2020 Divisional Round Bills Injury Review- Ravens

How serious are the injuries from Sunday’s game? What is going on with Patrick Mahomes?

Being a Bills fan all these years, you kept hoping that they’d eventually be good again. Now it’s here, it still doesn’t feel real. It really is a weird feeling that the Buffalo Bills are in the AFC Championship game and one win away from a Super Bowl after beating the Baltimore Ravens 17-3 Saturday night.

They move on to play the Kansas City Chiefs dealing with several minor injuries that are worth looking at prior to Sunday night. However, the huge storyline will be whether Patrick Mahomes will be able to play following entering the concussion protocol Sunday that allowed the Cleveland Browns to almost come back and win. All the Bills injuries and thoughts on Mahomes are below.

In-Game Injuries:

DT Vernon Butler (Left foot)

Butler exited the game briefly halfway through the 1st quarter, only observed limping off to the sidelines to get looked at by training staff. Upon video review, it appeared that he had his left foot stepped on during the play. 

He left briefly to get it checked out but came back and likely played through pain for a majority of the game. He likely had x-rays to rule out any fractures, but it may be more pain than anything. 

According to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, Butler didn’t play the entire 4th quarter though that may have been by design rather than injury. It doesn’t appear that he should miss the game but he potentially could be limited in practice this week.

WR Gabriel Davis (Right ankle) 

Davis injured his right ankle trying to extend out for a touchdown catch midway through the 2nd quarter. He came up limping and briefly exited the game, eventually designated as questionable with an ankle injury.

Based on video, this could be a low inversion ankle sprain. He may have also jammed his ankle when his forefoot struck the ground. He was at times in obvious discomfort throughout the game and wasn’t as much of a factor for the remainder.

I would expect him to be limited this week but play Sunday. Having the extra day to rest does help things but tape and toughness will help him get through this latest injury.

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

Allen once again scared everyone when he went down late in the 3rd quarter, pounding the ground in obvious discomfort. Upon review, he injured his right leg in a similar fashion as to when he injured it in the Chargers game. The stress through his right leg is significantly less compared to the previous injury.

It looks like he stressed the knee more so than the ankle since the foot came up off the turf as he went down. He could be wearing a knee brace again next week or he may not need it. What might have helped was the previous injury to the area giving more flexibility to the tissue as it’s still remodeling and healing. 

Allen has played through much worse injuries and thus one won’t change his availability for Sunday. 

TE Reggie Gilliam (Left leg)

Gilliam went down on kickoff following the Taron Johnson interception for a touchdown, quickly requiring the attention of trainers upon going down. His left leg was worked out on the field and left once the defense took the field. He missed the next offensive series before returning, lining up as a fullback.

Considering he came back so quickly especially after dealing with a hamstring injury earlier this season, it’s possible he was dealing with some cramping. He was moving without hesitation supporting that this may be the case. I don’t foresee that he shows up on the injury report and I expect that he’s available for Sunday. 

Other injury observations:

K Tyler Bass (Right hand) 

Bass didn’t get injured but it was noted that he injured his right hand in practice, clarifying the injury report from last week. It looks like a brace on the hand but it didn’t impact his ability to perform. This is really just something to note to clarify to what we already know. 

RB Devin Singletary (Hamstring)

There were reports that Singletary was holding his hamstring following his last carry with 2:41 left in the 4th quarter, limping to the sidelines. He did fall down to his right as though he slipped while he tried to make his cut. Looking at the video, there really isn’t much to look at. He is observed walking around post-game without any noticeable limp or requiring any assistance. It is possible that he was also dealing with cramping, but there doesn’t appear to be anything definitive. If he shows up on the injury report, then we at least know when it occurred. 

QB Patrick Mahomes (Concussion protocol/toe)

Disclaimer: There is more information that must be known throughout the week and will be updated as needed.

Quite possibly the biggest news story of the NFL playoffs, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes exited the divisional round game to be evaluated for a concussion following getting twisted down by Mack Wilson

Considering the possibility of a concussion could prevent Mahomes from playing Sunday, this is enormous in terms of whether the Bills can make the Super Bowl. From what we see right now, I have no idea whether he will play Sunday. Below are several statements regarding concussions and concussion protocol to better understand this process.

  • If someone is evaluated for a concussion but passes, they can return to the game. But if they pass, it doesn’t mean that it is automatic. If the player exhibits something out of character or still shows questionable symptoms, they can be held out as a precaution.
  • Once Mahomes enters the concussion protocol, he has to still pass through the protocol to be cleared to play. Even if he doesn’t officially have a concussion. This also prevents Mahomes from talking to the media and does allow the Chiefs to keep the Bills on their toes as to whether he will play. 
Credit: NFL
  • Most concussions take anywhere from 7-10 days but can take significantly longer to recover from based on a variety of factors. If he does not have a concussion, then that could affect his return to play timeline, but we won’t know until he is cleared. 
  • The doctors, medical staff, players, family, team, etc. will not try to game the system in order to get him to play. If he plays, he’s good to go, if he’s not, then he’s not. There’s no gray area with this decision.

We simply need more information on his head injury and see how he responds in practice this week. As for his toe, that’s where things are a little more clear. He injured the left toe when he was swung backwards on his second touchdown of the day, planting his left foot behind him, bending the toe back suddenly. He was quickly evaluated on the sidelines and eventually returned. He is likely dealing with turf toe based on the area the team was looking at and reports coming out.

He may be limited with general mobility, but this won’t affect him as a passer and only really affect him as a runner, though this late in the year, he was going to play no matter what. It also appears mild enough that it’s just another thing to play through. 

Credit: SPTNY.com

If this hasn’t already felt like the longest week ever, it certainly is considering this article is being released on Tuesday. Take a deep breath and watch the injury reports this week. I expect the Bills to put whoever they can on the report for gamesmanship. I expect Mahomes to be in concussion protocol all week. Things won’t be clear until Friday/Saturday and even then, there still may be uncertainty. Regardless of who plays and who doesn’t play, the Bills have already and will have to continue to beat extremely talented teams to make it to the Super Bowl and win. Enjoy the moment, it’s been a long wait.

Top Photo Credit: Pro Football Focus

2020 Week 17 Bills Injury Review- Dolphins

Are there any injury concerns from Sunday?

Just start calling the Buffalo Bills “Rawhide”! Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’, Rawhide!!! That’s all they seem to do over these past few weeks, Rollin’ over anyone that is in their way, hanging 142 points over the last 3 games on their way to 13-3. This was really a point of emphasis with a 56-26 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday.

This is simply incredible football that we are watching and it sure is fun! I always had this prevailing thought that they would be good again, but it’s here now and it’s really exciting. To see what this team has done not observed in 30 years and they continue to improve is scary. 

On top of that, they enter the postseason with very few injuries after dealing with many around midseason. In fact, they’ve only lost one starter in Cody Ford to a season-ending injury and have weathered many others with their incredible depth. Below are the injuries from Sunday, though it is important to note that the team only reported one injury for the entire day. 

CB Taron Johnson (right shoulder)

Johnson appeared to injure his right shoulder while trying to tackle Durham Smythe early in the game and unfortunately hit Matt Milano’s upper right thigh. He was down briefly while trainers assessed him before coming off for part of the first quarter.

Johnson briefly went to the medical tent to be examined before later returning. The fact that he returned to the game rather quickly indicates that there isn’t much going on other than recovering from a hard hit. He certainly could have had his neck jarred or had the wind knocked out of him, but there doesn’t appear to be any long term concerns for Saturday. 

LB Matt Milano (upper right thigh)

Milano got hit on the upper right thigh area tackling Durham Smythe before fellow teammate Taron Johnson hit him with his right shoulder. Milano was walking gingerly briefly before returning for the next play. 

He didn’t miss time, he will probably be sore, but there doesn’t appear to be anything limiting him for the playoff game. Just a hard hit that’s part of football. 

G Jon Feliciano (left knee)

Feliciano briefly limped around early in the 2nd quarter following a routine running play in the red zone. He continued his block as Zack Moss passed him and as the play began to end, a Dolphins defender rolled into the outside portion of his left leg, knocking him over.

He did not miss any snaps for the remainder of the drive which resulted in the Bills first touchdown of the day. Like all the other injuries, this doesn’t appear to be much of anything to be concerned about for Saturday. 

