Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- LB

Assessing the LB positional injury review from the 2017 season.

Continuing this off-season is the positional injury review’s of this past season for the Buffalo Bills. Today’s review focuses on the LB position. This was a position of weakness during the 2017 season which was horrendous against the run. Whether this is good or bad, most of the unit returns along with some new faces which allow for greater depth. There was a total of 6 players to suit up at the position with a wide variance of statistical success.

First man up is LB Lorenzo Alexander. The elder statesman of the corps managed to stay incredibly healthy during this past season. He was a frequent participant on the injury report requiring weekly rest days but never for a specific injury. The 34 year old, undrafted free agent out of California has spent 11 years in the league playing a variety of positions which may explain why he has such staying power. His ability to adapt to a variety of positions including offensive tackle, tight end, defensive tackle, linebacker, defensive end, and fullback along with special teams. This has forced him to pay close attention to his body and how it operates to adjust to the demands of the positions which I believe has allowed him to stay in the league as long as he has. Despite being one of the older players on the field, he is still able to produce with 3 sacks, 53 tackles with 12 assisted, and 3 forced fumbles. Unless there are a number of linebackers that impress the coaching staff, expect Alexander to remain on the roster in 2018 and continue to be productive.

Next up is LB Preston Brown. The 4th year LB had an incredibly productive season, leading the NFL in tackles with 144 total tackles, 84 solo and 60 assisted and adding in 3 forced fumbles. Brown also thankfully avoided the injury report which is why he was able to be so productive. Despite his availability and production, the Bills did not resign him in free agency, allowing him to sign with his hometown Cincinnati Bengals. While his production is lost, the Bills at least addressed the positional need through the draft with LB Tremaine Edmunds.

Adding the veteran presence of LB Ramon Humber brought mixed opinions from pundits as the veteran has been around the league for 10 years now playing for Indianapolis, New Orleans, and most recently Buffalo. As a 30 year old linebacker, he was able to produce 56 solo tackles, 27 assisted with 1 forced fumble while playing in 13 games and starting 9. Humber only suffered a broken thumb in the win over the Falcons in November, had surgery to stabilize the area, and then proceeded to miss 3 games. During that time, rookie LB Matt Milano stepped in and overtook his starting position, leading Humber to be a depth player, typically what he has been his entire career. The thumb won’t cause any issues coming into the 2018 season but due to his age and ability, he may find himself a camp cut unless he impresses the coaching staff.

Speaking of LB Matt Milano, the rookie 5th round pick out of Boston College impressed many this season with his ability to step up in place of the injured Humber. The rookie saw time in all 16 games and started 5. Milano was able to collect 29 tackles with 14 assists along with a forced fumble with return for a TD and added in 1 interception. While he is not the linebacker that McDermott envisions to run his defense, he has shown the ability to be aware on the field as evident by the statistics he collected this season. Injury wise, Milano stayed relatively healthy, only suffering hamstring injuries early in the season in September and then a more severe injury to the hamstring which kept him out of the playoff loss in Jacksonville. It is unknown whether this was the same side or two separate injuries. As hamstrings are soft tissue and can heal fully, he should not have any setbacks going into this season. He is still a young player and adjusting to the NFL which could put him at risk to develop further hamstring or chronic injuries, but as he sat out the last game and was able to rest, I do not believe this to be the case. Expect Milano to pick up where he left off and continue to produce in 2018.

Rounding out the linebacking corps is LB Deon Lacey and LB Tanner Vallejo. Lacy was largely ineffective, totaling only 1 tackle and spending most of his time on special teams. During his rookie season, he suffered hamstring early in the season and did not appear to re-injure it later. The coaching staff will most likely decide his fate as he was primarily special teams player. As for Vallejo, his rookie season got off to a slow start with a knee injury late in the preseason. After that, most of his playing time was in special teams with no stats recorded on defense. As he was a draft pick of this regime, I expect him to find a place on this roster for next season.

