Week 8 Recap- Raiders

Discussing the Buffalo Bills injury report following a dominating win over the Oakland Raiders.

These Bills continue to make me BILL-EVE!!! With a dominating 33-14 win over the Oakland Raiders, the Bills move to 5-2 on the season and 4-0 at home. These Bills look good!! While we have been here before recently in 2008 and 2011, finishing 7-9 and 6-10 respectively, this team is different. There are still tough games ahead including match ups with the Patriots and Dolphins twice, Chiefs, and Saints. If the Buffalo Bills continue to play complete games as they have most of the season, there’s no reason why they can’t continue to win. I expect some losses coming up, but this team does not appear capable of long losing streaks. I may come back and eat crow for that statement, but I continue to remain optimistic on these Bills!

With a convincing Buffalo Bills win despite the cold and rainy weather, injuries continue to remain at a minimum. The slick surface contributed to this as this lessened the chance for firm planting in the ground, leading to decreased major knee and ankle injuries. With decreased friction at point of contact with the ground, this leads to decreased force through the joints. Makes it very hard for running, but the Bills did just fine with LeSean McCoy rushing for 151 yards and a TD.

Notable injuries to the Buffalo Bills today included WR Zay Jones (Shoulder), C Eric Wood (Ankle), and G Richie Incognitio (Ankle). It is unknown when both Jones and Wood sustained their injuries, but considering they are on a short week, any possible injury must be reported and managed. If this were a normal week, this may not have even come to light. Jones was a full participant in practice and while Wood and Incognitio were limited, this is not concerning as they are both veterans. It is concerning that Jones is listed on the injury report after his most successful game to date, but I suspect it is nothing more than general soreness.

TE Charles Clay (Knee) and LB Ramon Humber (Thumb) continue to be out with their previously mentioned injuries. Originally, I believed that Humber should have come back shortly after his surgery, but not knowing the specifics of his particular injury clearly altered my initial projection. With the emergence of LB Matt Milano continuing to demonstrate stellar play allows Humber to take his time to get healthy.

I had originally also stated that Clay would be able to return for the Colts game which would have put him at 10 weeks from initial injury. As the Bills did not put him on short term IR, this allows the possibility to return sooner. Reports state that he has been stretching and preparing to practice, but has not been cleared yet. If the Bills clear him to practice and play in time for the Saints game, this would be a fantastic and incredibly short recovery. It is still within the realm of possibility, but I would still expect him to be out until at least the Chiefs game, possibly the Chargers game if he’s really pushing to play. While the knee can heal quicker than expected, the change in weather and surfaces will have an impact on when he returns which can alter re-injury rates.

Despite missing both S Jordan Poyer and CB E.J. Gaines due to injuries sustained last game, the secondary did not struggle as everyone believed they would. Filling in without missing a beat, CB Trae Elston came up with his first interception and CB Micah Hyde continued his stellar play, collecting his 5th interception of the season. I would expect that they continue to hold Gaines out until the Chiefs game to ensure prevention of further re-injury. Gaines goes all out which is appreciated, but not at the risk of turning into the Buffalo Bills version of S Bob Sanders when he was with the Colts during their Super Bowl run.

Through all these smaller injuries, this depth the Buffalo Bills have exhibited so far this season is the reason why they have stormed out to a 5-2 start. While some of these players are not starting material week-to-week, the idea is that the backup can come in and play up to par in short term stints until the starter can return. The Bills continue to avoid season ending injuries and key players missing extended time. It is impossible for a team to get through a season without injury, but the Bills are pretty close to that at this time. With the exception of Clay, Humber, Gaines, and possibly Poyer, I expect everyone else on the injury report to play Thursday without any limitations.

Continue to check back on a regular basis for updates on new injuries, my personal thoughts and observations, and detailed explanation on Bills specific injuries. Thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!

Time to Learn

Updating Bills injury news and previewing posts for later this week.