S Siran Neal (concussion check)

Neal briefly left the game following a knee to the head while trying to tackle DeVante Parker late in the 3rd quarter. The team assessed him for a concussion due to the hit by using his head to take out Parker’s left leg and initially requiring the training staff to meet him on the field. Fortunately, he returned 5 minutes later and resumed playing without missing a beat. 

The only other concern was when Stefon Diggs got hit from behind after he had already slid down midway through the 2nd quarter. Christian Wilkins came in late and hit Diggs on the back of the head, momentarily causing concern for a concussion. Thankfully, Diggs popped right back up and was also able to draw an unnecessary roughness call on Wilkins to continue the drive. 

The Bills did sit some starters and played others through the half which fortunately did not cause any injuries. This also allowed them to keep focused and in their routine for the playoffs.

Overall, this injury report should look pretty clean heading into Saturday’s matchup against the Colts. I expect Cole Beasley and Reggie Gilliam to be on the report with their respective injuries with a close eye on Beasley’s participation availability. Slight chance that Johnson and Feliciano make an appearance, but I don’t see their injuries being significant. Of course, there’s always surprises too. 

It’s the playoffs, Beasley has a chance to play. His practice participation will likely dictate whether he does. The team has indicated that Isaiah McKenzie can fill in for Beasley in the slot which may allow Beasley to get another week off which would be beneficial if it is indeed a meniscal tear of quadricep strain as I had speculated before. 

This will be a short week practice wise and much more will be known by Thursday. Enjoy the week Bills Mafia, this is what we’ve dreamed of for years.

Top Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta/BillsWire-USA Today 

2020 Week 15 Bills Injury Review- Broncos

How serious is Diggs’ foot injury? What is the latest on Williams, White, and Roberts?

The Buffalo Bills are the 2020 AFC East Champions! That is incredibly satisfying to type, say/hear, read. I’d imagine that tasting a cold Labatt Blue at a tailgate bonfire would give you the final senses of enjoying what this means. It’s been a long 25 years and is another step towards the ultimate goals of a Super Bowl championship for the franchise. Division titles may not be that important to other franchises, but the Bills are not like other franchises. They are the Buffalo Bills, a team with a goal, and division titles with home playoff games are the building blocks.

While the Bills took care of business 48-19 over the Denver Broncos, there were numerous injuries that certainly had the fan base worried on Twitter. Not all the injury news is bad, but there are quite a few heading into Monday night against the New England Patriots. Below are all the publicly known injuries from Saturday.

TE Reggie Gilliam (knee)

Gilliam suffered a knee injury sometime in the 2nd or 3rd quarter and was initially ruled probable to return. It’s not clear when he suffered the knee injury or what he exactly did. My suspicion is that he injured it on a special teams play and was tended to by trainers on the sidelines. The camera angles were awful on special teams Sunday which made finding this injury very difficult. 

He ultimately returned to the game and this doesn’t appear to be a significant issue moving forward. 

TE Dawson Knox (stinger)

Knox left the game briefly for the second time in two weeks with a stinger but was able to return. I had said last week that there was a slight concern that if this occurs again, this could pose a problem or signify that something more is going on, however, there is not any definitive facts to support this at the time. 

It’s not clear when he suffered the stinger, my guess is when caught a long pass with 3:08 left in the 2nd quarter. He was out there until the 2-minute warning but there isn’t a definitive time when he suffered the injury. 

Like last week, I am not certain that he will show up on the injury report with this. Stingers are typically transient and the fact that Knox ended up returning support that this isn’t serious. He does have extra time to rest as the Bills don’t play until Monday night.

OT Daryl Williams (groin)

The injury to Williams may be the most concerning of the bunch due to his position and type of injury. This injury occurred sometime early in the 3rd quarter on the second touchdown run by Josh Allen. It isn’t clear when he suffered the injury, either with 11:32 or 11:05 in the 3rd quarter. The play with 11:32 had Williams lateral stepping and externally rotating his legs which is a classic mechanism to injure the groin in keeping up with his block to keep Josh Allen clean and did not appear labored getting through the next play. The next play was the second Josh Allen rushing touchdown where Williams was in a pile of bodies as Allen snuck in on the right side.

Credit: TeachMeAnatomy.info

Williams did not return and veteran Ty Nsekhe played admirably through the rest of the game in place. I have noted that groin injuries are difficult to determine on film unless it is blatantly obvious.

Credit: WNYUrology

Per the research, Williams could be out anywhere from 8-20 days with the average time off of 14 days and return to play pain free within 3 week. The overall re-injury rate is 8% once returning to play. I don’t see him playing Monday night unless his practice report says otherwise. 

At this point, let him rest and get ready for the playoffs. This also allows Nsekhe to get some needed reps in case injury occurs in the postseason.

WR Andre Roberts (low back)

The versatile return man suffered a low back injury sometime in the 3rd quarter, though it isn’t obvious when he suffered the injury. He was only noted as having a low back injury when the team reported it after Micah Hyde began returning punts in his place. It was initially thought Roberts was benched due to his muffed catch which resulted in a Broncos score, but the injury ended his day.

On his last return before going out, he was tackled by 3 different Broncos players and appeared to take a good shot to the low back. This could be a simple contusion, back spasms, or something else not known without further examination.

He will be one to watch on the injury report whether he practices at all this week. He does have the extra time to rest with the Monday night game but this is going to be a wait and see. 

CB Tre’Davious White (stinger)

The veteran cornerback scared the fan base when he went down briefly following a routine tackle on Tim Patrick in the 4th quarter. 

On review, I had no idea what he had injured because the hit seemed so routine and clean. Looking at where the trainers were looking at and how he hit, it looked to be the right shoulder area where he suffered the stinger. 

He did suffer a stinger on what appeared to be the left side last year in the Steelers game, but last year’s stinger doesn’t appear to have any correlation with this most recent one. White must have hit just right that he sustained the injury but was able to quickly return. He should be fine to play unless he has persisting symptoms for which he would likely end up on the injury report. 

CB Levi Wallace (right ankle)

Wallace is an interesting injury. He suffered an ankle injury shortly after White went down with his stinger. He ran down the field and then came back to try to scoop the ball up off the turf as it was dropped for a possible interception by Taron Johnson. He didn’t appear to roll it or sustain any visible injury. He did take an extra step onto his right leg when trying to reach down for the ball, possibly jamming up his ankle a little bit, but he quickly returned to the game.

For those thinking he re-injured his ankle from the Raiders game, it was his left ankle which ultimately sent him to IR for 3 weeks. This doesn’t appear to be anything long term and the extra time off should do well for Wallace to play Monday. 

DE AJ Epenesa (head)

Epenesa went to the sidelines under protest to get evaluated for a head injury while trying to avoid a late hit with 5:46 left in the 4th quarter. He flipped over Drew Lock and hit with his right shoulder and head on the turf. 

The team did not announce that he was in the concussion protocol during Monday’s press conference. The in game checks are precautionary and part of the concussion protocol, but it does not appear that he has entered it at this point. Wednesday will be telling if he shows up on the report with anything at all. 

DT Vernon Butler (left ankle)

During the same play that Epenesa got injured, Butler had his left ankle rolled up on moments before as the defense attempted to contain Drew Lock. Butler required an assessment by the training staff on the field and missed several plays but was able to return. 

He may have tweaked the ankle, but appeared to avoid serious injury as he played the rest of the game. I question if he even shows up on the injury report. 

WR Stefon Diggs (left foot)

This injury may be the most worrisome injury at least from a social media standpoint from Saturday. Diggs was quietly carted to the locker room with a foot injury late in the 4th quarter. 

He came back out on the cart with his left shoe off and hopping around on the sidelines leading to a lot of speculation as to what happened. Fortunately, I found what he did and when he suffered the injury. 

This occurred with 7:16 left in the 4th when Diggs was engaged with his block on a Zack Moss run to the right. Diggs disengages and while attempting to get out of the way of the play, gets his left foot stepped on. He immediately began to limp around briefly before setting up for the next play. During that play, he took several steps but did not try to be actively engaged in the play possibly due to the pain.

Diggs later left the field and then refined as mentioned earlier. By video, this seems like he got cleated on the outside portion of the foot and he should be fine. The reports coming out after the game were optimistic and Monday’s press conference only reinforced that news. 

Since this is more of a pain issue, I would not be concerned with Diggs being limited or even DNP Wednesday and Thursday. The team has off Friday for Christmas and then practices Saturday. Even if he’s limited every day, I’d still expect him to play Monday.

