Week 14 Bills Injury Review- Jets II

Breaking down the latest Bills injuries following Sunday’s loss to the Jets.

Back to back tough losses really take the wind out of the Bills sails and drops them to 4-9. This was the 3rd loss this season where the Bills had the game in hand but were unable to secure the win. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, we knew that they were going to take a step back this year. However, the mark of a good team is the ability to finish games and beat the teams you should beat. This wasn’t one of those times. Hopefully the Bills can learn from this season and transition into more consistent wins next season. Sunday’s loss also marked one of the most injury riddled days in recent memory and the most since I began this site. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained and what significance they have moving forward.

Starting off with the most serious injury, LB Matt Milano (fibula) suffered an ankle dislocation and fracture late in the 4th quarter at the goal line. This was the result of QB Sam Darnold attempting to dive into the end zone, landing on the back of Milano’s heel, firmly planting the foot in the turf. As the foot is planted, Milano is hit from behind by S Jordan Poyer and Darnold’s body being in the way prevents Milano from falling naturally, instead twisting to the left and snapping his fibula which is the outer portion of the ankle. I had retweeted a rather graphic picture of Milano’s ankle twisted 180 degrees with his heel facing where his toes should be. Thankfully, the tibia, which is the shin bone, was spared due to twisting to the left instead of the right. The ankle broke on what I can only assume based on video is the lower portion of the fibula which is the outside portion of the ankle. There is fairly significant ligament damage based on the twisting but can and will heal up due to the ankle being reduced or put back into place on the field and the ankle will be immobilized for some time due to surgery. Below is a picture of a fractured fibula, though not exactly represented as how Milano’s may look on x-ray.

Ankle Fx Pre-op.jpg
Credit: ankleandfootnorthwest.com

A lot of chatter on Twitter has been discussed over the Bodine injury compared to the Milano injury. Both injured the same bone but the severity is starkly different. Bodine will be back before Milano in regards to healing and normalcy due to Bodine’s fracture was fairly simple; he suffered a break, there was no dislocation or what appeared to be associated damage to the area. He just required surgery to set the bone and stabilize it in order to heal. Milano’s injury was more severe due to the corresponding ligament damage in the area. He will be immobilized and non-weightbearing post surgery, but as a result of the immobilization with the ligament damage, the ankle will become very tight due to the scarring down of the healing ligaments. This limited range of motion this will require further stretching and rehab interventions to address the tightness coming out of the surgery to regain the mobility required for his position. However, the timelines are still similar with rehab and recovery with the difference being weeks vs months in regards to return in comparison to Bodine vs Milano. I still expect Milano to take between 6-9 months to fully recover, but I’ll take the low side of that recovery which makes him possibly ready to participate in OTA’s.

The most comparable Bills injury is that of RB Travaris Cadet who suffered a similar injury late last year but was able to return in time for training camp. The only difference between the two players is that Cadet was a fringe roster player buried on the RB depth chart and couldn’t make the team. However, he was able to return to full health as evidence in his participation in training camp.

The other significant injury is RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring). Shady suffered a hamstring strain during the first offensive series against the Jets and was initially questionable to return, later downgraded to out. He appeared to pull his hamstring on a 6 yard gain right before the first Bills TD by QB Josh Allen. There was not anything specific regarding the injury; he did cut hard to his right before taking a step forward and going down. He was observed at one point running on the sidelines and cutting to test it out, but it appeared that he was not ready to return Sunday.

Hamstrings are tricky because they range in severity and affect each position differently. With McCoy’s skill set, as poor as it’s been this year, that hamstring is still more vital to his abilities than let’s say an offensive lineman. The veteran running back has since been listed as day-to-day by the team and has had an MRI to determine severity. This tells me that this is most likely a moderate Grade 1 strain. Yes I am splitting hairs here but they performed an MRI which in my observation is only reserved if the physical assessment is not matching up with typical physical examination. Day-to-day indicates that he will be limited with the possibility of playing next Sunday. However, we have seen this wording used in the past and interpreted to eventually missing some time. Typically we are not seeing players who suffer a strain come back this quickly.  But since there is a muscle tear as all strains are classified, once he rests, the muscle does tighten up and the inflammation process begins which limits his abilities. I’m going to be conservative and say he misses next week against the Lions because it’s a game that doesn’t mean anything and Shady has been absolutely been beat up this year, so a week off will only help.

Other players sustaining injuries include RB Chris Ivory (shoulder), WR Robert Foster (right thigh) WR Isaiah McKenzie (left ankle) OL Jordan Mills (left knee), CB Levi Wallace (left ankle), CB Ryan Lewis (concussion), and K Stephen Hauschka (hip/back). Ivory suffered a left shoulder injury running through the linebackers and secondary, landing hard on his left shoulder after being taken down for an 8 yard gain, appearing to favor his left shoulder coming off. If you recall, he suffered what I believed to be a left AC joint sprain back in Week 9 during a failed goal line plunge. He may have aggravated this injury again as he was slowed down and then fell hard to the turf onto the left shoulder and potentially re-spraining the area. He may also be another guy who misses a week, but he would be more likely to play Sunday than McCoy. Overall, AC joint sprains heal on their own with rehab and rest and only require surgery in the event that there is significant trauma to the area.

