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!!