Week 8 Bills Injury Review- Eagles

Get the latest updates on Ford & Wallace following Sunday’s loss.

We knew this day would come. The dud game. The game where we just get beat like a drum. This is the game where the boo birds came out and the luster of a 5-1 start dulled following Sunday’s loss. Despite the Bills sitting at 5-2 with the 2nd best record in the AFC along with a firm lock on the 5th seed in the playoffs, visions of 2008 still dance in our heads. Until the Bills lock up the playoff spot, we all have realized we cannot get ahead of ourselves. 

Fortunately, the Bills are heading into the 3rd game of their homestand against the lowly Washington Redskins with a chance to bounce back to 6-2. The team also suffered minimal injury compared to the past few games in which it appeared that half the team was injured in some way. One big surprise Sunday was the return of LB Matt Milano (left hamstring) suffered in the win over the Titans. He missed last week & appeared to be in danger of missing this week due to the poor weather & how the team approaches hamstring injuries. Luckily, he was able to play, keeping the Philly tight ends to 5 yards, 42 yards, and 1 TD. As bad as the overall team was, he led the defense with 13 tackles, 10 solo, making his presence known in his return. 

Below are the injuries following the Bills loss Sunday & what they mean for next week.

 

CB Levi Wallace (left shoulder)

Wallace injured his left shoulder on the TD run by Eagles RB Boston Scott with 5:43 left in the 3rd quarter. He came from the right side inward to attempt to tackle the ball carrier and got blasted as Scott entered the end zone. Wallace’s shoulder absorbed nearly the entire force of Scott’s helmet/shoulder, forcing Wallace to spin around and land on his back. 

Up to that point, Wallace simply wasn’t having a good game and that blow may have been the death knell for him. He was not ruled out of the game or even really made mention of again afterward. 

Following Monday’s presser, Wallace was noted as having a shoulder injury with a day-to-day designation. This fits more of a general contusion that was viewed on film. He may be limited Wednesday but could possibly practice in full later & not miss Sunday.

 

OT Cody Ford (left elbow)

Ford suffered a left elbow injury with 6:06 left in the 4th quarter on an incomplete pass to TE Dawson Knox. Unfortunately, the video angle is incredibly poor with the TV broadcast panning away from the offensive line play just before it appears the injury occurred. The camera comes back on Ford with his left elbow extended & trainers quickly rushing to him. Shots after that show him being assessed on the sidelines, rotating his left hand between pronation & supination before squeezing the training staff’s hand with what appears to be a firm grip. 

Until we get further information, it’s hard to identify the exact nature of the injury. All-22 footage when available should assist in identifying the specifics of the injury. Just prior to the camera panning away, there was a flurry of bodies in the area around Ford, indicating that he may have struck his medial epicondyle of the elbow. Same injury as hitting the funny bone. The ulnar nerve passes by the medial epicondyle, which is the inside portion of the elbow. When this area is struck, pain/weakness is elicited down the 4th and 5th digits of the hand with numbness in the area. 

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Extending the elbow following the play which would put slack on the nerve to prevent compression of the nerve with elbow flexion. Assessing the grip strength on the sidelines is further assessing the ulnar nerve as 40% of the grip strength comes from the ulnar innervated muscles in the hand. So if the ulnar nerve is injured, grip strength would be decreased. 

Like Wallace, Ford has also been listed day-to-day following Monday’s presser. Most of us would say a few choice swear words & shake off the injury. However, getting your elbow hit by an NFL lineman would hurt slightly more with some temporary loss of range of motion with possible swelling present. He shouldn’t have any long term issues, more limitations secondary to pain. 

Hopefully, he just hit his funny bone and this is not something that he needs to worry about next week. If he is unable to go, then veteran OT Ty Nsekhe would get the start.

 

CB Kevin Johnson (unknown)

Johnson was able to play Sunday in relief for the injured CB Levi Wallace. This comes following an injury last week where he suffered a stinger at the end of the game. He was limited all week but was cleared to play Sunday, performing admirably in the loss. Unfortunately, Johnson dealt with some type of injury following the game, necessitating a trip to the X-ray room according to ESPN reporter Marcel-Louis Jacques.

