2020 Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Review- Colts

The Bills lose Zack Moss for the playoffs, how serious is the ankle injury?

The Buffalo Bills have done it!! They have secured a playoff win for the first time since 1995 over the Indianapolis Colts 27-24! While it wasn’t a win that was as dominating as it has been in recent weeks, it’s the playoffs, and blowout wins are far from expected as we saw this weekend. 

Coming into the game, the Bills were fairly healthy with only Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs being the big concerns. Both ended up playing with varying degrees of effectiveness. Beasley led the team in receptions and moved the chains despite playing through obvious pain, Diggs led in receiving yards and added a touchdown.

Fortunately, the Bills ended the game with only one significant injury as they look to prepare for next week against the Baltimore Ravens. Check out the recap below.

In-game injuries:

T Dion Dawkins (Undisclosed)

Dawkins left the field briefly, going to the locker room early in the 2nd quarter before returning moments later adjusting his equipment. Looking at the video, there doesn’t appear to be anything to note injury-wise on film and he didn’t miss any offensive snaps during the time he was away. 

Unless he shows up on the injury report with a designation, this one’s a mystery. 

RB Zack Moss (Left ankle)

Moss went down with a rough-looking left ankle injury at the beginning of the 4th quarter, requiring the cart to leave the field. Upon review, his left foot gets caught between a lot of bodies and the ground with his foot turned out. This was a clear mechanism for a likely high ankle sprain and he was in obvious pain. The cart was required to get him off the field and does not always equal severity, but the inability to get to the locker room himself required the use of the cart.

Initial reports that came out after the game indicate that Moss’s postseason may be over but the possibility to return if there is a deep playoff run. This further supported the possible high ankle sprain observed on video. Even with a full week off, it would have been incredibly difficult to even attempt to play through this injury. There is considerable instability and swelling in the ankle and he would have a very difficult time generating force from the ankle/foot complex. 

However, reports came out Monday stating that his season was over but that he avoided a major injury according to his agent. There is the possibility that he may require surgery which is indicated for significant high ankle sprains, but no official determination on the intervention has been made yet. 

If Moss avoids surgery, he could take roughly 6-8 weeks to return to full health. If he requires surgery, it could take upwards of 6 months but most likely less than that to fully recover. With either timeline, he would still be fully ready for training camp. Based on the damage, he could realistically participate in most of OTA’s with potentially little to no restrictions.

Credit: ChrisButlerSportsPT.wordpress.com

There is the possibility that he could receive the Tightrope procedure that the Alabama Crimson Tide medical staff has popularized, but that hasn’t been generally accepted as a regular surgery in the NFL as of yet. If he does receive this procedure, there is a chance that he could rehabilitate quicker, but this won’t be known unless it is reported.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for Moss and the Bills, but they do have Devin Singletary as the lead back in the interim. They also have TJ Yeldon, Antonio Williams, and even Taiwan Jones as options, though Jones has exclusively been on special teams. They hypothetically could bring in someone from an eliminated team’s practice squad, but to have 4 days to prepare could be a large task. It’s an unfortunate injury, but something the Bills must deal with. 

Other observations:

WR Cole Beasley (Left knee)

Beasley “toughed it out” to play Saturday with 7 receptions for 57 yards but at times came up clearly limping around. Watching him trying to move the chains posed the question of whether it was worth it for him to suit up to play, but he did. He was mainly a possession receiver, catching the ball and then going down relatively soon after the catch. I did count two plays where he tried to get some extra yardage but he didn’t break any long runs like I suspected that he would have difficulty with. 

Unless he injured the knee further Saturday, I would expect that he doesn’t practice all week or is significantly limited except for Thursday and then do it all over again Saturday. It was also noted that he was wearing a brace under his pants to provide extra stability to the joint.

It’s the playoffs, he was going to gut it out in order to do whatever it took to win. That was my only argument as to whether he would play or not. It was evident that he probably would have not played had it been a regular-season game. 

There didn’t appear to be any other notable injuries from Saturday’s game but there will likely be some surprises on the injury report. Stefon Diggs was highly effective and the oblique injury he was dealing with did not appear to be a factor at all. This will be an incredibly long week as the Bills prepare to host the Ravens in primetime on Saturday for the right to move to the AFC Championship against the winner of the Chiefs-Browns game. I’d assume the Chiefs would be the opponent, but the way the Browns handled the Steelers Sunday, anything can happen. 

