2020 Week 7 Bills Injury Review- Jets

Are the Bills finally getting healthy?

A win is a win when at the end of the year no matter how easy or ugly the game may have been. An 18-10 score completes the season sweep of the New York Jets and first sweep since 2015. Behind a strong performance of 6 field goals from K Tyler Bass, the Bills found ways to move the ball down the field and score points despite the offense sputtering. The defense came up strong in the second half, only allowing 4 total yards to the Jets offense, finishing with a game-sealing interception. 

To top it all off, there were no publicly reported injuries. In light of the good news, there are still several topics to discuss below as upcoming decisions based on injuries will take place. Check it out below.

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Allen continues to deal with a left shoulder injury sustained in the Raiders game. Against the Titans and Chiefs, he has struggled for accuracy and has not looked himself while wearing a shoulder brace to protect the area. 

He came out sporting a new brace to protect the shoulder but it appears that this is less restrictive than his previous one. I was able to observe that under the shoulder brace, he did have kinesiotape which likely helped support the shoulder but allowed him change the brace without sacrificing stability. It’s also noted that he ditched the brace last week in the 4th quarter against the Chiefs in order to improve his throwing mechanics. 

I will expect to continue to see him wear the brace to protect the shoulder until the end of the season. 

CB Tre’Davious White (back)

White suited up on Sunday after being ruled questionable following Friday’s practice. White played in 100% of defensive snaps. The fact that he plays but is limited during the week indicates that this back issue he has is the pain centered with the goal of reducing activity through the week to be ready on Sundays. This is something to continue to monitor and I expect that this issue will not go away as the season progresses. 

LB Matt Milano (left pectoral) 

Milano played in 33% of snaps indicating that he was likely on a pitch count. I had thought he would miss two games and that appeared to be the case. He was also in on obvious passing downs which supports the notion that he is healthy enough to play but not quite there with regards to tackling fully. His playing time should ramp up for the Patriots game as he will be needed much more against a far better opponent. 

He was noted to be wearing a shoulder harness that limits shoulder abduction and external rotation with those movements placing stress on the healing tendon/muscle. He will likely not be 100% until after the bye, but healthy enough that his presence is greatly needed over the next 3 weeks in order to keep piling up the wins. 

G Jon Feliciano (pectoral tear)

Feliciano continues to wait to return to play following his pectoral tear back in August. I had originally thought that he would return around midseason in Week 8. While not confirmed, his 21-day practice window is closing on Wednesday with the team to make a decision on whether to activate him. It’s likely that he will be activated, but the team intends to use the full window before they make the decision. 

LB Tyrel Dodson (right hamstring)

Dodson was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring strain which indicates that the injury is possibly a Grade 2 strain which will take 4-8 weeks to fully heal. I would speculate that he is closer to the 4-week variety. It’s hard to say how long he’ll be out, but it’s likely that he will be out the next month as he rehabs. 

CB Cam Lewis (left wrist)

Lewis was active Sunday following being deemed week-to-week with a wrist injury sustained in the Chiefs game. It still isn’t clear what he is dealing with, possibly a fracture due to the club, but it’s serious enough to not play against the Jets. It appears that he was available only in the event of an emergency. With the potential return of CB Levi Wallace from IR potentially this week, this could be a one for one swap if the team goes this route. 

S Jaquan Johnson (back)

Johnson popped up on the injury report Friday with a back injury but played on Sunday, appearing in 57% of special teams indicating that this wasn’t a concerning issue. He doesn’t have any known back injuries, but something to note as he has become an important special teams contributor. 

TE Dawson Knox (calf/COVID)

Knox was ruled out prior to Sunday’s contest but was placed on the COVID/Reserve list Saturday after testing positive, also forcing TE Lee Smith, TE Tommy Sweeney, and PS TE Nate Becker onto the list due to being close contacts. While it’s highly unfortunate that Knox contracted COVID, this may benefit Knox in the long run as he can rest for the next week which may allow him to return fully healthy once cleared. According to protocols, if he was asymptomatic, he can return after 10 days from the initial positive test and have two following negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

If he was symptomatic, he would have to wait 10 days from when the symptoms first appeared and at least 72 hours from when he last experienced symptoms. So it’s possible that Knox could return by next week to play, but we won’t know that unless we know that he was symptomatic. This is a waiting game at the moment. Hopefully, Smith, Sweeney, and Becker test negative and can return to their respective roles quickly. To read more about the COVID testing, check this article out.

The team should be getting a lot of players healthy this week with the possibility of another name or two popping up on the injury report. Despite not having Knox for the foreseeable future along with potentially G Cody Ford, the additions of Feliciano and Wallace should help immensely in order to allow the Bills to take control of the AFC East next Sunday against the Patriots. 

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo News

TE Nate Becker Injury Profile

#84 Nate Becker

Position: TE
Height/Weight: 6’5”/264 lbs.
Age: 24
College: Miami OH
Year joined Bills: 2020
Acquired: UDFA

College Injuries:

2015 Redshirt Freshman year:

No publicly reported injuries.

2016 Redshirt Sophomore year:

Lisfranc injury, missed entire season.

2017 Redshirt Junior year:

No publicly reported injuries.

2018 Redshirt Senior year:

No publicly reported injuries.

Pro Injuries:

2019 Lions/Bills:

No publicly reported injuries.

2020 Bills:

No publicly reported injuries.

General links:

Lisfranc injury

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Tight End

Will this be Knox’s breakout year?

This is Part 4 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 4 consists of the tight end room.

