Week 10 Recap- Saints

Assessing the latest injuries including Jerry Hughes’ shin injury and what exactly happened with Saints RB Daniel Lasco’s spine injury.

The Buffalo Bills know how to keep this fan base on their toes and not in a good way. After putting up a stinker of a game against the Jets on prime time, the Bills followed up with a complete throttling at home by the New Orleans Saints by a score of 47-10. As a fan, I saw nothing good come out of this game. The offensive line didn’t look as porous as the Jets game, but still could not provide effective protection for Tyrod Taylor to make effective throws or move the ball. The entire offense looked out of sorts even with all the weapons that Tyrod had at his disposal. This was not a good game and if more is said on this topic, it will not be pretty.

Thankfully, this forum is not designed for my two cents on how the Bills play. I always leave the X’s and O’s to my friends at The Rockpile Report. Give them a listen; by far the most thorough and honest analysis of our beloved Buffalo Bills. However, the goal of today is to discuss the Buffalo Bills injuries sustained after Sunday’s drubbing.

Thankfully, the Bills continue to avoid the major season changing injuries that many other teams have sustained this season. The only injury that has been reported so far is DE Jerry Hughes. His injury was sustained at the end of the 1st half in which he injured his shin. He was observed warming up on the sidelines but did not return. It is unknown whether he was unable to return or was sat out as the game was out of reach at that point.

From my standpoint, there isn’t much that Jerry Hughes could have injured in his shin. The shin (tibia) is part of the lower leg which is the bone that makes up part of the knee and the ankle. While there are a multitude of muscle attachments that connect to the area to assist in knee and ankle movement, the shin itself doesn’t have a lot of possibility for injury. I believe that he may have suffered a contusion to the skin/tissue over the bone which made it painful to run. As mentioned above, the muscles do attach to the tibia which when moved, does pull on their attachment points, which could pull on the painful tissue.

Hughes also may have sustained an injury to his tibialis anterior which assists the foot in lifting up (dorsiflexion) and moving inward (inversion). This muscle is the meaty portion of the front and outside portion of the shin. A contusion to the muscle belly could make running painful and prevent effective pivoting, especially with the demands of his position. Either way, these aren’t injuries that keep most players down for long and Hughes is known for his durability during his career.

However, I will state that Hughes did not sustain a fracture. I do not believe this to be the case as he would have had imaging performed and ruled out if there was any possibility. He would have also had a definitive diagnosis today and most likely expected to miss several weeks if that were the case.

The only serious injury that occurred Sunday was to Saints RB Daniel Lasco on a kickoff return. Lasco hit his head directly into the hip of WR Brandon Tate and dropped immediately. It appeared initially as though he was not moving which brought back immediate thoughts of Kevin Everett 10 years ago. Thankfully, his injury was nowhere as severe but is season ending. It was determined today that he has a disc bulge in his neck and will most likely require surgery to correct the issue.

To give a better understanding to what happened, it helps to understand the anatomy in the area. The spine is comprised of bones called vertebrae which stack upon one another and allow the human body to stay upright and distribute the weight of the head and the trunk effectively. These bones allow the spinal cord to pass through it and act as a cage for the spinal cord and allow the nerves to branch off into all areas of the body. This allows for the nerves to provide input to move each muscle and allow various sensations to be felt. In between each vertebrae is a vertebral disc which acts as a shock absorber, allow for fluid movement between the vertebrae, and acts as spacer to prevent pinching of the nerves.

When Lasco’s head directly collided with Tate’s hip, it compressed the vertebrae on each other so much that it bulged or herniated one of these discs in the neck (cervical). This most likely began pushing on the spinal cord or a spinal nerve, causing radicular or traveling pain down the nerve. This is typically seen as weakness, numbness, and pain in the affected area. If you were able to see Lasco being loaded into the ambulance, he was able to raise his right arm, but it did not appear to be a strong, confident motion typically seen in the movies.

In a majority of non-sport cases, these types of injuries can be effectively managed non-operatively through physical therapy, chiropractics, injections, etc. However, due to the nature of the injury as it was quite traumatic and the impact football has on the body, that may not provide the best long term options, especially if he wants to return to football. He may get a cervical discectomy and fusion to the affected area in which the herniated portion of the disc is partially or totally removed and the vertebrae above and below the area are fused together to eliminate movement and further pressure on the nerves. He is able to return to football without any long term issues, but repeated injuries to the neck may impact his long term career prospects. This is why former Bills player S Aaron Williams found his career ending prematurely due to similar injuries.