We will be watching both the Bills and Ravens injury report this week to identify any possible competitive advantages heading into Saturday. 

Top Photo Credit: Yardbarker.com

2020 Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Preview- Colts

Will Beasley & Diggs play Saturday?

The playoffs are here! The Buffalo Bills HOST the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday at 1:05 pm. 25 years is a long, long time between playoff football games in Buffalo. While we all can’t be there, the few that can be will represent us well. Regardless of where everyone may be watching the game, it should be an exciting game, and the chance to advance in the playoffs for the first time since 1995 would be surreal. 

On top of all the excitement, the Bills are fairly healthy heading into this game, with only several concerns with the wide receiver corps. Below is all the injury concerns heading into Saturday’s game and additionally, a breakdown of the Colts injuries heading into the game. 

QUESTIONABLE

WR Cole Beasley (left knee)

At least when Sean McDermott says week-to-week, he means it and has been fairly consistent with that phrasing since coming to Buffalo. However, it is unknown whether Beasley will play Saturday after only practicing once in the past two weeks. He was limited during Thursday’s practice and was observed going through light exercise/jogging and stretching, not stressing the knee at all.

There is no video present of running, jumping, or cutting at full speed to indicate how he will perform. While he doesn’t need the practice, it is concerning whether he was available for the offensive game plan installation. I simply don’t know if he plays. On one hand, it’s the playoffs, if you don’t win, you’re done. But does the team want to risk aggravating his injury and losing him for the remainder of the postseason?

If Beasley does play, I would expect he has difficulty running his routes to the right and having to cut on a dime to that direction having to push off the left knee. I would also expect him to have difficulty with jumping and getting yards after the catch to move the chains. In addition, he would be going up against one of the best slot corners in the NFL in Kenny Moore. Going up against a healthy slot corner with Beasley not being 100% makes me question whether it’s worth getting him out there. Can he tough it out and play? Absolutely, but it doesn’t mean it may be the best option.

The team has expressed confidence in Isaiah McKenzie filling in for Beasley if needed. While McKenzie doesn’t do what Beasley can do, he is still healthier which may be more effective in the short term. But it’s the playoffs, Beasley is a competitor, he wants to play, that’s a given. Just whether he is able. I have detailed my thoughts on the possible injuries he is dealing with here. I also went into detail on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino Friday if you’re looking for any more nuggets of information. 

What this will come down to is: Does the team believe they can perform without him like they did last week? Or will a less than 100% Beasley be more effective than McKenzie in the slot? If I had a gun to my head, I believe that the Bills can win without Beasley for this week especially against elite competition in the slot defensively, and get a healthier version of him in the divisional round. If he plays, fantastic, if he doesn’t, it may be the right decision in the long run.

WR Stefon Diggs (Oblique)

There was a lot of concern with Diggs’ oblique that popped up on the injury report Tuesday. He was limited Tuesday, did not practice Wednesday, but did have a limited practice on Thursday. He is questionable, but it doesn’t mean that he won’t be dealing with some discomfort. To understand what he is dealing with, read below.

Credit: Centenoschultz.com

The obliques are a part of the abdominal muscles positioned on the outside portion next to the “six pack” we all know. They are positioned on both sides connecting to the xiphoid process which is the pointed bottom portion of the sternum and connect down to the upper portions of the hip including the iliac crest, the bony portion of where our waists are located and about where most people’s pants sit. All these abdominal muscles make up what is known as the core. These muscles provide protection to the inner organs and function to flex and rotate the trunk. There are internal and external obliques but we would not really be able to identify which obliques he injured nor is it important to this discussion.

Due to not identifying when or which side he suffered this injury on also limits knowing which side is limited. There was a report that he was grabbing at his side during warm-ups but he was still quite effective during the game and only came out after the half. He also did suffer a late hit from Christian Wilkins during the 2nd quarter that resulted in brief worry for a concussion or other injuries such as this oblique injury, but it is not clear that this is when this injury occurred either.

