2020 AFC Championship Bills Injury Preview- Chiefs

Will Butler and Davis suit up Sunday? What Chiefs will be effective?

We are on the precipice of a truly historical moment for the Buffalo Bills! One more win and the Buffalo Bills will be crowned AFC Champions and return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 27 years! Not only has it been a long time since the Bills have been this far in the playoffs, but it has also felt like a long week as injury updates come out daily on not only the Bills but the status of Patrick Mahomes and whether he would be cleared from the concussion protocol in time. 

Thankfully, at the time of publication, it is one day away from the Bills and Chiefs squaring off for the right to represent the American Football Conference in the Super Bowl. Below are all the injury updates for both the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.

QUESTIONABLE

WR Gabriel Davis (Right ankle)

It was obvious that Davis injured his ankle missing that touchdown pass early in the 2nd quarter that limited him the remainder of the game. Two DNP’s with a limited practice isn’t ideal either, but it is promising. It looks like a low inversion ankle sprain on video, but it could be more based on examination and video angles available. 

It may come down to how much he can run and jump around the field. While he is insanely talented, trying to toe-tap catches and run his routes crisply may make things difficult. Could Kenny Stills play in Davis’s place? Quite possible but he’s only been here a few weeks. Does he have a rapport with Josh Allen? It’s possible the Chiefs could have game-planned for the possibility of Stills knowing that Davis may not play. 

I want to lean towards Davis playing, but as an injured rookie, do they put him out there or let a veteran wide receiver that is healthy play? That’s the one thing we don’t know. 

DT Vernon Butler (Quadricep)

I had originally thought Butler was dealing with a foot injury in the game, but he appeared later on the injury report with a quadriceps injury. He left the game late in the 3rd quarter, right before Taron Johnson delivered the game-sealing pick-six. It’s not clear when he injured the quadriceps but having two DNP’s and a limited practice isn’t a ringing endorsement that he will play. 

A strain can be played through, but the concern is whether he re-injures the quadricep and they do not have a healthy body in his place. Most of the time, a quadricep would require a player to sit out at least one game, but there may not be any next week. 

ACTIVE 

WR Cole Beasley (Left knee)

Beasley re-appears on the injury report Thursday with a knee injury that is likely the same injury he’s been dealing with since Week 16. He was highly productive against the Colts in the Wild Card round but didn’t have much of an impact last week against the Ravens. Considering he was limited Thursday indicates that either he tweaked his knee Wednesday and had to take it easy Thursday, or he tweaked it or took time off at some point during Thursday’s practice. Taking all but one rep or only taking one rep is all the same under the limited designation.

Whatever Beasley is dealing with, he will get it addressed following the season. I had thought if he had sat out against the Colts, he could have been fresher in the next round, but hindsight is 20/20. Ideally, he gets more targets due to taking another week to get healthy.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring)

Details are still scarce regarding Edmunds hamstring. He played in all the defensive snaps Saturday despite his hamstring designation last week. He practiced in full all week and while is likely not 100%, he’s good enough to continue to go out and perform for another week.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Ankle)

Like Edmunds, Jefferson’s ankle injury was not noticeable on film, playing in 46% of snaps which isn’t too far off his usual production from the season. He has no game designation and I would expect his production to not be affected greatly, though his snap could probably increase if Vernon Butler does not play.

DE Darryl Johnson (knee)

After missing last week with a knee injury, Johnson returns to practice with full participation this week. I still have not been unable to find the specifics of the knee injury from the Colts game and the week off appeared to help him greatly. His availability will make Trent Murphy expendable for this game and having Johnson back on special teams may be a difference-maker come Sunday. 

WR Stefon Diggs (Oblique)

The severity of the oblique injury is probably more severe than Diggs and the team has let on, but he continues to produce. I have not observed anything on film that suggests that the oblique is significantly affecting him. Listing the injury may be more of a formality at this point and hopefully the week off in between if the Bills win and make their way down to Tampa.

K Tyler Bass (Right hand)

Bass continues to practice in full dealing with a right-hand injury and wearing at least a brace on the hand. It’s not clear what he is dealing with, but this will not affect his kicking abilities for Sunday.

CHIEFS INJURY REPORT:

OUT

LB Willie Gay (Ankle)

Gay is reportedly dealing with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 17 and is already ruled out. High ankle sprains take some time to come back from and it’s clear that the Chiefs don’t believe he is ready which bodes well for the Bills Sunday. 

QUESTIONABLE

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (left high ankle/hip)

Edwards-Helaire is coming off a left high ankle sprain and hip strain sustained in Week 15. He has been out for an entire month, though only missing 2 games due to the bye week for the number one seed.

While he will not be 100%, having the month off should allow him to come back and be effective enough from the ankle standpoint. Considering that he suffered the hip strain, that should be fully healed by now, but it’s possible that he could be dealing with something greater currently unreported that he will play though. After having as much time off as he did, I fully expect him to play. 

WR Sammy Watkins (Calf)

Watkins has missed the last 2 games with a calf injury sustained in the win over Atlanta. At the time, the calf injury was not perceived as being serious and the thought was that he would be back in time for the divisional game. 

It stands to reason that he could return to play in this game as the stakes are higher. Calf injuries linger due to the demands of the muscle when pushing the foot down to sprint and jump. It could be quite possible that he re-injures the area during the game too, but I don’t foresee the team holding him out again. We all know when Sammy Watkins is healthy, he’s electric. But when he’s not, his production really suffers. I’d expect he plays as well.

CB Bashaud Breeland (Concussion/shoulder)

The concussion is the more worrisome injury than the shoulder as it has not been clarified that he has passed the protocol. He appeared trending in the right direction with limited practices all week but it may not be known that he passes the protocol until game time. He may be one that misses due to not being cleared.

Update: he has since cleared concussion protocol.

CB Rashad Fenton (Foot)

There aren’t any reports to clarify the status of the foot injury. He was also limited in practice this week and considering Breeland is a true question mark, I would suspect Fenton to play through whatever he is dealing with. 

RB Le’veon Bell (Knee)

Bell is reportedly dealing with swelling in his knee that limited him Thursday/Friday and it’s unknown whether he plays. Considering Edwards-Helaire is likely to play which could keep Bell on the inactive list especially the knee injury appeared to get aggravated later in the week. I anticipate he sits this one out considering the Chiefs have Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson for depth. 

QB Patrick Mahomes (Concussion/left toe)

I think every single person on social media has had an opinion on the status of Patrick Mahomes this week. It has been mind boggling. I laid out the facts of Mahomes time in the concussion protocol at The Game Day, the previous article at Banged Up Bills, and even detailed at Locked On Bills. I had said on Locked On Bills that it didn’t matter why Patrick Mahomes was in the concussion protocol, he was in there and as a result, he has to successfully navigate the protocol. 

He did and we can move past that. His left toe injury will be the biggest concern heading into Sunday’s contest. The injury is detailed above in all of the links. In addition, check out this thread from Erik Turner from Cover 1 using the video to detail how Mahomes was limited with the toe after the injury and how the Bills can game plan against him. Certainly worth the time to read and understand. 

Bills Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

WR Gabriel Davis*

LB Tyrel Dodson

DE Trent Murphy

OL Jordan Devey

TE Tyler Kroft

Practice Squad player

*Kenny Stills to be called up in place of Davis, other call up would be inactive as the team has done in recent weeks.

The Bills can win this one. They really can. I had predicted on Locked on Bills that the Bills would win 28-24. That would cover the spread and take the under according to Pointsbet. The Bills could win this simply because of all the talent missing from the last game. Dawson Knox, Matt Milano, and Harrison Phillips did not play last time. John Brown was injured early in the game and a non-factor. Tre’Davious White was coming off a back injury that forced him to miss the Titans game. Josh Allen was still working through his left shoulder injury sustained in Week 4 against the Raiders. 

The Bills are a hot team right now and fairly healthy as detailed above. The Buffalo Bills may very well be the 2020 AFC Champions and could play in Super Bowl 55. This could really happen. Now all we have to do is sit back, wait for kickoff at 6:40 pm on January 24th, 2021, and enjoy the game. Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

2020 Divisional Round Bills Injury Preview- Ravens

Will Daryl Johnson suit up? Or will he sit this one out after not practicing?