At this point in time, the Bills are hopefully enjoying their time off and getting the much needed rest and rehab required to go into their match up against the Buccaneers next Sunday. This week was wild enough without the Bills playing and driving us insane. The Jets looked very competitive, losing to the Patriots 24-17 with a controversial TD overturned that could have changed the outcome of the game. The Dolphins upset the Falcons in their home 20-17, possibly exposing their Super Bowl hangover. With the way the AFC East games played out today, I expect each game to be a dog fight with no one lying down to wait for 2018.

As the Bills are on the bye, news has been lacking coming out of One Bills Drive. The team has been silent with injuries since last week, offering no updates or return to play expectations regarding Charles Clay, Ramon Humber, or Nick O’Leary. At time of publication of the game recap against the Bengals, it wasn’t known that Nick O’Leary suffered an injury against the Bengals. It was listed as undisclosed and as of today, still is not known what he is dealing with.

In other news, it is also worth noting that Charles Clay has not been moved to IR with designation to return. This tells me several things. This tells me that his injury may not be as severe as originally thought and may be back sooner than 8 weeks. This tells me that the team has faith in their training and medical staff, in that they keep a roster spot for him despite lacking depth at the position. Finally, the team has not gone out and found a big name free agent TE, indicating that they will rely on what they have. I have also stated before that I have no insider knowledge; just knowledge of the injuries and recovery process. With that said, I want Charles Clay to prove me wrong. I want him to return faster than expected. I want him to return healthy and contribute to the team as he was prior to his injury. Time will tell how this one plays out.

As there is little Bills information regarding injuries to report this week, I will go in a different direction. While there are a multitude of injuries that can be covered, I will look to outline general injuries so that you may understand the differences between each issue. My goal this week is to allow you to decipher what is going on when an injury occurs, how severe it may be, and generally, what to expect even before more information is publicly known. Continue to check back daily for new posts regarding these injuries and learn a thing or two! GO BILLS!!

Charles Clay Clunky Knee

Reviewing Week 5 loss against the Bengals and impact of Charles Clay knee injury including long term outlook.

The Bills, well, the Bills lost. They lost a very winnable game by a score of 20-16 in Cincinnati. The offense never got going, the run game doesn’t look anything like it has the past 2 seasons, and this Bills team continues to make this fan base crazy. That’s the nice, politically correct way of saying that. Two years from now, this will be a game that won’t be marked as a trap game, the kind of game that is an expected win. However, we all have to “Trust the Process” and trust I will!

Sunday was one of those games that while the depth that has been lacking in past seasons was there, the talent and cohesiveness was not. The team continues to stay relatively healthy, not losing anyone to season ending injuries. Notable injuries to the Bills are CB Leonard Johnson who left with a hamstring injury in the first half and did not return. However, the focus of today’s article is TE Charles Clay’s left knee injury sustained after catching a pass and getting hit in the knee going out of bounds towards the end of the first quarter. This resulted in Clay ending his day early and getting carted off the field.

Anytime someone sees an elite player go down with a knee or leg injury, they automatically think ACL tear. Why do we think that? Because the ACL is the sexy injury that the media loves to talk about. Everyone knows its serious, everyone knows its season ending, and it’s all over the news constantly. As you begin to hyperventilate or start cursing the Bills, R-E-L-A-X. Clay did get injured, it didn’t look pretty, and the results aren’t great. If you care to continue reading, I will help you step back from the edge and explain what really happened.

Based on reports, Charles Clay sprained his MCL, tore his meniscus, and will be out for an extended time with surgery to fix the meniscus. Most people know that if the ACL is bad, then the MCL must be bad as well. It is but it isn’t. The knee is comprised of many different structures including but not limited to: bones of the knee: femur, tibia, patella; ligaments including: medial collateral ligament, anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, and lateral collateral ligament; soft tissue includes cartilage and medial/lateral meniscus.

knee.jpg
Credit: webmd.com

The MCL runs on the inside portion of the knee connecting the femur to the tibia. The MCL allows for stabilization medially and along with the LCL, prevents the knee from going east/west and ensures that knee works as a hinge joint. When the MCL is sprained, the ligament is stretched and partially torn as with any other sprain. However, the MCL is more dynamic in that it connects into several muscles in the knee including the vastus medialis, sartorius, semimembranosus, semitendiosus, and gracillis. The MCL also attacks to the posteromedial portion of the medial meniscus. To simplify it, at various points, the MCL connects to parts of the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductor muscles, and part of the meniscus. Without these many connections, the knee would be far less stable and would not be able to change direction suddenly.