As mentioned above, while the Bills played poorly, injuries are not being added to the insult and the Bills are not losing players to injured reserve. I would still want a tired but overall healthy starter out there in Week 15 fighting for a playoff spot rather than the backup just trying to hang on and not able to provide the same level of play. The Bills are banged up right now but should have some key players return in the coming weeks.

Continue to check back for further updates including analysis of the Bills injury report come Wednesday and when more information is known. As always, thank you for reading, follow me on Twitter at @kyletrimble88 for the latest updates and GO BILLS!!

Kelvin Benjamin Injury History

Analyzing the injury history of newly acquired WR Kelvin Benjamin and expectations for the rest of the season.

The Bills continue to shock and astound this fan base! Right before the trade deadline, the Buffalo Bills traded 2018 3rd and 7th round picks for WR Kelvin Benjamin from the Carolina Panthers! Brandon Beane continues to make moves to contend for a playoff spot, which is more than any recent Bills GM has done over the past 17 years. We have had splashy free agents such as Terrell Owens, Mario Williams, Shawne Merriman, and Nick Barnett, but have had to overpaid for aging talent or not gotten the money’s worth out of the talent. One constant remains, no playoff appearances. Time will tell if this Bills team will change that, but there is already greater chance than before.

With the Bills trading for Kelvin Benjamin, this does bring questions. Questions including how he will fit into a Rick Dennison offense, what kind of impact he will have, and what his injury history/risk is. Today’s post will review Benjamin’s injury history and attempt to determine whether he will be the play maker that the Bills expect of him. Or will Benjamin be the 2017 version of Sammy Watkins/Percy Harvin; supremely talented, but oft injured.

According to sportsinjurypredictor.com, Kelvin Benjamin has sustained a series of injuries over his 4 year playing career. Injuries include concussions, hamstring strains, ACL tear, AC joint sprain, and knee sprain. Starting in order, Benjamin’s concussion occurred during the 2014 season from a hit from Vontaze Burfict which knocked him out of the game but was able to return the following week. While concussion are a hot topic among today’s NFL players, the fact that he was able to return quickly indicate that it was mild at best and did not have long term effect. Having a history of concussions does predispose a player to future concussions, but so far Benjamin has avoided a recurrence of this injury.

During the 2015 offseason, Benjamin suffered two Grade 1-2 hamstring strains to both of his legs which kept him out briefly during OTA’s. Hamstrings can be chronic if not managed correctly, but considering the offseason is less strenuous, he was able to heal up with greater ease. Unfortunately, Benjamin’s 2015 season took a turn for the worse as he tore his left ACL during a non-contact drill during training camp which sidelined him for the entire season.

There is a higher risk for ACL re-tear once suffering an initial tear, but depending on surfaces, strength, and conditioning, this can affect rates. According to the MOON study, following two years after initial tear, 4.3% of patients re-tore the surgical graft and 3.6% tore the opposite ACL. This study comprised of more than 2,700 patients who had initially tore an ACL. While there is a risk, it is far from a guarantee that they re-tear. In another study that studied tears from ages 10-25 years, there was a 6 times greater chance that an athlete tore their ACL when compared to a healthy population. This study did factor females in which may skew results as there are no females in the NFL, but does demonstrate a higher risk for re-injury.

Through my personal research found at my previous article, I found that during the 2017 preseason, most injuries occurred to players 3 years and less in league. A majority of the ACL tears also occurred in this age group which can infer several things. This suggests that even though a player may be supremely talented, their bodies are still not physically ready for the NFL game right away. This also indicates that there is a higher risk for agility players to suffer major injury early in their career. Finally, consider that new NFL players coming out of school are 21-23 years old, this falls in line with the trend of ACL tears in young NFL players and in the previously mentioned study.

It was thought that during this season that Benjamin potentially re-tore his ACL during the New Orleans Saints game, but it was later diagnosed that he suffered a knee sprain which appears that he has fully recovered from. Fortunately, Benjamin did not suffer any further damage greater than a sprain and was able to return relatively quickly. Trying to predict the possibility of a prior ACL tear to re-tear or tear in the other knee is still like winning whack-a-mole. The risk is higher, but not absolute. Finally, the only other major injury he sustained came in the 2016 season in which he sprained his AC joint but did not miss any games as a result.

Looking back at all of this, it appears that while there is risk for injury, there is no greater risk than other players at his position. There also does not appear to be chronic injuries that he is coming to Buffalo with which may affect his production. I also pray that he does not suffer a Billsy injury a la Jordan Matthews did in his first practice with the team this season.