Foster and McKenzie got banged up on back to back plays at the end of the first half. Upon video review, McKenzie landed awkwardly on his left foot, appearing to tweak his ankle trying to haul in a pass from QB Josh Allen; this occurred with 1:26 left in the 2nd quarter. He was able to return and finish out the game. I would suspect this is nothing more than at most a mild ankle sprain that will may end up on the injury report but should not slow him for next Sunday as he was able to return very quickly after the injury. He did come into the game questionable with a toe injury but this does not appear to be related to the injury he suffered Sunday.

As for Foster, he got hurt on the very next play after hauling in a 17 yard pass from Allen before taking a very hard shot into his right thigh area that drove him out of bounds. This injury appears to be a contusion at worst as he was able to return quickly. He may be dealing with some soreness and may be limited in practice Wednesday, but this also appears to be an injury that should not keep him out Sunday as he has become a vital piece to the limited WR corps.

OL Jordan Mills suffered a left knee injury performing what appeared to be a chop block though he was withering in pain immediately after the play which required training staff to assess his knee. He was able to return the next offensive series and finish out the game. My best assessment is that he came down on his knee hard and he suffered a mild contusion. Mills has had several injuries similar to this this past season in where he goes down, needs to come off, and then quickly returns. I can’t even classify this as an injury per se, sometimes things hurt when you hit a certain way. No concerns for next Sunday.

CB Ryan Lewis suffered a blow to the head which was later diagnosed as a concussion late in the 2nd quarter. We have seen most of the younger players return from concussions quicker than older players such as QB Derek Anderson, but each concussion continues to be unique and only time will tell how Lewis responds while in the concussion protocol. Far too early to tell whether he will be available Sunday.

CB Levi Wallace suffered an odd looking left ankle injury early in the 3rd quarter. He began to suddenly stop and planted hard on his left leg, the ankle buckled as he attempted to pivot and assisted in taking down the ball carrier. I do not believe that he suffered any major injury to the area, coming off may have been more precaution to further assess the injury after the play. He was able to return after several plays and finish out the game. With his stellar play this year, we can not afford to lose anymore players in the secondary in order to finish this season. He should be available for Sunday.

Finally, K Stephen Hauschka (low back/hip) suffered a cheapest of cheap shots by Jets DE Henry Anderson after the blocked FG on the last play in the 2nd quarter. Hauschka was blindsided when he got hit, unfortunately he was unable to react properly and came down hard on his right hip and potentially jarring his back. It was reported that he had x-rays to assess for any damage but based on the hit, it appears as though he suffered a hip pointer injury. An injury such as this is basically a bruise to the bony portion of the hip that is about where most of our pants sit at on our waist. The reason this is so painful is because there are so many muscles that attach to this area which in turn affect how the core muscles perform along with the hip musculature especially with him being a right footed kicker.

The blindside hit clearly affected his ability to kick as he missed a FG try later on in the game and appeared to be limping at times afterward. This is an injury that does not appear to be long term nor should affect him next week due to the limited need of his position. We have also not had any reports that kickers were being brought in which indicates that this is not a severe issue which should make him available for Sunday.

Overall, a very rough day from an injury standpoint. The only silver lining is that we are out of the playoff race which makes these injuries hurt less. The benefit to these injuries now is that all these won’t be long term and allow all to be ready by training camp barring any setbacks or new injuries over the next several weeks.

As a result of all these injuries, the team will have some new faces in the starting lineup. LB Julian Stanford will be starting in place of Milano, RB Marcus Murphy may get the start if Ivory can’t go and RB Keith Ford may be brought up from the practice squad to backup Murphy. This is the time of year that is great for the front office to find out who else they want to keep for next year by seeing how they do in game action now. We know this roster will have more turnover next year; might as well get familiar with some new faces with the idea that they are here next training camp.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow on Facebook at Banged Up Bills, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 14 Bills Injury Preview- Jets II

Assessing the latest Bills injuries including Taron Johnson’s shoulder surgery and Jason Croom’s groin prior to the Jets game.

This has been one of the more busier weeks of the Bills season as the front office is demonstrating “The Process” with moves preparing the team for 2019. If you’ve been under a rock, the team released WR Kelvin Benjamin & WR Andre Holmes, signing CB Denzel Rice & DE Mike Love from the practice squad, and placing C Russell Bodine on injured reserve as the result of a fibula fracture during last week’s game. With all this upheaval along with several injuries, this leaves many questions going into the Week 14 match up against the Jets. As one may fondly recall, the Bills absolutely destroyed the Jets 41-10 in their Week 11 match up behind an effective performance by QB Matt Barkley. This time around, it will be QB Josh Allen vs QB Sam Darnold with both teams jockeying to avoid the AFC East cellar. Today’s post will identify the injuries going into the game and how things may shake out.

