Week 5 Bills Injury Review- Titans

Will the Bills survive Sunday’s injury massacre?

Thank god that game is over. For all you new readers, this is my 3rd season covering Buffalo Bills injuries & while there have been some tough injuries to stomach, today’s game as a whole was painful both literally & figuratively. I do not remember a time where I nearly lost track because the injuries came in so fast. Fortunately, the Bills have a bye next week & it couldn’t have come at a better time. Last time this year, the Bills walked into Houston with no one on the injury report. Amazing how one year can change so much. This is a team that will bend, bend, bend, but not break. As always, injury recap below in chronological order. 

Those ruled inactive prior to the game included: 

WR Robert Foster (groin/turf toe)

TE Tyler Kroft (ankle)

LB Corey Thompson (ankle sx)

CB Taron Johnson (hamstring)

RB Devin Singletary (hamstring)

OG Ike Boettger 

OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)

Thompson & Kroft continue to be out until further notice. Foster, Johnson & Singletary are all dealing with soft tissue strains which could have been aggravated by the slick conditions. Nsekhe is dealing with an ankle injury that appears to have been an aggravation from 2 weeks ago. 

C Mitch Morse (ankle)

Morse was the first injury of the day, dealing with what appears to be a left ankle injury. The injury appears when RB Frank Gore ran up the middle with 9:25 left in the 2nd quarter and appeared to kick Morse by accident. Morse rolls over and appears to be favoring the ankle before getting up, walking with a slightly labored effort. 

He was able to play several more snaps before getting removed in favor of OG Jon Feliciano. Morse did not appear in the game the rest of the day but was on the sidelines appearing to stay loose. 

This may be more of a contusion, similar to an injury observed with a leg whip. There may have been other possibilities such as a low ankle sprain or mild high ankle sprain not readily noted on film, but this is most likely. This isn’t something that should hold him out for long, but reports indicated he was limping around the locker room after the game as evident by the video below.

During Monday’s presser, HC Sean McDermott noted that if it was needed, Morse could have gone back in and played if further injury occurred. This is incredibly promising as this indicates that the injury alone doesn’t appear to be serious if they were willing to play him. I believe he will be able to play against Miami.

C/G Jon Feliciano (right leg)

Feliciano was injured with 10:40 left in the 3rd quarter when QB Josh Allen threw a costly interception. The offensive mauler was attempting to bring down S Kevin Byard when he fell down attempting to get a tackle. Unfortunately, OT Dion Dawkins fell onto his right leg, leading to the injury. Friendly fire is never ideal but is a part of the game. 

He limped off but amazingly did not miss a snap, keenly aware of the lack of depth at the offensive line Sunday. I’m sure that he has some pain in the leg, but injury-wise, this doesn’t appear to be anything that should cause lasting effects. 

QB Josh Allen (left hand)

On the same play as Feliciano, Allen threw the costly interception and had a minor collision with Titans LB Harold Landry III in where his left hand appears to hit the shoulder pad, namely at the metacarpophalangeal joint. He may have jammed his left thumb or suffered a contusion, causing him to favor the area briefly after the play. Considering this isn’t his throwing hand & he didn’t miss a snap, this isn’t something that the team should be worried about. Even if something did happen such as a minor sprain, this is something that could potentially heal during the bye week. Worst case, he could wear a brace as it’s his non-throwing hand. Unless there is an injury update, consider this injury, like Feliciano’s to be a dead matter. 

OG Cody Ford (concussion)

Ford, unfortunately, suffered a holding penalty on the play that led to his exit from the game due to injury. With 4:53 left in the 3rd quarter, Ford engaged with his defensive lineman assignment & got pulled down, driven headfirst into the ground. It initially appeared as though he got the wind knocked out of him, but reports later indicated he was assessed for a head injury. 

He has since been placed into the concussion protocol since Monday’s press conference. To note, it’s not a guarantee that he moves through the protocol quickly like some of his counterparts. However, having the bye week to recover only benefits him. 

