Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Primer

Reviewing last season’s major injuries and how they will impact the 2018 season.

Training camp is upon us! Thursday is the first full day for the Buffalo Bills to begin training camp at St. John Fisher in suburban Rochester, NY. This training camp, as many others, will shape the 2018 roster. We will see new players rise up to the challenge and find themselves on an NFL roster. Others will experience the heartbreak of falling short of their dreams. Finally, we will see many players whose seasons will end before they even really began due to injury. Today’s post will review some of the high profile Bills players and their previous injuries and what this means going forward. If you would like to listen to the audio version of this article, I appeared on the Cover 1 podcast last night and discussed these injuries, check it out!!

First up is RB Travaris Cadet. The 6th year back was an effective backup behind RB LeSean McCoy and allowed the offense to keep defenses on their toes. Regrettably, Cadet fractured his ankle in a gruesome manner late in the season and was placed on IR. After an injury such as that, there are natural concerns for his ability to recover and rejoin the team. According to what we know regarding the timeline for his recovery, he is fully healed and videos such as this indicate that he is at full health. I do not believe his injury will hold him back; rather his skill may be the biggest detriment as the Bills have loaded themselves up on running back. Look for a full contribution from Cadet and time will tell whether he finds himself on the 53.

Next man up is WR Kelvin Benjamin. The gigantic wideout comes back to the Bills for the final year of his contract and his production this season will determine his future home. Fortunately, Benjamin comes into this season healthy after being limited with a partially torn meniscus sustained in the dumpster fire that was the Chargers game. The 4th year wideout had surgery in the offseason and while he may have issues well after his playing career, he should not have any setbacks in camp as the offending tissue has been excised and rehab fully complete. Hopefully he will have a QB that is more likely to throw, leading to a big season for Benjamin.

Continuing our trend of injured Bills, TE Charles Clay. The 7th year tight end suffered a partially torn meniscus and MCL tear in the loss to Cincinnati but was able to return down the stretch to push the Bills into the playoffs. Clay should not have any limitations following that injury going into training camp. However, he may continue to have issues with his chronic knee condition he has dealt with in previous seasons. I believe this will slow him down but as he has shown in previous seasons, it really does not stop his ability as he has been able to appear in at least 13 games every year over his career. He will need veteran rest days but should be fully healthy in training camp.

DE Trent Murphy enters his first training camp with the Bills after spending the first 4 years with the Redskins. Up until last year, Murphy had shown the ability to provide pressure on the end and get to the quarterback, racking up 9 sacks in the process in 2016. His 2017 season ended quickly with a torn ACL in the preseason opener and was lost for the season and released afterward. Typical ACL recoveries take roughly a year to return to full form and this is evident with Murphy starting the season on the active roster after being limited in OTA’s. He should not be limited due to his previous injury, but he still carries a higher risk to re-tear his graft or tear the other ACL for up to 2 years.

LB Ramon Humber is another veteran returning to camp this season. The 9th year linebacker had a hot start to his season before suffering a broken thumb in the win over the Falcons last season which cost him 3 games. He was able to return and still contribute, but rookie Matt Milano got some game time experience which allowed him to excel in McDermott’s defense and hold onto the starting job. Humber will continue to provide a veteran presence and leadership on this team going into 2018.

Newly acquired CB Vontae Davis comes from the Colts after an injury shortened season in where he suffered a sports hernia, limiting him to 5 games. Davis elected to take the surgery which led to his release from the Colts, but I believe that he made the right choice in order to extend his career. As indicated in the hyperlinked article, 90% of NFL players who suffer a sports hernia are able to return to the NFL after surgery. While talent may differ due to each player, the ability to come back at all is the most important thing. I believe Davis will not miss a step and will actually be an upgrade to former Bill CB E. J. Gaines.

Our final defensive player on this list today is LB Matt Milano. The rookie linebacker out of Boston College outplayed where he was drafted in the 5th round and provided a bright spot at what was a weak linebacker corps. Milano had issues with his hamstrings last season and continued to be limited during OTA’s. He should be at full health coming into training camp but should be eased in slowly, avoiding game speed reps until he is confident that he is ready. I do not expect him to fully avoid re-injury, but limit the severity of the strain if it does occur again. Look for another solid contribution this year barring major injury.

