Bills Preseason Injury Preview- Panthers

Detailing the latest Bills injuries prior to the Week 2 preseason game against the Panthers.

The Bills survived a thriller over the Colts last Thursday at New Era Field with a 24-16 win! They managed to play well & avoid major injury which is always ideal in the preseason. Entering Week 2 of the preseason, health concerns of several players still exist. Today’s post will identify those who are questionable & likely out.
 
Ruled out:
 
C Mitch Morse: concussion
 
Morse is still dealing with the after-effects of a concussion diagnosed over 2 weeks ago. He has since progressed to return to full practice with a red non-contact jersey. He has been able to take snaps, run full speed, and do nearly everything except full contact. He will not play Friday due to the obvious concerns of suffering another head injury. He still requires the reps & practice with the first-team offense to be ready for the regular season. His time in the preseason will come, but likely in the 3rd game.
 
RB Frank Gore: veteran rest
 
Gore played in the preseason opener with a strong, but brief outing & avoided injury. He has nothing left to prove to the Bills until the regular season. It was already announced that he would sit out so that RB LeSean McCoy starts. This will allow Devin Singletary, TJ Yeldon, and others to make their case on the final roster.
 
TE Dawson Knox: hamstring
 
Knox continues to work back from his hamstring injury sustained early in camp. Many reports state that Knox is performing rehab, but not cleared to don a non-contact jersey. This is due to avoiding coming back too soon and re-injuring. While he is a lock to make the team, his development has been severely stunted. Hopes are that he gets on the field for the last 2 games to catch up.
 
OL Conor McDermott: concussion
 
Like Morse, McDermott is in the concussion protocol following a hit on Thursday night. He currently wears a red non-contact jersey signifying that he is rapidly improving. Yet, it may not be wise to expose him to live football this week to ensure his long term health. As he is fighting for a roster spot, he may be best to fight another day.
 
Questionable:
 
C Russell Bodine: oblique strain
 
Bodine suffered an oblique strain during last weeks preseason win. He has since worn a non-contact jersey during the two practices in South Carolina. For his health, he may be best suited to sit out this game. Considering he has to fight for a roster spot behind Morse, Long, Feliciano, and even Bates, he may try to play through the injury.
 
TE Jason Croom: hamstring
 
Croom, like Knox, has been battling to get back on the field to show why he needs to make the roster. He appears to be near 100% but is truly questionable whether he plays Friday. This will likely be a player decision to play. I don’t expect that he will re-injure the hamstring again, but there is always a possibility.
 
C/G Spencer Long: knee
 
Cover 1’s Greg Tompsett observed Long as a full participant in practice this past week. Yet, Tompsett noted that Long continues to don a brace and a wrap on the right leg indicating there is still an issue. Considering the hinge bracing, this still supports that he tweaked his MCL. While this is not 100%, this could keep Long out of the 2nd game to ensure his versatility at both positions.
 
There will be other likely starters that will sit out, but not due to injury. Considering the joint practices this past week with the Panthers, I expect more situational football played than all-out war. This should keep the number of injuries down but allow borderline players to showcase their abilities.
 
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Bills Preseason Injury Preview- Colts

Reviewing all Bills injuries prior to the 1st preseason game against the Colts.

Football is upon us! The first preseason game of the 2019 Bills season is Thursday night against the Colts. While HC Sean McDermott has announced that starters will play the 1st quarter, this doesn’t mean that all potential starters will play. Due to several injuries, the below listed players are either not expected to play or are questionable.

Ruled OUT:

TE Jason Croom & Dawson Knox: hamstring strain

Both tight ends have been out since the beginning of training camp due to hamstring strains. For Croom, this is his 2nd hamstring strain after suffering one during OTA’s in May. Since both have not practiced in full, both are expected to be ruled out. This will give starting reps to TE Lee Smith & TE Tommy Sweeney along with playing time for TE Keith Towbridge, TE Nate Becker & TE Kyle Carter. 

C Mitch Morse- concussion

Morse continues to deal with the after effects of a concussion sustained in the first padded practice of training camp that has caused him to miss nearly two weeks of valuable reps. Even if he is cleared for tomorrow’s game, the missed reps alone will prevent him from effectively playing. 

Considering his concussion history, it would be poor judgement to rush him back into the field which may necessitate the team to keep him out of at least the first 2 games. Based on video, it appears he is in stage 4 of the concussion protocol, but until he is cleared & comfortable with the playcall and pads, he should stay off the field. 

CB EJ Gaines- groin

Gaines suffered yet another injury, this time to his groin while performing 1-on-1 drills during Monday’s practice. Considering the team reports that he will be out a few weeks, he may miss the rest of the preseason while rehabbing. It’s obvious he will not play Thursday. To read more about his most recent injury, check out my article at Buffalo Rumblings.

RB LeSean McCoy- veteran

McCoy will not play against the Colts on a Thursday to avoid injury and ensure that he stays healthy going into 2019. He will play during the Panthers preseason game whereas RB Frank Gore will sit that game and play in the Colts game. This is a smart move and will also let RB Devin Singletary & RB TJ Yeldon touches to see what they have as depth. 

 

Ruled QUESTIONABLE: 

C/G Spencer Long: knee

Long has been in and out of practice the past week dealing with what the team has described as knee soreness. He has been seen wearing a hinged knee brace and compression sleeve indicating he may have sustained a mild knee sprain. Considering the issues that Morse is dealing with now, Long may be forced to play the first quarter in the even that Morse is not ready to start the season. If Long cannot start, then C Russell Bodine will. 