LB Matt Milano (left hamstring)

Milano, a beast all season, continued his stellar play this week until the injury bug hit. Milano tweaked his left hamstring while attempting to slow down & possibly change direction in preparation to take down the Titans TE Jonnu Smith on the long reception. On film, it shows that he grabs at his hamstring towards the very end but is able to walk around afterward.

He was able to participate in one more play before motioning to come out & did not return. Regrettably, the deceleration in slowing down due to the eccentric contraction of the muscle caused the injury. Considering the grass was slick due to the rain, it was smart for him to not return. 

Taking into account the fact that CB Taron Johnson & RB Devin Singletary did not play today due to the same injury, this led to Milano not returning. Based on identifying how the team manages hamstring injuries, it’s very possible Milano misses the Dolphins game. Even then, he could miss the Eagles game as well, but until we have more information, his timeline for return will be very fluid. 

To make a note, Milano dealt with some hamstring issues during his rookie year early on during the Panthers game in ‘17 & missed the playoff game after suffering a hamstring strain against the Dolphins. He did not appear to have any issues last year according to records. While he has a history of hamstring strains, I cannot find evidence that this was the same side nor do I believe that the rookie year strains are affecting his most recent injury.

DE Trent Murphy (concussion)

Murphy has been incredibly healthy all season up until early in the 4th quarter. With 14:12 left, he was closing in for a sack on the left side while LB Lorenzo Alexander was coming from the right. Alexander came in slightly more direct on Titans QB Marcus Mariota before Murphy came slightly outside and collided. As expected with any possible head injury, Murphy was assessed for a possible concussion, ending his day. 

Like Ford, he has since been placed in the protocol & the hope is that he progresses through swiftly. We will probably not know where he or Ford stand until next Wednesday when practice resumes. 

S Jordan Poyer (head)

Similar to Murphy’s hit, Poyer attempted to help take down the ball carrier, assisting LB Lorenzo Alexander before colliding with him with 8:20 left in the 4th quarter. He was quickly assessed, missing several plays. Based on his ability to return to the game, he did not have any concussion-related symptoms, but this doesn’t prevent him from developing issues later on.

Thankfully, there have been no reports of concussion protocol for Poyer, though Matthew Fairburn & Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic reported on the Buffalo Beat podcast that he got a stinger on the play. I haven’t been able to confirm this anywhere else, but when there are questionable head injuries, the team is required to remove the player for further evaluation until a determination has been made. I don’t expect that Poyer will miss anytime or end up on next week’s injury report barring any new information. 

DT Ed Oliver (left foot/ankle)

Finally, the carnage is over, the last injury of the game. Oliver appeared to injure his left foot/ankle with 4:53 left in the 4th as he attempted to tackle Titans RB Derrick Henry. He did succeed in his quest, but in the process, for flipped over & his left foot hit the turf. He was able to get to all fours but appeared in distress immediately. He was able to walk off under his own power after a brief assessment by trainers. He may have suffered a contusion or jammed his ankle as a result of the hard slam. He did not return to the game, but there was not an opportunity to as the offense was able to close out the final minutes of the game & seal the win. This may be yet another injury that may not make much noise & be quickly forgotten about.

This game is done, finito, finished, ceased to continue. The Bills escape Nashville with a hard-fought 14-7 win & a bevy of injuries, but a bye to look forward to next week. As for those still working through injury, this week off will ideally help several key players to recover to make their triumphant return to New Era Field against the Dolphins in Week 7.

Top Photo Credit:

Syracuse.com

Week 5 Bills Injury Preview- Titans

Will Allen be cleared to play in time?

While the Bills are still banged up, they are far from out of contention after the quarter pole of the season. They sit at 3-1 with the 3rd best record in the AFC and still very much in control of their own destiny. While there is a lot of uncertainty heading into Week 5 against the Titans, most of the players are starting to turn the corner injury-wise. Today’s article outlines the injuries heading into Week 5 and who is expected to play.