Those already ruled out are QB Derek Anderson (concussion) and CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Anderson continues to be limited indicating he is in stage 3-4 of the concussion protocol. I’m waiting for the other foot to drop and he gets placed on IR. At this point, he is taking a roster spot for someone else but his tutelage of Allen appears to be the reason he is still active despite not playing.

Johnson suffered a dislocated shoulder resulting in a torn labrum in his right shoulder during Week 1. He has since then re-injured the shoulder several times, missing only one game right after the initial injury along with wearing a shoulder harness to limit recurrence. He had been reportedly been in a non-contact jersey the past several weeks, giving his shoulder the rest and protection it required to get through the season until the Bills were officially eliminated from the playoffs. As a result, Johnson had successful shoulder surgery on Tuesday to repair his labrum and has since announced his season is done. I am not sure why the Bills are hesitating to place him on injured reserve; this may be due to a contract issue which we as fans are not privy to. The shoulder labrum recovery is a ~6-9 month recovery which will allow Johnson to ready for OTA’s in May-June at least in a limited fashion and fully healthy by training camp. To read more about the surgery that Johnson had, make sure to check out my article on WR Zay Jones who had the same procedure last year with great success.

Listed as doubtful is TE Jason Croom (groin). Upon video review, Croom doesn’t appear to have one play in where he injured his groin. He did not have any targets during the game but was involved in 35% of the offensive snaps and was playing until the final offensive series. Based on the knowledge we have, this appears to be a mild strain and the team is being proactive, allowing him to heal completely before rushing him back onto the field. We have seen most of the muscle strains this season result in minimum 1 game missed and this is no exception. I believe that this is a Grade 1 strain with Croom having the ability to return next week fully healthy. As he is listed as doubtful, most players listed as doubtful do not even play. In the event that he is active, he will likely be limited in offensive packages and used more likely as a decoy. Regardless of status, he should not play.

Listed as questionable is WR Isiah McKenzie (toe). Reports indicated that McKenzie injured his toe late in practice Thursday and was limited Friday, making him officially questionable for the game Sunday. Fortunately, publications state that he feels as though he will be able to go on Sunday which is a good thing as the Bills are expected to only have 5 WR’s available. My suspicion is that he sprained his great toe running a route pushing off too hard or pivoting. It is possible to injure the other toes on the foot, but when it comes to running, the great toe is essential for effective push off required for sprinting. He is truly a questionable decision, but considering the personnel available and his thoughts in the article, I expect that he plays.

G John Miller (oblique) is coming off a strained oblique suffered in the win over the Jaguars. He missed last week but is able to return which fits the timeline regarding muscle strains; I had suspected that he would miss 1-2 games based on the location. There is possibility to re-injure the area, but I would not consider the risk to be significantly greater than when he originally sustained the injury.

Those injured earlier during the Miami game that did not appear on the injury report were LB Tremaine Edmunds (knee/ankle) and S Jordan Poyer (finger). While they may be dealing with some soreness, this was not enough to warrant an injury report slot. Expect both to be key players to slow the Jets offense.

While the Bills are slowly losing players to injured reserve as the season winds down, most starters continue to stay healthy or at least available in order to help the team finish strong over these last 4 games. I believe the Bills will be able to finish this season with a 6-10 or 7-9 record. The big question marks I have are this upcoming Jets game and maybe the second Dolphins game. A 7-9 record would be a great finish after such a terrible start to the season. There’s a lot of promise on this team going into next year, we just have to see how the draft and free agency play to our favor. I believe the Bills will complete the season sweep of the Jets to move to 5-8.

Continue to follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com for the latest injury news and updates coming out of One Bills Drive. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 9 Bills Injury Recap- Bears

Read the latest about RB Chris Ivory’s shoulder injury, TE Charles Clay hamstring, and other concerns following the loss to the Bears.

This 2018 season is really testing our patience. 2017 was a new regime and we ended The Drought! After such a high, the 2017 off season saw several key players leave and well, we thought the team would take a step back. Though we expected this, we still go crazy with the results. I think what drives most of us nuts is how bad they have lost some of these games. They have not had a loss yet that came down to the final minutes nor have they had a loss that was defined by a single play or two. These losses have come during blow outs and mind numbingly horrible offense. Though the defense continues to hold their own, not even the best players in the league can play for 60 consecutive minutes of football; essentially what the Bills defense has been forced to do due to the ineptitude of the offense. Along with the lack of production, the Bills continue to lose offensive producers to injury. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained in the soul crushing loss to the Bears.

While the Bills did not lose much on Sunday, what they did lose was still painful. First up is TE Charles Clay (right hamstring). The veteran TE suffered the injury on the last Bills offensive possession in the 1st quarter running a route to the middle of the field. He appeared to slow down, turn to his right and begin to try and run towards where the play was taking place, but appeared to take a step and began limping. He was observed on the sidelines getting assessed and stretched by the training staff but was unable to return to the game. He suffered a hamstring strain that appears to be Grade 1 but will unfortunately cause him to miss some time. He has been since listed week to week.

