Week 14 Bills Injury Review- Jets II

Breaking down the latest Bills injuries following Sunday’s loss to the Jets.

Back to back tough losses really take the wind out of the Bills sails and drops them to 4-9. This was the 3rd loss this season where the Bills had the game in hand but were unable to secure the win. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, we knew that they were going to take a step back this year. However, the mark of a good team is the ability to finish games and beat the teams you should beat. This wasn’t one of those times. Hopefully the Bills can learn from this season and transition into more consistent wins next season. Sunday’s loss also marked one of the most injury riddled days in recent memory and the most since I began this site. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained and what significance they have moving forward.

Starting off with the most serious injury, LB Matt Milano (fibula) suffered an ankle dislocation and fracture late in the 4th quarter at the goal line. This was the result of QB Sam Darnold attempting to dive into the end zone, landing on the back of Milano’s heel, firmly planting the foot in the turf. As the foot is planted, Milano is hit from behind by S Jordan Poyer and Darnold’s body being in the way prevents Milano from falling naturally, instead twisting to the left and snapping his fibula which is the outer portion of the ankle. I had retweeted a rather graphic picture of Milano’s ankle twisted 180 degrees with his heel facing where his toes should be. Thankfully, the tibia, which is the shin bone, was spared due to twisting to the left instead of the right. The ankle broke on what I can only assume based on video is the lower portion of the fibula which is the outside portion of the ankle. There is fairly significant ligament damage based on the twisting but can and will heal up due to the ankle being reduced or put back into place on the field and the ankle will be immobilized for some time due to surgery. Below is a picture of a fractured fibula, though not exactly represented as how Milano’s may look on x-ray.

Ankle Fx Pre-op.jpg
Credit: ankleandfootnorthwest.com

A lot of chatter on Twitter has been discussed over the Bodine injury compared to the Milano injury. Both injured the same bone but the severity is starkly different. Bodine will be back before Milano in regards to healing and normalcy due to Bodine’s fracture was fairly simple; he suffered a break, there was no dislocation or what appeared to be associated damage to the area. He just required surgery to set the bone and stabilize it in order to heal. Milano’s injury was more severe due to the corresponding ligament damage in the area. He will be immobilized and non-weightbearing post surgery, but as a result of the immobilization with the ligament damage, the ankle will become very tight due to the scarring down of the healing ligaments. This limited range of motion this will require further stretching and rehab interventions to address the tightness coming out of the surgery to regain the mobility required for his position. However, the timelines are still similar with rehab and recovery with the difference being weeks vs months in regards to return in comparison to Bodine vs Milano. I still expect Milano to take between 6-9 months to fully recover, but I’ll take the low side of that recovery which makes him possibly ready to participate in OTA’s.

The most comparable Bills injury is that of RB Travaris Cadet who suffered a similar injury late last year but was able to return in time for training camp. The only difference between the two players is that Cadet was a fringe roster player buried on the RB depth chart and couldn’t make the team. However, he was able to return to full health as evidence in his participation in training camp.

The other significant injury is RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring). Shady suffered a hamstring strain during the first offensive series against the Jets and was initially questionable to return, later downgraded to out. He appeared to pull his hamstring on a 6 yard gain right before the first Bills TD by QB Josh Allen. There was not anything specific regarding the injury; he did cut hard to his right before taking a step forward and going down. He was observed at one point running on the sidelines and cutting to test it out, but it appeared that he was not ready to return Sunday.

Hamstrings are tricky because they range in severity and affect each position differently. With McCoy’s skill set, as poor as it’s been this year, that hamstring is still more vital to his abilities than let’s say an offensive lineman. The veteran running back has since been listed as day-to-day by the team and has had an MRI to determine severity. This tells me that this is most likely a moderate Grade 1 strain. Yes I am splitting hairs here but they performed an MRI which in my observation is only reserved if the physical assessment is not matching up with typical physical examination. Day-to-day indicates that he will be limited with the possibility of playing next Sunday. However, we have seen this wording used in the past and interpreted to eventually missing some time. Typically we are not seeing players who suffer a strain come back this quickly.  But since there is a muscle tear as all strains are classified, once he rests, the muscle does tighten up and the inflammation process begins which limits his abilities. I’m going to be conservative and say he misses next week against the Lions because it’s a game that doesn’t mean anything and Shady has been absolutely been beat up this year, so a week off will only help.