RULED OUT:

LB Corey Thompson (ankle) & TE Tyler Kroft (ankle)

Thompson is still dealing with surgery that was likely the result of a cleanout from a previously unknown injury. His timeline is fluid and is not expected to be back for another 2-3 weeks at best guess. Kroft is still working back from his low ankle sprain in his left ankle & I would not expect him to be back until after the bye. Until he gets 3 consecutive full days of practice in, consider him benched until further notice. 

 

QUESTIONABLE:

QB Josh Allen (concussion)

As it’s widely known, Allen is coming off a concussion sustained Sunday at the result of Patriots CB Jonathan Jones. There has been a lot of optimism that he can return to play Sunday but historically, most players who sustain a concussion miss the next week. There have been instances where last season QB Phillip Rivers cleared concussion protocol before clobbering the Bills in the 2017 season in the infamous Nathan Peterman game. Former Bill RB LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion last year in the loss to the Colts & returned in time for MNF against the Patriots. 

Concussions are unique in that no one is ever the same and timelines for recovery vary. Considering Allen was in Stage 4 of the protocol all this week & practiced in full, this still isn’t a guarantee. He still has to be cleared by the independent neurologist. The reports look promising and I’m leaning towards him playing, but until we get word that he’s cleared, there isn’t a guarantee he plays. 

S Dean Marlowe (concussion)

Marlowe suffered his concussion after the first Bills scoring drive in which he wrapped up the kick returner before getting hit in the head as he required assistance to complete the tackle. This was with about 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. He appeared wobbly on the field before reportedly was assessed for a head injury. Like Allen, Marlowe is in protocol & appeared to be in Stage 4 as well. If Marlowe is able to clear the protocol, he will be a key special teams player & necessary depth. If he isn’t cleared, expect S JaQuan Johnson to go.

FB Patrick DiMarco (concussion)

DiMarco was a surprise addition to the injury report this week with the 3rd concussion from Sunday. While we generally know when Marlowe’s occurred & certainly when Allen’s happened, DiMarco’s was less apparent. DiMarco was in the game with 3:19 left in the 4th quarter on punt coverage indicating he wasn’t knocked out of the game like several others. He did suffer a hard hit several times including on 2nd & 9 on the flea-flicker to RB TJ Yeldon while performing a chop block. He does get a knee to the head but doesn’t appear to be initially fazed. He also takes a hard hit on 4th & 10 with 8:44 left in the 4th quarter, but this wasn’t out of the ordinary for physical football hits. 

During Wednesday’s practice, he was able to be on the sidelines working on the stationary bike indicating that he is in Stage 2-3, working through increasing the heart rate & tolerating sustained physical activity. Thursday improved his status to Stage 4 with him participating in non-contact activities. Friday indicated that he practiced in full. It’s likely but uncertain if he will play Sunday, but considering how important he is in special teams, it would be beneficial.

Author’s Note:

I try to keep these articles as objective as possible with a little bit of opinion because, well, it’s my website. But I’ve noticed that a lot of people on Twitter are on the bandwagon that if Allen sits for an extra week, then he’ll be extra healthy, especially after the bye. Some people have commented that how do we know if the brain is fully healthy? How can he heal so quickly?

Frankly, we don’t know the brain is fully healthy. We don’t have the technology at this point to look further. But what we do have is objective measure testing. What this encompasses is testing his memory and processing through cognitive testing, his coordination & how his eyes are responding/interacting with input from the outside world with vestibular testing, his physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness which can be measured by heart rate & blood pressure. 

We’re looking at baseline testing from the beginning of the season & compared to how he re-tests to measure where he is at. The hope is that he excels and outperforms the baseline. The baseline acts as a control in the scientific method. The experiment is objective testing. The idea is that does this objective testing correctly measure whether he is healthy & able to return? So far, we have seen this utilized successfully & with great results. 

So what does this boil down to? Once the testing shows that a player has been tested & passes protocol, then he is cleared. Simple as that. Until there are methods that further identify whether the brain is fully healthy, we go with what we know best. Remember, doctors used to use leeches for bloodletting, cocaine/heroin for nearly every remedy, & lobotomies for mental illness. We learn from these mistakes. The hope is that we work with what we know at the time & look to improve the process. 