Kelvin Benjamin brings a new dimension to the passing game that was lost when Sammy Watkins was traded. He will be able to get the 50/50 balls that Tyrod Taylor throws up, he will be a red zone threat, and take pressure off Zay Jones so that he can continue to learn and grow as a rookie. Further analysis can be found by my friends at The Rockpile Report; I know for a fact that Drew and Chris have some HOT takes regarding the recent moves over the past week. Check out their podcast, you will not be disappointed!

Overall, I like this trade. Kelvin Benjamin does come with some injury baggage, but so has nearly every other player in NFL history. There are hardly any players that miss any time, unless their name is Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, or Joe Thomas. All eventually had serious injuries which affected their career in one way or another which puts into perspective when looking at Kelvin’s injury history. Though the Bills did give up some draft capital, they still have 5 picks within the top 90 picks and cap flexibility to get the players they covet and not sacrifice the future.

This is a true application of “Trust the Process”. Will it end in playoff appearances, division championships, or even dare I say it, a Super Bowl? Who knows. These Buffalo Bills are winning and still in far better position than the Browns or Colts who have tanked in order to get picks; their process has not worked in their advantage when building a championship team.

Continue to check back for further updates including the injury breakdown prior to the Jets game Thursday, post game analysis, and my thoughts on Sean McDermott during the long break before the Saints game. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 7 Injury Breakdown- Winston’s Woes

Breaking down the Bills injury report, analyzing QB Jameis Winston’s AC sprain, and how it will impact Sunday’s match up.

Well, I was wrong. Yet I couldn’t be more happier! WR Jordan Matthews has been cleared for practice! After breaking a bone in his thumb which required surgery and a pin inserted just two weeks ago, he has already begun practicing on a limited basis. This is far faster than the anticipated month long absence the team expected. This also blew my prediction out of the water of returning at least by the Jets or Saints game.

This determination was made with full confidence of team doctors and how Matthews has responded to treatment. While there are guidelines with each surgery, they can be circumvented based on variables such as healing, pain, and strength/range of motion progress. As of today, he is listed as questionable for Sunday. He was listed as a full participant in practice today, however, it may still be beneficial to come back with an additional weeks rest. As we have found out, anything can happen, so stay tuned.

Conversely, I believed that LB Ramon Humber would be the one returning quickly as he was able to play through the Falcons game with a club on the hand until he could be examined further. As of today, he is still listed as out. This may change as he continues to be week-to-week, but LB Matt Milano is filling in place with satisfactory results.

CB E.J. Gaines continues to deal with a groin injury also sustained in the Atlanta game which indicates that it may be been more severe than DE Shaq Lawson injury. He was listed as a full participant today which is a good sign heading into Sunday. CB Leonard Johnson is listed as still dealing with a hamstring injury, but also was able to practice in full today. As previously mentioned, hamstrings can be tricky and not quite heal up completely if Johnson re-aggravates the injury. Both are listed as questionable going into Sunday’s game, but considering these are soft tissue injuries, I have much more faith in them playing than Matthews.

Finally, OT Cordy Glenn was a full participant while still dealing with a foot/ankle injury. He appears to continue to re-injure it or dealing with a chronic issue which means he may never be fully healthy this season. There was discussions that he would be moved to the Seattle Seahawks, but a trade was unable to be completed. It is also assumed that he would not pass a physical. Add into the mix that he has a hefty contract that not every team can just assume. I expect to see Cordy either get healthy and be traded, or play out his contract and leave a free agent.

While this is a Bills blog, the one big question is how QB Jameis Winston’s AC sprain will affect Sunday. Winston sustained the shoulder injury last Sunday during a tackle by LB Chandler Jones. It was reported that he was well enough to return in an emergency, but QB Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the game. As of today, Winston has participated in a limited fashion with throwing in practice and is listed as starting Sunday. While he is starting, I question the effectiveness of his abilities.

front-view-of-shoulder-joint-356986.jpg
Credit: saintlukeshealthsystem.org

To understand why this may limit Winston, the AC joint must be understood. The AC joint is important in the shoulder as this is where the top of the shoulder (acromion) articulates with the collarbone (clavicle). The AC joint is vital to the throwing motion due to the fact that as the arm is elevated, the acromion that attaches to the wingbone (scapula) begins to elevate. As the scapula begins to elevate, the articulation between the acromion and clavicle begin to move as the clavicle beings to rotate up and out of the way to allow for overhead movement. If the AC joint is sprained, this limits the ability to elevate the shoulder effectively and cock the arm back in position to throw. There are various grades of AC joint sprains as with any other sprain outlined in my previous article, but this appears to be a Grade 1 sprain.