Other players sustaining injuries include RB Chris Ivory (shoulder), WR Robert Foster (right thigh) WR Isaiah McKenzie (left ankle) OL Jordan Mills (left knee), CB Levi Wallace (left ankle), CB Ryan Lewis (concussion), and K Stephen Hauschka (hip/back). Ivory suffered a left shoulder injury running through the linebackers and secondary, landing hard on his left shoulder after being taken down for an 8 yard gain, appearing to favor his left shoulder coming off. If you recall, he suffered what I believed to be a left AC joint sprain back in Week 9 during a failed goal line plunge. He may have aggravated this injury again as he was slowed down and then fell hard to the turf onto the left shoulder and potentially re-spraining the area. He may also be another guy who misses a week, but he would be more likely to play Sunday than McCoy. Overall, AC joint sprains heal on their own with rehab and rest and only require surgery in the event that there is significant trauma to the area.

Foster and McKenzie got banged up on back to back plays at the end of the first half. Upon video review, McKenzie landed awkwardly on his left foot, appearing to tweak his ankle trying to haul in a pass from QB Josh Allen; this occurred with 1:26 left in the 2nd quarter. He was able to return and finish out the game. I would suspect this is nothing more than at most a mild ankle sprain that will may end up on the injury report but should not slow him for next Sunday as he was able to return very quickly after the injury. He did come into the game questionable with a toe injury but this does not appear to be related to the injury he suffered Sunday.

As for Foster, he got hurt on the very next play after hauling in a 17 yard pass from Allen before taking a very hard shot into his right thigh area that drove him out of bounds. This injury appears to be a contusion at worst as he was able to return quickly. He may be dealing with some soreness and may be limited in practice Wednesday, but this also appears to be an injury that should not keep him out Sunday as he has become a vital piece to the limited WR corps.

OL Jordan Mills suffered a left knee injury performing what appeared to be a chop block though he was withering in pain immediately after the play which required training staff to assess his knee. He was able to return the next offensive series and finish out the game. My best assessment is that he came down on his knee hard and he suffered a mild contusion. Mills has had several injuries similar to this this past season in where he goes down, needs to come off, and then quickly returns. I can’t even classify this as an injury per se, sometimes things hurt when you hit a certain way. No concerns for next Sunday.

CB Ryan Lewis suffered a blow to the head which was later diagnosed as a concussion late in the 2nd quarter. We have seen most of the younger players return from concussions quicker than older players such as QB Derek Anderson, but each concussion continues to be unique and only time will tell how Lewis responds while in the concussion protocol. Far too early to tell whether he will be available Sunday.

CB Levi Wallace suffered an odd looking left ankle injury early in the 3rd quarter. He began to suddenly stop and planted hard on his left leg, the ankle buckled as he attempted to pivot and assisted in taking down the ball carrier. I do not believe that he suffered any major injury to the area, coming off may have been more precaution to further assess the injury after the play. He was able to return after several plays and finish out the game. With his stellar play this year, we can not afford to lose anymore players in the secondary in order to finish this season. He should be available for Sunday.

Finally, K Stephen Hauschka (low back/hip) suffered a cheapest of cheap shots by Jets DE Henry Anderson after the blocked FG on the last play in the 2nd quarter. Hauschka was blindsided when he got hit, unfortunately he was unable to react properly and came down hard on his right hip and potentially jarring his back. It was reported that he had x-rays to assess for any damage but based on the hit, it appears as though he suffered a hip pointer injury. An injury such as this is basically a bruise to the bony portion of the hip that is about where most of our pants sit at on our waist. The reason this is so painful is because there are so many muscles that attach to this area which in turn affect how the core muscles perform along with the hip musculature especially with him being a right footed kicker.

The blindside hit clearly affected his ability to kick as he missed a FG try later on in the game and appeared to be limping at times afterward. This is an injury that does not appear to be long term nor should affect him next week due to the limited need of his position. We have also not had any reports that kickers were being brought in which indicates that this is not a severe issue which should make him available for Sunday.

Overall, a very rough day from an injury standpoint. The only silver lining is that we are out of the playoff race which makes these injuries hurt less. The benefit to these injuries now is that all these won’t be long term and allow all to be ready by training camp barring any setbacks or new injuries over the next several weeks.