Hamstring strains can and do happen at any point in the season but are more frequent early in the season as players are still ramping up into game shape. As this injury was in the 1st quarter and not the 4th, fatigue does not appear to be a contributing factor. He may have decelerated too fast and felt a pull when attempting to turn direction. Unfortunately, the video available is limited and the injury is subtle in nature, limiting the ability to confirm the specific action. This may have been an unfortunate circumstance or as the result of cumulative injuries as he’s had hip, ankle, and shoulder injuries this season along with a well known knee issue. If this upcoming game meant more or he was desperately needed, it’s possible he would be able to play, but considering he’s had several injuries already, he’s a veteran, and the bye is coming up, it would not make sense to rush him back out there. I’d expect him to miss next week with him coming back after the bye.

The other injury noted was RB Chris Ivory (left shoulder). He suffered his injury on a goal line plunge that was unsuccessful halfway through the 4th quarter. He got hit hard up in the air by LB Danny Trevathan and was stopped cold in his tracks. Ivory immediately went down and began motioning to his left shoulder, requiring assistance to get off the field and eventually carted to the locker room. There was initial speculation that he may have suffered a painful contusion but reports have since come out indicating that he suffered a shoulder sprain.

The most likely sprain that Ivory suffered is an AC joint sprain. The joint that is injured is known as the acromioclavicular joint which is near the top of the shoulder. This joint is made up of the distal or far portion of the clavicle and the acromion which is the hook portion of bone that creates the bony edge of the shoulder. This joint helps connect the shoulder to the thorax via the clavicle and allows for shoulder movement throughout its range. This allows for overhead, pushing, and pulling motions required for activities in every day life.

When a AC joint sprain occurs, the ligaments holding the clavicle and acromion together are damaged due to a direct blow to the shoulder, as in the case of Ivory. These types of injuries can also occur as the result of falling on an outstretched arm, or FOOSH injury. However, most of these injuries occur as direct blows and cause immediate pain and loss of function. This will be evident by the limitation in motion to the shoulder, pain with movement, possible visual deformity as the result of the clavicle rising up higher than the shoulder, and bruising. There are specific grades that allow us to identify the severity as seen below. While MRI may be helpful to identify specific ligament damage, a physical examination and x-ray will typically tell a medical professional the grade level. While we are unable to identify the grade level on Ivory as he had his shoulder pads on, my best guess is that he suffered a Grade 1-2 AC joint sprain which would put him at 2-4 weeks for recovery.

AC-Joint-Separation-Image.jpg
Credit: sportsinjuryclinic.net

Rehab will include rest and stretching to allow for proper healing to the area. Once he is able to move the arm without causing further discomfort, he will begin strengthening and stabilization activities to challenge the joint to perform its function and ensure proper healing to the area. These are injuries that a player can play through if minor enough, however considering the hit that Ivory suffered and the fact that he had to go to the hospital due to initial concern for internal organ damage makes me believe that this is not minor. I can realistically see Ivory missing next game and then using the bye week to recover fully enough to resume playing against the Jaguars. He may be healthy enough to return to play by that time but he may also have taping to the affected area to help provide some type of additional support in order to get through the game. There is a possibility that he will be out longer if the severity is worse than I anticipate, but this is not something that the team would consider placing him on IR at this time. Had he had a Grade 3-5 injury, reports would have surfaced and he would have most likely been placed on IR by this point.

Overall, this upcoming bye will be a welcome reprieve for this team trying to get healthy for the final stretch to salvage any respectability for this season. Ideally, most of those on the injury report will be healthy enough to return and play out the rest of the season. Fortunately, one player will not be completing the final home stretch of the season with the Bills. CB Phillip Gaines has been released with CB Levi Wallace replacing him on the roster. Gaines has been a liability all season and even in his absence due to injury, his replacements demonstrated why he was expendable on this roster. As a fan, I will not miss his giant pass interference calls giving the opposing offense an easy trip down the field.

This wraps up another post for Banged Up Bills injury review. Continue to follow for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow on Facebook at Banged Up Bills, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 10 Recap- Saints

Assessing the latest injuries including Jerry Hughes’ shin injury and what exactly happened with Saints RB Daniel Lasco’s spine injury.

The Buffalo Bills know how to keep this fan base on their toes and not in a good way. After putting up a stinker of a game against the Jets on prime time, the Bills followed up with a complete throttling at home by the New Orleans Saints by a score of 47-10. As a fan, I saw nothing good come out of this game. The offensive line didn’t look as porous as the Jets game, but still could not provide effective protection for Tyrod Taylor to make effective throws or move the ball. The entire offense looked out of sorts even with all the weapons that Tyrod had at his disposal. This was not a good game and if more is said on this topic, it will not be pretty.