Rounding out this article is WR Zay Jones. The NFL has not been kind to the rookie WR so far in his young career, suffering what appeared to be the yips early in the season. We now know that this was attributed to a labral tear which limited his ability to catch effectively. He had surgery in late January and should be cleared medically. In addition, Jones also had surgery on his knee in mid May. As he was recently placed on the active/non-football injury list, this indicates this injury occurred in the off-season. Whether this is tied to the well publicized hotel incident is in question, we may never know. Once Jones is cleared medically for his knee, he should not have any further complications moving forward. He will need a big season to right the ship and maintain a long career in a Bills uniform.

This wraps up the the major injuries heading into training camp. We will begin to see a host of new injuries, some minor, some major, but Banged Up Bills will be here to report all of those! As a fan, I am looking forward to this upcoming season after such a memorable 2017. Continue to follow on Twitter @BangedUpBills and at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- LB

Assessing the LB positional injury review from the 2017 season.

Continuing this off-season is the positional injury review’s of this past season for the Buffalo Bills. Today’s review focuses on the LB position. This was a position of weakness during the 2017 season which was horrendous against the run. Whether this is good or bad, most of the unit returns along with some new faces which allow for greater depth. There was a total of 6 players to suit up at the position with a wide variance of statistical success.

First man up is LB Lorenzo Alexander. The elder statesman of the corps managed to stay incredibly healthy during this past season. He was a frequent participant on the injury report requiring weekly rest days but never for a specific injury. The 34 year old, undrafted free agent out of California has spent 11 years in the league playing a variety of positions which may explain why he has such staying power. His ability to adapt to a variety of positions including offensive tackle, tight end, defensive tackle, linebacker, defensive end, and fullback along with special teams. This has forced him to pay close attention to his body and how it operates to adjust to the demands of the positions which I believe has allowed him to stay in the league as long as he has. Despite being one of the older players on the field, he is still able to produce with 3 sacks, 53 tackles with 12 assisted, and 3 forced fumbles. Unless there are a number of linebackers that impress the coaching staff, expect Alexander to remain on the roster in 2018 and continue to be productive.

Next up is LB Preston Brown. The 4th year LB had an incredibly productive season, leading the NFL in tackles with 144 total tackles, 84 solo and 60 assisted and adding in 3 forced fumbles. Brown also thankfully avoided the injury report which is why he was able to be so productive. Despite his availability and production, the Bills did not resign him in free agency, allowing him to sign with his hometown Cincinnati Bengals. While his production is lost, the Bills at least addressed the positional need through the draft with LB Tremaine Edmunds.

Adding the veteran presence of LB Ramon Humber brought mixed opinions from pundits as the veteran has been around the league for 10 years now playing for Indianapolis, New Orleans, and most recently Buffalo. As a 30 year old linebacker, he was able to produce 56 solo tackles, 27 assisted with 1 forced fumble while playing in 13 games and starting 9. Humber only suffered a broken thumb in the win over the Falcons in November, had surgery to stabilize the area, and then proceeded to miss 3 games. During that time, rookie LB Matt Milano stepped in and overtook his starting position, leading Humber to be a depth player, typically what he has been his entire career. The thumb won’t cause any issues coming into the 2018 season but due to his age and ability, he may find himself a camp cut unless he impresses the coaching staff.

Speaking of LB Matt Milano, the rookie 5th round pick out of Boston College impressed many this season with his ability to step up in place of the injured Humber. The rookie saw time in all 16 games and started 5. Milano was able to collect 29 tackles with 14 assists along with a forced fumble with return for a TD and added in 1 interception. While he is not the linebacker that McDermott envisions to run his defense, he has shown the ability to be aware on the field as evident by the statistics he collected this season. Injury wise, Milano stayed relatively healthy, only suffering hamstring injuries early in the season in September and then a more severe injury to the hamstring which kept him out of the playoff loss in Jacksonville. It is unknown whether this was the same side or two separate injuries. As hamstrings are soft tissue and can heal fully, he should not have any setbacks going into this season. He is still a young player and adjusting to the NFL which could put him at risk to develop further hamstring or chronic injuries, but as he sat out the last game and was able to rest, I do not believe this to be the case. Expect Milano to pick up where he left off and continue to produce in 2018.

