2020 Week 17 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins

Who will sit on Sunday to prevent injury?

To rest the starters or let them play, that appears to be the big question for the Buffalo Bills heading into Week 17 against the Miami Dolphins. With the #2 seed hanging in the balance with a win, the Bills must balance the roster properly to ensure maximum health but to ensure that they can still win the game. If they do lose and so does the Pittsburgh Steelers, then the Bills still secure the #2 seed. But if the Bills lose and Pittsburgh wins over a hungry Cleveland Browns team, then they secure the #3 seed. I don’t believe it is in Sean McDermott’s DNA to not try and win a game, especially if home-field advantage hangs in the balance.

The roster management will be significantly different from past weeks and we will see more inactives due to preserving health rather than true injuries. This doesn’t mean that everyone will sit, only those that don’t have anything to gain by playing. Below are the injuries and inactives.

OUT 

TE Reggie Gilliam (knee/hamstring)

Gilliam misses his second straight game with a likely left knee injury in addition to a hamstring injury. He has not practiced over the past two weeks and quietly left the game against the Broncos without a clear mechanism of injury other than having his knee taken out from behind him on a special teams play from which he returned later in the game.

We will have to watch the injury report to see if he begins practicing and returns for the playoffs or whether he gets sent to IR to activate someone else from the practice squad. This would then let the Bills sign others to the practice squad as insurance in case further injuries occur.

WR Cole Beasley (left knee)

Beasley missed the past week of practice as expected due to a left knee injury that forced him to leave the game early in the 4th quarter Monday. I had detailed the possibilities of his knee injury that you can find in my article from Wednesday. To summarize, he could have suffered a contusion to the lateral knee, a quadriceps strain, or a meniscus injury. 

My thoughts have not changed from Wednesday and it may be possible that he plays in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but it is far from guaranteed. Looking at recent Bills who have played through meniscus injuries including Kelvin Benjamin and Charles Clay in 2017. Benjamin missed 2 games with his meniscus tear and gutted out the remaining 5 games to the playoffs.

Clay missed 3 total games but 4 weeks total due to having the bye week. His recovery was longer due to requiring surgery to trim the meniscus in order to play and allow his MCL sprain to heal. Both were hot and cold with their production, but let’s face it, Benjamin and Clay are nowhere near the talent level that Beasly possesses. 

The Bills could survive the first round game without Beasley, but if he can play, he will try to perform. Practice next week will be telling as to whether he is trending towards playing or if the team is more cautious.

ACTIVE

G Jon Feliciano (illness)

Feliciano was a surprise addition to the injury report with illness but practiced in full on Friday and had no game day designation. As long as the illness is not COVID, things happen, and as long as he can play, then there are no worries. I am not certain he plays a lot unless Josh Allen plays. This is a game that the Bills can look at backups or find out if any of their pending free agents are worth re-signing. 

Inactives:

TE Reggie Gilliam

WR Cole Beasley

CB Tre’Davious White

C Mitch Morse

WR Stefon Diggs

QB Josh Allen

LB Matt Milano

Outside of Gilliam and Beasley, these inactives are a total guess based on value to the team. To lose Tre’Davious White would be a huge issue and Matt Milano certainly would benefit from being fresh working back from his pectoral injury. While Stefon Diggs did reach his statistical benchmarks for the season for his contract and could rest, Josh Allen is only 40 passing yards from claiming the top spot in Bills history for passing yards. I am sure Allen would want the record, but not if it potentially could mean injury. 

Mitch Morse is a smart bet to not play if Allen does not and with his previous concussion this season, to avoid losing him for the playoffs would not be ideal. I would not be surprised if I am wrong on 5/7 picks because Sean McDermott has been coy on if he would rest starters or not. We will know Sunday at 11:30 am as to their plans. 

The team does have their two standard practice squad call-ups and protected practice squad players which were used on offensive lineman Trey Adams, Jordan Devey, Jonotthan Harrison, and Darron Lee. They also have a COVID emergency callup which could be used on Dane Jackson or Davis Webb. The team has plenty of options in terms of resting players with the use of practice squad guys if they need.