Thankfully, this forum is not designed for my two cents on how the Bills play. I always leave the X’s and O’s to my friends at The Rockpile Report. Give them a listen; by far the most thorough and honest analysis of our beloved Buffalo Bills. However, the goal of today is to discuss the Buffalo Bills injuries sustained after Sunday’s drubbing.

Thankfully, the Bills continue to avoid the major season changing injuries that many other teams have sustained this season. The only injury that has been reported so far is DE Jerry Hughes. His injury was sustained at the end of the 1st half in which he injured his shin. He was observed warming up on the sidelines but did not return. It is unknown whether he was unable to return or was sat out as the game was out of reach at that point.

From my standpoint, there isn’t much that Jerry Hughes could have injured in his shin. The shin (tibia) is part of the lower leg which is the bone that makes up part of the knee and the ankle. While there are a multitude of muscle attachments that connect to the area to assist in knee and ankle movement, the shin itself doesn’t have a lot of possibility for injury. I believe that he may have suffered a contusion to the skin/tissue over the bone which made it painful to run. As mentioned above, the muscles do attach to the tibia which when moved, does pull on their attachment points, which could pull on the painful tissue.

Hughes also may have sustained an injury to his tibialis anterior which assists the foot in lifting up (dorsiflexion) and moving inward (inversion). This muscle is the meaty portion of the front and outside portion of the shin. A contusion to the muscle belly could make running painful and prevent effective pivoting, especially with the demands of his position. Either way, these aren’t injuries that keep most players down for long and Hughes is known for his durability during his career.

However, I will state that Hughes did not sustain a fracture. I do not believe this to be the case as he would have had imaging performed and ruled out if there was any possibility. He would have also had a definitive diagnosis today and most likely expected to miss several weeks if that were the case.

The only serious injury that occurred Sunday was to Saints RB Daniel Lasco on a kickoff return. Lasco hit his head directly into the hip of WR Brandon Tate and dropped immediately. It appeared initially as though he was not moving which brought back immediate thoughts of Kevin Everett 10 years ago. Thankfully, his injury was nowhere as severe but is season ending. It was determined today that he has a disc bulge in his neck and will most likely require surgery to correct the issue.

To give a better understanding to what happened, it helps to understand the anatomy in the area. The spine is comprised of bones called vertebrae which stack upon one another and allow the human body to stay upright and distribute the weight of the head and the trunk effectively. These bones allow the spinal cord to pass through it and act as a cage for the spinal cord and allow the nerves to branch off into all areas of the body. This allows for the nerves to provide input to move each muscle and allow various sensations to be felt. In between each vertebrae is a vertebral disc which acts as a shock absorber, allow for fluid movement between the vertebrae, and acts as spacer to prevent pinching of the nerves.

When Lasco’s head directly collided with Tate’s hip, it compressed the vertebrae on each other so much that it bulged or herniated one of these discs in the neck (cervical). This most likely began pushing on the spinal cord or a spinal nerve, causing radicular or traveling pain down the nerve. This is typically seen as weakness, numbness, and pain in the affected area. If you were able to see Lasco being loaded into the ambulance, he was able to raise his right arm, but it did not appear to be a strong, confident motion typically seen in the movies.

In a majority of non-sport cases, these types of injuries can be effectively managed non-operatively through physical therapy, chiropractics, injections, etc. However, due to the nature of the injury as it was quite traumatic and the impact football has on the body, that may not provide the best long term options, especially if he wants to return to football. He may get a cervical discectomy and fusion to the affected area in which the herniated portion of the disc is partially or totally removed and the vertebrae above and below the area are fused together to eliminate movement and further pressure on the nerves. He is able to return to football without any long term issues, but repeated injuries to the neck may impact his long term career prospects. This is why former Bills player S Aaron Williams found his career ending prematurely due to similar injuries.

As mentioned above, while the Bills played poorly, injuries are not being added to the insult and the Bills are not losing players to injured reserve. I would still want a tired but overall healthy starter out there in Week 15 fighting for a playoff spot rather than the backup just trying to hang on and not able to provide the same level of play. The Bills are banged up right now but should have some key players return in the coming weeks.

Continue to check back for further updates including analysis of the Bills injury report come Wednesday and when more information is known. As always, thank you for reading, follow me on Twitter at @kyletrimble88 for the latest updates and GO BILLS!!

Zay Jones Ever Changing Injury Diagnosis

Following today’s injury report and Zay Jones new injury diagnosis, this post will identify why it is an ankle injury and not solely a knee injury.

It’s a new day and a new injury report! Going into the Week 10 match up against the New Orleans Saints, the Buffalo Bills continue to get healthy to rebuild their depth just in time to take on a suddenly resurgent Drew Brees led offense and a surprisingly stingy defense. This week’s game will truly be a test to see if the Bills is the team that started 5-2 or if they are the Bills that lost to the Jets on Thursday night.