WR Robert Foster (groin)

Foster suffered a groin injury late last week, missing Week 4 due to the acute nature of the injury. He was able to practice in full Wednesday & Thursday which was an excellent sign & may be ready to contribute in both the offense & special teams. We do not know the specifics of the injury, there is a higher risk to re-injure the area, but practicing in full is always a good sign. However, he was limited Friday and is now officially questionable for Sunday. Considering he is still dealing with the turf toe from training camp & in addition to the groin, it’s reasonable he’s questionable, but certainly more likely to play this week than last.

CB Taron Johnson (hamstring)

Johnson has missed the past 3 games with a hamstring injury dating back to the season opener. He has looked excellent in practice the past 2 weeks performing agility & football-specific drills, but was, in my opinion, a surprising inactive for Sunday. Either he felt he was not ready or had some type of setback with tweaking the area prior to the game. He has been limited the past 2 weeks in practice. 

However, looking back through the past 3 years of Bills injury reports on pro-football-reference.com, historically, with this medical staff, players have missed 2-3 games before returning to play. To go down the rabbit hole further, none of the players that suffered a hamstring strain appeared on the injury report later in the season with the same injury. I believe that the team would rather have the player miss more time to recover then rather than suffer re-injury later. I still believe he can play Sunday, but it may be truly his decision on whether he plays. 

RB Devin Singletary (hamstring)

Like Johnson, Singletary has been dealing with a hamstring strain suffered in the win over the Giants. He missed the Bengals game as expected, but was nearly able to play against the Patriots. His hamstring injury appears to be milder than Johnson’s based on games missed and reports indicating that he was almost better to play last week. He is still questionable going into Sunday from the injury report. I believe he has a better shot to play Sunday than Johnson, but it may come down how he feels & whether the weather will play a factor with a chance of rain. Along with Johnson, the slick grass could potentially aggravate any injuries if they were to slip or attempt to stop.

OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)

Nsekhe was dealing with an ankle injury from Sunday but has been on a constant rotation with rookie Cody Ford. It’s not apparent when he suffered this ankle injury, but he was working through what appeared to be a right ankle injury last week in the Bengals game. He did leave briefly & returned to the game, but it is possible that he could have re-injured the area. We do not know what ankle he is dealing with, but I bet it’s the same ankle again. He did not participate in practice on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday which normally indicates that a player won’t play Sunday.

 

CLEARED

OG Spencer Long (ankle)

Long suffered an ankle injury late in practice last Friday for which he was limited. As the team has several reserve linemen, they likely did not feel that it was appropriate for Long to try and play through a fresh ankle injury, whatever it may be. He has since practiced in full on Wednesday indicating that he is moving past the issues from last week. 

CB Tre’Davious White (ankle)

White is coming off an obvious low right ankle sprain suffered midway through the 2nd quarter. He was able to leave briefly before returning to finish playing. At times, he appeared to be a step slower with his coverage assignments due to the inability to pivot & push off the foot. From what is available in practice, he does not appear to be wearing any bracing & not wearing a red contact jersey as well. Barring setbacks, he should play in full Sunday & then have an extra week to rest & recover.

WR Cole Beasley (ankle)

Beasley was a new addition to the injury report with an ankle injury. Looking at the film, he played in 85% of the plays & there wasn’t any clear instance where he would have suffered an ankle injury. Without more information, it’s hard to speculate the exact injury, but considering it’s an ankle & he practiced in full, he should play Sunday. To note, he does require veteran rest days throughout the week which explains the DNP on Friday.

 

OTHER’S TO NOTE

OG Jon Feliciano (neck)

The reason I bring up Feliciano is due to a play that was tweeted from @Cover_1. It shows that Feliciano blocks effectively, but gets hit in the mouth before dropping to his knees, becoming rigid like a board, and falling to his right side, lying for a moment before getting back up. It’s unknown if this was related to the neck injury, but he hasn’t appeared on the injury report indicating he is healthy enough to play football.