It is unknown what he had x-rays on or if it is related to last week’s stinger. He was in the game until the very end & nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. This may be nothing & doesn’t appear on the injury report, but I do my best to follow every lead & report to give the most thorough assessment. If there is something to it, we will get much more information with the ability to explain in detail.

Overall, this is one game that just needs to be taken out back & put out of its misery. There is a lot to take from this game, the players know this, the coaching staff knows this. But as fans, we can’t lament on this; if they’re going to lose a game, let it be to an NFC opponent who really doesn’t count in tiebreakers for playoffs. The Eagles won the Super Bowl two years ago; they weren’t going to just roll over & die for us to win. Let’s move forward to Week 9 against the Redskins, a very winnable game & get back on track towards the march towards the playoffs.

 

Top Photo Credit:

Buffalonews.com

Week 8 Bills Injury Preview- Eagles

Will Milano, Thompson, & Duke play Sunday?

The Bills continue their homestand hosting the 3-4 Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. They are looking to defend their 2 game winning streak to move to 6-1 for their best start since 1993. While the Super Bowl is always the ultimate goal, this team continues to work towards sustained success in taking each game week by week. Following a 37-10 beating by the Cowboys on Sunday night football. Despite injuries on their side, they still come in hungry & on a mission. Fortunately, the Bills appear to be in better shape both talent & injury-wise. Below are the latest injuries prior to Sunday’s game.

QUESTIONABLE:

CB Kurt Coleman- hamstring

Coleman suffered a hamstring injury late in the 2nd quarter on Sunday on a punt play in where he was the gunner, running downfield towards the return man before pulling up lame with a hamstring injury which knocked him out of the game. This past week, he was unable to practice with the exception of Friday in which he was limited. This is not a surprise considering the conservative nature that the team takes with hamstrings. While he is questionable for Sunday, he is not expected to play until Week 10 when the Bills play the Browns. 

 

CB Kevin Johnson- neck stinger

Johnson suffered what was initially described as a head injury on a tackle to Dolphins WR DaVante Parker in where his head got twisted around and got landed on by Parker & LB Tremaine Edmunds. He suffered a stinger due to the abrupt compression to the neck area which limited him Wednesday-Friday. These types of injuries usually need rest & work back into regular activity which appears to be the case. He has a good shot chance to play Sunday, but may sit if he doesn’t feel he’s ready. 

 

LB Matt Milano- left hamstring 

The big question for the team going into Sunday is the health of Milano. His absence was noticeable in the win over the Dolphins with the offense moving the ball effectively at times. This is concerning as the Eagles offense has far more firepower than Miami brought. So far, Milano has had two weeks to fully rest and referencing reports, “maximizing his treatments”. He has looked good on film available on practice moving in a variety of directions & without obvious compensation. 

As to whether Milano plays Sunday, the jury is still out. He may feel he’s not ready, he may not be able to hit his top-end speed as he wants, or the weather may impact his decision. I am leaning towards him playing Sunday if the weather is perfect, but it will truly be up to Milano. 

 

LB Corey Thompson- ankle surgery

Thompson continues to work back from ankle surgery with the exact details not known. However, he has continued to practice on a limited basis & has moved well on film. I believe at this point he is getting back into game shape. Whether he is ready this week or next will be up to him. However, I believe that either Milano or Thompson will play, both certainly can but I don’t think both will miss, especially with how thin they are at linebacker. 

 

WR Duke Williams- right shoulder 

Williams suffered a right shoulder injury after catching a pass towards the sidelines. He landed hard on the right shoulder & missed most of the game afterward, returning in a red zone package towards the end. He later had x-rays and has been limited in practice all week. At worst, he has a mild AC joint sprain, at best, he has a contusion which is more pain limiting. 

Video has been limited, but he has been able to catch balls without any apparent bracing or compensation. According to our friends at the Coldfront Report, Duke was on the other day & indicated that his shoulder was doing fine; straight from the horse’s mouth. However, he has been wearing a red non-contact jersey indicating that they are trying to avoid re-injuring the area. Along with a pregame injection, this could potentially allow him to play Sunday. 

 

EXPECTED TO PLAY

OG Quinton Spain- foot

Spain came up on the injury report with a foot injury and did not practice Wednesday. Looking at the film, there is not anything specific that led to his foot injury which may indicate that he had his foot stepped on that wasn’t available to see on film or tweaked the foot somehow. He did deal with an ankle contusion in the preseason which wouldn’t have any impact on his current complaints. He was able to practice in full Thursday & Friday which was very promising. I do not believe this is something that will affect his performance coming Sunday unless he goes down with another injury which could shed light on the original injury. 