Rounding out the linebacking corps is LB Deon Lacey and LB Tanner Vallejo. Lacy was largely ineffective, totaling only 1 tackle and spending most of his time on special teams. During his rookie season, he suffered hamstring early in the season and did not appear to re-injure it later. The coaching staff will most likely decide his fate as he was primarily special teams player. As for Vallejo, his rookie season got off to a slow start with a knee injury late in the preseason. After that, most of his playing time was in special teams with no stats recorded on defense. As he was a draft pick of this regime, I expect him to find a place on this roster for next season.

This finishes out the players who suited up at linebacker for the Bills in 2017. The LB position demonstrate significant turnover with my picks of Alexander and Milano locks to return to the roster and Humber and Vallejo competing for backup jobs. Lacey will find himself out of a job unless he impresses in camp. Add in 1st round draft pick LB Tremaine Edmunds out of VA Tech along with UDFA LB Corey Thompson out of LSU, free agent signing of LB Julian Stanford, and practice squad member LB Xavier Woodson-Luster will help reshape this position drastically.

Continue to check back at Banged Up Bills for the latest news updates and articles on the Buffalo Bills. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook and on Twitter @BangedUpBills. As always, thank you for reading 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!

Week 9 Injury Breakdown- Jets

Breaking down the Bills injury report for the New York Jets and impact on tonight’s game.

The Buffalo Bills go into their second match up of the season against the New York Jets with the best start for the franchise since 2011 and with a win, move to 6-2 and have their best start since 1993 when they started 7-1. This team continues to get healthier week after week despite key starters go down with injury. It is nearly impossible to go through an entire season without a team sustaining major injury, but the Bills are close to perfection in this area.

Breaking down the injury report for tonight’s game against the New York Jets, several injuries are worth noting. First off, TE Charles Clay (knee) and CB E.J. Gaines (hamstring) are listed as out for the game. No surprise with Clay considering the type of knee injury he sustained. Gaines is out because after coming off a groin injury, he sustained a hamstring injury the next game. While I do believe each injury alone isn’t severe enough to warrant an extended absence, the combined injuries along with their location require proper rest and rehab to ensure healing. I still believe Clay is several weeks away from returning to game shape, but is clearly progressing. Gaines should be ready for the Saints game, barring any set backs or new information.

S Jordan Poyer (knee) and LB Ramon Humber (thumb) are both listed as questionable. Poyer injured his knee during the last play of the Buccaneer’s game and missed the Raiders game as a result. I had originally thought that he sustained a Grade 1 MCL sprain and based on this latest news, still maintain that. I believe he will be a game time decision based on how he performs in warm ups. MetLife stadium is synthetic turf which can increase the ability for feet to stick in turf and can lead to the possibility of greater injury. However, if Poyer believes he can play, then I see no reason why he can’t. The medical staff has been on point this season and I do not believe he would rush back sooner than he needs to. I believe he will play Thursday without any signs of injury or risk further damage.

Humber has been out since October 1st with a broken thumb sustained against the Falcons. It has been 4 weeks since the injury which is enough time for a bone in that area to heal. It is unknown if he will play with any sort of protective bracing, but I also believe he will be ready to play Thursday night. If Humber does play, I would expect his reps to be limited in order to keep him fresh and allow LB Matt Milano to continue to develop as a rookie.

The rest of the injury report all practiced with full participation which included G Richie Incognito (ankle), T Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), C Eric Wood (ankle), and WR Zay Jones (shoulder). Most of these injuries with the exception of Glenn appear to be the normal wear and tear of the NFL season. Nothing appears to be worse than it seems and should resolve with the extended break in between the Jets and Saints game.