Other injury thoughts:

We do know that John Brown will finally play for the first time since Week 10 to get reps to be ready for the postseason. He would be one that would benefit from time off, but to get even a half of football in would ensure that he is ready for next weekend. His high ankle sprain should be pretty close to if not fully healed up by now and most of the other injuries he was dealing with should be fairly well managed by now. 

The Dolphins are dealing with several injuries for themselves including Jakeem Grant (high ankle), Solomon Kindley (knee/foot), Shaq Lawson (shoulder), and DeVante Parker (hamstring). I would expect all play with the exception of Grant who was reported to miss the game but is currently listed as questionable. Even if he did play, I doubt he would be effective on special teams and offense. 

Either way, this is a must-win game for the Dolphins to control their playoff fate. They could still make the playoffs if the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, or Browns lose which could allow them to enter the postseason, but none of those are guaranteed which forces the Dolphins to play for their lives.

I believe the Bills can still win even with most of the starters resting or seeing minimal playing time. If the Bills do lose this game, this could set up the Dolphins to come back up the next week for the Wild Card game if things fall just right. Either way, this will be enjoyable to watch this game knowing there is little to be concerned for as the team prepares for a home playoff game. The pressure to win will increase following 4:30 pm on Sunday but until then, the fanbase can relax and enjoy the game.

Top Photo Credit: ESPN

2020 Week 14 Bills Injury Review- Steelers

What is going on with Morse, Knox, and Johnson?

These are the Buffalo Bills that I’ve waited to cheer for since I converted to my fandom to full-fledged Bills membership many years ago. To see this organization win as they have and know that they are not mortgaging the future to win now is incredibly pleasing. This continues to be a week-to-week league and the Bills have shown that they can get the job done nearly every week. The true test will be the playoffs, maximizing the winning window that Buffalo has not had in nearly a generation.

While a 10-3 start is incredible, the Bills still need to secure the AFC East to get a home playoff game and potentially control who they play in the postseason. After a rough portion of the season where injuries beget injuries, the Bills are getting healthy at the right time. Thankfully there were injuries that did not lead to any concern for the remaining schedule. 

C Mitch Morse (left elbow)

Morse exited the game for several series after sustaining a left elbow injury during the second Bills drive. He was observed on the sidelines getting his elbow taped up. This tape job was performed to limit hyperextension to the elbow according to a Twitter follower who happens to be an ATC below. This could have been protecting the distal biceps required for elbow flexion or it could have been protecting from elbow hyperextension if he had gotten hit up underneath the arm. 

Looking at the film, it’s not clear when he suffered the injury. I didn’t see a specific instance where he gets his elbow hit that required attention. He was wearing bracing before the injury occurred and has often worn bracing to the area in general. The type of bracing did not change after indicating that the taping may have needed to be replaced. 

Credit: Buffalo News

He was able to return after some time off and testing the area on the sidelines though it did initially appear at times he had trouble engaging blocks with his left arm. Pain and swelling are likely to present which may have been more of a factor in getting things taped back up after examination of the area. 

I’m not certain that he will miss any time with this injury as he was able to return and the elbow is a stable joint limiting further injury. Add in bracing/tape and he should continue to play through this ailment. This one will be one to watch on the injury report this week but I’m not concerned long term.

TE Dawson Knox (stinger)

Knox startled everyone by grabbing at his head and falling to the turf shortly after a routine block in the 3rd quarter. Fortunately, he was able to walk off under his own power and the initial pain appeared to subside. Based on how he was grabbing his neck/right trapezius on the sidelines, I had thought he suffered a stinger due to how he was hit. He was later reported as having a stinger, confirming my thoughts.

Stingers occur when there is a sudden compression or stretch to the cervical nerves that branch off the neck. This can cause a temporary intense shock down the nerves of the neck that can be felt down the arm in some cases. This can be the result of the nerve getting compressed coming out between the cervical vertebrae or this could be the result of a herniated or bulging disc in the area pressing on the nerve. Stingers typically don’t last long and aren’t recurrent unless there are underlying issues such as a disc issue like we saw happen with Eric Wood back in 2017. I am not implying that to be the case, rather just to give context to the situation. 