Overall, the Bills are in decent shape despite all the injuries from this game. The only ones I want to watch closely are Williams, Roberts, and to a lesser extent Epenesa. It would not alarm me if there were a few extra names on the injury report in addition to what’s in the article today. 

The Bills have the division locked up but can still fight to maintain the 2nd seed which will guarantee them 2 home playoff games and even 3 if the Chiefs get knocked off. They currently have the tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost unexpectedly to the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. 

I would hope the Bills can begin to rest some starters but I don’t expect everyone to sit right away. This is a Bills team that is smart with their sports medicine and will not jeopardize health to maximize winning. These next few weeks are all about taking care of business and hitting the playoffs hot so Buffalo can get a long awaited deep playoff run. There is still a lot of football to play and it’s great knowing the Bills took care of business. 

Top Photo Credit: DraftKings Nation

2020 Week 15 Bills Injury Preview- Broncos

Will Lee Smith play? Is Tremaine Edmunds alright?

The Bills, owners of a 10-3 record, travel to out west Saturday on a short week to play the 5-8 Denver Broncos who are fighting to stave off an inevitable playoff elimination. This is the third game in primetime in three weeks and yet another opportunity to show that the Bills are the real deal as they attempt to lock up the AFC East and a playoff berth.

Buffalo continues to improve their health and bring more players back, relying less on practice squad players and the use of injured reserve. Tough decisions will be made in the future when John Brown and potentially others need to come back, but there are still several games before they need to make those transactions. For this week, the roster is set and the injury designations are below.

OUT 

S Jaquan Johnson (right ankle)

Johnson missed his second week of practice dealing with an ankle injury sustained against the 49ers late in the 4th quarter. Details have not been revealed regarding the specifics of the injury, but based on the video, it still appears as though he is dealing with a high ankle sprain.

It’s curious that he has not been placed on injured reserve, but that may indicate the severity with a possibility that he returns sooner than later. Hopefully, he can return to practice in some capacity next week and begin the process to return in time for the playoffs.

QUESTIONABLE

TE Lee Smith (left knee)

Smith’s knee contusion off Josh Allen’s helmet during the roughing the passer call seemed so minor that I did not bother to include it in the Steelers post-game review. Allen’s helmet hits on the inside portion of the left knee as Smith disengaged his blocker. He was in obvious pain moving his leg after around but stayed in the game.

He may be dealing with pain and swelling in the general area which is why he was limited this past week. It seems rather minor, but clearly, not all the information is known. Based on the video and that he was limited this week in practice, I’d expect that he plays. In my mind, he is a 50/50 shot to play, but the team already knows which direction they will go in for Saturday.

Ideally, he would play as it’s been noted that Denver’s run defense is rather bad and having an extra blocker in Smith would be beneficial to help spring the run game. He continues to be a strong veteran and has a place on this team as both a blocker and leader in order to help take the Bills deep into the playoffs.

ACTIVE

LB Tremaine Edmunds (foot)

Frankly, I am not sure what Edmunds is dealing with. Looking at the game film, he played in every defensive snap and also on two special teams snaps. He kept his feet moving and there weren’t any noticeable instances that he came up limping. He also did not have any mechanisms of injury to either foot that would suggest that something was present.

This could be a chronic issue such as plantar fasciitis or general soreness to the area that flared up which required rest during the week. He did practice in full Thursday and did not have a game designation which is always promising. This may be similar to the Jon Feliciano foot injury; something known but not impacting the overall play.

CB Taron Johnson (concussion)

Johnson appeared to be sail through the concussion protocol, limited all week in practice before practicing in full on Thursday. Typically concussions take upwards of 10 days to recover from, but since this was Johnson’s first documented NFL concussion, he may not be dealing with some of the lingering effects of the hit as some others may.

The return of Johnson especially after what may be his greatest game Sunday would be a great addition to contain the receiving threats Denver possess. I’m surprised that he is cleared, but overall, if he’s able to play, get him out there because he has become a difference-maker.

QB Josh Allen (right knee/ankle)

Allen is still on the injury report despite practicing in full likely due to his status as a quarterback having a higher profile than other positions. The ankle and right knee did not appear to limit his mobility Sunday with his rushing totals increased and running to all sides of the field. I’d expect that he increases his running abilities Saturday but still wear the brace as protection. I don’t anticipate that he will be on the injury report much longer after this week.

Other injury thoughts:

WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain)

Brown has officially been activated to practice and was eligible to play Saturday but was ultimately not activated. It has only been five weeks since his high ankle sprain against the Cardinals; a player can return from a high ankle nearly 100% at around six weeks. If Brown were to return, they would need to cut someone to make room for his roster position, this could occur if they move Jaquan Johnson to IR. 

There was some chatter on social media this week about his sickle cell trait that could be exacerbated by the higher altitudes. Having sickle cell trait is not a contraindication to play football or any sport for that matter, but it is a consideration when looking at the whole person medically. When looking at someone from a medical perspective, having the whole picture of the person influences interventions and decisions. These conditions should not dictate treatment unless there are contraindications, but have to be considered to work for the best interest of the athlete.

If Brown had not been dealing with injuries or this was a game that he was needed in to ensure the team gets the playoff berth, he plays. If this was the playoffs, he plays. The fact that he is coming off injuries and what an exacerbation can do to his performance is the reason any of this is even a consideration. After Saturday, this is a moot point.

There were also questions regarding how the Bills would handle the altitude change. While it can be an issue, there are reasons why it could and it couldn’t. To avoid doubling the word count of this article, go listen to my latest appearance on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino where I detail how the atmospheric pressure affects athletic performance. 

The team would benefit from Brown’s skill set but they have been doing alright with the emergence of Gabriel Davis this season. I expect Brown to be activated to play against the Patriots and work up to the playoffs. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

S Jaquan Johnson

DE Trent Murphy

TE Tyler Kroft

Looking at the Broncos’ injury report, both running backs in Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay are dealing with injuries, designated as questionable, but are expected to play.

They do have several more illness/injuries including to offensive weapons in Noah Fant and Jerry Jeudy though they do not have any injury designations. The one place where the Bills can exploit is the recent loss of Duke Dawson, Essang Bassey, and Kevin Tolliver due to ACL tears, decimating the secondary.

Fortunately for the Bills, kicker Brandon McManus will not be available due to COVID concerns which means rookie Taylor Russolino gets kicking duties. Recently signed to the practice squad in December, he could be rattled by the whole experience of his first NFL action or he may just be another guy trying to earn his place in the league. Either way, the loss of McManus will certainly help keep points off the board for the Broncos.

The Bills have a very winnable matchup against the Broncos to move them to 11-3. This is not a team to take lightly especially playing away from home. While the Bills essentially have the playoffs locked up regardless of this game, they still need the win to lock up the division and control their playoff matchups rather than relying on the wild card seedings.

I do expect the Bills to win again and ideally stay healthy as they close out the regular season. If they control the game like they did last year, I am quite alright with that, but I also anticipate a competitive game. There isn’t much more to say than enjoy the game and Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: Pro Football Talk- NBC Sports

2020 Week 14 Bills Injury Review- Steelers

What is going on with Morse, Knox, and Johnson?

These are the Buffalo Bills that I’ve waited to cheer for since I converted to my fandom to full-fledged Bills membership many years ago. To see this organization win as they have and know that they are not mortgaging the future to win now is incredibly pleasing. This continues to be a week-to-week league and the Bills have shown that they can get the job done nearly every week. The true test will be the playoffs, maximizing the winning window that Buffalo has not had in nearly a generation.

While a 10-3 start is incredible, the Bills still need to secure the AFC East to get a home playoff game and potentially control who they play in the postseason. After a rough portion of the season where injuries beget injuries, the Bills are getting healthy at the right time. Thankfully there were injuries that did not lead to any concern for the remaining schedule. 

C Mitch Morse (left elbow)

Morse exited the game for several series after sustaining a left elbow injury during the second Bills drive. He was observed on the sidelines getting his elbow taped up. This tape job was performed to limit hyperextension to the elbow according to a Twitter follower who happens to be an ATC below. This could have been protecting the distal biceps required for elbow flexion or it could have been protecting from elbow hyperextension if he had gotten hit up underneath the arm. 

