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!!