Kelvin Benjamin Injury History

Analyzing the injury history of newly acquired WR Kelvin Benjamin and expectations for the rest of the season.

The Bills continue to shock and astound this fan base! Right before the trade deadline, the Buffalo Bills traded 2018 3rd and 7th round picks for WR Kelvin Benjamin from the Carolina Panthers! Brandon Beane continues to make moves to contend for a playoff spot, which is more than any recent Bills GM has done over the past 17 years. We have had splashy free agents such as Terrell Owens, Mario Williams, Shawne Merriman, and Nick Barnett, but have had to overpaid for aging talent or not gotten the money’s worth out of the talent. One constant remains, no playoff appearances. Time will tell if this Bills team will change that, but there is already greater chance than before.

With the Bills trading for Kelvin Benjamin, this does bring questions. Questions including how he will fit into a Rick Dennison offense, what kind of impact he will have, and what his injury history/risk is. Today’s post will review Benjamin’s injury history and attempt to determine whether he will be the play maker that the Bills expect of him. Or will Benjamin be the 2017 version of Sammy Watkins/Percy Harvin; supremely talented, but oft injured.

According to sportsinjurypredictor.com, Kelvin Benjamin has sustained a series of injuries over his 4 year playing career. Injuries include concussions, hamstring strains, ACL tear, AC joint sprain, and knee sprain. Starting in order, Benjamin’s concussion occurred during the 2014 season from a hit from Vontaze Burfict which knocked him out of the game but was able to return the following week. While concussion are a hot topic among today’s NFL players, the fact that he was able to return quickly indicate that it was mild at best and did not have long term effect. Having a history of concussions does predispose a player to future concussions, but so far Benjamin has avoided a recurrence of this injury.

During the 2015 offseason, Benjamin suffered two Grade 1-2 hamstring strains to both of his legs which kept him out briefly during OTA’s. Hamstrings can be chronic if not managed correctly, but considering the offseason is less strenuous, he was able to heal up with greater ease. Unfortunately, Benjamin’s 2015 season took a turn for the worse as he tore his left ACL during a non-contact drill during training camp which sidelined him for the entire season.

There is a higher risk for ACL re-tear once suffering an initial tear, but depending on surfaces, strength, and conditioning, this can affect rates. According to the MOON study, following two years after initial tear, 4.3% of patients re-tore the surgical graft and 3.6% tore the opposite ACL. This study comprised of more than 2,700 patients who had initially tore an ACL. While there is a risk, it is far from a guarantee that they re-tear. In another study that studied tears from ages 10-25 years, there was a 6 times greater chance that an athlete tore their ACL when compared to a healthy population. This study did factor females in which may skew results as there are no females in the NFL, but does demonstrate a higher risk for re-injury.

Through my personal research found at my previous article, I found that during the 2017 preseason, most injuries occurred to players 3 years and less in league. A majority of the ACL tears also occurred in this age group which can infer several things. This suggests that even though a player may be supremely talented, their bodies are still not physically ready for the NFL game right away. This also indicates that there is a higher risk for agility players to suffer major injury early in their career. Finally, consider that new NFL players coming out of school are 21-23 years old, this falls in line with the trend of ACL tears in young NFL players and in the previously mentioned study.

It was thought that during this season that Benjamin potentially re-tore his ACL during the New Orleans Saints game, but it was later diagnosed that he suffered a knee sprain which appears that he has fully recovered from. Fortunately, Benjamin did not suffer any further damage greater than a sprain and was able to return relatively quickly. Trying to predict the possibility of a prior ACL tear to re-tear or tear in the other knee is still like winning whack-a-mole. The risk is higher, but not absolute. Finally, the only other major injury he sustained came in the 2016 season in which he sprained his AC joint but did not miss any games as a result.

Looking back at all of this, it appears that while there is risk for injury, there is no greater risk than other players at his position. There also does not appear to be chronic injuries that he is coming to Buffalo with which may affect his production. I also pray that he does not suffer a Billsy injury a la Jordan Matthews did in his first practice with the team this season.

Kelvin Benjamin brings a new dimension to the passing game that was lost when Sammy Watkins was traded. He will be able to get the 50/50 balls that Tyrod Taylor throws up, he will be a red zone threat, and take pressure off Zay Jones so that he can continue to learn and grow as a rookie. Further analysis can be found by my friends at The Rockpile Report; I know for a fact that Drew and Chris have some HOT takes regarding the recent moves over the past week. Check out their podcast, you will not be disappointed!

Overall, I like this trade. Kelvin Benjamin does come with some injury baggage, but so has nearly every other player in NFL history. There are hardly any players that miss any time, unless their name is Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, or Joe Thomas. All eventually had serious injuries which affected their career in one way or another which puts into perspective when looking at Kelvin’s injury history. Though the Bills did give up some draft capital, they still have 5 picks within the top 90 picks and cap flexibility to get the players they covet and not sacrifice the future.