This finishes out the players who suited up at linebacker for the Bills in 2017. The LB position demonstrate significant turnover with my picks of Alexander and Milano locks to return to the roster and Humber and Vallejo competing for backup jobs. Lacey will find himself out of a job unless he impresses in camp. Add in 1st round draft pick LB Tremaine Edmunds out of VA Tech along with UDFA LB Corey Thompson out of LSU and practice squad member LB Xavier Woodson-Luster will help reshape this position drastically.

Continue to check back at Banged Up Bills for the latest news updates and articles on the Buffalo Bills. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook and on Twitter @BangedUpBills. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 2 Injury Breakdown- Panthers

Breaking down the Bills injury report for Week 2 against the Panthers.

Going into Week 2, the Bills continue to look healthy as they travel down to North Carolina to battle McDermott/Beane’s former employer, the Carolina Panthers. While the Bills are not immune to injuries, they still continue to look better than other teams around the league injury wise, losing no big pieces such as the Chiefs and Jaguars did last week.

Breaking down the injury report, DT Jerel Worthy is still out with a concussion from the preseason game against the Lions on 8/31. As he is not practicing, he is still most likely in the early stages of the concussion protocol, most likely on Level 2-3 at best. To refresh, he may be cleared to begin light aerobic activity with watching game film and participating in team meetings. He may also be cleared for lifting and increasing intensity with aerobic activity. Considering he has not been moved to IR with designation to return, it appears as though he is continuing to recover and may be ready by Week 3-4. The fact that he has not recovered as quickly as Tyrod Taylor did indicates that it may be a more severe concussion; also consider positional demands. Though he is not a starting player, he is crucial for depth and can continue to provide effective play in place of the starters.

Those limited in practice are as follows: S Colt Anderson (foot), CB Leonard Johnson (quad) and LB Tanner Vallejo (knee). Thankfully, none of these players are starters, but for a team to be successful, they must have depth. Colt Anderson has rarely seen the field since joining the Bills last year. He has been described as a special teams ace, but has yet to show his array of skills so far. Considering that he has not been outright waived yet, this indicates that the team will continue to wait for his recovery. As for what is ailing him, professionally, I have been unable to truly assess as there is no film or detailed description of injury on him. Leonard Johnson is listed with a quad; due to the position and demands, possibly could be a quad contusion, which is typically known as a deep bruise. This would limit running forward/backwards and prevent planting effectively to perform coverage duties in the secondary. Finally, Tanner Vallejo is listed as a knee and continues to be limited. Early in the preseason, Vallejo sustained a shoulder injury which knocked him out for several preseason games. It is unknown when Vallejo sustained his knee injury, but it was reported that he had a knee scope which indicates that he may have had fraying of the meniscus or a loose body, causing pain and discomfort. As a knee scope is a surgical procedure, as minimal as it is, will still require rehab and rest. He will have to ensure that his knee does not swell up frequently and can adjust to game time activity. Regardless, this is not a good start to Vallejo’s rookie campaign.

Those cleared for full practice were as follows: TE Charles Clay (shoulder), CB E.J. Gaines (shoulder), OT Cordy Glenn (foot), RB LeSean McCoy (wrist/groin), and FB Mike Tolbert (knee). In my previous article, Gaines and McCoy sustained injuries in the win over the Jets that knocked McCoy out briefly and knocked Gaines out for the game. Gaines’ injury was not reported to be serious and does not appear to have any long lasting effects. McCoy is worrisome as he is the force that drives the offense. McCoy stated after the game that he did not injure his wrist severely, but that it went numb briefly during the previous run into the end zone. It has also been reported later that he is dealing with a groin injury that was most likely sustained in practice. While he is a full participant, this is still something that must be watched due to requiring the groin to be ready for bursts and cutting, moves especially crucial to any running back.