Looking at the film, it’s not clear when he suffered the injury. I didn’t see a specific instance where he gets his elbow hit that required attention. He was wearing bracing before the injury occurred and has often worn bracing to the area in general. The type of bracing did not change after indicating that the taping may have needed to be replaced. 

Credit: Buffalo News

He was able to return after some time off and testing the area on the sidelines though it did initially appear at times he had trouble engaging blocks with his left arm. Pain and swelling are likely to present which may have been more of a factor in getting things taped back up after examination of the area. 

I’m not certain that he will miss any time with this injury as he was able to return and the elbow is a stable joint limiting further injury. Add in bracing/tape and he should continue to play through this ailment. This one will be one to watch on the injury report this week but I’m not concerned long term.

TE Dawson Knox (stinger)

Knox startled everyone by grabbing at his head and falling to the turf shortly after a routine block in the 3rd quarter. Fortunately, he was able to walk off under his own power and the initial pain appeared to subside. Based on how he was grabbing his neck/right trapezius on the sidelines, I had thought he suffered a stinger due to how he was hit. He was later reported as having a stinger, confirming my thoughts.

Stingers occur when there is a sudden compression or stretch to the cervical nerves that branch off the neck. This can cause a temporary intense shock down the nerves of the neck that can be felt down the arm in some cases. This can be the result of the nerve getting compressed coming out between the cervical vertebrae or this could be the result of a herniated or bulging disc in the area pressing on the nerve. Stingers typically don’t last long and aren’t recurrent unless there are underlying issues such as a disc issue like we saw happen with Eric Wood back in 2017. I am not implying that to be the case, rather just to give context to the situation. 

Credit: AAFP.org

Like Morse, he also sat out briefly before returning and creating several plays later that helped cement the win for the Bills. This injury isn’t something that I expect to see on the injury report unless he is dealing with continued soreness to the area or there are persistent symptoms. 

CB Taron Johnson (concussion)

Johnson was downgraded to out in the 3rd quarter with a concussion while trying to tackle Steelers back James Conner. He was whisked away to the blue medical tent for further evaluation and eventually to the locker room where they officially diagnosed him with a concussion. 

From what I’ve found, this is Johnson’s first documented NFL concussion. They take on average 7-10 days to recover from which means his timeline to play Saturday against the Broncos isn’t great. He could pass through the protocol quickly but isn’t likely considering the research. I don’t anticipate him playing Sunday and based on the severity, only time will tell how much he will really miss. Until Johnson returns, Siran Neal will likely get increased playing time. 

Other thoughts:

QB Josh Allen (right knee)

Allen continues to work back from his right knee injury still sporting the hinged brace. His 6 rushes for 28 yards is an uptick from last week and he showed a greater ability to use the entire field to run as needed. He had an effective run to the left, showing the ability to push off his right leg and overall showed greater confidence. 

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano performed well last week seeing 19 snaps before increasing his total snaps increase to 27 which was 47% of the total snaps. He continues to wrap offensive players up with greater ability and show why his presence improves the defensive performance. 

I’m unsure what the team will do with playing time as AJ Klein has shown an ability to play with placed in the right situation. He may continue to split reps to preserve his health or it may be best from a defensive scheme. Either way, it’s a great situation to have and if Milano needs to play more, he can, but if he’s not needed, then this reduces the risk of either re-injury or other injuries.

WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain)

The Bills practice on a short week with the Denver Broncos on Saturday at 4:30 pm. This game is being played in Denver which could have an impact on the availability of John Brown. He is eligible to return this week, he has been activated for practice, but I’m not certain that he does. 

He is still coming off his high ankle sprain suffered against the Cardinals in Week 10 and he also has sickle cell trait that he has battled through during his career. He has played in Denver before but not since 2014 where he had two receptions for 4 yards. The lower oxygen levels due to the higher altitude could cause his body to fatigue quicker leading to potentially more injuries. To read more on the effects of sickle cell trait, check out this article from Dr. Melanie Friedlander over at Steelers Depot.

I’m not implying that this will prevent him from playing, it hasn’t in the past, but it is a variable that has to be considered especially coming off the numerous injuries this season. This is something that both Brown and the medical staff have likely discussed with his return to play timeline from the high ankle sprain.

With the emergence of Gabriel Davis and a Broncos team on the cusp of playoff elimination, I believe the Bills can survive another week without Brown. They can have him come back in Week 16 to get reps in against playoff-caliber teams in the Patriots and Dolphins before the playoffs start. The 6 total weeks off for the high ankle sprain would allow him plenty of time to come back fully healthy in time for the playoffs. 

It is remarkable that the Bills can suffer all these injuries and just fill the gaps with backup talent until the starters come back to perform. We’ve seen plenty of other teams suffer several injuries that simply derail their playoff hopes and yet the Bills continue to march through. A win this Saturday would lock up the AFC East and allow the Bills to consider resting starters as able. The only downside would be that a win for the Patriots or Dolphins may allow them to get into the postseason which would not be ideal to play the same team 3 times in a season, regardless if there was a regular-season sweep. 

Continue to watch the injury report and updates coming out of Banged Up Bills and One Bills Drive as the Bills head out to Denver to attempt to move to 11-3 on the season. 

Top Photo Credit: MSN.com

2020 Week 3 Bills Injury Review- Rams

What are the latest updates on Brown, Edmunds, & Dawkins?

WHAT. A. GAME. 

I’m not sure there’s appropriate words in the English language that explain what happened Sunday. From a near meltdown to bad calls to final play heroics, this game had it all. Fortunately, the Bills ended Week 3 with a win to move to 3-0 as they prepare to face the Raiders at their new stadium. I could write an entire article on the emotions of the game. But you’re not here for that. Below, a recap of the injuries from Sunday. 

WR John Brown (calf)

Brown’s day ended early following halftime with a calf injury. Reviewing the film, there isn’t anything particular that stood out regarding his calf. He didn’t appear to be limited with any of his routes or come up limping even at the very end. 

I’m considering this injury as a wait and see, he could have hurt the calf, been fine and then halftime, everything tightened up. He could have hurt the calf and it just wasn’t on broadcast film and All-22, this could have also been a injury that isn’t spotted on film. He could also have had a previous strain that was not reported that worsened on Sunday. 

I also want to note that the foot soreness that could be plantar fasciitis could have contributed to this. Some of the interventions to address the plantar fasciitis include stretching out the calf/Achilles to reduce stress on the fascia. But I question if it did contribute because I would tend to believe they were stretching out the area already.

HC Sean McDermott wouldn’t go into specifics with the injury nor would he say which side the calf injury was on and if it was the same side as the foot soreness. I don’t have any insight as to which side is which at the present time. 

T Dion Dawkins (right shoulder)

Dawkins took a tumble prior to the 2 minute mark in the 4th quarter and was in obvious pain, requiring trainers to assess his shoulder. He tripped over CB Troy Hill, landing with his right arm extended to brace the fall. However, the heel of his wrist hit, followed by the elbow bending to break the fall and then hitting the shoulder on the ground. 

He did try to come back in immediately after an assessment by the trainers which may indicate that it isn’t serious. I am concerned about the labrum or AC joint, but this could have been simply a contusion. Considering he tried to come back in suggests that it may not be serious because some of the other injuries would have required further evaluation or time away from the field. 

S Micah Hyde (left ankle)

Hyde appeared to suffer a low ankle sprain early in the 4th quarter when he attempted to go in for a blitz and got blocked by the Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth. He attempted a spin move, turning to his left before going down in obvious pain but was able to walk to the sidelines under his own power. 

He had his ankle taped up and returned to play shortly afterward. He did suffer the same injury back in Week 1 against the Jets and it appears he re-injured it. Overall, this isn’t a concerning injury and he can play through it, but I am worried about further instances with him missing time during the games if he tweaks it. Hopefully he can continue to tape it up and avoid re-injury to the area to allow it to heal properly. 

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds returned following a week off and clearly was not himself. He struggled to wrap up his tackle, he had difficulty engaging the blocks with his right arm, offensive players got by him on the right side and he just wasn’t himself. He exited the game on the final Rams TD when he hit directly on the shoulder by Rams RB Darrell Henderson. 

He did have a shoulder harness on the right shoulder which usually indicates some type of shoulder instability. I’ve seen these used more for labral tears, similar to what we saw with CB Taron Johnson in 2018.