WR Zay Jones (shoulder)

Jones continues to be an enigma to Bills fans this season. After having a regrettable rookie year due to a torn labrum in the shoulder, he was able to return in 2019 and produce some solid statistics. The hope was that he was able to continue building off the promising 2018 campaign, but so far, he has missed the mark. He did not appear on the injury report this week, but I still question if this shoulder injury isn’t somehow contributing to his decline in production this season. Looking back on his rookie year, the torn labrum was clearly a factor. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle)

As you can see the theme with the injury report, McKenzie is also dealing with an ankle injury. This occurred sometime late during practice last week but he was active on gameday. He only played in 1 offensive snap, indicating he probably needs to rest & recover, but the Bills required certain depth and to fill out the 46 man gameday roster. He wasn’t on the injury report this week indicating that he is getting better with & should be able to play in full if another receiver can’t go.

OT Conor McDermott- waived

McDermott was waived Thursday afternoon leaving the Bills at 52 players. While there hasn’t been a corresponding move yet, the team can go in several options. There is an outside chance that Allen can play Sunday, which means someone like WR Duke Williams could come up to show what he is able to do. If Allen can’t play Sunday, then practice squad QB Davis Webb could be called up to back up QB Matt Barkley. Another option could be if RB Devin Singletary can’t go again, then they could call up RB Byron Marshall due to DiMarco unlikely to play. 

Possible Inactives:

TE Tyler Kroft

LB Corey Thompson

S Dean Marlowe

CB Taron Johnson

WR Robert Foster

OG Ike Boettger

OT Ty Nsekhe

Overall, this bye week is coming at an opportune time. Last time this year, the Bills were incredibly healthy, dealing with little to no injuries according to records. Most of the players should be able to come back after the bye & contribute barring any new injuries Sunday. 

Top Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Week 5 Bills Injury Preview- Titans

Dissecting the latest injuries prior to the AFC matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

The Bills roll into Orchard Park with a 1-3 record and much to play for when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. While it is quickly becoming a reality that this team will not look like last year’s surprise playoff team; the fan base is still hoping that there are some positives that can be squeezed out of this season.

According to Friday’s injury report, no one has been ruled out prior to Sunday’s game. Three players have been ruled questionable including: S Rafael Bush (shoulder), S Micah Hyde (groin), and TE Charles Clay (ankle).

Reviewing video, Hyde’s injury was fairly straight forward, pulling his left groin midway through the 1st quarter attempting go upfield and get involved with the play, coming up lame. He was on the injury report the prior week with a toe injury but this is not something that would have caused compensation patterns leading to the injury. He simply performed a football move and it caught him. While he is questionable, he has not practiced all week which historically is not favorable when predicting whether he will play Sunday. He will realistically need at least one more week before he can even consider playing in a game. Expect him to miss this Sunday.

S Rafael Bush injured his shoulder on the last play of the 1st quarter tackling RB Aaron Jones out of bounds. He injured his left shoulder when he got spun around off Jones, falling directly onto his shoulder without having the ability to brace for the fall. He was able to play the rest of the game but was not really directly involved in many plays regarding physical contact after that. His injury was not immediately apparent until reported on the injury report Tuesday. I believe he suffered an AC joint sprain or possible contusion to the general area. Other possibility of a SC joint sprain, though less likely. Typical mechanisms of injury are similar to what was described above; a direct blow to his shoulder. Considering that he was able to play the rest of the game, but take the entire week of practice off suggests that it is a mild sprain/contusion that may take a week to heal.

From my previous article from the Tampa Bay game last year, edited for relevancy:

“On average, the Grade 1 shoulder sprain that Bush possibly could have sustained typically takes 9.8 days to fully recover from according to Dr. David Geier. He will be at day 7 by kickoff Sunday, which may affect his ability.”

It’s possible that he could play, but not practicing all week may have allowed him to heal in order to play, but more realistically, he is not quite ready for contact. Like Hyde, he was unable to practice which almost certainly seals his fate.