Other injuries including Glenn, Tolbert, and Clay do not appear to be serious. While Glenn continues to have issues with his foot, it appears to now be different from the ankle injuries he dealt with at the beginning of training camp. There is not much information regarding the exact ailment; he is able to play, splitting time with Dion Dawkins to keep both lineman fresh and healthy. Clay and Tolbert did not appear to be removed from the Jets game for injury, possibly indicating that they are banged up due to the physical nature of the game. As practice is important, rest is more important. Teams under the current CBA are allowed 14 padded practices during the first 11 weeks of the season and coaches are not required to use all of them. I believe that McDermott will limit padded practices and provide maintenance days for veterans, focusing on proper play calling, technique, and keeping everyone healthy to maintain depth.

The Bills certainly have a winnable game later today. Cam Newton is coming off a rotator cuff tear repair which should not limit him physically, but the rust was evident in Week 1. Add in the fact that McDermott knows the nuances of the Carolina defense and personnel, expect to see the Bills to exploit those weaknesses. Continue to look for updates after the game with injury review, analysis around the league of significant injuries, and any other big news. Thank you for your time and Go Bills!

Football Is Back!

Breaking down the Bills performance and noted injuries after the first preseason game.

Football is back! The Buffalo Bills played the Minnesota Vikings last night in a 7 pm tilt at New Era Field to a 17-10 loss where we were able to finally see the McDermott era begin. While this is preseason and there isn’t much to take away from this first game, we do get to see who is ready for game time action and how some of the new acquired pieces are fitting together. While I did not watch the entire game, I was impressed with what the first team units were able to produce. Eddie Yarbrough was solid in his debut in a Bills uniform, constantly pressuring the QB and recording a solid sack filling in for the injured Shaq Lawson, out with a groin injury. Nathan Peterman moved the offense along and got the team back into contention with his first passing TD to Dez Lewis towards the end, though came up short. The running game continues to remain a strong focus of the offense, looking especially effective with Jonathan Williams and Mike Tolbert barreling through the line picking up solid yardage. Tyrod Taylor looked excellent getting the ball to Sammy Watkins, who showed no hitch in his step hauling in several catches before his day was done.

But Dr. Trimble, you stated this would be a blog about Buffalo Bills football injuries? Indeed it is reader! I would like to note that the Bills got through this game without any significant injuries. Prior to the game, it was reported that Shaq Lawson, Cordy Glenn, Kevon Seymour, Jeremy Butler, and Ryan Davis would be held out due to a variety of ailments, none that I expect are long term issues. Lawson, Glenn, and Seymour held out as a precaution; Butler and Davis still currently in the concussion protocol.

Thankfully, no serious injuries or concerns were noted for the Bills during the post game. Injuries to note were Tyrod Taylor exiting the game early to be evaluated by the training staff and quickly returning to the game. Also reported was Jonathan Williams exiting the game with a hamstring injury which was described as “very minor”. Expect Williams to either sit out a practice or two at most, but not to miss any extended time or even the next game based on current analysis.

The final player to leave the game for the Bills was LB Tanner Vallejo, the team’s 2017 6th round draft pick, with a shoulder injury. It is currently unknown which play injured Vallejo. As he was deemed questionable and then downgraded to out signifies that it is not a serious injury. Quite possibly, Vallejo landed hard on his shoulder during a play, leading to a slight AC sprain, which if not addressed right away, can worsen with continued play. With it being a preseason game, there wasn’t any incentive to put him back in and cause further injury. I expect Vallejo to possibly sit out several practices and restrict direct contact for the time being. At worst, he will miss a game as a precaution, but I do not expect this injury to keep him sidelined for long.

Unlike the Dolphins and Jets, who have sustained significant and long term injuries to key players, the Bills have not been bitten by the injury bug so far this training camp. As a Bills fan, I find that I am an eternal optimist with the team expectations at the beginning of each season. However, I do expect some guys to get banged up or miss some time. The NFL is a rough sport, players will get hurt. If this first game was any indication, things are looking good. Performances like this will allow the Bills to minimize injuries going into the season opener with the starters healthy and finally having the depth they’ve lacked on the roster for several years.