The only other Bills player that has publicly sustained an oblique injury during Sean McDermott’s tenure is former guard John Miller. He suffered an oblique injury against the Jaguars in 2018 and ultimately missed a game. However, Miller did not practice and was ruled out for the game against the Dolphins. Miller was on the offensive line, bending forward, twisting his upper body, and pushing against large humans while staying upright took an immense amount of strength.

Diggs has the ability to avoid taking hits to the area, minimize the need for blocking, and can generally reduce strain on the area due to his position. He may be slightly limited in which way he turns, how he takes a hit, how he fights for extra yards. He does have a lot of pain management interventions available to him from the team and ways to manage this so he can get through the day. He is the main component of the offense and to lose him for Saturday would be a huge loss. However, he has said he’s fine, he’s been limited two out of the three days, I believe he will play and be quite effective.

To gauge an idea of whether Beasley or Diggs plays based on practice reports from this season, check out the tweet below. 

ACTIVE 

G Jon Feliciano (Left knee)

Feliciano appeared on the injury report following his left leg getting rolled up on just prior to the first Bills touchdown of the day Sunday. He came up limping but did not leave the game. The fact that he practiced in full indicated that it was not a big concern and should be ready to go Saturday. 

TE Reggie Gilliam (Knee/hamstring)

After missing the last two weeks with knee and hamstring injuries sustained against the Patriots, Gilliam appears ready to make his playoff debut. He practiced in full all week and doesn’t appear to be a question mark heading into Saturday. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (Ankle)

Like Diggs’, this ankle injury was not clear on when it occurred or how severe it is. He also does not have a game day designation which is excellent to see considering he may see increased snaps due to Cole Beasley potentially being out. 

His workload may be reduced on special teams with Andre Roberts taking punt and kickoff returns, but McKenzie has clearly shown the ability to be effective when called upon. I doubt that he has any noticeable drop off in play from last week other than a decrease in total touchdowns.

Colts Injury Report:

OUT

T Will Holden (Ankle) 

While Holden is the backup right tackle, the loss of him leaves the Colts very thin at the tackle position in general. They’ve already lost Anthony Constanzo to season-ending ankle surgery and lost his backup La’Raven Clark to a torn Achilles right after. 

They are down to their 3rd string tackle Chaz Green and anyone backing him up will be coming from the practice squad or playing out of position. The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to sack Phillip Rivers 5 times, who is dealing with an injury of his own, so he can be pressured. The Bills could potentially use part of that game plan for success. 

CB Rock Ya-Sin (Concussion) 

He hasn’t practiced all week due to the concussion and anyone that doesn’t practice prior to a game doesn’t play in nearly every instance I’ve seen. TJ Carrie will replace him at CB2.

QUESTIONABLE

DT Deforest Buckner (Ankle)

He originally injured his ankle a few days before Christmas on the 17th, played through it, and has had some great games including a 3-sack performance days after the injury. He either had a high ankle from getting his heel hit or a bad inversion ankle sprain; either or it hasn’t stopped him.

The fact that he is that far out from the original injury and continues to play indicates that he will play Saturday and I would expect that he still gets his numbers.

ACTIVE 

QB Phillip Rivers (Turf toe)

Rivers has been working through a nasty turf toe injury that will require surgery following the season. Despite the injury, he has still been effective in leading the Colts to the postseason as the 7th seed. 

With Rivers continuing to deal with this injury, this could be an opportunity to pressure him in the pocket due to his inability to scramble along with the general immobility he is known for. If the Bills defense can prevent Rivers from hitting his first and second reads, this may allow the Bills to sack and hit Rivers all day. He will already be under pressure due to the left tackle position, his blindside, is manned by Chaz Green, a career journeyman.

CB TJ Carrie (Ankle/shoulder)

Not much is known about Carrie with his respective injuries but he is starting in place of Rock Ya-Sin and according to Joe Marino, he has been a better performer over this season than Ya-Sin. This may only be significant if Carrie goes down with an injury and they lack a backup suitable to keep up with the Bills wide receiver corps. 

RB Jonathan Taylor (Shoulder)

Taylor will be playing and look to build off his performance over the Jaguars last week despite dealing with a shoulder injury. There aren’t any specifics regarding what he did and the fact that he doesn’t have a game day designation indicates that he will be ready to go. 

