Week 16 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Assessing the rash of Bills injuries prior to the Week 16 matchup against the New England Patriots!

The end of the season is rapidly approaching and the Bills roster is showing its cracks. The Week 16 injury report is quite lengthy and while there are positives coming out of this week, the players are clearly hoping to get through these last two games despite giving it their all for Coach McDermott. One player who will be giving his all for another 2 years is QB Matt Barkley who signed a 2 year extension which will give the Bills an effective veteran backup to QB Josh Allen as he matures. Today’s post will review all the injuries with greater clarity and determine how these injuries affect Sunday’s game.

A total of 11 players found their way onto the injury report, 6 alone from this past game. All the players listed are available to play besides CB Ryan Lewis (concussion) ruled out and RB Chris Ivory (shoulder) ruled questionable. However, each week at Banged Up Bills, we will still assess the injuries sustained from this week and how it will affect Sunday’s contest. First up is FB Patrick DiMarco (ankle) who suffered an ankle injury during a punt return in Sunday’s game. I had originally thought that he suffered a thigh/knee injury but it appears as though he tweaked his ankle as a result. As he was able to return to the game Sunday plus practice this week doesn’t concern me in his performance this Sunday or worry for long term issues.

K Stephen Hauschka (back) was able to practice in full this week after being limited all last week with his performance still clearly limited. This was most evident when the Bills were forced to punt early in Sunday’s win despite being in Hauschka’s normal range. He was still able to complete kickoffs and extra points but the team currently doesn’t have faith that he is able to make the long kicks right now. I still believe that he is dealing with a hip pointer injury which is essentially a contusion to the area. He may also still be dealing with back soreness following the hit which will affect his kicking motion secondary to the muscles pulling on the painful area when planting and kicking. This is an injury that takes time along with stretching and slow resumption of activity in order to heal properly. As he was practicing in full this week, there is hope that he is healed enough that he is able to resume making the long kicks that has allowed him to be one of the best in the NFL.

RB Chris Ivory (shoulder) continues to deal with a re-aggravation of his left shoulder injury originally sustained in Week 9 and then aggravated against in Week 13, forcing him to miss last game. I have suspected that he suffered an AC joint sprain that was healing but after the re-aggravation, this set him back in his recovery and may continue to limit his participation in Sunday’s contest. He was able to practice in full last week but still missed the game as a result. At this point, my guess is that he is still dealing with pain with direct contact along with limited range of motion in that shoulder, restricting his abilities to effectively carry and catch the football. He could receive interventions to assist him with pain, but if he continues to demonstrate instability in the region, the pain interventions will only make it more difficult to listen to his body if he re-injures the area. Right now, rehab and rest will get him back to normal in the off-season. If he continues to injure the area further, surgery may be required and those rehabilitation procedures are not fun to go through. Ideally, he would benefit from rest, but considering the Bills only have 3 “healthy” running backs on the roster, he may not be afforded the ability to rest. He is truly questionable and without further information, it is very difficult to determine whether he will play.

CB Ryan Lewis (concussion) is still working through the concussion protocol and appears to be in Stage 4 with light football activity participation as determined by the limited designation. He has since been ruled out and may be available for the season finale.

RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) continues to work back from his hamstring strain from 2 weeks ago and appears to be moving quite well in the video provided by Josh Reed. Shady has also indicated that he is ready and able to play Sunday. He is a player that despite the down season he has had, will still want to go out and give it everything he has especially against a hated divisional rival to end the season.

WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle) appears to still be recovering from the cramping episode from Sunday that appeared much worse than the eventual diagnosis. While he is listed as an ankle, this may still be the ankle/calf region as its very possible he is dealing with soreness to the area along with activity specific pain, preventing him from going full speed. As he practiced in full, I expect him to play Sunday but it is clearly evident that the long season has been taking it’s toll.

DE Trent Murphy (chest) apparently suffered a non-descript chest injury in Sunday’s win over the Lions. He did not appear to require assessment from the trainers nor indicate anything was wrong. He may have sustained a contusion to the area from a hard hit or suffer a minor strain to his pectoral muscle as he engaged offensive blockers. While chest muscles are very important to defensive ends, practicing in full gives support to the notion that he will play Sunday.