 

FB Patrick DiMarco- right ankle

The veteran fullback suffered what appears to be an ankle contusion late in the 4th quarter during a routine run play. DiMarco got caught from behind with a flurry of bodies landing on his ankle, dropping him to the turf. Thankfully, it appears his foot was pointed down and got hit more from the back than the side, forcing his body to go down rather than the ankle taking the brunt of the hit. There were concerns for a high ankle but considering that he was able to play in several more plays indicates that this may be more soreness than anything else leading to him not practicing Wednesday. 

He was able to return to practice Thursday confirming the contusion & will play Sunday. 

Possible Inactives:

S Kurt Coleman

OG Ike Boettger

OT Ryan Bates

LB Matt Milano

RB TJ Yeldon

TE Tommy Sweeney

WR Robert Foster

Overall, the Bills still come into the game far healthier than the Eagles. The Bills will have the upper hand if Milano & Williams are available. Getting Thompson back will also be a key depth piece in order to contain the explosive Eagles offense. The weather is forecasted to be damp and cool which may have an effect on whether they suit up. This is a game that both teams match up well & the Bills could come out with a win if they have a strong start. We can only hope that the Bills control the tempo and move to 6-1.

Top Photo Credit:

Buffalonews.com

Week 7 Bills Injury Review- Dolphins

Breaking down the severity of Williams, Coleman, & Johnson’s injuries.

I love the Buffalo Bills, I really do. But that was one hard game to watch on Sunday. The Bills, coming off a 4-1 start & a bye week, hosted the 0-5 Miami Dolphins at New Era Field. While the final score of 31-21 was not as close the game really was, the Bills nearly gave Miami a win which would have dealt a blow to their playoff chances. Fortunately, the Bills moved to 5-1 with fewer injuries than they had following the Titans win. 

Prior to the game, it was announced that both LB Corey Thompson (ankle sx) & Matt Milano (hamstring) were ruled out indicating that the Bills would be short at the position Sunday. While Milano’s presence was missed, it was still the right move to not rush him back as there is still much more football to be played.

Others coming back from injury included WR John Brown (groin), TE Tyler Kroft (ankle), RB Devin Singletary (hamstring), & CB Taron Johnson (hamstring) were all able to return and did not appear to demonstrate any restrictions, though their production in play greatly varied. Moving to the Dolphins game, reviewing the injuries below:

 

CB Kurt Coleman (hamstring)

Going in chronological order, Coleman suffered a hamstring strain late in the 2nd quarter with 2:15 left on a punt return. It was difficult to see on the broadcast, but this occurred as he ran down the field as a gunner before coming up lame before the ball was even caught. 

Like all the other hamstring injuries this season, expect the Bills to be conservative in slowly bringing Coleman back into the special teams fold. Look for a minimum of 2 games before he is able to return. Observing the hamstring injuries so far this season, most have come on full out sprinting with some change of direction or deceleration incorporated into the injury. This doesn’t mean that the Bills are doing anything wrong in preventing these injuries, it just shows that going all out on every play, even the best, most conditioned athletes can get hurt. 

 

WR Duke Williams (right shoulder)

Williams suffered a right shoulder injury on a 23-yard completion late in the 3rd quarter. After hauling in the catch, Williams fell hard onto his right shoulder before rolling out of bounds in obvious pain. Miraculously, he was able to return late in the 4th quarter in a red zone package on the WR Cole Beasley touchdown. Later, it was reported that he went in for x-rays following the game.

Looking at the actual injury itself, it appears as though Williams suffered either a contusion or AC joint sprain, also known as a separated shoulder. The mechanism of injury for this is falling directly onto a shoulder without the ability to brace against the fall. Considering that he fell more on the top of the shoulder, I believe he may have sustained an AC joint sprain. This is the area that the acromion connects with the collarbone. This allows the collarbone to connect to the scapula and create a framework for the shoulder muscles to connect in order to move freely during arm motion and overhead movement.