S Khari Willis (Concussion)

Willis practiced in full coming off a concussion indicating that he has cleared the protocol and will be available Saturday. 

Bills Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

WR Cole Beasley

DE Trent Murphy

TE Tyler Kroft

A Bills playoff game at home where it is supposed to be just above freezing and sunny could work in Buffalo’s favor. They didn’t have to travel, they sleep in their own beds, they are used to the weather here. The Bills are favored at -6.5 which isn’t the biggest line this weekend, but half of the games are expected to be closer in the score.

This will be fun to watch. A talented Buffalo Bills team that is hot entering the playoffs with Pro Bowl and All-Pro talent at multiple positions, a potential MVP at quarterback, and a winning mindset. Despite former Bills quarterback and now Colts head coach Frank Reich returning to town, I don’t believe he brings the magic from “The Comeback” into this game. The Bills should win this one and kicking off a deep playoff run. Enjoy the moment, it’s what we’ve been waiting for the past 25 years!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Week 16 Bills Injury Review- Patriots

How serious is Cole Beasley’s leg injury?

The Patriots have been vanquished! A season sweep completed, the first since 1999! With a dominating 38-9 win over New England, the Buffalo Bills move to 12-3 as they continue to strive towards the AFC’s 2nd playoff seed. On top of that, the Bills continue to have excellent luck with regards to injuries following a rough stretch earlier this season. Below are Monday’s injuries. 

In-game injuries:

S Jordan Poyer (Concussion evaluation)

Poyer was briefly removed from the game following a thunderous hit on Cam Newton going out of bounds with 3:21 left in the 2nd quarter. He appeared briefly dazed standing up which likely signaled the athletic trainers above to flag the hit for a concussion check. Poyer didn’t appear thrilled that he had to leave the game but left to the locker room.

He came back out later having been cleared from the evaluation and didn’t appear to have issues throughout the game. It’s important to have these protocols in place to avoid further complications if there was truly a head injury. Fortunately, he was not diagnosed with a concussion but I don’t expect him to play a lot in Week 17 due to wanting to rest starters. 

WR Cole Beasley (Left knee/leg)

Beasley got up gingerly favoring his left leg following a missed catch with 10:30 left in the 4th quarter. Upon initial review, he either sustained a hit to the outside of his left knee or he suffered a strain of his left quadriceps muscle trying to slow down. In the Twitter thread below, the first angle shows that he may have gotten the knee hit, but the second angle shows a stutter step. 

Based on how he got up and the trainers later assessing his knee along with focusing on the outside portion, it seems like there could be a contusion rather than a strain. He didn’t return to the game but this may have been more precautionary than the actual injury. 

Unfortunately, Sean McDermott delivered some disappointing news Tuesday during his weekly post game press conference. Beasley has been termed week-to-week with a leg injury which usually isn’t a great sign when it comes to availability for next week. From what I’ve understood with Sean McDermott week-to-week is missing at least 1-2 games. 

The team termed it a leg injury which doesn’t give us much information. It could be a contusion as mentioned above, could be a quadriceps strain, or it could be something else like a meniscus injury.

Why meniscus? Because after watching this enough times and researching more, this is a possibility based on the new information we know. 

Meniscus tears usually occur with more of a rotary or pivoting motion with the foot planted, such as changing direction suddenly. They can occur in other ways such as deceleration which is not something I initially considered when looking at the injury by video. The team was focused on the left knee and in a clip from the sidelines, a trainer even motions to the lateral aspect of the knee, right along the tibial plateau area where the meniscus sits where some pain/tenderness may have been felt.

It’s possible when he stutter-stepped due to slowing down, he created a shearing force on the meniscus with the knee in flexion or bent. That sudden stop with his weight still accelerating forward could have sheared a portion of the meniscus. 

Credit: John Hopkins Medicine

Signs of a meniscus tear include clicking, popping, locking of the knee during movement. There is also joint line tenderness present during palpation of the knee along with intermittent residual pain. He may have had difficulty fully extending the leg with imaging later confirming the physical findings. 

Credit: Liberty Orthopedic

This would explain why he is now week-to-week and fits the information currently available. This is pure speculation as I am processing the newest information. I hope this is not the case but it’s something that has to be considered. There is still a lot of information that we have to see including the body part that the team designates him with on the injury report and his practice availability. 