However, I still do not think he suffered a torn labrum. The mechanism simply isn’t there from Week 1. Either he injured the shoulder another time we didn’t see or this is something else. Based on how he fell in week 1, this is worse than a contusion. This could be a Grade 2-3 AC joint sprain. There is much more instability in the area due to the damage and he would have difficulty engaging the right side due to weakness from the clavicle not providing support with arm movement. These can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks for a Grade 2 and 6-12 for a Grade 3.

I understand I keep flip flopping on the possible injury, but the idea is that my opinion changes based on new information. If this is an AC joint sprain, the hope is that he can avoid further contact to the area and provide stability in order to allow things to fully heal.

Rarely do these require surgery and can be managed, but he will be limited in the short term. I wouldn’t be surprised if Edmunds wants to continue playing and avoid the IR. The team obviously knows more than we do and is managing this as best they can.

The coaching staff is aware of the pain & restrictions he has with his shoulder in playing through it during Monday’s press conference. Hopefully Sunday’s hit did not set him back more in his recovery process.

Injury Roundup:

DE Mario Addison was noted to have cramping that caused him to miss several snaps, but he was able to return shortly after getting fluids. It was a warm day with strenuous physical activity, it’s no surprise that he was dealing with cramping. There’s no concern moving forward, just a reality of playing football.

DT Ed Oliver looked good Sunday and was noted to be wearing the right knee brace mentioned in the previous article. He did not appear to be limited with the use and the injury appeared to be a non-factor.

CB Tre’Davious White & WR Cole Beasley both looked effective despite their respective injuries they were dealing with last week. They may continue to manage these complaints into practice this week, but it does not appear concerning at the moment.

LB Matt Milano & CB Taron Johnson both looked like they didn’t miss a step with their respective soft tissue injuries. Both are still at a higher risk to re-injure, but the hopes that they continue to get the proper rehab and rest in order to reduce those risks are ideal.

G Jon Feliciano, WR Isaiah Hodgins, & WR Josh Norman are all eligible to return from the IR list this week. I could see Feliciano & Norman return to practice but only Norman possibly getting activated after a week or two ramp up. Feliciano could wait longer and they could stretch this out longer than returning immediately.

They all do have a 21 day window to practice without taking up a roster spot before they need to return to IR or go active. I don’t see any need for Hodgins unless Brown misses extended time. 

The big question marks moving forward will continue to be the health of Tremaine Edmunds & Dion Dawkins. We will see how this week’s practice goes, but these will be closely monitored. The Bills continue to avoid the season ending injuries, but this does not mean that they are immune. Hopefully these guys can return and continue to be effective.

Top Photo Credit: BillsWire

2020 Week 3 Bills Injury Preview- Rams

Make sure to scroll down to the players you’re interested in. It’s a long one.

Heading into Week 3, we got a long injury report here folks. But the Bills have been through this before. They have quality depth and the ability to call up practice squad players that have been in the system before rather than street free agents who don’t know the system. 

While there are a lot of players in today’s report, everyone is still adjusting to the regular season with hitting, conditioning, and getting back into game shape. This is where some preseason games are beneficial to prime their bodies rather than going from 0-100. Ideally we see this drop off as the season progresses. But until then, this week’s injuries are below. 

OUT

RB Zack Moss (toe)

Moss was ruled out of Sunday’s matchup due to a toe ailment suffered in Sunday’s win. This was likely the result of the catch & run midway through the 4th quarter. He eventually returned to the game later, albeit briefly before the game finished. 

Based on the designation of a toe, it sounds like it could be turf toe. There are other possibilities such as a fracture, but he was observed off to the side on the exercise bike and doing individual activities.

PTEducator.com

Turf toe is an injury where the big toe is suddenly hyperextended due to a fall or some other force such as a tackle when the foot is planted into the ground that pushes it past its normal range of motion. Like any other joint in the body, this too can be sprained. The risk for this can be increased with flexible shoes which reduce support around the area of the foot.

Any other toe injury can be conservatively managed and isn’t a problem even in day to day life. But the big toe is vital to walk a heel toe gait pattern; strike with the heel, push off on the toe. The toe is even more vital during running as sprinting is done up on the balls of the feet, placing further stress on the toe. 

The timeline for a turf toe injury can be 2-4 weeks or even more based on severity. Look back at Packers WR DaVante Adams last year for reference. Due to the demands of the big toe, especially with high end athletics, it can be easily re-injured if not managed properly. This is something that can linger for weeks and limit production. 

He is obviously missing this week and potentially next week. Once he returns after the area has had a chance to heal, he can use a stiff sole to help reduce toe extension during push off and taping/bracing to support the area. He may lose some explosiveness after coming back, but if he gives it proper time to heal, then he may be fine. It will be important not to rush back because then he will lose that first step explosiveness and top end speed if he cant push off his toe effectively.

It’s important to note that he had a toe injury back in 2016 during his freshman year at Utah. It’s not certain that it was a turf toe injury, but he missed 2 games as a result. The injuries are not directly related as we don’t know specifics or even side l along with the time span in between. But if this is another bout of turf toe, he may be able to understand his body better and rehab more effectively. I expect TJ Yeldon to get a rare crack at the game day roster. Remember, he’s a 3 down back according to Brandon Beane.

TE Dawson Knox (concussion)

Knox is out with a concussion following Sunday’s win. He has since had 3 straight DNP’s at practice and right now appears to be at about Stage 3 due to participating on the exercise bike and drills. He will now have to go through football specific drills and a full practice without symptom reproduction before he can be cleared by the neurologist. 

It’s rare that a guy is able to return from a concussion in a week’s time and hopefully he can return for Week 4. There were a lot of people who sent video of hits he sustained to the head that game. I do appreciate every one of you for doing that, but it is nearly impossible to diagnose a concussion on video alone unless the individual has been knocked unconscious. Let’s hope he’s back for Week 4.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Phillips continues to be out with a quad injury sustained in the season opener over the Jets. He has not practiced since then and video does not exist of the injury that he sustained on special teams. 

This is appearing to be more of a quadriceps strain and literature for quadriceps strains is more limited than hamstrings, but from what I found, timelines are similar to that of hamstrings. There’s a possibility that this could be a tendonitis as well, but that is something that can be played through more than a strain.

It’s important to note that WR Andre Roberts missed the first two games of the season last year with a quadriceps injury. This may be the same course of action that the Bills take with Phillips or this could be an injury that we don’t have all the facts on yet. We continue to wait and see. 

QUESTIONABLE

LB Matt Milano (hamstring)

Milano has been able to practice in a limited fashion all week after missing Week 2 with a hamstring strain. Hamstrings can take 13-18 days on average to return to play, but his injury may have been truly minor; a term that I’ve come across is “niggle”. I believe Milano had a niggle. 

Could he benefit from another week off? Sure. But if he’s feeling good and he can play, then I can live with that. He is questionable, but a hamstring is not an automatic out for 2-3 games. Some guys can come back the next week, others take much longer. We are seeing that with the setback with CB Josh Norman & this shows that each hamstring is unique. With how practice has been this week, he is still 50/50, but I’m leaning towards him playing Sunday. 

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds has been tricky for me these past 2 weeks. I initially had him as a contusion, possible AC joint sprain. Then he missed the last game which leads me to believe he may have had more of a SC joint sprain or bruised rotator cuff. I’ve studied the film, watched his practice and without a physical examination, I am stumped.

This could be Occam’s razor and I’m overthinking this. The fact that he has had a red non-contact jersey for the last two weeks is concerning, but that may be more to prevent further injury. He may have benefitted from the week off and be ready for Sunday. 

From what I’ve seen, it’s very possible he plays. Especially with the benefit of his skill set against the Rams, it’s an important game to get up for. He’s also 50/50, leaning towards seeing him playing. 

CB Taron Johnson (groin)

Not much is known about Johnson. He has a long history of injuries dating back to his rookie year with the shoulder labral tear followed by a hamstring strain last year. Now he has the groin strain which isn’t great for a defensive back with all the cutting & pivoting he has to do as part of his position. 

He did not exit the game and was a full participant on Friday which is a good sign. However, groin strains, like many other soft tissue injuries can linger and cause problems later. We do have depth at the position, he will probably play, but considering Johnson’s penchant for injury, he may be best served to sit this one out. 

ACTIVE

WR Cole Beasley (hip/right thumb)

Beasley is active despite dealing with two separate injuries. The hip is not all that concerning, it could be more of generalized hip soreness or bruising due to the fact that he had several hard falls during his catches on Sunday. 