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Credit: http://www.dovemed.com

There is a slight chance he could have suffered a glenoid labrum tear, but that is relatively unlikely considering the shoulder was slammed into the ground versus falling on an outstretched arm. If he sustained this, then I expect to see bracing on the area which will be a dead giveaway. There was also a chance he could have sustained some type of clavicle fracture due to the hit, but if he had sustained that, he would not have been cleared to return & a public report would have been made.

The fact that he was able to return to the game even in a limited fashion indicates that this may be more of the AC sprain/contusion variety. He may be limited in practice this week as he recovers, but his availability in practice will further dictate the specifics of the injury. Looking back at past research from other articles, the average time for a player to miss is 9.8 days according to data obtained from the NFL injury surveillance system. The fact that he doesn’t have to throw a football may accelerate his return. It’s very possible he plays next week. If he does miss any time, it should be minimal one game as a precaution.

 

LB Maurice Alexander (left hip)

Alexander, filling in for the injured Matt Milano, suffered a left hip injury while tackling Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki going out of bounds. The tackle itself was clean; the injury occurred when Alexander’s left hip fell on Gesicki’s foot while going down. He attempted to walk back to the field but quickly went down for medical attention, motioning to his left hip/back region.

Thankfully, he was able to return as the Bills were only carrying four linebackers Sunday. This injury may have been a hip pointer which is a deep bruise to the iliac crest. This is the portion of the hip where the core muscles attach and give that distinctive flair out seen in the hips. Considering the muscles attach there; twisting, side-bending, & engaging the core muscles further aggravate the injury with pain being the major limitation.

This may be an injury that Alexander doesn’t miss anytime with or even show up on the injury report. If he does miss anytime, I wouldn’t expect any more than one game. But noting these minor injuries here explain why the player went down & the possibilities of the injury.

 

CB Kevin Johnson (stinger)

Johnson suffered what has now been termed a stinger following evaluation for a head injury Sunday. These injuries are subtle on film and may not be apparent, but Johnson’s last play during the game came with 3:27 left in the 4th quarter. Johnson managed to tackle Dolphins WR DeVante Parker with assistance from Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds. 

While we are not certain that this play caused the stinger injury, it’s likely due to the fact that his head bent awkwardly & was rolled over as he hit the turf. He initially appeared dazed for a moment following the play & did not return. 

A stinger occurs as the result of the neck getting forcefully sideways and down, putting pressure on the cervical nerve roots coming from the spinal cord. These can be pinched by the vertebrae stacked above & below the nerve or can be the result of a disc protruding out & pushing on the nerve root. The nerve roots can also be overstretched due to traction from the neck getting hit in the opposite direction. A direct blow is yet another way for this to occur.  The pain associated with this is what gives it the name burner or stinger. The nerve root that is compressed sends a pain signal down that nerve & gives the unwelcome sensation. 

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Credit: http://www.aafp.org

This pain would only be produced in the affected nerve roots which means if someone sustains a stinger, they could feel it down in the specific parts of the arm/hand based on which nerve has impinged. This could be felt in places such as the 4th and 5th digits on the hand with resulting grip weakness or difficulty lifting the arm up overhead, indicating the specific nerve root affected. The effects of the stinger may linger for several days or the symptoms could resolve quickly.

Most of the time, these injuries are minor & don’t cause further issues. Return to sport would be indicated when the player is pain-free, full strength and range of motion have returned, and no flare-up of symptoms occurs. If this becomes recurring or linger, then further examination is warranted. This could involve getting an MRI or nerve conduction studies to further identify the specifics of the injury. It could lead to surgical consults if there was a need for cervical fusion due to instability or if the injury was high enough in the cervical region, potentially career-ending as in the case of former Bills C Eric Wood

I do not believe this to be the case. I merely lay out the possibility of the severity of the injury & what this means regarding stingers. It is still too early to determine if he misses any games or will be limited in practice.

Fortunately, the Bills walked away from Sunday with far fewer injuries than in previous contests. The injury report will be far smaller than in past weeks & indicates that the Bills are getting healthy as a critical stretch in their season approaches. While the quality of the opponent’s vary, they still all pose a threat to the Bills playoff chances. This team is built for depth but there is a clear difference between starter & replacement level players, evident over the past few games. This week’s practice will hopefully show progress for Thompson, Milano, and Johnson as the Bills prepare to host the Eagles next Sunday. 

Top Image Credit:

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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!!