Week 9 Recap- Jets & Zay’s Knee

Analysis of Zay Jones’ knee injury, Taiwan’s forearm, and a recap following the Jets game.

Whether you are a Bills fan or not, reading this, Thursday night was not a good game. Period. The offense never got moving until it was too late, the defense made Josh McCown look fantastic, and the Bills let one slip through their fingers. They’re now 5-3, 1 game back in the AFC East and currently holding the 1st wild card spot. Despite what the Bills fan base says after this loss, the sky is not falling. Every divisional game every year is a grind it out close game due to rivalry and pride. At the end of the day, the Bills came up short and now we will see how they respond. Last time they started 5-2, they lost 7 straight games. I don’t think this team is capable of a losing streak of that magnitude, but many men before me have been wrong.
Getting down to the injury side of things, it was one of the more rougher nights for the Bills this season. Several key players were returning from injury on a short week and several more key players sustained injury. First up is RB LeSean McCoy. McCoy injured his groin on the first offensive series of the game and had to leave briefly. McCoy was able to return shortly afterward but anyone could tell that he wasn’t the same. He lacked explosiveness, inability to cut hard, and unable to move the ball, rushing for only 25 yards. McCoy is the engine to our offense and if he goes down, then losses to the Jets are what happen. I don’t believe this will be a lingering issue as he was able to play the entire game and he has 10 days to rest. To add, he was able to run and perform some cutting, but lost the explosiveness he is known for. I would categorize this as a Grade 1 groin strain which should heal with proper management.
Next injury is WR Zay Jones. Jones suffered a right knee injury after being tripped late in the 2nd quarter. While trying to regain his footing and preventing falling down, Jones stepped awkwardly and hyperextended his knee, falling to the ground immediately. Upon initial observation, one may think ACL. The mechanism for injury was there but Jones avoided that. It appears as though he sustained a hyperextended knee, similar to what Bryce Harper sustained during this past MLB season. It is unknown whether he sustained a bone bruise similar to Harper but further evaluation is required.

Jones was remarkably able to return and play the rest of the game, hauling in several more passes before being injured again in the 4th quarter. There are several reasons why Jones was able to avoid the dreaded ACL tear. First, the knee acts as a hinge, similar to what is seen in a door. The knee bends and extends fully but with various forces, can go past their normal limits. In Jones case, his knee extended further than typically what is available. This injury happened due to the fact that he planted his right foot, attempting to stay upright while falling forward, leading to the joint to give.
Jones avoided a worse injury due to the fact that he was falling forward as he was planting his leg. His ankle joint was able to absorb some of the force, with the foot initially going into plantarflexion or pointed downward to stabilize as his knee was bending back. Thankfully, his foot did come up off the turf into dorsiflexion or bending up as he fell forward. Had his foot been stuck more in the turf or been hit directly through the knee, the injury would have been worse. Finally, it helps that he was not able to pivot to change directions laterally, leading to preservation of the ACL. In injuries such as this, there is concern for the PCL which prevents the knee from going backwards like that, but as he was able to return, it does not appear that he tore the PCL. There is concern for a PCL sprain or bone bruise upon further examination, but with the extended break, it may be inconsequential. As there is no updated information at this time noting severity, it is unknown whether he will miss any time. Chances are he won’t, but too early to tell. Either way, Zay Jones caught a very lucky break Thursday.
I’m overall surprised that he was able to return to the game and continue to run effectively after the injury. I believe that our medical staff would not put a player back out there that could risk further injury especially at a high level position. I did observe him wearing a compression sleeve but no bulky bracing which will assist for any swelling but provide minimal support.
Finally, Taiwan Jones got injured while trying to recover an onside kick late in the 4th quarter. Upon getting up to a seated position, the medical staff was supporting Jones’ left elbow indicating possible elbow injury or shoulder. Replays show that his arm got caught up in the pile and a helmet crashing into his forearm during the onside recovery. Unfortunately, reports indicated that Taiwan Jones fractured his forearm and will be done for the season.
A fracture is quite simple in terms of injury severity. A bone is broken at some point in the structure leading to instability and significant pain. Jones did not sustain a fracture which protruded through the skin which allows for the management to be more conservative. He will possibly require surgery depending on the severity and complexity of the fracture. He could hypothetically come back if they pushed recovery, but it is a bigger bone compared to what Jordan Matthews and Ramon Humber sustained and would require extra stability. Had this been McCoy or Taylor, it may be considered to push for a return. While Jones is an important part of the team, he is not what drives the offense. Placing him on IR will allow the Bills to bring in a new player to gain experience to provide depth and try out for next year.
As the Bills have an extended break between games, this allows these injuries to have a greater chance to get healthy with the exception of Taiwan Jones. As I’ve said before, no NFL team is immune from injury. The Bills are doing incredibly well with avoiding serious injury. However, despite that luck, the Bills still have to win those games that are winnable to turn things around for long term success. Going into the Saints game, while their offense continues to be high powered, their defense is suspect and will be playing at New Era Stadium which will provide a favorable atmosphere for the Bills to go 5-0 at home.

