have to rely on the outcomes of games to secure their fate. I expect that the team treats this as a pre-season game in that the starters will get some playing time, but will quickly be pulled where able. I know that the team only suits up 46 for game day, but any backups should be playing considerable time to give the starters a rest & prevent injury. 

I did want to note a retweet that I received from a follower, Ned Hunt, the other day stating that the Bills have used the least amount of personnel this season, indicating their health. It’s great to see that they can keep their core players healthy & not have to continuously bring in new guys who have to learn a new system.

One more regular-season game to play. The Bills just have to get through this game against the Jets & then begin preparing for a likely matchup against the Texans. Here’s to hoping that the Bills escape yet another game with minimal to no injury before the playoffs. 

Top Photo Credit:

Yardbarker.com

Week 15 Bills Injury Preview- Steelers

What is going on with Liuget & Feliciano?

The Buffalo Bills haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 1993, a 24-3 win in their march towards a 3rd Super Bowl appearance. Regular season, they haven’t won there since 1975. To date, the Steelers have won the last 6 meetings with the last win coming in 1999. Safe to say there’s a lot riding on this game, a chance to make up for previous failures. To top it off, this is a Sunday Night game, the Bills haven’t appeared on Sunday night since 2007, an embarrassment by the Patriots. There’s so much at stake, we may need a priest to perform an exorcism for good measure. 

The one upside is that the Bills continue to be healthy heading into a win & in playoff scenario. Players are reducing padded practices per the CBA & trying to manage their health during the week to maximize their abilities on Sundays. Below are the injuries & expected inactives prior to the Sunday game. 

OUT

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe will miss his 4th straight game following his severe sprain suffered in the win over the Dolphins. He continues to show progress, observed walking without a walking boot, but not practicing just yet. I had anticipated that he could come back in time for the Patriots game which is still realistic, but not a guarantee. Once he begins practicing, then a return to play timeline can be definitive.

QUESTIONABLE 

DT Corey Liuget (knee)

Liuget has been dealing with a knee injury all week that forced him to miss Wednesday’s practice, but limited Thursday & Friday. It is not known which knee is bothering him but there were several instances where he could have sustained a contusion due to hitting his knee on a helmet, getting kicked, or having bodies fall on him. Unless a clear mechanism of injury is identified or even which side, hard to really tell if he’s a guarantee to play. If he is unable to go, DT Vincent Taylor gets the nod.

OG Jon Feliciano (illness)

Feliciano was sent home Friday with an illness that affected RB Frank Gore this week & RB TJ Yeldon & OG Quinton Spain last week. It’s flu season & people are bound to get sick. He is truly a 50/50 on whether he plays Sunday night. Considering he has extra time to recover with hitting the fluids & resting, there may be a chance he plays. From the looks of what I’ve seen him do this season, he’s one tough dude. With the ability to clinch a playoff spot, I would think he could muster enough energy Sunday night. If he can’t go, OG Spencer Long would likely get the start.

CLEARED TO PLAY

DT Jordan Phillips (knee)

Like Liuget, it’s unknown which knee he is dealing with. He popped on the injury report as limited Thursday indicating he missed some drill at some point, reportedly receiving extra attention from the training staff at the beginning of practice. Looking back at Sunday’s game on replay, it was a brutal, physical game. It’s no surprise several guys are banged up, especially the big uglies in the trenches. Thankfully, Phillips is cleared to play & he will continue his rotation on the defensive line as they have every other game. 

QB Josh Allen (left ankle)

Allen suffered a mild left ankle sprain as the result of getting stepped on by C Mitch Morse which forced him to limp off the field briefly. He quickly got his ankle taped back up & was able to return to play without missing a snap. As he didn’t appear on the injury report this week, I don’t anticipate it being an issue. He will likely have either some bracing or have it taped up in order to provide extra support. I don’t believe that it will hinder his overall mobility. 

Probable Inactives:

TE Tommy Sweeney

OG Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

OT Ty Nsekhe

DT Corey Liuget

S Dean Marlowe

WR Duke Williams

The Steelers boast a talented defense, strong offensive line, beat up starting running back in RB James Connor, lacking their top wide receiver in WR Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster & playing their 3rd string QB Devlin Hodges. Heinz Field is not an easy place to play as Steeler Nation shows up every game & this will be no exception. It will be cold & the pressure will be on. The Bills appear to be the more talented team heading down to Pittsburgh to play on the national stage. They have shown they can hang with anyone; this is a winnable game & I expect Buffalo to end Sunday night with 10 wins. 

On a personal note, growing up in Erie, PA, I was surrounded by Steeler fans including many family members. It is incredibly satisfying to see Facebook meltdown after a Steelers loss. I plan on watching the game from the comfort of my own home, watch the Bills win, and then sit back, with a tasty beer as Steelers nation cries themselves to sleep. GO BILLS!

Top Photo Credit:

Sportsbookreview.com

Week 14 Bills Injury Review- Ravens

Despite a loss, the Bills still showed a lot on Sunday afternoon. I’m not talking about this was a moral victory or if one thing was different, they could have won. What it simply comes down to is the offense didn’t come alive until it was too late, but what it did show that the Bills weren’t overmatched as in years past.

The Bills simply weren’t as good as the Ravens were Sunday with a 24-17 loss, but it shows that there isn’t a team, at least in the AFC, that the Bills weren’t as good as or can’t keep up with. We have seen this team rebound after a loss & improve their shortcomings, rather than getting stubborn & refuse to realize when something isn’t working. On top of that, the Bills continue to stay healthy & gear up towards an almost certain playoff trip. Below are the updates from the game.

QB Josh Allen (left ankle/foot)

Allen suffered an ankle sprain/foot contusion as the result of C Mitch Morse stepping on his left ankle/foot, attempting to keep the pocket clear. However, friendly fire strikes again & Allen was briefly down, limping off before getting his ankle wrapped & returning. He was able to play the entirety of the game & did not appear to be fazed by it, but this is more of a pain issue than anything else. It’s possible he may be limited one of the practice days if they work outside or he may not even show up on the injury report.

During Monday’s press conference, it wasn’t noted that he was dealing with anything concerning. Regardless, this isn’t something that I anticipate will hold him back from playing & at most, keep him in the pocket, reducing the need to run.

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe continues to work back from an ankle injury that has already cost him 3 games. He has yet to practice with him returning in a limited fashion possible Wednesday. Detailed in previous articles, outlines of why he was able to avoid an ankle fracture, why it takes so long for a ligament injury to heal, & when he will return. As I write this, it is possible that he could begin practicing Wednesday for the Steelers game, but it’s more realistic he comes back against the Patriots. Until he shows up as a limited participant, it will only be an educated guess. Though when he does return, he will be close to, if not, 100%.

The Bills continue to stay healthy down this final stretch as they look to finally clinch their playoff spot. While we can’t prevent injuries from happening, the medical staff will do their best to keep the players in one piece. The big hope is that major injury continues to escape the Bills. If this does occur, this team is deep enough to overcome some losses but would certainly dash hopes to make a playoff run. All we can do is take it week to week & have the Bills control their own narrative.

Top Photo Credit:

Pennlive.com