Two playoff games in one season after having two playoff games over the last 20 years. That’s a great sentence to type out! This is certainly a nice change of pace following all those years of subpar football in the Western NY region. While we all want the Bills to roll over everyone to the Super Bowl, we know that is not that easy especially after last week’s nailbiter over the Indianapolis Colts

This week’s opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, come to Buffalo looking to show that last year’s early exit in the playoffs was a fluke and that they are one of the supreme teams in the AFC. On top of that, they have a relatively healthy roster to contend with. Below are both Buffalo and Baltimore’s respective injuries heading into Saturday night’s game.

QUESTIONABLE

DE Darryl Johnson (Knee)

Despite not practicing all week, Johnson has been declared questionable for Saturday’s game. He is dealing with a knee injury that isn’t apparent on film and his playing time has not been noticeably different. According to the injury report this year, no one that has been DNP all week has played in the game later that week. 

It is important to note that he also had a knee injury heading into Week 9 which he played through, but details were scarce on the specifics. There is not any more information to come out about his knee and it remains to be seen if he plays. The brief tweet thread was an excellent observation of the previous injury. I have no idea whether there is any correlation, but it is important to reflect back on when details are scarce.

While this is the playoffs, he potentially could suit up, but considering Trent Murphy has been inactive for a significant portion of the season, it would make sense to put Murphy in his place and fill the special team’s slot with someone else. This is the easiest one-for-one swap and if you recall, Murphy shined in last season’s playoff loss to the Texans. He does know how to perform when called upon; this may be his opportunity to shine and potentially find a new home next season. 

ACTIVE

WR Cole Beasley (Left knee)

Beasley has practiced all this week in a limited fashion and he has said that he is doing much better and should be able to play easier than the Wild Card game. Details regarding what he is dealing with still have not divulged but it’s evident that he will do whatever it takes to play and be available. Fortunately, he does not have a game day designation indicating that he is full go for Saturday.

Based on how he played last week, it wouldn’t surprise me if the 2nd half was more taxing on him like it was last week. Between the pain management strategies and adrenaline for the game, he will play and do what he can contribute to a win. 

LB Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring)

I’m not sure what to make of the hamstring designation Edmunds is dealing with this week. He played in 100% of defensive snaps and 19% of special teams snaps which are usually on defensive field goal attempts or two-point conversions. 

Reviewing the film, he didn’t appear limited during the early portions game; this may have occurred on the final drive to end the game as he was sprinting downfield to defend the Hail Mary pass. There isn’t anything to suggest that he did injure the hamstring then, but nothing else on film earlier shows the injury. I have also found that sometimes there are injuries right at the end that don’t get acknowledged due to the timing of everything.

Considering he has been limited all week but full on Thursday, he may have tweaked things and the team is being cautious to allow healing. He does not have a game designation and should perform close to his full abilities. There is always concern for further aggravation of the injury, but it’s the playoffs and he won’t miss this if he can play. 

There were some people that did reach out and concerned that he didn’t look good in warm ups from this video from WGR’s Sal Capaccio. Looking at the brief clip, it looks as though he is working through warming his calf muscles through dynamic movement. There is purposeful movement with bouncing on the toes and similar movement from one leg to the next. On top of that, Siran Neal appears to be doing a similar activity, though he is lengthening his stride slightly more than Edmunds. Either way, if Edmunds was that limited that he couldn’t do simple warm up drills, he wouldn’t have been practicing.

DT Justin Zimmer (Groin) 

Zimmer appears on the injury report following a groin injury Saturday. His snap counts are in line with what he has done in past games and there was no clear injury available on film. 

Unless the groin injury is severe or noted when it occurred, these are hard to detect without some context. Considering he plays roughly 25-30% of defensive snaps, if he suffers a further injury, his snaps can be absorbed by the defensive line rotation with minimal issues. This could be as simple as, there is soreness, it hurts, but once he gets moving, he can play and perform. 

DT Ed Oliver (Ankle)

Oliver is another surprise addition to the injury report this week with an ankle injury from Saturday. He played in 100% of snaps and did not show anything on film regarding the injury. He did not have a game day designation and won’t miss the game while being limited in practice. 

WR Stefon Diggs (Oblique)

Diggs was questionable for the Wild Card game but had himself a day Saturday indicating that the oblique did not bother him as much as the team led on last week. This is always something to watch but it doesn’t appear that the last game or practice this week aggravated the injury.

K Tyler Bass (Hand)

Bass was a big surprise to the injury report with a hand injury after not having that designation on Tuesday. There was some thought that he injured the hand while performing a tackle late in the 1st quarter. It’s really hard to discern if he did injure the hand while falling to the ground; he led more with his shoulder in taking out the Colts returner. 

Even if he broke his hand or there was any significant injury to the area, he could still kick without issue and wear some type of protective bracing. However, he practiced in full the past two days and does not have a game day designation indicating that this is not an issue. It’s also important to note that he did not have a designation Tuesday but appeared Wednesday could indicate that he injured the hand Tuesday. He will still be able to kick and tackle without hesitation come Saturday.

Ravens Injury Report:

QUESTIONABLE

CB Marcus Peters (Back)

This may be the biggest injury for the Ravens coming into this game. He played in 100% of snaps last week and there are not any reports of the specifics of the injury. He has dealt with several other injuries including calf and thigh injuries ailments earlier. 

He is officially listed as questionable but coach John Harbaugh noted that he expected both him and Matt Judon to play Saturday. Without specifics or video of the back injury, it may be hard to identify where Peters may be limited with his activities. I do expect him to suit up like all the Ravens player’s did last week.

T DJ Fluker (Knee)

Fluker is interesting because he began dealing with this injury in practice prior to Week 17 but played in both the final regular-season game and Wild Card, splitting time with Tyre Phillips. Like the Peters injury, there is little in the way of specifics. He has since been ruled questionable, but considering he’s played the last two weeks and he splits time at the tackle position, I would anticipate that he plays.

ACTIVE

LB Matt Judon (Illness)

Outside of COVID, it would take a significant illness to hold any player out of playing due to illness. Considering how important he is to the defense, his loss could be Buffalo’s gain, but I’d expect Judon to still perform and not miss a step. He might require fluids before the game and even during halftime, but I’d expect he’s tougher than the flu. 

Bills Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

TE Tyler Kroft

DE Darryl Johnson

LB Tyrel Dodson

OL Jordan Devey

*There could be the possibility of 7 if practice squad players are called up but declared inactive.

This has the potential to be a low scoring game despite the explosive offenses of both teams. This may come down to who has the ball last and who makes fewer mistakes. The Bills are favored at -2.5 according to PointsBet at the moment. If the Bills come out and play how they did against the Colts, I’d expect a loss. However, we have seen this team rise up to the occasion and defeat more talented opponents this season. It’s clear that everyone wants a win from the Bills, but it will be a stressful game to watch until the very end. Enjoy the moment, the Bills are good and they appear to have the ability to sustain this success.

Top Photo Credit: BuffaLowDown

2020 Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Review- Colts

The Bills lose Zack Moss for the playoffs, how serious is the ankle injury?

The Buffalo Bills have done it!! They have secured a playoff win for the first time since 1995 over the Indianapolis Colts 27-24! While it wasn’t a win that was as dominating as it has been in recent weeks, it’s the playoffs, and blowout wins are far from expected as we saw this weekend. 

Coming into the game, the Bills were fairly healthy with only Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs being the big concerns. Both ended up playing with varying degrees of effectiveness. Beasley led the team in receptions and moved the chains despite playing through obvious pain, Diggs led in receiving yards and added a touchdown.

Fortunately, the Bills ended the game with only one significant injury as they look to prepare for next week against the Baltimore Ravens. Check out the recap below.

In-game injuries:

T Dion Dawkins (Undisclosed)

Dawkins left the field briefly, going to the locker room early in the 2nd quarter before returning moments later adjusting his equipment. Looking at the video, there doesn’t appear to be anything to note injury-wise on film and he didn’t miss any offensive snaps during the time he was away. 

Unless he shows up on the injury report with a designation, this one’s a mystery. 