Today’s post will deviate from a general review of the injury report due to new and unexpected information released today courtesy of Chris Brown. It has been reported that the initial knee injury that WR Zay Jones sustained in Thursday nights loss is now classified as an ankle injury. My goal is to explain why there is a change in injury designation despite the obvious original injury.

As reported before, Jones injured his knee with a rather gruesome fall to the turf last Thursday. He was able to return and play, but left towards the end of the game after re-aggravating the injury. In one of my previous articles, I detailed the possible extent of the injury severity. As there was not any additional news that came out regarding further damage, it was assumed that he merely hyperextended his knee and that he may be limited.

However, the Buffalo Bills continue to throw curveballs with Chris Brown reporting that Jones’ knee injury is actually an ankle injury. When it comes from the Buffalo Bills, I’m not going to question the source. Now, everyone must be thinking, this doesn’t make any sense. And you’re right, it doesn’t make any sense. However, as the reader, you clicked on the right article as I will determine how this could be an ankle injury despite what happened to his knee.

To clarify, Zay Jones did injure his knee in Thursday night’s loss to the Jets. That is a fact, but how severe? Apparently not that severe considering it’s not listed on the official injury report and he was able to return. As for his ankle, I have reason to believe it is a high ankle sprain. Let me explain. The knee acts as a hinge joint, but the ankle has multiple planes of motion allowing for greater mobility, but decreased stability. Upon initial viewing of the injury, there are forward and side views of the mechanism of injury which offer greater insight.

As the 14 second clip plays, at around the 4-5 second mark, Jones trips over CB Buster Skrine’s leg and steps awkwardly with his right leg. However, as he plants, all his weight is being placed through his right leg. His foot is planted directly in the turf as he begins to fall forward with his knee hyperextending. His foot is in maximal dorsiflexion and eversion which translates in plain speak to the foot is maximally bent up and turned out partially. Finally, the knee buckles backwards, Zay vaults forward, and Zay goes down in pain.

Fortunately for Zay, the knee has an ability to lock out which is known as the screw home mechanism. This allows the knee to fully straighten and stay rigid. During the process, as the knee goes into full extension, a rotational component assists in fully extending. In Zay’s instance, the screw home mechanism was forced into action with the femur (thigh bone) internally rotating with the tibia (shin bone) externally rotating. The hyperextension accentuated this mechanism, placing maximal force through the knee with the remaining excess stress left was displaced back into the ankle joint.

STJclosedKinematics.jpg
Credit: http://www.pt.ntu.edu.tw/hmchai/Kinesiology/KINlower/Foot.files/FootKinematics.htm

As seen above in the picture, during normal walking, the tibia externally rotates, placing stress through the talus and calcaneus. The calcaneus is the heel bone and this is the portion that makes contact with the ground as the foot is supinating or bearing weight as in the supination diagram. The calcaneus is turned inward and the talus is dorsiflexed and abducted or bent up and pulled outward. These are normal biomechanics of the foot, but if placed through excess stress as in the case of Zay’s injury, this can cause a high ankle sprain as the mechanism of injury is extreme external rotation and dorsiflexion, which is what I believe occurred with Zay to get him the ankle injury designation. Think of this injury as a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. As the ankle is naturally more unstable, it is more susceptible to injury which is what happened in this case.

Considering other injuries, he may have sustained a medial ankle sprain or bone contusion according to the video. It may never be fully known the extent of his injury. This injury is confusing as it is not apparent to the naked eye. The manner in which way the knee bent is the obvious part of the injury. To the untrained eye, its hard to see, but upon further evaluation, it appears this may be a likely injury.

As I do not have insider information, only insider knowledge, I can say with only so much confidence that this is what occurred. Time will tell how this injury plays out and what further information is released. He may have also injured his ankle when he left the game the 2nd time and I have not seen video to support or refute the injury. I do not believe that this is something season ending or as serious as Clay’s injury in relation to time missed. He may miss some time depending on severity and how this week’s practice plays out.

Continue to check back for new updates and further analysis of Bills injuries. For more breaking and real time updates, follow me on Twitter at @kyletrimble88. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Trust the Process

Thoughts on “Trust the Process” and how it will shape the Buffalo Bills for years to come.

The Buffalo Bills are at the halfway mark, sitting at 5-3 and own the 3rd best record in the AFC, tied with the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bills also are 1 game back in the AFC East and currently hold the 6th seed in the playoffs. Not a bad start for a team that was expected to tank for a top pick next season. As this season has progressed, “Trust the Process” has been regularly brought up. Today’s article will attempt to define what I believe “Trust the Process” is and how it will shape the Buffalo Bills for this season and potentially years to come.

This season is already looking to be different from seasons past as they prepare for a showdown at home against the New Orleans Saints. Time will tell how the rest of the season plays out, but I believe there is already a vast improvement from last year. The reason behind this is Sean McDermott. He may be the answer that Buffalo has been looking for these past 17 years. This isn’t to say that the other coaches during The Drought have been bad, but McDermott is different in a very significant way.