Finally, despite what happens with Poyer and Humber, I believe that their replacements are suitable to fill in one more week if they play as well as they did against the Raiders. I expect a win out of these Bills and get the season sweep over the Jets. There is always a risk for injury especially in these division games where each team appears to bring their A-game, but the Bills are a deeper, more complete team that should wear down the Jets as the game wears on.

Check for my injury analysis following the Jets game and any new updates that occur. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

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!!

Week 8 Injury Breakdown- Raiders

Assessing the latest Buffalo Bills injury report and implications for Sunday’s match up against the Oakland Raiders.

Since today’s injury report was released today, relatively nothing new has occurred injury wise with the Bills. LB Ramon Humber and TE Charles Clay continue to be on the mend with their respective injuries. RB LeSean McCoy, DT Kyle Williams, LB Lorenzo Alexander did not practice secondary to requiring a rest day. Those guys go hard every Sunday, a rest day is more than well deserved. CB E.J. Gaines (hamstring), S Jordan Poyer (knee), and G Richie Incognitio (ankle) did not practice secondary to their recent injuries.

I had previously given my thoughts on Gaines and Poyer in my last article. With soft tissue injuries, there are general guidelines based on severity, but it ultimately come down to each player’s response to the injury. I still believe Poyer may be able to play Sunday, but the Bills continue to be proactive, releasing CB Tony McRae and signing CB Lafayette Pitts, who has spent time with Miami and Jacksonville the past 2 seasons.

G Richie Incognito did injure his ankle early in the 2nd quarter, sat out several plays, and was able to return to the game. It appears as though he may have sprained his ankle, which is not surprising considering his position. Considering he was able to continue playing, sitting out today’s practice especially in the rainy weather, ensured that he could have an additional day to rest his ankle. With proper bracing, Incognitio may be able to play Sunday, but not knowing the severity clouds my ability to make a definitive prognosis.

It is worth mentioning that WR Jordan Matthews is no longer listed on the injury report. While I am not an expert yet in the reporting of injuries to the NFL, this indicates two things. This indicates that Matthews did not have a set back in his recovery from thumb surgery. This also indicates that he is most likely not back at 100% though. Just because he is not listed does not mean that he is still not still healing. I expect him to continue wearing his brace for protection for at least another 1-2 games until team doctors can be confident that he will not re-fracture the area.

The only other notable injury is LB Preston Brown. He was able to participate in practice despite a shoulder injury. There is not any information other than the official press release to indicate the nature of the shoulder injury. Brown’s job is to throw his body at a moving object and stop it in its tracks. I expect that his shoulder will hurt from time to time due to the repeated impacts. As the NFL injury rules are quite strict, it is in the Bills best interest to report all injuries. As there is no information on the shoulder and he was a full participant, this does not concern me at all and does not indicate any underlying chronic issues.

Minimizing the injuries continue to be a focus of this team and while the secondary has taken a hit, the team as a whole continues to be relatively healthy. The secondary was awful last year; so far it has exceeded expectations, but this will be an area that Oakland will attempt to exploit in order to win. This will be an area that I expect the Bills to continue to address on the waiver wire and in next year’s draft. I still believe the Bills have the talent to win this game, but if the Bills have to lose, I would rather be it this game than a winnable game such as the Chargers or Jets in the next several weeks. My football predictions may not be accurate, but my knowledge of the injuries are. That’s why you are here reading.

Look for future posts including my thoughts on Sean McDermott and the culture he is instilling in Buffalo. I will continue to report on the Buffalo Bills injuries as they occur and begin to incorporate new items into my posts as they become relevant. As always, thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!

Week 7 Injury Breakdown- Winston’s Woes

Breaking down the Bills injury report, analyzing QB Jameis Winston’s AC sprain, and how it will impact Sunday’s match up.

Well, I was wrong. Yet I couldn’t be more happier! WR Jordan Matthews has been cleared for practice! After breaking a bone in his thumb which required surgery and a pin inserted just two weeks ago, he has already begun practicing on a limited basis. This is far faster than the anticipated month long absence the team expected. This also blew my prediction out of the water of returning at least by the Jets or Saints game.