As a result of all these injuries, the team will have some new faces in the starting lineup. LB Julian Stanford will be starting in place of Milano, RB Marcus Murphy may get the start if Ivory can’t go and RB Keith Ford may be brought up from the practice squad to backup Murphy. This is the time of year that is great for the front office to find out who else they want to keep for next year by seeing how they do in game action now. We know this roster will have more turnover next year; might as well get familiar with some new faces with the idea that they are here next training camp.

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

Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- ST

Evaluating the injuries (or lack thereof) of the 2017 Bills special team unit.

I hope everyone continues to enjoy the summer as we inch closer and closer towards training camp on July 26th! Today’s post wraps up the positional injury reviews for the 2017 season. Today’s article may be the briefest due to an overall lack of injuries, however without the special teams unit, the Bills struggle mightily! This article will review the kicker, punter, and long snapper positions.

First up is LS Reid Ferguson. The talented long snapper finished his first season after spending the 2016 season on the practice squad. Ferguson was able to take over the incumbent LS Garrison Sanborn last season who moved onto the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While there is no official statistics for a long snapper, the body of work for a long snapper is evident with the effectiveness of the kicker and punter. Though a long snapper is only on the field for field goals and punts, they are still at risk for injury just as much as any other player. During punt returns, they still have to go block and tackle the returner. Unfortunately, special team plays like this can cause serious injury such as last year to the Bears and Jaguars. Thankfully, Ferguson avoided injury and is looking to build off a strong 2017 season. If you don’t hear his name again this season, this just means he’s doing his job very well.

Moving to the next position, P Colton Schmidt arrives on the list. The 4th year pro has been a steady presence in the backfield on 4th down after some inconsistency following the release of longtime punter and fan favorite Brian Moorman. Schmidt had 79 punts with an average of 44.7 yards/punt with a season long of 60 yards. Out of those 79 punts, he was able to place 28 inside the 20, good for a 35% rate. Along with Ferguson, Schmidt avoided injury this season and appears to continue his productive career in 2018.

Finally, we round out this article with K Steven Hauschka. The 10th year pro continues to make his mark in Buffalo after stops in Baltimore, Denver, and Seattle where he had his greatest success culminating in 2 Super Bowl appearances with one championship. Hauschka found his way to Buffalo and continued his high level of play in which he was 29/33 in FG’s made, going perfect at 20-29, 30-39, and going 7/9 at both 40-49 and 50-59. This was good for a 87.9% FG completion and was perfect on extra points. The veteran kicker was the only special teams player to suffer an injury this past season. Hauschka suffered a right hip injury following the Saints game which caused him to miss some practice that week but did not cause him to miss any games. Reading further into his injury, it did not appear to be anything more than a possible muscle strain as he was able to play through the discomfort and it did not land him on the injury report the rest of the season. As he is right footed with regards to kicking, the ability to swing his kicking leg through effectively pain free is vital to his ability to perform.

While the NFL has at times been criticized for making the game “soft” through rule changes, these changes are the reason the Bills special team players were able to remain healthy with penalties. Each position has been afforded special rules to ensure their safety. Rules for punter/kicker, and long snapper can be found here. Overall, these rules make the game safer and allow these world class athletes perform their craft avoiding serious injury.

Competing for roster spots are K Tyler Davis and P Cory Carter going into the 2018 season. While I do not believe that they will seriously threaten the above mentioned roster spots, other teams will be watching in the event they are not satisfied with their special team games. Both of these players may find their way onto the practice squad, however I believe that the front office would rather place other positional players on the practice squad for greater depth. Look for this special teams unit to be incredibly effective going into the 2018 season and help keep the Bills in games if the offense fails to move the ball.

This wraps up the 2017 season positional injury reviews. I hope you enjoyed looking back at this memorable season and reflect on how valuable healthy starters are along with effective depth is to a team. This series also demonstrated how the Bills avoided serious injuries this year which led to proper player development rather than inserting players who are not ready or are ill suited for the position/scheme.

Continue to check back at Banged Up Bills on Facebook and on Twitter @BangedUpBills. Look for the latest injury news coming out of training camp, general injury explanations, and anything else that can be reported on. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 12 Injury Breakdown- Chiefs

Assessing the latest Buffalo Bills injuries prior to their Week 12 match up against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Another day down, another injury report released! November has not been a great month for the Buffalo Bills. Three straight losses have brought the Bills back down to earth and exposed flaws once thought hidden by the defense. Sunday’s upcoming game against the Chiefs doesn’t make anything easier especially with their recent signing of CB Darrelle Revis. However, the Bills continue to avoid major injury and key players have better injury outlooks than initially thought.