RB Zack Moss (Left ankle)

Moss went down with a rough-looking left ankle injury at the beginning of the 4th quarter, requiring the cart to leave the field. Upon review, his left foot gets caught between a lot of bodies and the ground with his foot turned out. This was a clear mechanism for a likely high ankle sprain and he was in obvious pain. The cart was required to get him off the field and does not always equal severity, but the inability to get to the locker room himself required the use of the cart.

Initial reports that came out after the game indicate that Moss’s postseason may be over but the possibility to return if there is a deep playoff run. This further supported the possible high ankle sprain observed on video. Even with a full week off, it would have been incredibly difficult to even attempt to play through this injury. There is considerable instability and swelling in the ankle and he would have a very difficult time generating force from the ankle/foot complex. 

However, reports came out Monday stating that his season was over but that he avoided a major injury according to his agent. There is the possibility that he may require surgery which is indicated for significant high ankle sprains, but no official determination on the intervention has been made yet. 

If Moss avoids surgery, he could take roughly 6-8 weeks to return to full health. If he requires surgery, it could take upwards of 6 months but most likely less than that to fully recover. With either timeline, he would still be fully ready for training camp. Based on the damage, he could realistically participate in most of OTA’s with potentially little to no restrictions.

Credit: ChrisButlerSportsPT.wordpress.com

There is the possibility that he could receive the Tightrope procedure that the Alabama Crimson Tide medical staff has popularized, but that hasn’t been generally accepted as a regular surgery in the NFL as of yet. If he does receive this procedure, there is a chance that he could rehabilitate quicker, but this won’t be known unless it is reported.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for Moss and the Bills, but they do have Devin Singletary as the lead back in the interim. They also have TJ Yeldon, Antonio Williams, and even Taiwan Jones as options, though Jones has exclusively been on special teams. They hypothetically could bring in someone from an eliminated team’s practice squad, but to have 4 days to prepare could be a large task. It’s an unfortunate injury, but something the Bills must deal with. 

Other observations:

WR Cole Beasley (Left knee)

Beasley “toughed it out” to play Saturday with 7 receptions for 57 yards but at times came up clearly limping around. Watching him trying to move the chains posed the question of whether it was worth it for him to suit up to play, but he did. He was mainly a possession receiver, catching the ball and then going down relatively soon after the catch. I did count two plays where he tried to get some extra yardage but he didn’t break any long runs like I suspected that he would have difficulty with. 

Unless he injured the knee further Saturday, I would expect that he doesn’t practice all week or is significantly limited except for Thursday and then do it all over again Saturday. It was also noted that he was wearing a brace under his pants to provide extra stability to the joint.

It’s the playoffs, he was going to gut it out in order to do whatever it took to win. That was my only argument as to whether he would play or not. It was evident that he probably would have not played had it been a regular-season game. 

There didn’t appear to be any other notable injuries from Saturday’s game but there will likely be some surprises on the injury report. Stefon Diggs was highly effective and the oblique injury he was dealing with did not appear to be a factor at all. This will be an incredibly long week as the Bills prepare to host the Ravens in primetime on Saturday for the right to move to the AFC Championship against the winner of the Chiefs-Browns game. I’d assume the Chiefs would be the opponent, but the way the Browns handled the Steelers Sunday, anything can happen. 

We will be watching both the Bills and Ravens injury report this week to identify any possible competitive advantages heading into Saturday. 

Top Photo Credit: Yardbarker.com

2020 Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Preview- Colts

Will Beasley & Diggs play Saturday?

The playoffs are here! The Buffalo Bills HOST the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday at 1:05 pm. 25 years is a long, long time between playoff football games in Buffalo. While we all can’t be there, the few that can be will represent us well. Regardless of where everyone may be watching the game, it should be an exciting game, and the chance to advance in the playoffs for the first time since 1995 would be surreal. 

On top of all the excitement, the Bills are fairly healthy heading into this game, with only several concerns with the wide receiver corps. Below is all the injury concerns heading into Saturday’s game and additionally, a breakdown of the Colts injuries heading into the game. 

QUESTIONABLE

WR Cole Beasley (left knee)

At least when Sean McDermott says week-to-week, he means it and has been fairly consistent with that phrasing since coming to Buffalo. However, it is unknown whether Beasley will play Saturday after only practicing once in the past two weeks. He was limited during Thursday’s practice and was observed going through light exercise/jogging and stretching, not stressing the knee at all.

There is no video present of running, jumping, or cutting at full speed to indicate how he will perform. While he doesn’t need the practice, it is concerning whether he was available for the offensive game plan installation. I simply don’t know if he plays. On one hand, it’s the playoffs, if you don’t win, you’re done. But does the team want to risk aggravating his injury and losing him for the remainder of the postseason?

If Beasley does play, I would expect he has difficulty running his routes to the right and having to cut on a dime to that direction having to push off the left knee. I would also expect him to have difficulty with jumping and getting yards after the catch to move the chains. In addition, he would be going up against one of the best slot corners in the NFL in Kenny Moore. Going up against a healthy slot corner with Beasley not being 100% makes me question whether it’s worth getting him out there. Can he tough it out and play? Absolutely, but it doesn’t mean it may be the best option.

The team has expressed confidence in Isaiah McKenzie filling in for Beasley if needed. While McKenzie doesn’t do what Beasley can do, he is still healthier which may be more effective in the short term. But it’s the playoffs, Beasley is a competitor, he wants to play, that’s a given. Just whether he is able. I have detailed my thoughts on the possible injuries he is dealing with here. I also went into detail on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino Friday if you’re looking for any more nuggets of information. 

What this will come down to is: Does the team believe they can perform without him like they did last week? Or will a less than 100% Beasley be more effective than McKenzie in the slot? If I had a gun to my head, I believe that the Bills can win without Beasley for this week especially against elite competition in the slot defensively, and get a healthier version of him in the divisional round. If he plays, fantastic, if he doesn’t, it may be the right decision in the long run.

WR Stefon Diggs (Oblique)

There was a lot of concern with Diggs’ oblique that popped up on the injury report Tuesday. He was limited Tuesday, did not practice Wednesday, but did have a limited practice on Thursday. He is questionable, but it doesn’t mean that he won’t be dealing with some discomfort. To understand what he is dealing with, read below.

Credit: Centenoschultz.com

The obliques are a part of the abdominal muscles positioned on the outside portion next to the “six pack” we all know. They are positioned on both sides connecting to the xiphoid process which is the pointed bottom portion of the sternum and connect down to the upper portions of the hip including the iliac crest, the bony portion of where our waists are located and about where most people’s pants sit. All these abdominal muscles make up what is known as the core. These muscles provide protection to the inner organs and function to flex and rotate the trunk. There are internal and external obliques but we would not really be able to identify which obliques he injured nor is it important to this discussion.

Due to not identifying when or which side he suffered this injury on also limits knowing which side is limited. There was a report that he was grabbing at his side during warm-ups but he was still quite effective during the game and only came out after the half. He also did suffer a late hit from Christian Wilkins during the 2nd quarter that resulted in brief worry for a concussion or other injuries such as this oblique injury, but it is not clear that this is when this injury occurred either.

The only other Bills player that has publicly sustained an oblique injury during Sean McDermott’s tenure is former guard John Miller. He suffered an oblique injury against the Jaguars in 2018 and ultimately missed a game. However, Miller did not practice and was ruled out for the game against the Dolphins. Miller was on the offensive line, bending forward, twisting his upper body, and pushing against large humans while staying upright took an immense amount of strength.

Diggs has the ability to avoid taking hits to the area, minimize the need for blocking, and can generally reduce strain on the area due to his position. He may be slightly limited in which way he turns, how he takes a hit, how he fights for extra yards. He does have a lot of pain management interventions available to him from the team and ways to manage this so he can get through the day. He is the main component of the offense and to lose him for Saturday would be a huge loss. However, he has said he’s fine, he’s been limited two out of the three days, I believe he will play and be quite effective.

To gauge an idea of whether Beasley or Diggs plays based on practice reports from this season, check out the tweet below. 

ACTIVE 

G Jon Feliciano (Left knee)

Feliciano appeared on the injury report following his left leg getting rolled up on just prior to the first Bills touchdown of the day Sunday. He came up limping but did not leave the game. The fact that he practiced in full indicated that it was not a big concern and should be ready to go Saturday. 