However, the injury I am more concerned with is his right thumb injury. He had it heavily taped in practice on Thursday and was in visible pain when catching the ball. 

He may have suffered a mild/moderate thumb sprain, also known as skier’s thumb. He could have fell on the thumb during one of his catches, forcing it into extension and abduction. He could also have gotten it tangled up with a defender, it wasn’t clear on film. He’ll be able to play & still be effective, but with how hard Josh Allen throws and the injury, I hope we don’t see a drop or two due to the pain and resulting weakness in the thumb region. This will be something to monitor on Sunday. 

DT Ed Oliver (right knee)

Oliver suffered his knee injury as the result of a leg block that fortunately was not flagged on Sunday. During replay, his knee gets struck by the Dolphins offensive player and then his shin strikes the player again once the leg kicks forward.

It initially appeared that he suffered a shin contusion which would have been more pain related. But since he struck the knee, it forced the knee into hyperextension. What’s beneficial is that the leg was swinging freely and not in a fixed position. There was some stretching of the knee capsule and overall pain, but structural damage to the area appears non-existent save for maybe bruising due to the hit itself. Fortunately, the knee does have several degrees of hyperextension available in the human body, giving the knee some pliability to reduce the risk of injury. 

He was spotted by The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia wearing a knee brace at practice. I asked Joe for clarification on the type of brace and he said that it appeared to be more hinge like. This would support that his knee was hyperextended and that he is wearing the brace for support. These braces don’t outright prevent injury, but the idea is that the side supports do lock out in full extension and if he were to get hit directly over the knee, the brace would take the forces of the hit and lessen the impact on the knee itself. In addition, the side supports limit medial/lateral movements so if they get hit from the side, the entire leg goes down rather than the valgus force that we see in ACL and MCL tears.

It will be interesting to see if he plays Sunday with the brace on or if this brace was simply used to help give him some confidence with the knee during practice. If you look closely, fellow DT Harrison Phillips wears one as well when he plays following his ACL tear last year. Overall, I don’t believe Oliver’s quality of play will be affected by the knee injury nor is he at a higher risk to suffer further injury due to Sunday’s hit.

CB Tre’Davious White (shoulder)

Virtually nothing is known about White’s shoulder ailment that had him limited at Wednesday’s practice. He is getting older, he’s a highly paid player who knows he’s valuable to the team, this may have been more of a maintenance day than anything. I could not find anything specific on film to support a shoulder injury and he was able to practice in full Thursday & Friday. I can’t even speculate what he could be dealing with because there is no mechanism of injury. Right now, this is a wait and see approach. 

He did deal with a neck injury last year that caused him to wear the red non-contact jersey for about 2 weeks last year but he did not miss any games or appear to have his play suffer as a result.

WR John Brown (foot, possible plantar fasciitis)

Brown popped back up on the injury report this week with what the team described as “foot soreness”. He was on the injury report last week briefly with the same issue. The fact that he is able to practice in full certain days and then has to be limited others indicates that this may be more of a chronic issue which I believe is plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a tough band of fascia that connects from the heel to the balls of the feet. This acts as a shock absorber and helps keep the structural integrity of the foot intact during walking and running. This effect is known as the windlass mechanism. This allows the foot to stay rigid as the foot goes into push off moving from stance to swing phase. If we did not have the plantar fascia to help keep the foot rigid, then the big toe would not have the leverage to push off as effectively and drive the entire foot forward.

ChoosePT.com

The area of the irritation of the plantar fascia is at the base of the heel, where the fascia originates. Microtears occur due to overuse or excessive running which appears to be in the case of Brown. This appears to be more of a problem this year than other years because of the change in training camp with less ramp up time. If he wears shoes that are not supportive, this could cause the foot to excessively pronate which means the foot rolls inward when walking versus maintaining support during heel toe walking. The overpronation would pull on the plantar fascia during push off using the windlass mechanism and the excessive running could cause microtears, causing inflammation.

Functionally, he will not be greatly affected by this, but it is a painful condition to deal with. He likely wakes up in the morning and has difficulty bearing weight through his foot due to the tissue tightening up throughout the night, making those first few steps during the morning painful. He can rehab to stretch the calf, Achilles, overall improve the range of motion in the ankle and big toe mobility to take stress off the area. He can also get injections to help manage the pain, but this is not something the doctors like to do often because too many injections can increase the incidence for rupture of the affected tissue. These rates are fairly low, but injecting and numbing pain is not an effective solution to manage a condition. It can be an intervention that assists with taking care of a problem, but not the only solution. 

It’s possible that Brown battles with this off and on throughout the season, using rest days and rehab to address the matter. As a treating Physical Therapist, I have found plantar fasciitis to be a stubborn diagnosis, but this does not mean that Brown will not be able to overcome this. The team does have a lot of interventions with the possibility of cupping, laser therapy, acupuncture, injections, iontophoresis with medication, stretching, using night splints, strengthening, taping, footwear modifications, among others. There are far worse injuries that can be played through, but plantar fasciitis is still a troublesome injury. This sounds all doom and gloom, but he will be alright.

Final thoughts:

The team is banged up. This is why I believe some preseason games are good to get the live reps out of the way rather than going from practice and limited contact to full blown games. Even if the starters were playing for two series a game in the preseason, it helps them acclimate slowly to game speed versus full speed right away. The Bills have been through this before with the lengthy injury report. The tweet below shows how things looked last year prior to the Titans game and how things look going into Week 3. 

You’ll also notice that the team does a fairly good job of dealing with injuries in that they don’t become a chronic issue. The training staff likes to address the injury, give it time to heal if possible, and then return to play. We are not seeing the walking wounded out there like some other teams around the league. 

I did note last year that injured players may have been active, but their snap counts significantly reduced in that particular game to prevent further injury. Two instances I can think of were WR Isaiah McKenzie during Weeks 4 & 5 last year and G Cody Ford during Week 8. This team has a plan to get guys healthy and have them available if needed, but not to rely on the walking wounded to play a full game. 

It’s also important to note that CB Josh Norman was observed on the exercise bike this week as he prepares to hopefully get activated from IR following Sunday. He may still not be 100%, but he can begin practicing with the team as they have a 21 day window where he doesn’t count against the roster. If he’s ready, they can activate him, if he’s not, he can be shut down and go back to IR. He can also just stay on there longer and activate his window later, so it’s not certain that he will begin practicing next week.

The same can be said for G Jon Feliciano. Coach McDermott even came out and said that he didn’t want to put guys out there that weren’t ready. Feliciano had said he wanted to come back by Week 4, but I have maintained that he would benefit coming back closer to Week 7 or 8 where he could be more effective. This will be something to continue to monitor.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB Zack Moss

TE Dawson Knox

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

OL Ike Boettger

DE AJ Epenesa

The team will get through this. Years past, injuries would have decimated a promising season, see the 2011 Bills. But the team has quality depth and lots of experience to withstand some of these bumps and bruises. I would grow more concerned if we get a rash of season-ending injuries like in 2011. This is still a talented roster despite the Rams coming to town. Hopefully next week, this report will be a little shorter.

Top Photo Credit: WKBW

CB Taron Johnson Injury Profile

#24 Taron Johnson
Position: CB
Height/Weight: 5’11”/192 lbs.
Age: 23
College: Weber State
Year joined Bills: 2018
Acquired: 4th round draft selection

College Injuries:

TBD

Pro Injuries:

2018:

Right shoulder injury, torn labrum, Week 1, missed 1 game, later sent to IR, missing 4 games requiring surgery

2019:

Groin strain, Preseason Week 1 vs Colts, missed 0 games

Right hamstring strain, Week 1, missed 4 games

Left hand 5th digit sprain, Week 14, missed 0 games

Right eversion ankle sprain, Week 16, missed 0 games

Lower body injury, playoff game, missed 2nd half of game

2020 Bills:

Groin strain, Week 2, missed 0 games.

Concussion, Week 14, missed 0 games.

General links:

2019 Bills Injury Review- Cornerbacks

Buffalo Rumblings Taron Johnson Shoulder Injury

2020 Bills Injury Preview- Cornerbacks

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Cornerback

Oft-injured, how will the position hold up in 2020?

This is Part 10 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 10 consists of the cornerback room.