This determination was made with full confidence of team doctors and how Matthews has responded to treatment. While there are guidelines with each surgery, they can be circumvented based on variables such as healing, pain, and strength/range of motion progress. As of today, he is listed as questionable for Sunday. He was listed as a full participant in practice today, however, it may still be beneficial to come back with an additional weeks rest. As we have found out, anything can happen, so stay tuned.

Conversely, I believed that LB Ramon Humber would be the one returning quickly as he was able to play through the Falcons game with a club on the hand until he could be examined further. As of today, he is still listed as out. This may change as he continues to be week-to-week, but LB Matt Milano is filling in place with satisfactory results.

CB E.J. Gaines continues to deal with a groin injury also sustained in the Atlanta game which indicates that it may be been more severe than DE Shaq Lawson injury. He was listed as a full participant today which is a good sign heading into Sunday. CB Leonard Johnson is listed as still dealing with a hamstring injury, but also was able to practice in full today. As previously mentioned, hamstrings can be tricky and not quite heal up completely if Johnson re-aggravates the injury. Both are listed as questionable going into Sunday’s game, but considering these are soft tissue injuries, I have much more faith in them playing than Matthews.

Finally, OT Cordy Glenn was a full participant while still dealing with a foot/ankle injury. He appears to continue to re-injure it or dealing with a chronic issue which means he may never be fully healthy this season. There was discussions that he would be moved to the Seattle Seahawks, but a trade was unable to be completed. It is also assumed that he would not pass a physical. Add into the mix that he has a hefty contract that not every team can just assume. I expect to see Cordy either get healthy and be traded, or play out his contract and leave a free agent.

While this is a Bills blog, the one big question is how QB Jameis Winston’s AC sprain will affect Sunday. Winston sustained the shoulder injury last Sunday during a tackle by LB Chandler Jones. It was reported that he was well enough to return in an emergency, but QB Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the game. As of today, Winston has participated in a limited fashion with throwing in practice and is listed as starting Sunday. While he is starting, I question the effectiveness of his abilities.

front-view-of-shoulder-joint-356986.jpg
Credit: saintlukeshealthsystem.org

To understand why this may limit Winston, the AC joint must be understood. The AC joint is important in the shoulder as this is where the top of the shoulder (acromion) articulates with the collarbone (clavicle). The AC joint is vital to the throwing motion due to the fact that as the arm is elevated, the acromion that attaches to the wingbone (scapula) begins to elevate. As the scapula begins to elevate, the articulation between the acromion and clavicle begin to move as the clavicle beings to rotate up and out of the way to allow for overhead movement. If the AC joint is sprained, this limits the ability to elevate the shoulder effectively and cock the arm back in position to throw. There are various grades of AC joint sprains as with any other sprain outlined in my previous article, but this appears to be a Grade 1 sprain.

Winston is going to attempt to play with this injury, but it’s assumed that he will not be effective to throw deep or put any speed on his throws. On average, the shoulder sprain that Winston sustained typically takes 9.8 days to fully recover from according to Dr. David Geier. He will be at day 7 by kickoff Sunday, which may affect his ability. This, and other information regarding AC joint sprains can be found at the previously linked blog. This information provided by both Dr. Geier and found by my friends from The Rockpile Report. If you aren’t already a listener, start listening, Drew and Chris are the best at what they do when it comes to Bills football!

At this point in the season, I still believe we are in a better spot both record wise and injury wise compared to previous seasons. I also believe that this team is better equipped to deal with injuries than in past years. This next month of football will really define our season, determining whether the Bills are for real or the same old Bills. Calling it now, the Bills win a close defensive battle and move to 4-2 on the year. Continue to check back for any breaking updates, new injuries, or further explanation of complex injuries. Thank you 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!!

Week 5 Injury Breakdown- Bengals

Assessing the latest injuries prior to the showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals and how it affects depth.

The injury list continues to grow for the Buffalo Bills heading into the Week 5 match up against the Cincinnati Bengals. While the only notable players that are sure to be out are LB Ramon Humber and WR Jordan Matthews, there are still many others that are dealing with injuries. Most of these injuries appear to be players getting banged up due to the rigors of the NFL season.