Credit: AAFP.org

Like Morse, he also sat out briefly before returning and creating several plays later that helped cement the win for the Bills. This injury isn’t something that I expect to see on the injury report unless he is dealing with continued soreness to the area or there are persistent symptoms. 

CB Taron Johnson (concussion)

Johnson was downgraded to out in the 3rd quarter with a concussion while trying to tackle Steelers back James Conner. He was whisked away to the blue medical tent for further evaluation and eventually to the locker room where they officially diagnosed him with a concussion. 

From what I’ve found, this is Johnson’s first documented NFL concussion. They take on average 7-10 days to recover from which means his timeline to play Saturday against the Broncos isn’t great. He could pass through the protocol quickly but isn’t likely considering the research. I don’t anticipate him playing Sunday and based on the severity, only time will tell how much he will really miss. Until Johnson returns, Siran Neal will likely get increased playing time. 

Other thoughts:

QB Josh Allen (right knee)

Allen continues to work back from his right knee injury still sporting the hinged brace. His 6 rushes for 28 yards is an uptick from last week and he showed a greater ability to use the entire field to run as needed. He had an effective run to the left, showing the ability to push off his right leg and overall showed greater confidence. 

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano performed well last week seeing 19 snaps before increasing his total snaps increase to 27 which was 47% of the total snaps. He continues to wrap offensive players up with greater ability and show why his presence improves the defensive performance. 

I’m unsure what the team will do with playing time as AJ Klein has shown an ability to play with placed in the right situation. He may continue to split reps to preserve his health or it may be best from a defensive scheme. Either way, it’s a great situation to have and if Milano needs to play more, he can, but if he’s not needed, then this reduces the risk of either re-injury or other injuries.

WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain)

The Bills practice on a short week with the Denver Broncos on Saturday at 4:30 pm. This game is being played in Denver which could have an impact on the availability of John Brown. He is eligible to return this week, he has been activated for practice, but I’m not certain that he does. 

He is still coming off his high ankle sprain suffered against the Cardinals in Week 10 and he also has sickle cell trait that he has battled through during his career. He has played in Denver before but not since 2014 where he had two receptions for 4 yards. The lower oxygen levels due to the higher altitude could cause his body to fatigue quicker leading to potentially more injuries. To read more on the effects of sickle cell trait, check out this article from Dr. Melanie Friedlander over at Steelers Depot.

I’m not implying that this will prevent him from playing, it hasn’t in the past, but it is a variable that has to be considered especially coming off the numerous injuries this season. This is something that both Brown and the medical staff have likely discussed with his return to play timeline from the high ankle sprain.

With the emergence of Gabriel Davis and a Broncos team on the cusp of playoff elimination, I believe the Bills can survive another week without Brown. They can have him come back in Week 16 to get reps in against playoff-caliber teams in the Patriots and Dolphins before the playoffs start. The 6 total weeks off for the high ankle sprain would allow him plenty of time to come back fully healthy in time for the playoffs. 

It is remarkable that the Bills can suffer all these injuries and just fill the gaps with backup talent until the starters come back to perform. We’ve seen plenty of other teams suffer several injuries that simply derail their playoff hopes and yet the Bills continue to march through. A win this Saturday would lock up the AFC East and allow the Bills to consider resting starters as able. The only downside would be that a win for the Patriots or Dolphins may allow them to get into the postseason which would not be ideal to play the same team 3 times in a season, regardless if there was a regular-season sweep. 

Continue to watch the injury report and updates coming out of Banged Up Bills and One Bills Drive as the Bills head out to Denver to attempt to move to 11-3 on the season. 

Top Photo Credit: MSN.com

2020 Week 13 Bills Injury Preview- 49ers

Will Milano and Dodson get activated?

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

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

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

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

G Jon Feliciano (Foot)

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

DE Mario Addison (Knee/vet rest)

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

TE/FB Reggie Gilliam (Hamstring)

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

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

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

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

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral strain)

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

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

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

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

LB Tyrel Dodson (Hamstring)

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

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

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

DT Harrison Phillips

DE Trent Murphy

TE Lee Smith

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

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

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

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

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

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills

2020 Week 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