Not Returning

CB Kevin Johnson

16 games, 1 start, 5 passes defended, 1 sack, 32 combined tackles, 23 solo, 9 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit

Johnson made the most of his prove-it deal, appearing in all 16 games, showing that he could stay healthy enough to stay on the field compared to his seasons with the Texans. During his time with the Bills, he only suffered a neck stinger against the first meeting with the Dolphins which limited him the following week in practice, but he did not miss anytime.

He also suffered a knee contusion against the Redskins which caused him to miss some practice the next week, but he once again returned and played the following week.
Johnson parlayed his healthy 2019 into a contract with the Browns for 2020. He should be a shining example of what the Bills facility & staff can provide for someone looking to revitalize their career if it has been marred by injury.

Returning Players

CB Taron Johnson

12 games, 7 started, 5 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 50 combined tackles, 39 solo, 11 assist, 2 TFL, 1 QB hit

Taron Johnson is a talented player. The Bills benefited greatly from scouting the small school cornerback and has received great production from him despite his injury woes.
However, his career may be limited secondary to his inability to stay healthy. He continues to deal with soft tissue injuries, his physical style of play leads to the risk to suffer structural injuries, and the fact that he can’t be relied upon consistently makes him a liability, even in such a talented secondary.

Below is Johnson’s known injuries:

    • Groin

Johnson suffered a groin injury in the first preseason game against the Colts. While it did not prevent him from playing in the next game against the Panthers, the injury foreshadowed further issues later on.

    • Right hamstring strain

He suffered a right hamstring strain early in the 3rd quarter of the season opener against the Jets. During an interview, he reportedly felt a pop, which is a usual presentation of a hamstring strain.

This injury was the result of running over the middle, keeping with Jets WR Jamison Crowder. He ended up missing 4 games total though he was looking good in practice prior to that.

He appeared ready to play in the Patriots game, but it was rainy that day and the team was starting to rack up injuries. He also appeared to be ready to play against the Titans, but also missed that one due to the bye week the following week.

It’s possible that he suffered a Grade 2 strain which does take longer, but it’s also possible that he suffered a setback during rehab which led to his prolonged absence. It’s also possible that the groin injury early in training camp led to his hamstring injury.

    • Left-hand 5th digit injury

Johnson suffered an injury to his 5th digit or pinky on his left hand during the Steelers game late in the game after attempting to complete a tackle. He was in distress as trainers tended to him as the training staff buddy taped the area.

It’s likely that he either suffered a dislocation or crushed it enough that it needed support. These injuries are unfortunately common and can be played through as evidence of his play during the remainder of the season.

    • Right ankle eversion sprain

He wrapped up the regular season with a right ankle sprain courtesy of Jets RB Le’veon Bell. He squared up ready to tackle and Bell bowled him over with Johnson’s ankle getting caught in the turf and appeared to suffer an eversion sprain.
He left briefly and then returned to take over for Isaiah McKenzie who filled in briefly.

    • Wild Card lower-body injury

Johnson suffered some type of lower-body injury early in the Wild Card game against Houston which led to him sitting out the entire second half. There was no film, no mechanism of injury, nothing indicating that he was hurt.

He appeared to be ready to go on the sidelines but never re-entered. He did have the ankle sprain from the week before he could have re-injured, but those are typically not serious enough to miss the game as bracing or taping the area could help get through the game.

Details continue to be scarce and it’s unknown if this could affect him going into next season. Johnson is one player who’s 2020 will hinge on whether he stays with the Bills or has to consider finding another home if he cannot stay healthy.

CB Tre’Davious White

15 games, 15 starts, 6 INT, 17 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles 1 sack, 58 total tackles, 48 solo, 10 assisted, 4 TFL, 1 QB hit, no TD’s allowed

The argument remains with Bills fans, we missed out on drafting KC QB Patrick Mahomes! But if we don’t pass on him, we don’t have All-Pro CB Tre’Davious White or likely QB Josh Allen or Tremaine Edmunds with draft-day deals in 2017 & 2018.

White stepped up in 2019 & put together a memorable season that has his name among the NFL’s elite. He has become a player that if he is not on the field, the quality of the defense changes dramatically. Fortunately, he has been very healthy during his time with the Bills.

White’s injury history below:

    • Right quadriceps contusion

He suffered a quadriceps contusion during the preseason game against the Lions which scared most fans. He was observed on the sideline with an ice pack but moving well indicating that it was more precautionary to ensure that he recovers faster. This was not an injury that lingered through the season.

    • Neck

White spent some time on the injury report with a red non-contact jersey with a neck injury. He popped up on the injury report following the Bengals game and was limited in practice that week and next. He never missed games and it was never revealed what he was dealing with. My initial speculation was that it was a neck strain.

    • Right low ankle sprain

He suffered a low right ankle sprain against the first meeting with the Patriots in the 2nd quarter. He had to take several plays off to get it taped up and quickly returned. He appeared a little slower the rest of the game but it was an issue that did not linger and he had the bye week to rehab it properly.

    • Left shoulder/stinger

As with most injuries with White, anytime he is down on the field due to injury is a concern. Many held their breath when he made a tackle against the Steelers on Sunday night football leading with his right shoulder. He got up after finishing the tackle and began motioning to his left shoulder before going down to the turf.

He appeared to suffer a stinger due to his head getting snapped to the left, quickly compressing the nerve. White briefly left the game before returning to finish the game. He didn’t appear on the injury report later and it didn’t appear to be a lingering issue for the remainder of the season.

Overall, White was fairly healthy which is why he was able to achieve All-Pro status. The ankle and quadricep injuries are not concerning but there is some slight worry regarding the stinger and neck injury. There is a correlation between the neck injury early in the season and the possible stinger he suffered against the Steelers.

However, the details of the neck injury aren’t known which makes it difficult to identify whether there is a connection. Likely, there won’t be any known concerns unless something happens again. I am confident that he is alright, but there is always that worry to see similar injuries crop up around the same time.

CB Levi Wallace

16 games, 16 starts, 9 passes deflected, 76 total tackles, 66 solo, 10 assisted, 4 TFL

Playing at CB2, Wallace has played well despite coming in as a UDFA, stepping into the starting role. He will never be at the level that Tre White is at due to the immense difficulty in getting two All-Pro players on the field, even lesser at the same position. But he showed he can get the job done despite several injuries and at times inconsistent play.

Below is Wallace’s known injuries:

    • Right ankle sprain

Wallace suffered a right ankle injury during practice prior to the Giants game in Week 2. He was attempting to play Zay Jones before attempting to turn his hips and fell down over his right ankle. It appeared to be a low ankle sprain that required a wrap to help manage any swelling and pain, but it did not limit him against the Giants.

    • Left shoulder

During the ugly loss to the Eagles, Wallace got demolished by Boston Scott as he barreled into the end zone for a TD. Scott hit the right shoulder of Wallace and he went down hard. He never returned to the game but was never ruled out. He was questionable for the next game against the Redskins, but he ended up playing.

He later required shoulder surgery at the end of January according to reports, but it is not known which shoulder or what procedure he required. It’s highly likely that he required surgery on the left shoulder, but not confirmed.

Looking at social media, Wallace hasn’t been limited with any of his activities nor is it observable which shoulder had surgery. The hope is that it was a general cleanout or shaving down any areas causing pain. This is an injury that historically doesn’t carry over from season to season.

    • Right ankle sprain

Wallace once again suffered a right ankle injury while catching an interception against the Jets in the regular-season finale. He suffered a medial ankle sprain but ultimately missed the Wild Card loss against the Texans. He was practicing during the week in hopes he could play, but ultimately the injury was too much.

It’s also possible that the ankle injury from September led to the December injury, but it is unlikely due to the length of time between the injuries. Fortunately, these ankle injuries do not linger. They can recur at a fairly high rate, but low ankle sprains can be well managed if a re-injury occurs.

CB Cam Lewis

Spent 2019 on the practice squad

Lewis spent the entire season on the practice squad in 2019 as he adjusted to the pro game. He showed flashes of his abilities in the preseason but due to injury and roster depth, he was unable to crack the 53 man roster. For someone that spent the season on the practice squad, he still suffered an injury.

Lewis’ known injuries below:

    • Concussion

Lewis suffered a concussion on a routine play in the 2nd quarter against the Panthers in the preseason. He was initially unsteady but able to walk off under his own power. He was later seen leaving the sidelines in a neck immobilizer and board as a precaution for a neck injury.