Much has been said regarding McDermott’s rise to the top, starting with the Eagles, then making his mark with the Panthers as a defensive coordinator. It has been mentioned often that he was a successful wrestler in high school, forgoing a possibly successful wrestling career in college to play football at William and Mary. It is is wrestling background that sets him apart. It is why I believe he will deliver the Bills to heights not seen since Marv Levy.

Why am I so high on McDermott? Well, it is because I can relate as I dedicated 12 years of my life to the sport of wrestling. I was FAR FAR FAR less successful than McDermott, but I still understand where he comes from. He comes from a sport where there are no schemes, there are no time outs, there are no teammates to help during the match. It is just you and your opponent in the center of the mat. You control the match, the tempo, the outcome. After surviving in that mindset for as long as he did, you begin to think differently when in the heat of competition.

In wrestling, each member of the wrestling team needs to wrestle their individual match in order for the team to succeed. However, this doesn’t mean that every wrestler has to win. Sometimes a wrestler has to go out and just not get pinned to keep the score close. Sometimes a wrestler needs to get bonus points or get the pin instead of the win. At the end of the day, the wrestler has a job to do. This is the same in football, everyone has a job to do. Without each player doing their job, the team can’t win.

After seeing McDermott coach these past 8 games, watching his demeanor during the press conferences, the culture he is beginning to build, it is evident that something is taking hold. Do I expect McDermott to lead us to the playoffs this year? In a weaker AFC conference, it’s possible, but I am not expecting it. It took Marv Levy a season and a half to even get to the playoffs, starting 9-13 during his tenure in Buffalo. It takes time to build a culture, McDermott is on his way there. But what does that culture consist of?

That culture is defined as “Trust the Process”. McDermott wants a player who is determined, disciplined, and driven, among other things. McDermott wants a player who will understand their role on the team, do their individual job, and someone who realizes that those individual contributions will add up to team success. He is looking for players who can recognize that they are building towards something great. He wants a player who is not self serving and not willing to play for only stats. Every player has a role, vital to team success, and without them, they cannot achieve their goals. Trust the Process means that the Bills can trust in their coach to make the right decisions which in turn allows them to trust in their own abilities.

Trusting the Process also allows players to realize there is room for growth during this process. If this team was excellent, they wouldn’t be dropping games to the Jets and Bengals. They would be beating teams soundly, they would be winning games that they are expected to win, and frankly, we wouldn’t be discussing most of this stuff. This discussion allows the Bills to determine how they can grow as a team and realize that they always can continue to improve. It starts with having people who want to be there. The next step is fostering competition and letting the best players rise to the top. The final step is setting realistic goals and achieving them, then setting higher and more achievable goals after that.

The goal of each NFL team is to win the Super Bowl every year. One team achieves that goal, 11 other teams take steps towards that goal, and 20 teams outright fall short. To have a long term goal, there must be many short term goals. McDermott is slowly achieving that with building culture. I believe he will get there because there are many players in the NFL that are talented, that can understand the bigger picture, and understand their job. Stars will emerge, but these players will have the determination, drive, and dedication required to win. With a solid game plan, cap flexibility, and some luck, McDermott will find these players.

The Sean McDermott Buffalo Bills will have this look in the next several years if given the chance. This will be a team that will know their job, not be statistic driven, and looking to achieve the ultimate goal. This won’t be our father’s Bickering Bills either. Those teams ultimately achieved success not seen before or since. I believe this version of the Buffalo Bills will have success without sacrificing who they are. I am highly looking forward to this regardless the results of this season. Understanding the culture that he is building restores my faith in the Bills despite 17 years of poor football. Will he win a Super Bowl? Only God knows. This will take many different things to occur, but with a strong culture, there is a better shot than before.

I know this post was lengthy, I appreciate you reading this in its entirety. I did my best to educate what I believe the culture is and how this will set the team up for long term success. I believe the past coaches came in looking to win football games and expect the football players to play. McDermott is still in the business to win football games, but he realizes that there is more to football wins than player performance. Marv Levy took many years to achieve his greatest success. His autobiography details that through his years of WWII and decades of coaching at the various levels. Though he was not a wrestler, he came in with an unique set of experiences which allowed him to inspire his players to perform to the best of their abilities. McDermott brings that to the table in spades. He’s going to get it done. If he doesn’t get it done, he’s going to get the team farther than others have and will exhaust every option before then.

As always, continue to check back regularly for new articles and updates regarding my thoughts and Buffalo Bills injuries. Thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!

Week 9 Recap- Jets & Zay’s Knee

Analysis of Zay Jones’ knee injury, Taiwan’s forearm, and a recap following the Jets game.