TE Charles Clay suffered an ankle injury that on film did not appear serious. He had a Packers defender falling to the ground and fell into Clay’s ankle while he was trying to get out of the way. He was able get the ankle taped up, continue playing and finish the game. It appeared that he got his ankle rolled up on or tweaked as a result. While he was limited Wednesday, did not practice Thursday, he was able to practice in full Friday which is a strong indicator that he will play. In addition to the ankle, he is also dealing with previous shoulder and hip issues from the previous game. He is also a veteran and requires more maintenance which is why he is unable to practice during the week yet play Sunday’s. I would expect him to suit up to be QB Josh Allen’s safety valve.

Other injuries on the report include RB Marcus Murphy (rib), and DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring). Murphy appears to have a generalized rib injury that cost him last week but it appears healed enough to perform this week. Hopefully it is a contusion that continues to heal rather than a broken rib. Lawson missed two games with his hamstring strain and while he did play the entire game, he may have developed soreness as a result, requiring conservative maintenance on it so as to not further irritate the healing tissues. While it is possible to re-injure the area, giving it rest through the week gives him the best shot to play at 100% Sunday.

Others dealing with injury but did not make the injury report: RB LeSean McCoy (ribs/hand), CB Taron Johnson (shoulder), and CB Phillip Gaines (elbow). McCoy has been dealing with cracked rib cartilage that is physically impossible to be healed yet which still limits him despite what he says otherwise. However, reports indicated that he injured his left hand with it visibly wrapped up after the game. Film review was inconclusive whether he suffered any particular injury. To note, he was able to demonstrate effective ball safety, gripping the ball in each hand respectively without compensation during his limited playing time.

CB Taron Johnson has been a bright spot in the defense 4 games into his rookie year. However, he continues to deal with a shoulder injury that appears to be a torn labrum in his right shoulder. This is evident with the use of visible bracing on the right side, he continually injures the area on hard hits but is quicker to return in the game, and the original mechanism of injury. He can continue to play on the shoulder but eventually he may require surgery for long term correction. Until then, he has altered his tackling style, he is wearing bracing, and I’m certain he is doing rehab to strengthen the surrounding muscles around the joint in order to get through the season.

Finally, CB Phillip Gaines is coming off a right dislocated elbow that forced him to miss one game. However, he was inactive despite practicing in full the week of the Packers game which indicated that he may have been held out due to personnel needs rather than injury. Regardless of reason, the extra time off allowed him to heal even more and he may not require any bracing given the time frame.

Overall, anticipate Hyde and most likely Bush to miss the Titans game with Clay playing with several nagging injuries. These thoughts are further solidified with the signing of S Dean Marlowe and releasing TE Khari Lee. This indicates that at least one safety is certain to miss and the thinning of the TE depth chart indicates Clay is playing. The others mentioned above are expected to play but have injuries that do not require treatment by training staff but could still limit their effectiveness. This game should allow the Bills to get their first home win of the season and move to 2-3 to maintain some level of respectability in the AFC.

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

Bills Injury Breakdown- Dolphins II

Assessing the latest Bills injury report and impact on the Dolphins game and hopefully beyond.

Week 17 is here! The first meaningful Week 17 game in 13 years is upon the Bills with a chance to end the long suffering drought. As everyone knows by now, the Bills must win their game and benefit from a Ravens loss or Chargers and Titans losses. As in any sport, all you have to do is qualify for the post season and anything can happen. Win or lose, the fact that the Bills are in the conversation and contention until the end demonstrates that talent does exist on the roster, it just needs to be harnessed to its maximum potential.

However, maximizing potential also relies on maintaining player health. Browsing Twitter recently, I found this gem of a tweet from @Jason_OTC which really encapsulates how the Bills have been able to stay in contention. The link for the tweet is here, but what it states is the top 10 NFL teams that have had the most salary cap money affected by injury. Out of the top 10, only the Patriots and Seahawks are playoff eligible teams. These are teams that have established coaches and players in their system that can absorb injuries and continue to move forward.