TE Reggie Gilliam (Knee/hamstring)

After missing the last two weeks with knee and hamstring injuries sustained against the Patriots, Gilliam appears ready to make his playoff debut. He practiced in full all week and doesn’t appear to be a question mark heading into Saturday. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (Ankle)

Like Diggs’, this ankle injury was not clear on when it occurred or how severe it is. He also does not have a game day designation which is excellent to see considering he may see increased snaps due to Cole Beasley potentially being out. 

His workload may be reduced on special teams with Andre Roberts taking punt and kickoff returns, but McKenzie has clearly shown the ability to be effective when called upon. I doubt that he has any noticeable drop off in play from last week other than a decrease in total touchdowns.

Colts Injury Report:

OUT

T Will Holden (Ankle) 

While Holden is the backup right tackle, the loss of him leaves the Colts very thin at the tackle position in general. They’ve already lost Anthony Constanzo to season-ending ankle surgery and lost his backup La’Raven Clark to a torn Achilles right after. 

They are down to their 3rd string tackle Chaz Green and anyone backing him up will be coming from the practice squad or playing out of position. The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to sack Phillip Rivers 5 times, who is dealing with an injury of his own, so he can be pressured. The Bills could potentially use part of that game plan for success. 

CB Rock Ya-Sin (Concussion) 

He hasn’t practiced all week due to the concussion and anyone that doesn’t practice prior to a game doesn’t play in nearly every instance I’ve seen. TJ Carrie will replace him at CB2.

QUESTIONABLE

DT Deforest Buckner (Ankle)

He originally injured his ankle a few days before Christmas on the 17th, played through it, and has had some great games including a 3-sack performance days after the injury. He either had a high ankle from getting his heel hit or a bad inversion ankle sprain; either or it hasn’t stopped him.

The fact that he is that far out from the original injury and continues to play indicates that he will play Saturday and I would expect that he still gets his numbers.

ACTIVE 

QB Phillip Rivers (Turf toe)

Rivers has been working through a nasty turf toe injury that will require surgery following the season. Despite the injury, he has still been effective in leading the Colts to the postseason as the 7th seed. 

With Rivers continuing to deal with this injury, this could be an opportunity to pressure him in the pocket due to his inability to scramble along with the general immobility he is known for. If the Bills defense can prevent Rivers from hitting his first and second reads, this may allow the Bills to sack and hit Rivers all day. He will already be under pressure due to the left tackle position, his blindside, is manned by Chaz Green, a career journeyman.

CB TJ Carrie (Ankle/shoulder)

Not much is known about Carrie with his respective injuries but he is starting in place of Rock Ya-Sin and according to Joe Marino, he has been a better performer over this season than Ya-Sin. This may only be significant if Carrie goes down with an injury and they lack a backup suitable to keep up with the Bills wide receiver corps. 

RB Jonathan Taylor (Shoulder)

Taylor will be playing and look to build off his performance over the Jaguars last week despite dealing with a shoulder injury. There aren’t any specifics regarding what he did and the fact that he doesn’t have a game day designation indicates that he will be ready to go. 

S Khari Willis (Concussion)

Willis practiced in full coming off a concussion indicating that he has cleared the protocol and will be available Saturday. 

Bills Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

WR Cole Beasley

DE Trent Murphy

TE Tyler Kroft

A Bills playoff game at home where it is supposed to be just above freezing and sunny could work in Buffalo’s favor. They didn’t have to travel, they sleep in their own beds, they are used to the weather here. The Bills are favored at -6.5 which isn’t the biggest line this weekend, but half of the games are expected to be closer in the score.

This will be fun to watch. A talented Buffalo Bills team that is hot entering the playoffs with Pro Bowl and All-Pro talent at multiple positions, a potential MVP at quarterback, and a winning mindset. Despite former Bills quarterback and now Colts head coach Frank Reich returning to town, I don’t believe he brings the magic from “The Comeback” into this game. The Bills should win this one and kicking off a deep playoff run. Enjoy the moment, it’s what we’ve been waiting for the past 25 years!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Week 17 Bills Injury Review- Dolphins

Are there any injury concerns from Sunday?

Just start calling the Buffalo Bills “Rawhide”! Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’, Rawhide!!! That’s all they seem to do over these past few weeks, Rollin’ over anyone that is in their way, hanging 142 points over the last 3 games on their way to 13-3. This was really a point of emphasis with a 56-26 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday.

This is simply incredible football that we are watching and it sure is fun! I always had this prevailing thought that they would be good again, but it’s here now and it’s really exciting. To see what this team has done not observed in 30 years and they continue to improve is scary. 

On top of that, they enter the postseason with very few injuries after dealing with many around midseason. In fact, they’ve only lost one starter in Cody Ford to a season-ending injury and have weathered many others with their incredible depth. Below are the injuries from Sunday, though it is important to note that the team only reported one injury for the entire day. 

CB Taron Johnson (right shoulder)

Johnson appeared to injure his right shoulder while trying to tackle Durham Smythe early in the game and unfortunately hit Matt Milano’s upper right thigh. He was down briefly while trainers assessed him before coming off for part of the first quarter.

Johnson briefly went to the medical tent to be examined before later returning. The fact that he returned to the game rather quickly indicates that there isn’t much going on other than recovering from a hard hit. He certainly could have had his neck jarred or had the wind knocked out of him, but there doesn’t appear to be any long term concerns for Saturday. 

LB Matt Milano (upper right thigh)

Milano got hit on the upper right thigh area tackling Durham Smythe before fellow teammate Taron Johnson hit him with his right shoulder. Milano was walking gingerly briefly before returning for the next play. 

He didn’t miss time, he will probably be sore, but there doesn’t appear to be anything limiting him for the playoff game. Just a hard hit that’s part of football. 

G Jon Feliciano (left knee)

Feliciano briefly limped around early in the 2nd quarter following a routine running play in the red zone. He continued his block as Zack Moss passed him and as the play began to end, a Dolphins defender rolled into the outside portion of his left leg, knocking him over.

He did not miss any snaps for the remainder of the drive which resulted in the Bills first touchdown of the day. Like all the other injuries, this doesn’t appear to be much of anything to be concerned about for Saturday. 

S Siran Neal (concussion check)

Neal briefly left the game following a knee to the head while trying to tackle DeVante Parker late in the 3rd quarter. The team assessed him for a concussion due to the hit by using his head to take out Parker’s left leg and initially requiring the training staff to meet him on the field. Fortunately, he returned 5 minutes later and resumed playing without missing a beat. 

The only other concern was when Stefon Diggs got hit from behind after he had already slid down midway through the 2nd quarter. Christian Wilkins came in late and hit Diggs on the back of the head, momentarily causing concern for a concussion. Thankfully, Diggs popped right back up and was also able to draw an unnecessary roughness call on Wilkins to continue the drive. 

The Bills did sit some starters and played others through the half which fortunately did not cause any injuries. This also allowed them to keep focused and in their routine for the playoffs.

Overall, this injury report should look pretty clean heading into Saturday’s matchup against the Colts. I expect Cole Beasley and Reggie Gilliam to be on the report with their respective injuries with a close eye on Beasley’s participation availability. Slight chance that Johnson and Feliciano make an appearance, but I don’t see their injuries being significant. Of course, there’s always surprises too. 

It’s the playoffs, Beasley has a chance to play. His practice participation will likely dictate whether he does. The team has indicated that Isaiah McKenzie can fill in for Beasley in the slot which may allow Beasley to get another week off which would be beneficial if it is indeed a meniscal tear of quadricep strain as I had speculated before. 

This will be a short week practice wise and much more will be known by Thursday. Enjoy the week Bills Mafia, this is what we’ve dreamed of for years.

Top Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta/BillsWire-USA Today 

2020 Week 17 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins

Who will sit on Sunday to prevent injury?

To rest the starters or let them play, that appears to be the big question for the Buffalo Bills heading into Week 17 against the Miami Dolphins. With the #2 seed hanging in the balance with a win, the Bills must balance the roster properly to ensure maximum health but to ensure that they can still win the game. If they do lose and so does the Pittsburgh Steelers, then the Bills still secure the #2 seed. But if the Bills lose and Pittsburgh wins over a hungry Cleveland Browns team, then they secure the #3 seed. I don’t believe it is in Sean McDermott’s DNA to not try and win a game, especially if home-field advantage hangs in the balance.