Today’s article will review most everyone that has appeared on the injury list this week and attempt to determine the true severity of each player’s injury. Staring off with players who have not been limited in practice with injuries are as follows: RB LeSean McCoy (wrist), RB Mike Tolbert (thumb), and DT Jerel Worthy (thumb). It was observed that Mike Tolbert injured his hand at the end of the 3rd quarter which led to a fumble that Buffalo recovered. It is unknown how Jerel Worthy injured his thumb, but it was injured enough to appear on the injury report. Both players most likely sustained sprained thumbs which will affect play, but with proper management which may consist of taping for stability or even a wrist brace to reduce risk for further re-injury.

McCoy continues to appear weekly on the injury report due to a nagging wrist injury sustained in the season opener. While he continues to be a full participant, it does worry me that he continues to re-injure this wrist. He has been observed leaving each game briefly due to wrist pain after running the ball. He appears to jam it while cradling the ball, leading to pain and possible weakness. He could tape the wrist or wear a brace, but this limits the ability to cradle the football and effectively block. I expect him to miss some time during the game due to wrist re-injury, but the upcoming bye week may allow him to get the rest he requires to prevent worsening of the injury.

Those limited in practice were WR Kaelin Clay (back), DT Marcell Dareus (ankle), CB E.J. Gaines (groin), OT Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), CB Shareece Wright (back), DE Eddie Yarbrough (thigh), DT Kyle Williams (thumb), S Micah Hyde (knee), and DE Shaq Lawson (groin). Glenn continues to deal with his chronic foot/ankle injuries and Dareus is still recovering from his sprained ankle, which is consistent with this type of injury. Lawson injured his groin last week in practice and missed the Atlanta game.

Kyle Williams thumb injury may be similar to Jerel Worthy’s injury in that it may have been sprained due to the hand fighting that a defensive lineman performs during each play, getting the thumb hyperextended or caught. Williams is tough as nails and won’t let something like this slow him down. Shareece Wright and Kaelin Clay’s back injuries are injuries that not much information is available. This may be something that occurred during practice or something that is nagging. Considering that the spine is made up of bones, ligaments, and tendon attachments, it is quite possible they pulled a muscle, over rotated, or extended; causing pain and difficulty during tackling, running, and changing direction.

Eddie Yarbrough and Taiwan Jones also have little information regarding the nature of their injuries. These may be just contusions and limit the ability to go full speed, but do not concern me about underlying issues. Yarbrough continues to be a diamond in the rough, playing exceptionally well and Jones handles kickoff duties, which affect more game play rather than another body on the sidelines.

Finally, E.J. Gaines and Micah Hyde are questionable along with Cordy Glenn and Shareece Wright. As mentioned last article, Gaines’ groin severity is unknown at this moment, the team may take the approach that they did with Lawson last week and see how he feels going into the game, shutting him down if things don’t feel right. Micah Hyde is dealing with a knee injury that was not noted until Thursday afternoon. It was initially reported that he was dealing with general soreness which has since been narrowed down to a knee issue. This may be as simple as a sprain which he needs to rehab correctly or it may be something worse that the team wants to see how it responds before taking further action. Without video, it is impossible to speculate what specific injury may be ailing him. Losing Hyde going into the Bengals game will be a huge loss in the secondary considering the offensive weapons the Bengals have and several injuries already in the Buffalo secondary.

If this game were to be a non-conference opponent, I expect more players to be out include the above mentioned Glenn, Hyde, Wright, and Gaines. As the Bills would benefit from winning every game, it is more important to win the conference games if it comes down to tiebreakers at the end for playoff seeding. Excluding Gaines, I expect all the players listed above to play. Some of these players may see a limited snap count such as Dareus did last week. It remains to be seen if his snap count is limited secondary to discipline or whether they want to ensure that the ankle heals correctly. I am in favor of limiting snap counts in order to get the best players on the field.