Despite a fantastic design by nature, design only allows for so much prevention. The MCL typically gets injured during sudden changes in movement such as cutting and pivoting. The MCL also becomes damaged during direct blows to the outside part of the knee during knee flexion, which is what occurred with Clay when a low tackle hit him out of bounds.

The MCL severity grades are broken down into 3 grades with the increasing grade indicate level of severity. Level 1 consists of some fibers torn with tenderness and no instability. There is some pain during application of force to the outside of the bent knee, but nothing else significant.

Grade 2 consists of increased pain and more noted swelling. There is moderate tenderness and laxity in the joint. Most of the pain is on the inside of the knee and patients typically poorly tolerate laxity testing to the MCL. There are varying degrees of a grade 2 sprain including 2- and 2+ depending on amount of damage.

Grade 3 is a complete rupture of the MCL, leading to instability along with extreme pain and swelling, resulting in difficulty with bending the knee. The knee also gives away during a valgus force which is when pressure is applied to the outside of the knee. Surgery is usually indicated as the ligament has been totally torn from the bone.

Credit: http://kingbrand.com/MCL-Injury-Information.php

Based on video of the play and difficulty with placing weight through the leg afterward, this indicates that he may have suffered a partial tear, possibly a Grade 2+. This is supported by the fact that he did not have surgery to repair the MCL itself.

To add insult to injury, Clay also tore his lateral meniscus. The meniscus acts as the shock absorber in the knee and helps with keeping the knee healthy during movement. Unfortunately, part of the lateral meniscus became torn during the hit. This likely occurred due to the direct blow along with the knee bent and planted on the ground, leading to twisting of the knee, resulting in a partial tear. Presentation of a partial tear involves pain, catching, and clicking during knee movement. While research has been proven that a nonsurgical approach can be just as effective as surgery to trim down the meniscus, this is the NFL and there is no wait and see approach. The procedure that Clay had today is called a meniscectomy which involved cutting out the frayed piece of meniscus and shaving down the area to smooth it over to ensure that more pieces do not fray off.

Reports indicate that Clay will be out at least a month, possibly indefinitely. I believe that he will be out closer to 6-8 weeks. The meniscus is something that could keep him out 2-3 weeks; the problem is the MCL. The body will need to heal and restore proper range of motion to the knee while regaining strength. There are therapeutic interventions that can encourage healing, but the body still has to do its job. Professionally, I would say place him on IR with designation to return. This gives him a guaranteed 8 weeks to heal up and return to full form. This would also allow the team to bring in another TE and not use up a valuable roster spot. This would place him on track for the Colts game in December. Considering the Bills have two games against Miami and one against New England after that, it would be an excellent time to come back healthy.

My final thoughts on Clay is that he has had several years of reported knee issues, of which I wrote about during the preseason. From observation during practice, I believe he had most of the issues on the left knee, of which he injured Sunday. However, this injury is independent from his previous issues. He was not at a higher risk for this injury as the result of the previous problems. If anything, this may help take care of the other issues by giving him time to rest.

The Bills are certainly hurting from this one. Clay has been a consistent producer and a favorite target of Tyrod Taylor. Clay should be back later this season, but whether his return will make a difference remains to be seen. I still believe that this season we have more depth than in previous years, but having depth just is not the same as the starters. That was evident in the secondary and linebackers on Sunday. Thankfully, the bye week could have not come at a better time. I still believe the Bills have a shot to stay competitive this season with how the rest of the AFC is playing this season. The Bills still control their destiny, Charles Clay injury will not define the season.

Continue to check back for further updates regarding new injuries and posts designed to educate my fellow Bills fans and keep you from the edge. Thank you and GO BILLS!!