The roster management will be significantly different from past weeks and we will see more inactives due to preserving health rather than true injuries. This doesn’t mean that everyone will sit, only those that don’t have anything to gain by playing. Below are the injuries and inactives.

OUT 

TE Reggie Gilliam (knee/hamstring)

Gilliam misses his second straight game with a likely left knee injury in addition to a hamstring injury. He has not practiced over the past two weeks and quietly left the game against the Broncos without a clear mechanism of injury other than having his knee taken out from behind him on a special teams play from which he returned later in the game.

We will have to watch the injury report to see if he begins practicing and returns for the playoffs or whether he gets sent to IR to activate someone else from the practice squad. This would then let the Bills sign others to the practice squad as insurance in case further injuries occur.

WR Cole Beasley (left knee)

Beasley missed the past week of practice as expected due to a left knee injury that forced him to leave the game early in the 4th quarter Monday. I had detailed the possibilities of his knee injury that you can find in my article from Wednesday. To summarize, he could have suffered a contusion to the lateral knee, a quadriceps strain, or a meniscus injury. 

My thoughts have not changed from Wednesday and it may be possible that he plays in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but it is far from guaranteed. Looking at recent Bills who have played through meniscus injuries including Kelvin Benjamin and Charles Clay in 2017. Benjamin missed 2 games with his meniscus tear and gutted out the remaining 5 games to the playoffs.

Clay missed 3 total games but 4 weeks total due to having the bye week. His recovery was longer due to requiring surgery to trim the meniscus in order to play and allow his MCL sprain to heal. Both were hot and cold with their production, but let’s face it, Benjamin and Clay are nowhere near the talent level that Beasly possesses. 

The Bills could survive the first round game without Beasley, but if he can play, he will try to perform. Practice next week will be telling as to whether he is trending towards playing or if the team is more cautious.

ACTIVE

G Jon Feliciano (illness)

Feliciano was a surprise addition to the injury report with illness but practiced in full on Friday and had no game day designation. As long as the illness is not COVID, things happen, and as long as he can play, then there are no worries. I am not certain he plays a lot unless Josh Allen plays. This is a game that the Bills can look at backups or find out if any of their pending free agents are worth re-signing. 

Inactives:

TE Reggie Gilliam

WR Cole Beasley

CB Tre’Davious White

C Mitch Morse

WR Stefon Diggs

QB Josh Allen

LB Matt Milano

Outside of Gilliam and Beasley, these inactives are a total guess based on value to the team. To lose Tre’Davious White would be a huge issue and Matt Milano certainly would benefit from being fresh working back from his pectoral injury. While Stefon Diggs did reach his statistical benchmarks for the season for his contract and could rest, Josh Allen is only 40 passing yards from claiming the top spot in Bills history for passing yards. I am sure Allen would want the record, but not if it potentially could mean injury. 

Mitch Morse is a smart bet to not play if Allen does not and with his previous concussion this season, to avoid losing him for the playoffs would not be ideal. I would not be surprised if I am wrong on 5/7 picks because Sean McDermott has been coy on if he would rest starters or not. We will know Sunday at 11:30 am as to their plans. 

The team does have their two standard practice squad call-ups and protected practice squad players which were used on offensive lineman Trey Adams, Jordan Devey, Jonotthan Harrison, and Darron Lee. They also have a COVID emergency callup which could be used on Dane Jackson or Davis Webb. The team has plenty of options in terms of resting players with the use of practice squad guys if they need.

Other injury thoughts:

We do know that John Brown will finally play for the first time since Week 10 to get reps to be ready for the postseason. He would be one that would benefit from time off, but to get even a half of football in would ensure that he is ready for next weekend. His high ankle sprain should be pretty close to if not fully healed up by now and most of the other injuries he was dealing with should be fairly well managed by now. 

The Dolphins are dealing with several injuries for themselves including Jakeem Grant (high ankle), Solomon Kindley (knee/foot), Shaq Lawson (shoulder), and DeVante Parker (hamstring). I would expect all play with the exception of Grant who was reported to miss the game but is currently listed as questionable. Even if he did play, I doubt he would be effective on special teams and offense. 

Either way, this is a must-win game for the Dolphins to control their playoff fate. They could still make the playoffs if the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, or Browns lose which could allow them to enter the postseason, but none of those are guaranteed which forces the Dolphins to play for their lives.

I believe the Bills can still win even with most of the starters resting or seeing minimal playing time. If the Bills do lose this game, this could set up the Dolphins to come back up the next week for the Wild Card game if things fall just right. Either way, this will be enjoyable to watch this game knowing there is little to be concerned for as the team prepares for a home playoff game. The pressure to win will increase following 4:30 pm on Sunday but until then, the fanbase can relax and enjoy the game.

Top Photo Credit: ESPN

2020 Week 16 Bills Injury Review- Patriots

How serious is Cole Beasley’s leg injury?

The Patriots have been vanquished! A season sweep completed, the first since 1999! With a dominating 38-9 win over New England, the Buffalo Bills move to 12-3 as they continue to strive towards the AFC’s 2nd playoff seed. On top of that, the Bills continue to have excellent luck with regards to injuries following a rough stretch earlier this season. Below are Monday’s injuries. 

In-game injuries:

S Jordan Poyer (Concussion evaluation)

Poyer was briefly removed from the game following a thunderous hit on Cam Newton going out of bounds with 3:21 left in the 2nd quarter. He appeared briefly dazed standing up which likely signaled the athletic trainers above to flag the hit for a concussion check. Poyer didn’t appear thrilled that he had to leave the game but left to the locker room.

He came back out later having been cleared from the evaluation and didn’t appear to have issues throughout the game. It’s important to have these protocols in place to avoid further complications if there was truly a head injury. Fortunately, he was not diagnosed with a concussion but I don’t expect him to play a lot in Week 17 due to wanting to rest starters. 

WR Cole Beasley (Left knee/leg)

Beasley got up gingerly favoring his left leg following a missed catch with 10:30 left in the 4th quarter. Upon initial review, he either sustained a hit to the outside of his left knee or he suffered a strain of his left quadriceps muscle trying to slow down. In the Twitter thread below, the first angle shows that he may have gotten the knee hit, but the second angle shows a stutter step. 

Based on how he got up and the trainers later assessing his knee along with focusing on the outside portion, it seems like there could be a contusion rather than a strain. He didn’t return to the game but this may have been more precautionary than the actual injury. 

Unfortunately, Sean McDermott delivered some disappointing news Tuesday during his weekly post game press conference. Beasley has been termed week-to-week with a leg injury which usually isn’t a great sign when it comes to availability for next week. From what I’ve understood with Sean McDermott week-to-week is missing at least 1-2 games. 

The team termed it a leg injury which doesn’t give us much information. It could be a contusion as mentioned above, could be a quadriceps strain, or it could be something else like a meniscus injury.

Why meniscus? Because after watching this enough times and researching more, this is a possibility based on the new information we know. 

Meniscus tears usually occur with more of a rotary or pivoting motion with the foot planted, such as changing direction suddenly. They can occur in other ways such as deceleration which is not something I initially considered when looking at the injury by video. The team was focused on the left knee and in a clip from the sidelines, a trainer even motions to the lateral aspect of the knee, right along the tibial plateau area where the meniscus sits where some pain/tenderness may have been felt.

It’s possible when he stutter-stepped due to slowing down, he created a shearing force on the meniscus with the knee in flexion or bent. That sudden stop with his weight still accelerating forward could have sheared a portion of the meniscus. 

Credit: John Hopkins Medicine

Signs of a meniscus tear include clicking, popping, locking of the knee during movement. There is also joint line tenderness present during palpation of the knee along with intermittent residual pain. He may have had difficulty fully extending the leg with imaging later confirming the physical findings. 

Credit: Liberty Orthopedic

This would explain why he is now week-to-week and fits the information currently available. This is pure speculation as I am processing the newest information. I hope this is not the case but it’s something that has to be considered. There is still a lot of information that we have to see including the body part that the team designates him with on the injury report and his practice availability. 

The best-case scenario is that it’s a lateral knee contusion and the team is being cautious. The next possibility is the quadriceps strain which could be a week-to-week injury that could force him out. This would be the most opportune situation in terms of overall health.