OL Jon Feliciano: shoulder

Feliciano suffered a shoulder injury during Thursday’s practice and appeared to re-injure the area again during the Friday practice at New Era Field. While there is not video or any descriptors of the injury, it is hard to speculate what he is dealing with. Considering the issues with the offensive line, I would expect the team would want to get him reps for a few series in order to see how things get on the field. However, the team may hold him out as a precaution to see how the rest of the linemen look. 

There appears to always be surprises for preseason games but as they are generally a waste for starters to play, it is expected that others will sit as a precaution. There are many others Bills players listed with ailments but do not appear to be limiting as all have practiced over the last week without issues. 

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

Bills Season Injury Review- Guard/Center

Analyzing the injuries at the Center/Guard position for 2018 & outlook for 2019.

Another position, another review! The 2018 Bills lacked offensive firepower up front and as a result, the offense continued to be anemic. Like the Offensive Tackle position, the Guard and Center position were sorely ineffective and as a result, we should see significant turnover at the positions come 2019. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained at the respective positions in 2018 and how this may play out in 2019.

First up for is G Ike Boettger. The rookie out of Iowa saw game action in 4 games avoiding injury and not drawing any penalties. Like T Conor McDermott, he appears to be another player who was too good to be stashed on the practice squad but not good enough to garner consistent playing time. He appeared in 4 games towards the end of the season recording 0 penalties. While he did get some game experience, it begs the question whether that experience will be enough to earn a roster spot going into 2019 especially with all the recent signings this offseason. He will have to have a strong preseason to stick around next year.

Next is G Wyatt Teller. The former 5th round pick from Virginia Tech in 2018 earned some well deserved playing time appearing in 8 games & starting 7, racking up 2 holding penalties and 2 false starts. He also avoided injury which would have set his progress back. He did show flashes of why he was drafted but at times was inconsistent. While it was not expected that a 5th round draft pick would come in and play exceptionally well, there was still hope that he would demonstrate some ability to play at the next level, which for the most part he did. Having new O-Line coach Bobby Johnson working with him along with several veterans should help Teller to progress. I expect him to return in 2019 as key depth.

G John Miller was at times a frustrating player during his tenure in Buffalo. He was a 3rd round draft pick back in 2015 and initially played well with veteran leadership on the line. However, as the seasons progressed, he became less effective and at times injured, leading to the coaching staff to begin searching for his replacement. While Miller was inconsistent, he did appear and start in 15 games, accruing 4 holding penalties. Injury wise, Miller sustained an ankle and knee injury which appeared to be minor. The veteran lineman did suffer an oblique strain in the win over the Jaguars which forced him to miss the next game. As mentioned before, oblique strains are not awful injuries, but due to the nature of his job in pushing large bodies out of the way, those abdominal muscles were necessary to play effectively at his position. Fortunately for the Bills, Miller left in free agency to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals and be reunited with his former line mate Cordy Glenn.

G Vladimir Ducasse, similar to Miller, has had an up/down time in Buffalo. 2 years ago, he was able to come in and play exceptionally well with Juan Castillo as the O-Line coach and with the offensive scheme by OC Rick Dennison. After the offensive play calling was changed to OC Brian Daboll, Ducasse never seemed to regain the level of play he had in 2017, leading to a drop off and him at times being replaced by the rookie Teller. The veteran guard appeared in 10 games, starting 9 with 1 holding penalty, 3 false starts, and 1 penalty declined. Ducasse also suffered a left knee injury during the loss to the Texans but did not miss any games. Due to his poor play, he may not have a team come after the 2019 training camp unless he finds a new way to re-invent his game.

Transitioning towards the Center position, next up is C/G Ryan Groy. The versatile lineman has shown the ability to play both positions well when called upon, but was found to be inconsistent when asked to do only one position exclusively, specifically at center. Groy had appeared in 15 games with 6 starts, earning 1 false start penalty. Groy has filled in admirably when former Bills C Eric Wood was injured in past seasons, but demonstrated the inability to be a replacement level starter. Fortunately for Groy in 2018, he did not suffer any injuries which may help influence whether he comes back next year. Due to the recent signings of C Mitch Morse, C/G Spencer Long, and G Jon Feliciano, Groy will have to battle exceptionally hard to warrant a roster spot in 2019 and may be back due to his health and versatility.

C Russell Bodine played at times spotty starting at center for the Buffalo Bills in 2018. He played in 10 games with 10 starts suffering 2 holding penalties and a broken fibula. Bodine suffered the injury in the loss to the Dolphins as a result of several large bodies, specifically Dolphins DT Davon Godchaux falling on him and fracturing the fibula bone which required surgery to fix. As a result, his season was over and forced C/G Ryan Groy to pick up the center duties for the rest of the season. In addition to the fibula fracture, Bodine also suffered some type of shoulder injury first noticed in the win over the Jaguars. As far as I could tell, this was not an injury that forced him to miss anytime or affect his play. While it is clearly evident that Bodine will no longer be the starter as C Mitch Morse was signed, he could still prove to be a valuable depth pieces especially with Morse’s injury history. Bodine’s leg will heal fully and should not have any complications for training camp which will be ideal for him as he’ll be fighting for a roster spot. Hopefully Bodine can be a solid depth piece and no longer relied upon as the starter.

Rounding out the remaining players: C/G Spencer Long, C Mitch Morse, and G Jon Feliciano fill out the remaining offensive lineman currently on the roster. While Morse is virtually guaranteed a spot on the 53 man roster due to his play and contract, Long and Feliciano provide versatility and depth that should make the 2019 training camp battle for starting spots something worth your viewing pleasure.

Normally, I put my thoughts on who will make the roster next season in a summary at the end. Outside of G John Miller, who left in free agency, all the players listed above have a realistic chance to make the roster with the only lock being C Mitch Morse. I’m excited for this position group to re-establish the run game and give effective protection to QB Josh Allen.

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