The one team that isn’t on there that I’m sure has been on in past seasons? The one and only Buffalo Bills! Keeping a healthy roster has been key to the team’s success this year and is clearly evident by the previous list; you can’t win in the NFL if you don’t have a healthy roster or exceptional depth. Making this point does allow an easy transition towards today’s article breaking down the injury report and impact for the Week 17 match up against the Miami Dolphins.

First up is players ruled out for Sunday which only consists of CB Shareece Wright out with a concussion. It is unknown when Wright sustained his concussion and when symptoms began to develop. Thankfully, he is a depth player and while depth is important, this is not a significant blow to the roster.

Those questionable for Sunday include C Ryan Groy (illness) and WR Deonte Thompson (shoulder/back). Flu season is in full effect and that’s most likely what Groy is dealing with, no secret there. As for Thompson, he sustained a back injury during Sunday’s game early in the 2nd quarter. It appeared he took a hard shot to the back but was able to return. To add to it, he suffered a shoulder injury in practice on Thursday, unfortunately, not much is known about how he injured it. Depending on severity of the shoulder injury, which appears to be worse than the back injury will dictate whether he suits up Sunday.

Those dealing with injury but expected to play include WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee), TE Charles Clay (knee), DT Kyle Williams (groin), and CB E.J. Gaines (knee). Benjamin and Clay continue to deal with their respective knee injuries which hasn’t greatly reduced their ability to produce, but does limit them somewhat. It would take a broken bone or significant ligament damage to prevent Kyle Williams from suiting up for this game. Even with a major diagnosis such as that, he would still possibly try to play; that man has and will continue to give 100%.

Finally, Gaines missed last week with what I believed to be a Grade 1 MCL sprain to his left knee during the previous Dolphins game. As mentioned on The Rockpile Report this week, it was theorized that Gaines was held out from the Patriots game as their was little chance to win the game and he would benefit from an additional week of rehab to be ready for this game. I support this theory as fact as medically, it makes sense. I would not expect Gaines to be limited in any fashion during his play Sunday, the only limiting factor is his hard hitting style of play. As Shareece Wright is out, it is vitally important that Gaines remains healthy. There is a rather large difference in the defensive performance when Gaines is healthy and when he is not; the Bills need every starter available.

For the past 10 years as a Bills fan, I have waited for this moment, this moment to be able to watch the Bills in the post season. This is far from guaranteed as I type this while drinking my coffee, but the possibility is exciting. I remain cautiously optimistic, but still hopeful that this year the drought may end, it has to end at some point, why not now? After tomorrows game, the narrative of this Bills season will be fully shaped and be remembered for finally entering the playoffs in the 21st century or another missed opportunity. Only time will tell.

Continue to check back for the latest articles and updates following the games. Follow me on Twitter @kyletrimble88 for the latest game time updates and injury assessments. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!!

Trust the Process

Thoughts on “Trust the Process” and how it will shape the Buffalo Bills for years to come.

The Buffalo Bills are at the halfway mark, sitting at 5-3 and own the 3rd best record in the AFC, tied with the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bills also are 1 game back in the AFC East and currently hold the 6th seed in the playoffs. Not a bad start for a team that was expected to tank for a top pick next season. As this season has progressed, “Trust the Process” has been regularly brought up. Today’s article will attempt to define what I believe “Trust the Process” is and how it will shape the Buffalo Bills for this season and potentially years to come.

This season is already looking to be different from seasons past as they prepare for a showdown at home against the New Orleans Saints. Time will tell how the rest of the season plays out, but I believe there is already a vast improvement from last year. The reason behind this is Sean McDermott. He may be the answer that Buffalo has been looking for these past 17 years. This isn’t to say that the other coaches during The Drought have been bad, but McDermott is different in a very significant way.

Much has been said regarding McDermott’s rise to the top, starting with the Eagles, then making his mark with the Panthers as a defensive coordinator. It has been mentioned often that he was a successful wrestler in high school, forgoing a possibly successful wrestling career in college to play football at William and Mary. It is is wrestling background that sets him apart. It is why I believe he will deliver the Bills to heights not seen since Marv Levy.