This is a true application of “Trust the Process”. Will it end in playoff appearances, division championships, or even dare I say it, a Super Bowl? Who knows. These Buffalo Bills are winning and still in far better position than the Browns or Colts who have tanked in order to get picks; their process has not worked in their advantage when building a championship team.

Continue to check back for further updates including the injury breakdown prior to the Jets game Thursday, post game analysis, and my thoughts on Sean McDermott during the long break before the Saints game. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Trade Alert!!

Breaking down the injury histories of the players Buffalo acquired during the trades made yesterday with the Rams and Eagles.

Trade alert, trade alert!! The Bills are making moves!! To recap, the Bills traded WR Sammy Watkins and a 2018 6th Rd draft pick to the Rams for CB E.J. Gaines and a 2018 2nd Rd draft pick. Also traded was CB Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles for WR Jordan Matthews and a 2018 3rd Rd draft pick. Whether you are a negative Nancy or a positive Peter dictates how you feel about this trade. A lot of talk has been made regarding whether the Bills are tanking and stockpiling draft picks. I don’t believe this to be the case. I believe the Bills are making moves to build through the draft while not sacrificing the present. They are are the Buffalo Bills, not the Cleveland Browns. They share the same lake, but not the same approach. Buffalo now owns 6 draft choices in the first 90 picks in next years draft and a team that can win more than 1 game in a season. This allows flexibility to build a winner while not sacrificing this year’s team. Yes, the Bills lost some talent, but not depth, and they picked up pieces to build for the future.

Sammy Watkins has left a lot to be desired during his time in Buffalo, having missed key portions of each season due to injuries. The Bills also declined the 5th year option on his rookie deal, making Watkins a free agent after the season. The likelihood of the Bills signing him to a long term deal was possible, but would have come at a steep price due to the ever increasing amount teams willing to pay for talent. The Bills were smart to move Watkins while his value was high, obtaining draft capital and a CB to reinforce the secondary which was shown to be horrendous last season.

It has been heavily documented that Sammy Watkins suffered a Jones fracture which has required 2 surgeries and uncertainty of returning to form without complications. The previously linked article from Buffalo Rumblings is an excellent read, got to give credit where it’s due! Besides the Jones fracture, Watkins has sustained numerous injuries including a hip labrum tear and ankle, calf, thigh, groin, and rib injuries during his time with the Bills. While his stats have lined up with his contemporaries in the 2014 NFL draft when on the field, Watkins missing time is more crucial due to the Bills relying on his abilities alone in order to win. As a fan, I would rather have a lesser talent who can participate weekly with the team than someone who isn’t certain to contribute.

Breaking down E.J. Gaines injury history, which includes a 2014 concussion that was sustained in Week 16 and a thigh injury sustained in 2016 towards the end of the season are worth mentioning. The only major injury Gaines has sustained is a Lisfranc injury during training camp in 2015 which caused him to miss the entire season. The injury occurred due to Kenny Britt stepping on his foot during practice. A Lisfranc injury is where the long bones in the foot called the metatarsals that connect to the cuboid bones in the mid-foot become fractured or dislocated. In Gaines case, stepping on the foot caused the injury. In other cases, falling forward when the toes are pointed down can cause this injury. It is not a sexy way to seriously injury one’s self. In all cases, surgery is recommended if there is a fracture or dislocation. While this injury is serious, it is one that appears to be less complex, such as the complications that Watkins has had with his foot injury. Besides arthritis in the coming years, I don’t anticipate that this will continue to hamper Gaines’ production in the defense.

Analyzing Jordan Matthews injury history, he has sustained injuries including a sprained ankle at the end of the 2016 season, knee tendinitis in 2016-2017, back spasms in 2016, and an oblique injury in 2014. Besides the ankle sprain that limited him at the end of last season, there isn’t much that has prevented Matthews from contributing. The knee tendinitis is somewhat of a concern as it can continue to linger, but hasn’t caused him to miss any time. He has produced with consistency that has puts him with elite company. I am hard pressed to find a player who does not deal with some sort of injury throughout the NFL season. What I am concerned about is the extent of time missed due to injury and complications with returning to full health such as Watkins. I do not see these concerns with Matthews. While not all injuries can be prevented, it is important to understand how the injuries occur and the lasting impacts it has on player performance. It remains to be seen how this trade will play out in the coming season and years.

While there are many more discussions regarding the players and their performance on the field, I believe the Bills came away with solid draft picks allowing them to find players who can help them win. I also believe that player wise, the Bills moved players who could continue to be a liability on the field for players that are proven at what they do. They also do not have as significant injury histories, allowing them to stay healthy and contribute towards winning and building depth for the season.