Whether you are a Bills fan or not, reading this, Thursday night was not a good game. Period. The offense never got moving until it was too late, the defense made Josh McCown look fantastic, and the Bills let one slip through their fingers. They’re now 5-3, 1 game back in the AFC East and currently holding the 1st wild card spot. Despite what the Bills fan base says after this loss, the sky is not falling. Every divisional game every year is a grind it out close game due to rivalry and pride. At the end of the day, the Bills came up short and now we will see how they respond. Last time they started 5-2, they lost 7 straight games. I don’t think this team is capable of a losing streak of that magnitude, but many men before me have been wrong.
Getting down to the injury side of things, it was one of the more rougher nights for the Bills this season. Several key players were returning from injury on a short week and several more key players sustained injury. First up is RB LeSean McCoy. McCoy injured his groin on the first offensive series of the game and had to leave briefly. McCoy was able to return shortly afterward but anyone could tell that he wasn’t the same. He lacked explosiveness, inability to cut hard, and unable to move the ball, rushing for only 25 yards. McCoy is the engine to our offense and if he goes down, then losses to the Jets are what happen. I don’t believe this will be a lingering issue as he was able to play the entire game and he has 10 days to rest. To add, he was able to run and perform some cutting, but lost the explosiveness he is known for. I would categorize this as a Grade 1 groin strain which should heal with proper management.
Next injury is WR Zay Jones. Jones suffered a right knee injury after being tripped late in the 2nd quarter. While trying to regain his footing and preventing falling down, Jones stepped awkwardly and hyperextended his knee, falling to the ground immediately. Upon initial observation, one may think ACL. The mechanism for injury was there but Jones avoided that. It appears as though he sustained a hyperextended knee, similar to what Bryce Harper sustained during this past MLB season. It is unknown whether he sustained a bone bruise similar to Harper but further evaluation is required.

Jones was remarkably able to return and play the rest of the game, hauling in several more passes before being injured again in the 4th quarter. There are several reasons why Jones was able to avoid the dreaded ACL tear. First, the knee acts as a hinge, similar to what is seen in a door. The knee bends and extends fully but with various forces, can go past their normal limits. In Jones case, his knee extended further than typically what is available. This injury happened due to the fact that he planted his right foot, attempting to stay upright while falling forward, leading to the joint to give.
Jones avoided a worse injury due to the fact that he was falling forward as he was planting his leg. His ankle joint was able to absorb some of the force, with the foot initially going into plantarflexion or pointed downward to stabilize as his knee was bending back. Thankfully, his foot did come up off the turf into dorsiflexion or bending up as he fell forward. Had his foot been stuck more in the turf or been hit directly through the knee, the injury would have been worse. Finally, it helps that he was not able to pivot to change directions laterally, leading to preservation of the ACL. In injuries such as this, there is concern for the PCL which prevents the knee from going backwards like that, but as he was able to return, it does not appear that he tore the PCL. There is concern for a PCL sprain or bone bruise upon further examination, but with the extended break, it may be inconsequential. As there is no updated information at this time noting severity, it is unknown whether he will miss any time. Chances are he won’t, but too early to tell. Either way, Zay Jones caught a very lucky break Thursday.
I’m overall surprised that he was able to return to the game and continue to run effectively after the injury. I believe that our medical staff would not put a player back out there that could risk further injury especially at a high level position. I did observe him wearing a compression sleeve but no bulky bracing which will assist for any swelling but provide minimal support.
Finally, Taiwan Jones got injured while trying to recover an onside kick late in the 4th quarter. Upon getting up to a seated position, the medical staff was supporting Jones’ left elbow indicating possible elbow injury or shoulder. Replays show that his arm got caught up in the pile and a helmet crashing into his forearm during the onside recovery. Unfortunately, reports indicated that Taiwan Jones fractured his forearm and will be done for the season.
A fracture is quite simple in terms of injury severity. A bone is broken at some point in the structure leading to instability and significant pain. Jones did not sustain a fracture which protruded through the skin which allows for the management to be more conservative. He will possibly require surgery depending on the severity and complexity of the fracture. He could hypothetically come back if they pushed recovery, but it is a bigger bone compared to what Jordan Matthews and Ramon Humber sustained and would require extra stability. Had this been McCoy or Taylor, it may be considered to push for a return. While Jones is an important part of the team, he is not what drives the offense. Placing him on IR will allow the Bills to bring in a new player to gain experience to provide depth and try out for next year.
As the Bills have an extended break between games, this allows these injuries to have a greater chance to get healthy with the exception of Taiwan Jones. As I’ve said before, no NFL team is immune from injury. The Bills are doing incredibly well with avoiding serious injury. However, despite that luck, the Bills still have to win those games that are winnable to turn things around for long term success. Going into the Saints game, while their offense continues to be high powered, their defense is suspect and will be playing at New Era Stadium which will provide a favorable atmosphere for the Bills to go 5-0 at home.

It has been reported that TE Charles Clay and CB E.J. Gaines should be returning from injury. It is surprising that Clay is able to return quicker than originally thought, but is a welcome addition. Gaines returning will provide an immediate upgrade to our secondary that without him, may be exploited by Drew Brees and the Saints.

Continue to check back for updates and new articles regarding Bills injuries and other topics of interest. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!