Players Returning

TE Jason Croom

Spent 2019 on IR with a right hamstring injury. 

Croom has been an interesting case. He was too good to cut outright but not good enough to bring back up to the roster. He missed most of training camp due to a nagging hamstring injury. He ended up playing in only the 4th preseason game against the Vikings, grabbing 2 catches for 27 yards.

Surprisingly, he made the 53 man roster and then was immediately placed on IR which gave the team the ability to call him back up later if there were other injuries. Fortunately, the Bills were incredibly healthy last season and his services were not needed. 

Reports later came out that he tore his hamstring during spring practices and just wasn’t able to fully get healthy, immediately re-injuring the hamstring again. It has been a year since Croom injured his hamstring and there haven’t been any reports stating that he isn’t healthy. There is a chance he could reinjure the area again, but the time off from football along with rest and proper rehab should reduce that. The only possibility of this becoming an issue again is if he hasn’t been keeping up with conditioning. Training camp will quickly reveal if Croom is 100% again.

TE Tyler Kroft 

11 games, 3 starts, 14 targets, 6 receptions, 71 yards, 1 TD

Kroft did not have the season anyone envisioned for him coming from Cincinnati in the offseason. His production simply did not meet the contract he signed. He dealt with several injuries that really prevented him from contributing in a meaningful way. 

Below is his injuries:

    • Right foot fracture

In 2018, he missed 11 total games dealing with a broken foot, likely a Jones fracture which required surgery. He managed to get through the offseason before getting to Phase 3 of OTA’s where he broke the same foot again on the first day. He eventually spent all of training camp on the PUP list before getting activated to the 53 man roster on cut down day as he continued to work back into shape.

    • Left ankle sprain

As Kroft was rounding into form and preparing to play against his old team in Week 3, he sprained his left ankle during a routine practice. While the ankle sprain wasn’t much of an issue, it held him out an additional 2 weeks until he made his season debut against Miami in Week 7.

Kroft never got the reps needed with Josh Allen in order to be successful & allow him to become a weapon in the offense. While the foot fracture was a fluky thing, once the screw is removed following a re-fracture in a Jones fracture repair, the injury doesn’t appear to be recurrent. What this means is that he is unlikely to suffer another similar injury to the area. 

TE Dawson Knox

15 games, 11 starts, 1 rushing attempt, 9 yards, 50 targets, 28 receptions, 388 yards, 2 TD’s

Knox quickly became a favored target in the offense despite coming out of Ole Miss with little production. During his rookie season, he nearly eclipsed the entirety of his college production. He managed to put together a solid season despite dealing with several injuries along the way, including one that cost him most of training camp. Knox was overall fairly available, only missing the final regular-season game against the Jets due to resting for the playoffs. 

Knox’s injuries:

    • Hamstring

Knox suffered a hamstring injury early on in training camp during routine drills. This injury cost him the better part of a month, later returning to play in limited amounts against both the Lions and Vikings in the preseason, not getting any catches during this time. While it did appear that the hamstring was a Grade 1 due to some of the progress observed, a rush back to the field was not in the cards for Knox until he was 100% healthy.

    • Knee

He was dealing with some “knee soreness” prior to the second matchup against the Dolphins down in Miami. This injury did not hold him out from playing or appeared to affect him in any way. At the time, I had thought maybe he was hitting the proverbial “wall” due to the increased level of competition along with a longer season when compared to college football. The injury did not show up again later that season & appear to affect his play.

Like Croom, there is concern that Knox could re-injure his hamstring strain. There is reason to believe that Knox has taken extra steps to ensure that he comes to training camp in shape and will be more diligent in preparing his body to reduce his injury risk.

TE Tommy Sweeney

6 games, 1 start, 13 targets, 8 receptions, 114 yards

Sweeney was the less-heralded other tight end selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. He didn’t have the same impact that Knox has in his first year with the Bills, but Sweeney also did not have any known injuries. While he was inactive most weeks, he did appear in a handful of games early on as TE Tyler Kroft worked his way back into the lineup. Once Kroft returned, Sweeney was expendable and was not called upon until the regular-season finale against the Jets. 

TE Lee Smith

16 games 5 starts, 5 targets, 4 receptions, 31 yards, 1 TD

Smith is about as durable as they come. He didn’t miss any games and also did not appear to suffer any known injuries. While he wasn’t very productive in the offense, he continued to excel as a blocking tight end and as a leader in the locker room. As Smith increases in age, he will eventually be phased out, but as long as he continues to be a leader and effective blocker, he will be hard to beat out for a spot on the team.

TE Nate Becker

Becker spent the 2019 training camp with the team after getting cut by Detroit prior to training camp. He did not survive training camp cuts and was later signed to the practice squad where he sat for the remainder of the season. He did not appear to suffer any known injuries. To read more on Becker’s previously known injury history, click here.

2020 Outlook

The tight end room is not an area where major injuries happen. A foot fracture, ankle sprain, and a pair of hamstrings make up the entirety of the injuries to the position. None of the injuries appear to be chronic or likely to recur in 2020. While Knox & Smith are locked to make the team next year, Sweeney still appears to be a strong shot to make the roster again. Croom better produce at a high level & show the team that he has something from 2018 to indicate to the team that he plans on sticking around. 

Unless Becker somehow unseats Smith by dramatically improving his blocking skills, the lineup will likely be Knox, Smith, & Sweeney for 2020. The tight end position for the Buffalo Bills is not a sexy one at all, but it hopefully will become a position that grows in importance as Josh Allen improves his game.