TE Logan Thomas (hamstring) missed last week’s game with the same injury. He was able to practice in full the past 2 days and appears to be fully healed at this time. Most strains we have seen all season have taken the player roughly 1 game to rest and recover from and Thomas is no exception. Thomas, along with TE Jason Croom, have to be available to assist TE Charles Clay in the passing game in order to keep the ball moving against the Patriots. Expect Thomas to play Sunday.

LB Corey Thompson (ankle) also suffered an ankle injury on the same play as DiMarco. He got tied up with a Lions defender and limped off the field, eventually returning. Similar to DiMarco, he was able to return to the game and practice in full this week which indicates that this was a minor injury and should be good to go Sunday.

WR Deonte Thompson (Achilles) was listed with an Achilles injury Thursday, having practiced in full. He was not listed on Wednesday’s injury report which indicates that he may have suffered this injury during Wednesday’s practice. As there is no video and he practiced in full, this appears to be a minor strain which may limit Thompson from pushing off effectively and decelerating. However, he should still be able to stretch the field and provide QB Josh Allen another target downfield.

Finally, DT Kyle Williams (back) suffered a back injury during some point on Sunday. He was DNP Wednesday, Limited Thursday, and Full on Friday. As there does not appear to be any conclusive video of the type of injury that he sustained or any assessment by training staff, it is quite difficult to identify the specifics. All I know is that the only way Kyle Williams misses a game is if he breaks something. Otherwise, he will be playing Sunday in hopes of putting a hurting on QB Tom Brady.

One interesting omission from the injury report is RB Keith Ford (ankle). Ford injured his left ankle late in the 3rd quarter which forced the Bills to get creative with the playbook as all the RB’s were out, leaving them with DiMarco and Allen in the backfield. Ford’s injury did not appear to be serious as he was not on the injury report which means he will be available Sunday. There is potential that he is the backup to McCoy in very possible event that Ivory is unable to play.

While this was a lengthy article for injuries, most appear to be relatively minor with most of the players expected to play through these ailments. At this point in the season, every guy is aching and hurting, requiring limited participation just to get through the week. While us Bills fans would love for them to still be playing for the playoffs, the recent rash of injuries would make it very difficult to compete with some of the high powered offenses come playoff time. The hope is that the back up’s playing now will get invaluable playing time to bolster depth going into next season with everyone expected to come back healthy.

The prevailing thought going into Foxboro is that the Patriots are finally starting to show cracks in their dynasty having lost 2 straight. A third loss would be unprecedented with the Patriots and send them to a rare 6th loss on the season and a spot in the Wild Card round where they have typically not fared well in season’s past. The Bills did play relatively well in their previous game on Monday Night Football in October’s loss, but, it’s still the Patriots. If the Bills play lights out defense and QB Josh Allen is able to move the ball effectively to his new weapons Foster and McKenzie, anything can happen. I would love to see the Bills win and send Tom Brady packing, but I do not know whether this will be the game or next season. We all see the end coming for the Patriots, we just don’t know when it will get here.

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

Week 15 Bills Injury Preview- Lions

Analyzing the latest Bills injuries prior to the game against the Detroit Lions.

For what it’s worth, after that rough loss to the Jets marred by numerous injuries, the injury report for the upcoming game against the Lions is relatively short. Granted, we are missing several starters over the past 2 weeks with CB Taron Johnson, C Russell Bodine, and LB Matt Milano all going to IR with their respective injuries. These are the kind of injuries that if suffered earlier, could have scuttled a promising season had the Bills had several games go their way. However, these injuries only allow these and other on IR to recover appropriately in time for next season. Today’s post will assess the injuries going into Sunday’s tilt against the Detroit Lions.

Already ruled out is CB Ryan Lewis (concussion). Lewis is still working through the league concussion protocol and as he is DNP, he is still in stage 1-2 of the protocol. However, we typically do not see most concussions clear this quickly and Lewis will miss Sunday as he continues to work through the concussion protocol.