Winston is going to attempt to play with this injury, but it’s assumed that he will not be effective to throw deep or put any speed on his throws. On average, the shoulder sprain that Winston 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. This, and other information regarding AC joint sprains can be found at the previously linked blog. This information provided by both Dr. Geier and found by my friends from The Rockpile Report. If you aren’t already a listener, start listening, Drew and Chris are the best at what they do when it comes to Bills football!

At this point in the season, I still believe we are in a better spot both record wise and injury wise compared to previous seasons. I also believe that this team is better equipped to deal with injuries than in past years. This next month of football will really define our season, determining whether the Bills are for real or the same old Bills. Calling it now, the Bills win a close defensive battle and move to 4-2 on the year. Continue to check back for any breaking updates, new injuries, or further explanation of complex injuries. Thank you and GO BILLS!!

That’s A Wrap!

Assessing the injuries coming out of the 4th preseason game against the Detroit Lions. Breaking down the IR, how it compares to past seasons, and upcoming posts.

The Buffalo Bills won over the Detroit Lions on Thursday night 27-17 behind a strong showing behind Nathan Peterman and company. With that win, Buffalo finishes the preseason 1-3 on a high note and ready for the home opener against the Jets in Week 1. Overall, the Bills continue this preseason by avoiding major injury, allowing them to have some depth going into the regular season. Injuries to note are Jerel Worthy’s concussion at the end of the first quarter which sent him into the concussion protocol for the foreseeable future. Michael Ola sustained an ankle injury in the first half and was unable to return. Besides the previously two mentioned, the rest of the game consisted of bubble players getting final chances at securing their roster spots.

As it was relatively a quiet preseason injury wise for the Bills, there are still some injuries to report. Right after the Lions game, the Bills had to make some hard decisions regarding their roster. As previously mentioned, TE Keith Towbridge was placed on IR with a foot injury back on 8/3/17 and TE Jason Croom was waived with an ankle injury and settlement on 8/18/17. Right now, there are no locks for IR as Michael Ola has been waived/injured, which means he may revert to IR and then released with an injury settlement in several days. I believe this to be the case as Ola had his ankle taped up after his Thursday night injury, possibly attempting to go back in. This would suggest his ankle was sprained and cost him a roster spot as the Bills had what they thought to be enough depth at the position.

Those released with injury settlement were as follows: WR Rod Streater (Toe), S Shamiel Gary (Unknown), WR Jeremy Butler (Concussion), and LB Sam Barrington (Unknown). As previously mentioned, Streater sustained what I believed to be a turf toe injury back against the Eagles. While I still believe it was a Grade II sprain, it may have been too injured to warrant holding a roster spot. Up to that point, Streater was having a solid preseason. He could be eligible to come back later in the season if the Bills run into depth issues, but it is too early to tell.

Butler was a long shot to make the roster, but he sustained what now appears to be a fairly serious concussion back on 8/8/17 and hasn’t fully recovered. Losing reps while recovering most likely cost him a roster spot. It is unknown what stage he is at in the league concussion protocol, but considering he has not been medically cleared yet, he may be still in Phase 1-2. There was little to no information on the nature of Barrington’s or Gary’s injury or when they sustained the injury. I have only been able to find that Gary came out of the Eagles game early but no description of the issue.

As the Bills are still dealing with injuries such as Taylor, Yates, and Worthy in the concussion protocol, along with Dareus’ hip and Glenn’s foot, these should not prevent these players from missing extended time. As the front office continues to shake things up releasing RB Jonathan Williams, LB Gerald Hodges, and WR Philly Brown yesterday, I am pleased to see that they are not having to replace players out of desperation.

These injuries this preseason are a stark contrast to the past several years in which multiple, big name players found their way onto IR or had significant injuries coming into the season. Going back the past several training camps, 2016 saw 10 players start the season on IR with Shaq Lawson designated to return. 2015 saw 3 players on IR and Marquis Goodwin missing most of the season with significant issues. 2014 saw 4 players out including Kiko Alonso already out due to an off season ACL tear. Looking back further, most seasons start off with 3-4 players on IR or missing large chunks of time. I had to go back to 2011 in where only one player started on IR and the noteworthy IR placements came with Kyle Williams and Eric Wood later in the season. That team if you remember, finished 6-10.

This wraps up the preseason for the Buffalo Bills with depth appearing to finally be where it needs to be at to have a realistic shot at staying in games when a starter goes down. In the next several posts, look for a final analysis of all the preseason injuries in the NFL, dissecting the severity of injury, trends, and what this means for the upcoming season. For the dedicated Bills fan, I will be doing a post on the 10 year anniversary of TE Kevin Everett’s neck injury with a retrospective look at what occurred and the outcomes afterward. I look forward to further educating my fellow Bills fans, other football fans, and growing this endeavor! Go Bills!