It has been reported that TE Charles Clay and CB E.J. Gaines should be returning from injury. It is surprising that Clay is able to return quicker than originally thought, but is a welcome addition. Gaines returning will provide an immediate upgrade to our secondary that without him, may be exploited by Drew Brees and the Saints.

Continue to check back for updates and new articles regarding Bills injuries and other topics of interest. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!

Week 5 Injury Breakdown- Bengals

Assessing the latest injuries prior to the showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals and how it affects depth.

The injury list continues to grow for the Buffalo Bills heading into the Week 5 match up against the Cincinnati Bengals. While the only notable players that are sure to be out are LB Ramon Humber and WR Jordan Matthews, there are still many others that are dealing with injuries. Most of these injuries appear to be players getting banged up due to the rigors of the NFL season.

Today’s article will review most everyone that has appeared on the injury list this week and attempt to determine the true severity of each player’s injury. Staring off with players who have not been limited in practice with injuries are as follows: RB LeSean McCoy (wrist), RB Mike Tolbert (thumb), and DT Jerel Worthy (thumb). It was observed that Mike Tolbert injured his hand at the end of the 3rd quarter which led to a fumble that Buffalo recovered. It is unknown how Jerel Worthy injured his thumb, but it was injured enough to appear on the injury report. Both players most likely sustained sprained thumbs which will affect play, but with proper management which may consist of taping for stability or even a wrist brace to reduce risk for further re-injury.

McCoy continues to appear weekly on the injury report due to a nagging wrist injury sustained in the season opener. While he continues to be a full participant, it does worry me that he continues to re-injure this wrist. He has been observed leaving each game briefly due to wrist pain after running the ball. He appears to jam it while cradling the ball, leading to pain and possible weakness. He could tape the wrist or wear a brace, but this limits the ability to cradle the football and effectively block. I expect him to miss some time during the game due to wrist re-injury, but the upcoming bye week may allow him to get the rest he requires to prevent worsening of the injury.

Those limited in practice were WR Kaelin Clay (back), DT Marcell Dareus (ankle), CB E.J. Gaines (groin), OT Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), CB Shareece Wright (back), DE Eddie Yarbrough (thigh), DT Kyle Williams (thumb), S Micah Hyde (knee), and DE Shaq Lawson (groin). Glenn continues to deal with his chronic foot/ankle injuries and Dareus is still recovering from his sprained ankle, which is consistent with this type of injury. Lawson injured his groin last week in practice and missed the Atlanta game.

Kyle Williams thumb injury may be similar to Jerel Worthy’s injury in that it may have been sprained due to the hand fighting that a defensive lineman performs during each play, getting the thumb hyperextended or caught. Williams is tough as nails and won’t let something like this slow him down. Shareece Wright and Kaelin Clay’s back injuries are injuries that not much information is available. This may be something that occurred during practice or something that is nagging. Considering that the spine is made up of bones, ligaments, and tendon attachments, it is quite possible they pulled a muscle, over rotated, or extended; causing pain and difficulty during tackling, running, and changing direction.

Eddie Yarbrough and Taiwan Jones also have little information regarding the nature of their injuries. These may be just contusions and limit the ability to go full speed, but do not concern me about underlying issues. Yarbrough continues to be a diamond in the rough, playing exceptionally well and Jones handles kickoff duties, which affect more game play rather than another body on the sidelines.

Finally, E.J. Gaines and Micah Hyde are questionable along with Cordy Glenn and Shareece Wright. As mentioned last article, Gaines’ groin severity is unknown at this moment, the team may take the approach that they did with Lawson last week and see how he feels going into the game, shutting him down if things don’t feel right. Micah Hyde is dealing with a knee injury that was not noted until Thursday afternoon. It was initially reported that he was dealing with general soreness which has since been narrowed down to a knee issue. This may be as simple as a sprain which he needs to rehab correctly or it may be something worse that the team wants to see how it responds before taking further action. Without video, it is impossible to speculate what specific injury may be ailing him. Losing Hyde going into the Bengals game will be a huge loss in the secondary considering the offensive weapons the Bengals have and several injuries already in the Buffalo secondary.

If this game were to be a non-conference opponent, I expect more players to be out include the above mentioned Glenn, Hyde, Wright, and Gaines. As the Bills would benefit from winning every game, it is more important to win the conference games if it comes down to tiebreakers at the end for playoff seeding. Excluding Gaines, I expect all the players listed above to play. Some of these players may see a limited snap count such as Dareus did last week. It remains to be seen if his snap count is limited secondary to discipline or whether they want to ensure that the ankle heals correctly. I am in favor of limiting snap counts in order to get the best players on the field.

I believe this game is winnable with the way the defense is playing, simple as that. How things play out with the questionable players, along with Ramon Humber’s and Jordan Matthews’ replacements will dictate the quality of play. McDermott and Beane have constantly been addressing depth and finding the type of players that fit their schemes, which in turn should reduce the drop off in quality of play dealing with replacement players.

Continue to check back for injury updates after the game and break down roster depth, injuries heading into the bye, and any injury highlights from around the league. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!