The worst-case would be the meniscus tear and he has to battle through it for the postseason. We saw former Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin deal with this during the 2017 season. I would expect Beasley to do the same. I hope I’m wrong, I want to be wrong, but I am considering all possibilities based on the information at hand.

While it is a shame that he probably won’t get his 1,000 yards, it’s best that he gets the rest he needs in order to perform in the playoffs. I’d expect him to miss Week 17 with a realistic shot at the first playoff game. He will need rest and rehab in order to get the knee well enough for the playoffs and then they can figure out how to address the area afterward. This will be a situation that changes quickly and hopefully 13 days off is enough time to get the knee healthy enough to play. 

T Dion Dawkins (Right elbow)

This wasn’t even noticed during the game until a Twitter follower pointed it out. Dawkins had a brace on his right elbow after the game in a post-game video when Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs were being interviewed. 

Looking back at the film, Dawkins doesn’t appear with a brace until later in the 3rd quarter. He appeared to get hit on the right elbow during a routine run play with 9:21 left in the 3rd. He finished the series and then the next series came out with a brace. This appears to be a general contusion to the area. It did not appear to greatly affect his play, but there may have been pain and swelling the training staff wanted to manage. 

I am not certain if he shows up on the injury report this week. If he does, this appears to be the culprit. If his play is limited next week, it would likely be due to more of the situation than injury. 

Other injury thoughts:

T Ty Nsekhe (groin)

I had thought that Nsekhe would have been ruled out for Monday’s game, but he was active despite barely practicing last week. He only played in 8 offensive snaps towards the end and 6 special teams snaps which is more in line with his overall play from this season. 

He is an older player that appears to understand his role and may have sat last week due to load management. 

WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain/COVID)

Brown was finally activated to the roster after spending time on IR since Week 10 with a high ankle sprain. He appeared on track to play Monday and the general consensus was that he would, but he was deemed a close contact with TJ Yeldon and placed on the COVID/Reserve list.

He must stay on the reserve list for at least 5 days since he last had contact with Yeldon. If he does not test positive during that time frame, then he can come off and play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. He is one player who needs the reps prior to the playoffs in order to get ready. 

Outside of Beasley’s injury, there is little concern for injuries going into Week 17. There always appears to be an injury or two that is a surprise on the report, but that will have to wait. Otherwise, the Bills are hot and healthy as they wait to find out their Wild Card opponent as hopefully the 2nd seed. The championship window is open, the Bills can pass through and hopefully hoist the Lombardi trophy in February.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo News

2020 Week 16 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Will Johnson and Nsekhe play?

Well, this is a fantastic turn of events! The New England Patriots, 6-8 and eliminated from the playoffs. The Bills, 11-3, winner of the AFC East and a playoff spot locked up. This is a welcome change from the last 20 years and is a chance to kick the Patriots while they’re down on national TV. 

While a game against the Patriots is never a guaranteed win, the Bills have shown that they can play with and beat anyone in the NFL. On top of it, the Bills are incredibly healthy compared to the Patriots who listed roughly 40% of their active roster on the injury report. Below is the Bills injury concerns heading into Monday night and a rundown of all the Patriots’ injuries. 

OUT

TE Reggie Gilliam (Knee/hamstring)

Gilliam is interesting because he was designated as probable with a knee injury during the game but eventually returned. It appeared he injured his left knee when he got hit from behind on kickoff with 6:28 left in the 2nd quarter but later returned. He shows up on the injury report with the knee and hamstring and hasn’t practiced all week. His last appearance in the game was with 8:02 left in the 4th quarter when he lined up as a fullback on a run play; there wasn’t a clear mechanism of injury.

He has since been ruled out for Monday’s game but it’s possible that he aggravated his hamstring injury from Week 13 at some point in the game. Since the playoffs are locked up and he has become a core special teamer, he may finally be giving it the rest it deserves. As Gilliam is designated a tight end and plays special team, there could be a one for one swap for Tyler Kroft considering Kroft has played a decent amount of special teams so far this year. 

QUESTIONABLE

S Jaquan Johnson (Right ankle)

Seeing Johnson practice after two full weeks off is promising after he had his right ankle taken out late in the Steelers game. I had thought he suffered a high ankle by the way he got hit from the outside. The fact that he practiced in a limited fashion this week is promising. 

Looking back at the others who have had similar practice designations through the week, the team has been all over the place. We have seen players not practice all week but play Sunday in the case of Andre Roberts, players practice in full but are ruled out on game day such as Vernon Butler, and everything in between. Those that have followed exactly what Johnson did indicates that he will play. He is a vital special teams player; it would be expected that he plays considering Gilliam is out.

T Ty Nsekhe (Groin)

I don’t know what to make of Nsekhe. This was his first extended time playing this year with 30 snaps on offense following mostly special teams snaps during the year. Reviewing the film, there wasn’t anything obvious as to how he would have injured his groin.

Nsekhe did leave practice briefly on Wednesday but later returned but has been DNP all this week except Friday when he was limited. Things certainly aren’t trending towards him playing which is concerning due to the fact that he replaced Daryl Williams last Saturday. Thankfully, the team does not have a designation for Williams which allows them to find a different depth option.

ACTIVE 

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

I’m not sure which joint is still bothering him to be on this injury report, my guess is his ankle. He didn’t wear a brace on the right leg and was running all over without hesitation. This may be more of a formality but this injury isn’t a factor from what we can see with his mobility. 

WR Stefon Diggs (Left foot)

Diggs foot injury was concerning at first until it was reported that it wasn’t overly worrisome. I had thought that he might be limited this week, but fortunately he has practiced in full every day. He may still be dealing with some pain but his foot getting stepped on won’t affect his performance Monday night.

DE AJ Epenesa (Not injury)

Epenesa is on this injury report due to being evaluated for a head injury late in the game Saturday. He was ruled to not have a concussion but apparently since that designation was not made before the end of the game, this designation indicates that there was a potential injury that was cleared. Otherwise, no issues for Monday. 

WR Andre Roberts (Low back)

Roberts has been limited all week with the exception of Friday in which he practiced in full. Considering he is such a vital part of special teams, it was expected that he did suit up since it isn’t ideal that Micah Hyde returns punts. It’s great Hyde is available but to have a Pro Bowl-caliber return man that specializes in trying to flip the field is better. The hope is that he was dealing with general pain or spasms that have since calmed down. 

CB Tre’Davious White (Neck)

White suffered a stinger in the game on Saturday, went out briefly and then came back to finish the game. He has suffered stingers before and for several weeks last season, he dealt with a neck injury, though it did not affect his availability at the time.

He did practice in full this week indicating this isn’t a big issue; it is possible that he is dealing with some general soreness in the neck with certain movements or it is possible that he is still dealing with some occasional numbness/tingling in the neck/arm that isn’t affecting his abilities. If that’s the case, I’d expect him to continue getting treatment to manage his complaints and be ready for Monday. 

T Daryl Williams (Groin)

Williams was the big concern to miss Monday’s game due to exiting shortly after halftime during the Broncos game. The research has shown that he could be out 8-20 days which initially after the injury, seemed like he wasn’t going to play against the Patriots. However, he has practiced all week with a limited designation which indicates that the groin strain isn’t as severe as initially thought. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

T Ty Nsekhe

TE Reggie Gilliam

DE Trent Murphy*

*If John Brown is activated. 

WR John Brown (Right high ankle sprain)

I also expect that John Brown will be recalled from IR back to the active roster and get some playing time to get ready for the postseason. The team has until 4 pm on Monday to make this designation. This squad is quite healthy in the big picture, though most of these guys are banged up and dealing with smaller injuries to varying degrees. 

The Patriots will be without Stephon Gilmore and likely Julian Edelman, both of whom didn’t play in Week 8 when the Bills last played them. Besides that, 20 players were listed on the injury report with limited participation by all and carrying a questionable designation. 

If you want gamesmanship, this is it right here folks. I can say with 100% certainty that 13 of the 20 players listed will play. As for who won’t, that’s anyone’s guess besides Bill Belichick. A small part of me wants to speculate who plays and who doesn’t, but that exercise would be fruitless. If this had serious playoff implications or was a playoff matchup, I’d dig into this, but I’m not going to let Bill Belichick waste any more of my time. He’s already given nearly 20 years of misery to this fan base. 