I believe this game is winnable with the way the defense is playing, simple as that. How things play out with the questionable players, along with Ramon Humber’s and Jordan Matthews’ replacements will dictate the quality of play. McDermott and Beane have constantly been addressing depth and finding the type of players that fit their schemes, which in turn should reduce the drop off in quality of play dealing with replacement players.

Continue to check back for injury updates after the game and break down roster depth, injuries heading into the bye, and any injury highlights from around the league. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 4 Recap- Falcons

Breaking down the Bills latest injuries including thumb fractures, surgical approaches, and long term outlook.

This is a Bills team that continues to impress so far into the 2017 season. The defense is looking better than ever, Tyrod Taylor is moving the ball well, and serious injuries continue to be at a minimum. The Bills pulled out a solid win against the defending NFC champions, winning 23-17. These Bills look good, but I am not getting my hopes up yet. This happened in 2008 and 2011, both of which became lost seasons.

Unfortunately, with a hard nose win, comes some tough injuries which does affect how the next few weeks play out. A total of 4 players went out with some significant injuries that some will miss extended time. LB Ramon Humber and WR Jordan Matthews are out with broken thumbs, also known as the first metacarpal, the portion of the thumb that is highlighted as the broken area in the picture. Reports indicate that both will have surgery with Matthews requiring a pin to hold the fracture in place. There are not reports that Humber will require the same technique which may indicate a different type of fracture which may affect healing time.

fr_metacIllustration 1: Credit: http://www.mdguidelines.com/fracture-metacarpal-bones

While there are multiple ways to break a thumb and various ways the bone can break, the surgical options are fairly straight forward. For Matthews’, he will require a pin or “K-wire” which is inserted into the bone to hold it in place while it heals, which typically takes 3 weeks until it can be pulled out. A small piece of the wire sticks out of the skin and is protected to reduce infection. This is called a Bennett’s type approach. He may require this surgery due to a portion of the bone that has become fractured and requires stabilization to ensure proper healing.

Humber’s surgery may take the approach known as a Rolando’s type approach due to the nature of the break. Humber may have had several small breaks in the first metacarpal requiring a surgical approach to bring together all the various pieces together using a plate and screws to secure the area while it heals. Considering that the surgical area will be sewed shut, it is possible to have a cast placed over the area and continue playing. To better understand the difference between the thumb surgeries, please check out this link. While it does have basic drawings, it is the best resource that makes understanding the differences easily.

Next up is S Colt Anderson with a broken forearm. Any of my readers, please tell me what the Bills see in this guy? He continually gets hurt and I personally fail to see the value in him being on the roster. However, he suffered a broken forearm and has since been placed on IR. Typically, an injury such as this is sustained due to a direct blow to the arm such as during blocking or hitting the arm against a helmet. It is unknown which bone he broke in his arm, but he will require surgery which typically places a rod and screws to stabilize the area to ensure that it heals properly.

Finally, E.J. Gaines suffered a pulled groin on a hard tackle after changing direction in the 4th quarter and left the game. As of now, it is unknown how severe the injury is, but if it is similar to Shaq Lawson’s injury, then he should recover well. He was able to walk off on his own power and did not need any immediate attention which may indicate a mild strain. To understand further what the groin is and how it affects the football player, check out this article.

Expect to see Gaines at worst miss the next game, but considering he has more time than Lawson to recover, it’s possible for him to play in some fashion Sunday. Depending on the severity of the Humber fracture, he could come back after the bye and play in a cast while he continues to heal. Matthews on the other hand, makes his money using his hands and will require a longer recovery time because of this and the nature of the surgery. He will come back at some point during the season, but I wouldn’t expect him to come back until the Saints game on November 12th. This will give him at least 4 weeks to recover and then with the Jets playing the Bills on Thursday night, no sense in rushing him back and gives him an extra week to recover.

To make up for these losses, the Bills signed WR Philly Brown, S Trae Elston, and S Shamarko Thomas, moving S Colt Anderson to IR and releasing S Robert Blanton and DE Eric Lee. The Bills continue to make moves to keep the depth at a premium and sign players who know the system, allowing for a smaller learning curve.

Continue to check back for updates and any new injuries. These Bills may be real, let’s see how real they can get! Go Bills!!