First up on the injury report with did not practice is WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee), OT Dion Dawkins (illness), OT Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), and G John Miller (ankle). Out of these players, Dawkins is not of concern as he may have the flu. He may be limited but could still play if needed. Glenn continues to deal with his chronic issue and there is no timeline of whether he will be able to play. Miller continues to be hampered with an ankle injury, but as he has not been activated for most of this season; he continues to be a non-factor.

Benjamin is considered “day-to-day” according to McDermott in today’s press conference. As expected, McDermott gives little information other than what is required. Due to the impact during the injury, he may have a bone bruise or a mild sprain. An MRI would demonstrate no significant damage but would still show Grade 1 sprains which are relatively inconsequential. Based on the hit he sustained Sunday, I am still fairly confident that he will be at best questionable for Sunday and learning towards missing the next game.

Those limited in practice were TE Charles Clay (knee), K Stephen Hauschka (right hip), WR Jordan Matthews (knee), WR Deonte Thompson (ankle), and RB Mike Tolbert (hamstring). Clay is still dealing with his original knee injury from October and if he wasn’t pressed to help the offense, probably would have benefited from the extra time to recover as I originally stated. I suspect he is still dealing with some swelling and pain due to the high demands of the position. His play supported the decision to return but he may still not be at 100%. He did have an impact being out on the field Sunday and was a vital cog despite the low offensive output.

Hauschka is still dealing with his right hip injury which is described as soreness. It appeared he was able to perform all his kicking duties without compensation and this should not change Sunday’s outlook. It is unknown what Matthews is dealing with in his knee, but as he missed last game and was limited after today’s practice, this is a positive sign. It was mentioned in the past he has dealt with tendonitis which is still a possibility, but may have also been a mild knee sprain. Having Matthews back in the lineup if Benjamin is unable to suit up with gives QB Tyrod Taylor another weapon he is more comfortable with.

Thompson is limited with an ankle that was rolled up on attempting to catch a pass and was able to limp off. I anticipate that he will play Sunday with a heavily taped ankle and some good painkillers. Tolbert continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury sustained in the Saints game. However, with the performance of RB Tarvaris Cadet backing up RB LeSean McCoy, this may allow Tolbert to rest another week to ensure a full recovery.

Finally, those dealing with injury but able to practice in full include WR Andre Holmes (ankle) and S Micah Hyde (knee). This is promising as there was concern that Hyde would be limited following injury his knee during a tackle late in the game. Practicing in full indicates that these injuries are not worrisome and should not affect performance for Sunday.

One interesting note, typically Wednesday’s are reserved for veteran rest days and there were none listed. It may be possible that the veteran’s didn’t require a rest day or that McDermott wants to push these guys extra to shore up the weaknesses seen over the past several weeks. Either way, none of the injuries are severe, none are key losses which includes Benjamin as Tyrod has not built up the consistency that he has with his other receivers.

If this team has a playoff push in them, they have to win this next game in the always hostile Arrowhead Stadium and continue to stay relatively healthy. This roster is not snake bitten and if some of the flaws can be reduced, this team can play at a higher level than what we have seen. As Bills fans know, we continue to remain eternally optimistic and frequently let down. Things will change though; probably not this season, but this mediocrity has to end at some point.

Continue to check back for breaking news and game day updates/assessments by following me at @kyletrimble88 on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 11 Injury Breakdown- Chargers

Detailing the injuries prior to the LA Chargers game.

The Bills continue to make moves that make the fan base question the process. Sean McDermott benched starting QB Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie QB Nathan Peterman, this year’s 5th round draft pick. This is curious as the Bills are sitting in the last wild card spot, owning a 5-4 record, and create many questions about the reason behind the decision. However, unless you’ve been under a rock, Tyrod has been awful the past 2 games against the Jets and Saints, exposing the Bills as a possible playoff pretender and into a potential free fall. With the Chargers game coming up and the season potentially slipping away, I do applaud the Bills for attempting to make a change instead of running with a system that is shaky as best and awful at worst. Whatever the decision is, I will trust the process. I believe in year’s past, changes would have not been made and success would have continued to elude this team.