I do expect the Bills to go 4-0 in December to sweep the Patriots for the first time since 1999. If they do, this will be their highest win total since 1993 and will be the 6th time that they have achieved 12 wins or better in franchise history. I want to continue to see the Bills maximize their offensive firepower as they inch closer to the playoffs to win their first playoff game since 1995 and complete a deep playoff run. Enjoy the moment, Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Week 15 Bills Injury Review- Broncos

How serious is Diggs’ foot injury? What is the latest on Williams, White, and Roberts?

The Buffalo Bills are the 2020 AFC East Champions! That is incredibly satisfying to type, say/hear, read. I’d imagine that tasting a cold Labatt Blue at a tailgate bonfire would give you the final senses of enjoying what this means. It’s been a long 25 years and is another step towards the ultimate goals of a Super Bowl championship for the franchise. Division titles may not be that important to other franchises, but the Bills are not like other franchises. They are the Buffalo Bills, a team with a goal, and division titles with home playoff games are the building blocks.

While the Bills took care of business 48-19 over the Denver Broncos, there were numerous injuries that certainly had the fan base worried on Twitter. Not all the injury news is bad, but there are quite a few heading into Monday night against the New England Patriots. Below are all the publicly known injuries from Saturday.

TE Reggie Gilliam (knee)

Gilliam suffered a knee injury sometime in the 2nd or 3rd quarter and was initially ruled probable to return. It’s not clear when he suffered the knee injury or what he exactly did. My suspicion is that he injured it on a special teams play and was tended to by trainers on the sidelines. The camera angles were awful on special teams Sunday which made finding this injury very difficult. 

He ultimately returned to the game and this doesn’t appear to be a significant issue moving forward. 

TE Dawson Knox (stinger)

Knox left the game briefly for the second time in two weeks with a stinger but was able to return. I had said last week that there was a slight concern that if this occurs again, this could pose a problem or signify that something more is going on, however, there is not any definitive facts to support this at the time. 

It’s not clear when he suffered the stinger, my guess is when caught a long pass with 3:08 left in the 2nd quarter. He was out there until the 2-minute warning but there isn’t a definitive time when he suffered the injury. 

Like last week, I am not certain that he will show up on the injury report with this. Stingers are typically transient and the fact that Knox ended up returning support that this isn’t serious. He does have extra time to rest as the Bills don’t play until Monday night.

OT Daryl Williams (groin)

The injury to Williams may be the most concerning of the bunch due to his position and type of injury. This injury occurred sometime early in the 3rd quarter on the second touchdown run by Josh Allen. It isn’t clear when he suffered the injury, either with 11:32 or 11:05 in the 3rd quarter. The play with 11:32 had Williams lateral stepping and externally rotating his legs which is a classic mechanism to injure the groin in keeping up with his block to keep Josh Allen clean and did not appear labored getting through the next play. The next play was the second Josh Allen rushing touchdown where Williams was in a pile of bodies as Allen snuck in on the right side.

Credit: TeachMeAnatomy.info

Williams did not return and veteran Ty Nsekhe played admirably through the rest of the game in place. I have noted that groin injuries are difficult to determine on film unless it is blatantly obvious.

Credit: WNYUrology

Per the research, Williams could be out anywhere from 8-20 days with the average time off of 14 days and return to play pain free within 3 week. The overall re-injury rate is 8% once returning to play. I don’t see him playing Monday night unless his practice report says otherwise. 

At this point, let him rest and get ready for the playoffs. This also allows Nsekhe to get some needed reps in case injury occurs in the postseason.

WR Andre Roberts (low back)

The versatile return man suffered a low back injury sometime in the 3rd quarter, though it isn’t obvious when he suffered the injury. He was only noted as having a low back injury when the team reported it after Micah Hyde began returning punts in his place. It was initially thought Roberts was benched due to his muffed catch which resulted in a Broncos score, but the injury ended his day.

On his last return before going out, he was tackled by 3 different Broncos players and appeared to take a good shot to the low back. This could be a simple contusion, back spasms, or something else not known without further examination.

He will be one to watch on the injury report whether he practices at all this week. He does have the extra time to rest with the Monday night game but this is going to be a wait and see. 

CB Tre’Davious White (stinger)

The veteran cornerback scared the fan base when he went down briefly following a routine tackle on Tim Patrick in the 4th quarter. 

On review, I had no idea what he had injured because the hit seemed so routine and clean. Looking at where the trainers were looking at and how he hit, it looked to be the right shoulder area where he suffered the stinger. 

He did suffer a stinger on what appeared to be the left side last year in the Steelers game, but last year’s stinger doesn’t appear to have any correlation with this most recent one. White must have hit just right that he sustained the injury but was able to quickly return. He should be fine to play unless he has persisting symptoms for which he would likely end up on the injury report. 

CB Levi Wallace (right ankle)

Wallace is an interesting injury. He suffered an ankle injury shortly after White went down with his stinger. He ran down the field and then came back to try to scoop the ball up off the turf as it was dropped for a possible interception by Taron Johnson. He didn’t appear to roll it or sustain any visible injury. He did take an extra step onto his right leg when trying to reach down for the ball, possibly jamming up his ankle a little bit, but he quickly returned to the game.

For those thinking he re-injured his ankle from the Raiders game, it was his left ankle which ultimately sent him to IR for 3 weeks. This doesn’t appear to be anything long term and the extra time off should do well for Wallace to play Monday. 

DE AJ Epenesa (head)

Epenesa went to the sidelines under protest to get evaluated for a head injury while trying to avoid a late hit with 5:46 left in the 4th quarter. He flipped over Drew Lock and hit with his right shoulder and head on the turf. 

The team did not announce that he was in the concussion protocol during Monday’s press conference. The in game checks are precautionary and part of the concussion protocol, but it does not appear that he has entered it at this point. Wednesday will be telling if he shows up on the report with anything at all. 

DT Vernon Butler (left ankle)

During the same play that Epenesa got injured, Butler had his left ankle rolled up on moments before as the defense attempted to contain Drew Lock. Butler required an assessment by the training staff on the field and missed several plays but was able to return. 

He may have tweaked the ankle, but appeared to avoid serious injury as he played the rest of the game. I question if he even shows up on the injury report. 

WR Stefon Diggs (left foot)

This injury may be the most worrisome injury at least from a social media standpoint from Saturday. Diggs was quietly carted to the locker room with a foot injury late in the 4th quarter. 

He came back out on the cart with his left shoe off and hopping around on the sidelines leading to a lot of speculation as to what happened. Fortunately, I found what he did and when he suffered the injury. 

This occurred with 7:16 left in the 4th when Diggs was engaged with his block on a Zack Moss run to the right. Diggs disengages and while attempting to get out of the way of the play, gets his left foot stepped on. He immediately began to limp around briefly before setting up for the next play. During that play, he took several steps but did not try to be actively engaged in the play possibly due to the pain.

Diggs later left the field and then refined as mentioned earlier. By video, this seems like he got cleated on the outside portion of the foot and he should be fine. The reports coming out after the game were optimistic and Monday’s press conference only reinforced that news. 

Since this is more of a pain issue, I would not be concerned with Diggs being limited or even DNP Wednesday and Thursday. The team has off Friday for Christmas and then practices Saturday. Even if he’s limited every day, I’d still expect him to play Monday.

Overall, the Bills are in decent shape despite all the injuries from this game. The only ones I want to watch closely are Williams, Roberts, and to a lesser extent Epenesa. It would not alarm me if there were a few extra names on the injury report in addition to what’s in the article today. 

The Bills have the division locked up but can still fight to maintain the 2nd seed which will guarantee them 2 home playoff games and even 3 if the Chiefs get knocked off. They currently have the tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost unexpectedly to the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. 

I would hope the Bills can begin to rest some starters but I don’t expect everyone to sit right away. This is a Bills team that is smart with their sports medicine and will not jeopardize health to maximize winning. These next few weeks are all about taking care of business and hitting the playoffs hot so Buffalo can get a long awaited deep playoff run. There is still a lot of football to play and it’s great knowing the Bills took care of business. 

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2020 Week 10 Bills Injury Review- Cardinals

Is Brown and Jackson alright? What’s going on with Morse?