He was later cleared from the concussion protocol, but still concerning when a player leaves the field in that manner. He was unable to play the rest of the preseason which may have led to his inability to make the 53-man roster. To read more on his concussion, check out the article at Buffalo Rumblings.

    • Week 16 unknown injury

Lewis wasn’t practicing with the team for several days just prior to the second Patriots matchup. There was not an injury designation as practice squad members don’t get recorded, but it was noted by The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia.

It’s not known what he was dealing with, but important to note when players may be dealing with an injury, even minor as it could foreshadow a bigger issue. The biggest concern is the concussion heading into 2020. The hope is that he does not suffer another one that takes him even longer to recover from.

New to the roster

CB Ike Brown

Brown comes to the Bills following a solid career at FIU. He presents as a fairly healthy player heading into training camp, only suffering a collarbone fracture his sophomore season. He will have an uphill battle to stick with the roster in any way, but training camp darlings exist every year. To read more on Brown, check out Banged Up Bills.

CB EJ Gaines

Gaines is a proverbial scratch-off lottery ticket. Buy cheap, possibly win big. His injury history is quite extensive & he has not played meaningful football in over 2 years besides a few games for Cleveland in 2018.

If he can stay healthy, he could be an excellent CB2, but if not, the Bills lose nothing. To make your own decision, check out the extensive injury analysis at Buffalo Rumblings.

CB Dane Jackson

The last Bills draft pick in 2020, Jackson comes to Buffalo incredibly healthy & looking to lock down a spot on at least special teams. He doesn’t carry much injury baggage with him besides a knee injury from high school. While he does have a lot of talented players in front of him, he can adjust to the NFL without the pressure of playing immediately. As players begin to age out or move on, there is hope Jackson can slide in and continue the recent excellent play from the secondary. Read up on Jackson at Buffalo Rumblings.

CB Josh Norman

The former All-Pro from Carolina spent several up and down years with Washington, chasing the money before leaving, viewed as not living up to the contract. Much has been said about Washington not being the right fit for his skills which could have led to his decline in production.

However, Norman is older and has had his share of injuries, including several documented concussions. He plays a very physical position and has paid the price for it. Like Gaines, he is someone that if he doesn’t work out, the Bills are not tied to him significantly. His contract is more substantial but that is justified considering his accolades. He could certainly have a bounce-back year from a production standpoint and could be a value contract in 2020. To read more on Norman’s injury history, read Buffalo Rumblings.

2020 Outlook

If you’re still reading, this position as a whole suffered quite a few injuries. There has been stellar play from White followed by inconsistent play from CB2, but McDermott & Frazier always make it work.

White, Johnson, Wallace, & Norman all should make the team. Jackson has an excellent shot as well as being a draft pick, but not guaranteed. Gaines should make the roster but is totally dependent on his health. His play could affect his future, but he has to prove he can be available first before talent is considered.

Brown & Lewis both have a shot, more likely on the practice squad as both are still eligible. Regardless of who makes the roster besides White, the depth at the position is secured & the coaching staff has several contingency plans if the talent is lacking or injury occurs. Despite the injuries, this should still be a productive position for the Bills in 2020.

Wild Card Bills Injury Review- Texans

It was still a fun season despite the loss.

This wasn’t an article I wanted to write. I wasn’t in a rush to write this either. It’s not that I didn’t want to write about the injuries, but I didn’t want to write about the end of the season, at least not with that ending. That game was full of emotions, the excitement of that first drive ending in a touchdown, the Houston comeback, the game-tying field goal & inevitable loss. It just sucked to see such a great season the Bills have an end like this. But it ended and that’s the reality of the situation. 

However, there were still injuries that occurred & I have a duty to explain what exactly happened. 

CB Taron Johnson (lower-body injury) 

Johnson exited the game midway through the 2nd quarter with 7:30 left with what appeared at the time no apparent reason. He was observed down on his right knee after the play with trainers assessing him before walking off under his own power. 

Reviewing the game film, it was not apparent that he suffered an injury until the All-22 film came out. Upon reviewing the film, Johnson stuck with his man, TE Darren Fells until he got to the sideline. Fells cut back, as did Johnson rather vigorously and he appeared to take an awkward step on his right, which forced him to slow up as the play ended. Nothing appeared wrong until Johnson was down in the middle of the field before he went off.

My best guess due to having only one camera angle and a birds-eye view is that he suffered some type of strain. Possibly a groin, hamstring, or calf. To note, he wasn’t limping off at all from what I could tell, but something wasn’t right. If you recall, Johnson did suffer a hamstring strain back in the 1st game which ultimately cost him 4 games. Temperatures were in the 70’s at kickoff & the dome was closed, leading to a warm environment, raising the possibility for a strain due to dehydration. I do not believe the hamstring he suffered back in September caused the issues on Saturday.

Regardless of what it was, we probably won’t know until OTA’s start or if an article comes out later detailing the specifics. This isn’t anything that should be a problem heading into next year either.

WR Duke Williams (left low ankle sprain)

Shortly after Johnson suffered his injury, Williams had one of his own catching a diving pass from QB Josh Allen before going out of bounds with about 2:30 left in the 2nd quarter. It was a bang-bang play & required several replays to determine the injury. At first, it appeared that Williams hyperextended his left knee as his foot got caught in the turf, diving out. 

However, on further review, it clearly shows that his left ankle twists in quickly, causing the all too common inversion low ankle sprain. Williams took several plays off to get his ankle evaluated and taped before returning, at times favoring the ankle with a decreased ability to push off. 

Williams avoided a worse knee injury due to the ankle taking the brunt of the forces going out, snapping underneath instead of applying further pressure on the knee into extension. He will likely be feeling this ankle for a few weeks & possibly the knee but like most sprains, this won’t be an issue moving forward & had the Bills won, probably wouldn’t have kept him out next week.

Other Observations 

CB Levi Wallace & WR Robert Foster

There were several surprise inactives prior to the game, namely CB Levi Wallace & WR Robert Foster. Wallace was a surprise to me only because he was practicing, although on a limited basis with a heavily taped ankle, during the week. I had thought that even an injured Wallace would be able to play in some packages, but my guess is that the team felt he would be better suited to play next week had they made it. 

Foster was a surprise only because of how valuable he has become as a gunner on special teams & was continually a deep threat, despite not connecting on anything all season. Considering the lack of production from Foster, it made sense to make Williams active, but thankfully the special team’s play wasn’t harmed by the loss of Foster. 

DE JJ Watt

Houston’s DE JJ Watt made some noise as I had expected him too, appearing in 61% of the defensive plays along with 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, & 2 QB hits. I believe he played far more than the original plan dictated, but this is why he suited up, to make a difference & he did. Far from his best performance, but those skills he has, even with one arm, still made him incredibly dangerous on Saturday & the Bills paid for it. 

QB Josh Allen

During the Bills locker cleaning out Sunday, there was a video that came out of Allen walking across the fieldhouse in flip flops & an ankle brace on his right ankle. It was not known when he injured his ankle during the game as he appeared in every offensive play Saturday. This likely was one of those small injuries that would be impossible to find on film & won’t be anything that should linger.

I had briefly thought that this was the result of the injury he suffered in the loss to the Ravens last month. However, this occurred to the left ankle in that game & he was able to play through it. Merely an observation & just another one of the battle scars that Allen accumulated throughout the season in the march towards the playoffs.

Final Thoughts

Like I said above, this wasn’t an article that I wanted to write. But it had to be done. This ends the 2019 Buffalo Bills season & I’m pretty happy with the overall results. 10 wins, a playoff berth not given by sheer luck, tons of growth by the entire team & a bright future. I’m looking forward to 2020 with the idea that this Bills team can make a run. I’m a Bills fan, an eternal optimist, is there any other way to be?

Looking at the offseason, there will be some changes. I plan on taking some time off from weekly Banged Up Bills articles, only focusing on updates such as the inevitable surgeries, free agent signings, & any other news I deem worthy to report. Things will gear up again once the draft hits & the 90 man roster begins to take shape prior to training camp. I’m going to continue to work hard to update the appearance of the site, video reviews, injury breakdowns, & find new ways to deliver the content that is clearly wanted. 

However, you can still follow on Twitter for the latest news, podcasts & work I will be doing with the draft. Find my work over at Cover 1 detailing injuries regarding the 2020 draft prospects. Make sure to go check that out & all the other amazing content that’s available. Thanks, Bills Mafia, it was a fun season!

Top Photo Credit:

RochesterFirst.com