Despite the Bills making this big change behind center, today’s post will once again be focused on the injury report, which unsurprisingly, grows longer as the season progresses. Starting off, LB Lorenzo Alexander, DT Kyle Williams, G Richie Incognitio, and RB LeSean McCoy did not practice yesterday due to a veteran rest day. TE Charles Clay (knee) was limited in practice due to a knee issue which I am quite confident that is related to the original injury that kept him out prior to this game. He is possibly dealing with some mild swelling due to the recent surge in activity, but I do not believe that he re-injured the knee. From my vantage point, it did appear that he was wearing some prophylactic bracing under his pants during the game as expected to decrease the injury risk.

Others not practicing today includes OT Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), K Stephen Hauschka (right hip) and RB Mike Tolbert (hamstring). There is no surprise with Glenn as he has been dealing with his injuries all season. Tolbert is dealing with a hamstring injury which is unknown in severity. I did not see him leave the game or was limited with any of his runs. Hopefully this is not a long term issue as has been the issue with E.J. Gaines.

Hauschka did not practice secondary to a sore right hip which is the leg he kicks with. As Hauschka only deals with kickoffs and field goals, there is limited ability and time for him to injure his hip. Thankfully, kickers do not have to practice much so missing a day is not concerning. The Bills do not have any kickers on the practice squad, but training camp kicker Austin Rehkow is still a free agent and may be an option if Hauschka is unable to go Sunday.

Hughes did not practice yesterday and was limited today, but has been reclassified as a shin/calf injury which does open the door for a variety of other injuries including calf strain, foot flexor tendon injury, or a soleus strain. Considering that his position requires so much energy to push off around the edge, it is common to see a calf strain from time to time. If not managed correctly, this could develop into a tendonitis and could lead to further damage, but the training staff will not let it get to that. As Hughes is also a veteran, limiting him in practice may have been proactive to ensure proper rest and rehab.

Others limited in practice are WR Jordan Matthews (knee) and G John Miller (ankle). Miller is an interesting addition as he has not been active for several games with the recent improved play from G Vlad Ducasse. It is unknown what Miller is dealing with and the fact that he has not been active doesn’t warrant any concern.

Matthews is a new addition to the report after dealing with a thumb fracture earlier this season. There has not been any reports that he sustained any damage or had to leave early but there is concern for a re-aggravation of the knee tendonitis that he was dealing with when in Eagles training camp this season. Tendonitis is an issue that can continue to rear it’s ugly head even after clearing up the original symptoms. Tendonitis is an overuse injury due to repeated microtrauma to the area. If you would like to read more on the issue, please check out my previous article.

When dealing with tendonitis, this is something that a time frame can’t be definitively placed on. He could deal with this the rest of the season or could clear up with proper rehab and rest. This is something that can be played through, but pain may limit the ability to play at full strength.

Finally, WR Zay Jones and CB E.J. Gaines were full participants at practice which is an excellent sign. I originally thought that Jones sustained a high ankle sprain based on the mechanism of his injury during the Jets game, however, it appears he avoided this diagnosis. I did note that I believed that he may have sustained a regular ankle sprain as part of the differential diagnosis. Either way, Zay continues to progress back sooner than expected and this will be an extra weapon for Peterman come Sunday. As a disclaimer, I am only as good as the video available and the reports that surface.

As for Gaines, the fact that he is at full practice on a Thursday indicates that he will be starting Sunday. After seeing what the Saints did to the Bills defense this past Sunday, he is a welcome addition. As of right now, he is at a very high risk for re-injury due to his recent injuries and style of play, but if he is healthy, there is no reason that he is unable to contribute to the secondary.

As stated multiple times this season, the Bills continue to avoid the major injury bug. The Bills have four players on IR: TE Keith Towbridge, S Colt Anderson, RB Taiwan Jones, and WR Jerry Butler. This isn’t a group of players that strike fear into any team. They are still in better shape than other teams and while the team is not performing as expected, the depth that has been there since the beginning of training camp will be key down the stretch if they continue to be in the hunt for that long elusive playoff spot.

As a fan, I’m disappointed in how the team has played the past two games despite the hot start. I will still trust the process and know that McDermott is making decisions to better the current situation. I know complaining won’t change the current situation but will continue to have opinions because we are all entitled to that. If the Bills lose to the Chargers Sunday, then the season may be over. If they win, we’ll see what happens. The Drought has to end sometime, with how this season has been going, why not roll the dice?

Continue to check back with the latest articles and updates. For the latest and game day updates, follow me on Twitter at @kyletrimble88. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!