The football gods giveth, they also taketh. The Hail Mary pass from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins was truly something else. Those are the kind of plays that demonstrate why the Cardinals traded for him and gave him a big contract extension. I understand he isn’t making those plays week in and week out, but to know you’re never out of a game because a player like him can’t be discounted. Bills fans saw the exact same thing with Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs for the go-ahead touchdown just moments before. 

The loss sucks, but sometimes that’s just how things are. For every loss like the Cardinals, we can get a win as we did against the Rams. The Bills are still 7-3 heading into a much needed and deserved bye week with the ability to get a lot of key players back very soon and others to get healthy. I understand that after years of suffering through the drought, we want every win, we want the ability to leave no doubt in our minds who is the better football team in the NFL. I would also rather take this loss now and have a deep postseason run when compared to the Ravens 14-2 record last year and getting bounced in the divisional round of the playoffs. 

As we head into the bye week, there are several new injuries to monitor that may impact the injury report next week.

DE AJ Epenesa (Concussion)

Epenesa missed the second half of the game due to a concussion possibly sustained with 3:32 left in the 2nd quarter when he took down Kyler Murray from behind to set up 4th down. The play below shows how Epenesa attempted to knock the ball out of Murray’s hand as he took him down, regrettably slamming his head into the turf. He stood up quickly and appeared to be momentarily unsteady before walking off to the sideline motioning to his head. 

He was quickly taken to the locker room for further evaluation of a head injury where he was later ruled out with a concussion. He will enter concussion protocol as does every other NFL player, but time will tell how long it will take him to return. According to what I could find from his injury analysis this summer, this is Epenesa’s first publicly documented concussion. 

There is potential he could move through the protocol quickly, but no guarantees either. Fortunately, he has the bye to work through things to get right for the Chargers game.

CB Dane Jackson (right knee)

Jackson went down with a right knee injury tackling Christian Kirk in the 3rd quarter. He completed the tackle and rolled over, holding his right knee. It’s still not clear what he did to the knee even on the film below. I had initially thought he suffered a hamstring strain as he extended his leg out to grab Kirk, but I’m not certain that is the case. 

It’s very possible he hit the knee on the ground as both he and Kirk were falling. There is also the possibility that Jackson got a cleat to his knee, though slowing down the film, I personally couldn’t see anything. Jackson was observed later on the exercise bike appearing to keep the knee loose to prevent any potential swelling which also dissuades me from considering a hamstring. 

Jackson did return in the final moments of the game as DeAndre Hopkins caught the game-winner. Either Jackson gutted it out because the coaching staff knew he was the best option over Daryl Worley or the injury wasn’t as significant as originally thought. I am going to go with the latter in this case. 

I am also not certain that Jackson will show up on the injury report next week for two reasons. While he is continued to be used as a regular call up or COVID replacement call up, he is not officially on the active roster. Practice squad players are not placed on the regular injury report released through the week. Sometimes they are acknowledged as former Bills offensive lineman Evan Boehm was earlier this season, but I do not believe the team has any obligation to publicly release these details. 

If Jackson gets signed to the open roster spot available due to Del’Shawn Phillips going to IR, then Jackson could be on the injury report. I also don’t believe that the injury is serious enough without more information to determine that he will be on the report.

WR John Brown (right ankle)

Brown suffered yet another lower-body injury, this time on a 24-yard catch midway through the 4th quarter. The play was ultimately negated due to a Brian Winters holding penalty, but Brown made a great catch before coming down hard on his right ankle. Per Sean McDermott, Brown tweaked his ankle.

In the video below, you can clearly see that Brown lands on the right foot, the ankle bows inward before the rest of Brown’s momentum drags him down to the turf, lifting his heel up off the ground before being officially downed.

I had initially thought of an MCL sprain due to how he fell and the valgus angle with the knee pointing inward as he fell, but his medial ankle took the brunt of the injury it appeared. From the video alone, it looks to be a medial eversion ankle sprain, similar to what Tre’Davious White suffered last week. I would say this one was more severe when comparing the two, but Brown may have escaped a worse fate.

When the ankle bows out like that, there isn’t a lot of room for the ankle to move outward, potentially leading to a fracture of the lateral malleolus. However, Brown was able to walk around later under his own power on the sidelines indicating that not to be the case and the fact that the team said he tweaked the ankle. Right now, it seems as though he suffered a medial eversion ankle sprain and may need some time to rehab. 

Thankfully he has the bye next week to allow him at least a full week off to allow for healing. There’s potential that he shows up on the injury report with the ankle injury, but we will have to wait and see. At worst, there is the possibility that he misses 1-2 games which include the Chargers and 49ers games which appear winnable without him. However, there is also a very good chance he suits up against the Chargers and plays if the injury is mild. Next week will tell us much more.

Other injury thoughts:

DT Justin Zimmer (right elbow)

I bring Zimmer up because I noted that he had a hinged brace on his right elbow that I had not noted before Sunday’s game. Looking back at game footage, he has had a brace on the area going back to Week 7 against the Jets. The reason it wasn’t noticeable then was due to the fact that he would wear a sleeve over the area or had a long sleeve shirt on, downplaying the brace.

Prior to the hinged braced, he was wearing a compression sleeve on the area in the Chiefs game. If he had suffered an injury, it’s not publicly known and he still appears to be playing well. I have seen a lot of linemen wearing various bracing on their arms and legs to likely manage general complaints and provide some stability to the area as they play. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse did not play despite being active for Sunday’s contest. It was termed as coach’s decision by Sean McDermott. Jon Feliciano played the entire game at center in his place. There are some possible theories that I have behind why Morse ultimately did not play that I will address below.

Due to several other injuries and open roster spots, Morse may not have had the ability to be a healthy scratch. However, they could have scratched Morse and had Cody Ford active and not play. They have had injured players active before and not play.

The Bills may have also wanted Jon Feliciano to get more reps at the center position as he acclimates back to game action. McDermott did state that they are going week-to-week with offensive lineup combinations and wanted to get another look at them. But Feliciano is better suited at the guard position from what we’ve seen.

His risk to sustain another concussion following this most recent one is higher, but I have not found an exact number that says a person is at X% more likely to suffer another concussion within X days/weeks from the last one after full recovery. He’s at greater risk to suffer another concussion, just like he was prior to the latest head injury. I also see this study and say it has some value, but the research is nearly 20 years old, I do question how accurate it is now.

There has been speculation that Morse needed extra rest and to use the bye along with not playing in order to make sure he’s healthy. Looking at the NFL return to play concussion protocol, from my interpretations, once you pass through the NFL concussion protocol, you are cleared for play. There isn’t any gray area when it comes to this decision. Either you are cleared or not. Extra rest would not necessarily reduce his risk even further.

There are concerns for second-impact syndrome and post-concussive symptoms. I can say with some confidence that neither are in play here. If he was to have the second-impact syndrome, that would imply that he was not fully healthy as he tried to return. That would go against how the protocol’s purpose. The same thing goes for the post-concussive syndrome. If he was still having symptoms, he doesn’t pass through the protocol. Even if he suffered another concussion in warmups, they would have reported it, similar to when Quinton Spain had his foot soreness as a surprise inactive.

The only reason I can consider is that Morse is a veteran player, I am sure he is dealing with the effects of a physical season and it’s possible that McDermott wanted to give him the day off to preserve him for the playoff push. Not allowing Morse to play also eliminates a chance to sustain another concussion or injury in general. However, if a player is healthy enough to play, he was per the concussion protocol, then he should have played. I don’t believe Morse was benched either.

Bottom line, he was deemed healthy per the concussion protocol, he should have played based on that logic. If McDermott wanted to give him the game off, then he probably should have made him a healthy scratch, they have done that in other games for other players when it did not matter. If they wanted to avoid Morse suffering a further injury, then you inactivate him. Extra rest from a head injury could make sense, but not when applying it to the NFL concussion protocol.

Overall, the Bills head into a much-deserved bye week with the ability for most of the team to address some of their injuries as they prepare for the final stretch. There are a lot of injuries to fix along with a lot of game strategies including the anemic run game. Hopefully, there is more news that comes out regarding these injuries and more over the next week and the injury report will be something to watch with regards to how many players are on it and who is on it. I hope the Bills enjoy their week off as they prepare for the final stretch of the season.

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