Why am I so high on McDermott? Well, it is because I can relate as I dedicated 12 years of my life to the sport of wrestling. I was FAR FAR FAR less successful than McDermott, but I still understand where he comes from. He comes from a sport where there are no schemes, there are no time outs, there are no teammates to help during the match. It is just you and your opponent in the center of the mat. You control the match, the tempo, the outcome. After surviving in that mindset for as long as he did, you begin to think differently when in the heat of competition.

In wrestling, each member of the wrestling team needs to wrestle their individual match in order for the team to succeed. However, this doesn’t mean that every wrestler has to win. Sometimes a wrestler has to go out and just not get pinned to keep the score close. Sometimes a wrestler needs to get bonus points or get the pin instead of the win. At the end of the day, the wrestler has a job to do. This is the same in football, everyone has a job to do. Without each player doing their job, the team can’t win.

After seeing McDermott coach these past 8 games, watching his demeanor during the press conferences, the culture he is beginning to build, it is evident that something is taking hold. Do I expect McDermott to lead us to the playoffs this year? In a weaker AFC conference, it’s possible, but I am not expecting it. It took Marv Levy a season and a half to even get to the playoffs, starting 9-13 during his tenure in Buffalo. It takes time to build a culture, McDermott is on his way there. But what does that culture consist of?

That culture is defined as “Trust the Process”. McDermott wants a player who is determined, disciplined, and driven, among other things. McDermott wants a player who will understand their role on the team, do their individual job, and someone who realizes that those individual contributions will add up to team success. He is looking for players who can recognize that they are building towards something great. He wants a player who is not self serving and not willing to play for only stats. Every player has a role, vital to team success, and without them, they cannot achieve their goals. Trust the Process means that the Bills can trust in their coach to make the right decisions which in turn allows them to trust in their own abilities.

Trusting the Process also allows players to realize there is room for growth during this process. If this team was excellent, they wouldn’t be dropping games to the Jets and Bengals. They would be beating teams soundly, they would be winning games that they are expected to win, and frankly, we wouldn’t be discussing most of this stuff. This discussion allows the Bills to determine how they can grow as a team and realize that they always can continue to improve. It starts with having people who want to be there. The next step is fostering competition and letting the best players rise to the top. The final step is setting realistic goals and achieving them, then setting higher and more achievable goals after that.

The goal of each NFL team is to win the Super Bowl every year. One team achieves that goal, 11 other teams take steps towards that goal, and 20 teams outright fall short. To have a long term goal, there must be many short term goals. McDermott is slowly achieving that with building culture. I believe he will get there because there are many players in the NFL that are talented, that can understand the bigger picture, and understand their job. Stars will emerge, but these players will have the determination, drive, and dedication required to win. With a solid game plan, cap flexibility, and some luck, McDermott will find these players.

The Sean McDermott Buffalo Bills will have this look in the next several years if given the chance. This will be a team that will know their job, not be statistic driven, and looking to achieve the ultimate goal. This won’t be our father’s Bickering Bills either. Those teams ultimately achieved success not seen before or since. I believe this version of the Buffalo Bills will have success without sacrificing who they are. I am highly looking forward to this regardless the results of this season. Understanding the culture that he is building restores my faith in the Bills despite 17 years of poor football. Will he win a Super Bowl? Only God knows. This will take many different things to occur, but with a strong culture, there is a better shot than before.

I know this post was lengthy, I appreciate you reading this in its entirety. I did my best to educate what I believe the culture is and how this will set the team up for long term success. I believe the past coaches came in looking to win football games and expect the football players to play. McDermott is still in the business to win football games, but he realizes that there is more to football wins than player performance. Marv Levy took many years to achieve his greatest success. His autobiography details that through his years of WWII and decades of coaching at the various levels. Though he was not a wrestler, he came in with an unique set of experiences which allowed him to inspire his players to perform to the best of their abilities. McDermott brings that to the table in spades. He’s going to get it done. If he doesn’t get it done, he’s going to get the team farther than others have and will exhaust every option before then.

As always, continue to check back regularly for new articles and updates regarding my thoughts and Buffalo Bills injuries. Thank you for your time and GO BILLS!!