Those questionable are K Stephen Hauschka (hip), RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring), TE Logan Thomas (hamstring), and RB Chris Ivory (shoulder). Hauschka has already been ruled available to play Sunday by coaching staff and has been sitting out all week to rest in order to be ready. Thankfully, his skill set does not require constant practice which allows him to get the treatment he needs in order to be 100%. Why he is questionable may be just how the injury list designates how you rule someone based on practice participation.

Things are looking promising for McCoy as he was reported participating in individual drills which is an excellent sign for his overall recovery. However, he is still limited which indicates that he is not able to participate in the entirety of practice and does not appear to be ready for Sunday. As he is a 30 year old running back with a lot of yardage on his legs along with one of his roughest seasons in his career, it would not make sense to get back out there quickly to play for a lost cause. He may be ready but he would be better served taking a week off and coming back against 2 divisional opponents to leave his mark on the 2018 season going into 2019.

Thomas may have tweaked his hamstring in Thursday’s practice which led him to report the injury but as he practiced in full Thursday but limited Friday doesn’t bode well for his availability Sunday. As there is not video of what exactly happened, it is hard to speculate whether he will play. Hamstrings are tricky and this may truly be up to Thomas on whether he feels he can perform. Considering it will be cold and the injury is relatively fresh, it may not be wise to try and playing unless he had a good warm up and feels loose.

Ivory exited the game this past Sunday and did not return after falling to his left shoulder hard after an 8-yard run. I believed that he suffered a re-aggravation of his AC joint sprain originally sustained against the Bears. As he is practicing in full, this is an excellent sign in the likely event that Shady is unable to play. However, he was still ruled questionable. Frequently, if someone has practiced in full all week, they are always good to go for Sunday. My only theory that I can formulate is that he was able to participate in practice going through plays and drills but still dealing with pain in the shoulder. Whether he plays may be whether he feels he can absorb the pounding that a running back takes during a game. If Ivory is ruled inactive, the Bills still have RB Marcus Murphy and newly signed RB Keith Ford to handle the run game.

Those cleared to play or Sunday are TE Jason Croom (groin) and QB Derek Anderson (concussion). Croom required a week off after tweaking his groin possibly late in the game against the Dolphins. As he practiced in full this week and was not made a game time decision, expect him to participate fully and potentially take Thomas’ snaps if he is unable to play.

Anderson is finally cleared from the concussion protocol after 7 weeks of not playing or fully practicing. He is expected to be the 3rd string QB and continued mentor to QB Josh Allen. Anderson has been an enigma for the Bills this season. He came in halfway through the season, started 2 games, suffered a concussion during Monday Night Football, and then has been out since. Now, having post-concussion symptoms for this long is not abnormal overall. I have personally worked with patients that have had post-concussion symptoms for months after the initial injury. We have also seen other examples of players dealing with post-concussion symptoms for long duration’s of time, most famously Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. So, its possible that he was dealing with recurring symptoms but my concern was why was he still on the active roster? He will not supplant QB Josh Allen as a starter; QB Matt Barkley is the backup, which leaves Anderson as a body taking up a roster spot. The only theory that I could come up with is that Anderson was still dealing with post-concussion symptoms and still on the active roster for the sole purpose to help prepare Allen each week. If he had been placed on IR, then he would have been able to be around the team but not participate in practice in any form according to IR rules. I suppose having Anderson available during practice to critique Allen during practice acting as a psuedo-coach to assist QB coach David Culley. Regardless of reasons behind his recovery, the important thing is that Anderson is finally healthy, can appear in another NFL game if the opportunity arises, and can finish out the season on hopefully his terms.

The Bills had been hovering around the 50% mark with regards to players with questionable designation playing but that number has since increased to 66% playing recently over the course of the season. Based on these numbers, I expect that McCoy and Thomas to be inactive with Ivory truly questionable and Hauschka playing. This fits the numbers but these are simply trends through the season and not a prediction model. We will see what happens Sunday.

The Bills should be able to handle the toothless Lions with effective ball control and clock management. If they minimize mistakes on special teams and prevent turnovers, then they have an excellent shot to move to 5-9 on the season. Hopefully the Bills can continue to stay relatively healthy and avoid more season ending injuries over the coming weeks. While these games are meaningless, the overall health of each player is still important going into the off season.

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