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!!