The best-case scenario is that it’s a lateral knee contusion and the team is being cautious. The next possibility is the quadriceps strain which could be a week-to-week injury that could force him out. This would be the most opportune situation in terms of overall health.

The worst-case would be the meniscus tear and he has to battle through it for the postseason. We saw former Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin deal with this during the 2017 season. I would expect Beasley to do the same. I hope I’m wrong, I want to be wrong, but I am considering all possibilities based on the information at hand.

While it is a shame that he probably won’t get his 1,000 yards, it’s best that he gets the rest he needs in order to perform in the playoffs. I’d expect him to miss Week 17 with a realistic shot at the first playoff game. He will need rest and rehab in order to get the knee well enough for the playoffs and then they can figure out how to address the area afterward. This will be a situation that changes quickly and hopefully 13 days off is enough time to get the knee healthy enough to play. 

T Dion Dawkins (Right elbow)

This wasn’t even noticed during the game until a Twitter follower pointed it out. Dawkins had a brace on his right elbow after the game in a post-game video when Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs were being interviewed. 

Looking back at the film, Dawkins doesn’t appear with a brace until later in the 3rd quarter. He appeared to get hit on the right elbow during a routine run play with 9:21 left in the 3rd. He finished the series and then the next series came out with a brace. This appears to be a general contusion to the area. It did not appear to greatly affect his play, but there may have been pain and swelling the training staff wanted to manage. 

I am not certain if he shows up on the injury report this week. If he does, this appears to be the culprit. If his play is limited next week, it would likely be due to more of the situation than injury. 

Other injury thoughts:

T Ty Nsekhe (groin)

I had thought that Nsekhe would have been ruled out for Monday’s game, but he was active despite barely practicing last week. He only played in 8 offensive snaps towards the end and 6 special teams snaps which is more in line with his overall play from this season. 

He is an older player that appears to understand his role and may have sat last week due to load management. 

WR John Brown (right high ankle sprain/COVID)

Brown was finally activated to the roster after spending time on IR since Week 10 with a high ankle sprain. He appeared on track to play Monday and the general consensus was that he would, but he was deemed a close contact with TJ Yeldon and placed on the COVID/Reserve list.

He must stay on the reserve list for at least 5 days since he last had contact with Yeldon. If he does not test positive during that time frame, then he can come off and play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. He is one player who needs the reps prior to the playoffs in order to get ready. 

Outside of Beasley’s injury, there is little concern for injuries going into Week 17. There always appears to be an injury or two that is a surprise on the report, but that will have to wait. Otherwise, the Bills are hot and healthy as they wait to find out their Wild Card opponent as hopefully the 2nd seed. The championship window is open, the Bills can pass through and hopefully hoist the Lombardi trophy in February.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo News

2020 Week 16 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Will Johnson and Nsekhe play?

Well, this is a fantastic turn of events! The New England Patriots, 6-8 and eliminated from the playoffs. The Bills, 11-3, winner of the AFC East and a playoff spot locked up. This is a welcome change from the last 20 years and is a chance to kick the Patriots while they’re down on national TV. 

While a game against the Patriots is never a guaranteed win, the Bills have shown that they can play with and beat anyone in the NFL. On top of it, the Bills are incredibly healthy compared to the Patriots who listed roughly 40% of their active roster on the injury report. Below is the Bills injury concerns heading into Monday night and a rundown of all the Patriots’ injuries. 

OUT

TE Reggie Gilliam (Knee/hamstring)

Gilliam is interesting because he was designated as probable with a knee injury during the game but eventually returned. It appeared he injured his left knee when he got hit from behind on kickoff with 6:28 left in the 2nd quarter but later returned. He shows up on the injury report with the knee and hamstring and hasn’t practiced all week. His last appearance in the game was with 8:02 left in the 4th quarter when he lined up as a fullback on a run play; there wasn’t a clear mechanism of injury.

He has since been ruled out for Monday’s game but it’s possible that he aggravated his hamstring injury from Week 13 at some point in the game. Since the playoffs are locked up and he has become a core special teamer, he may finally be giving it the rest it deserves. As Gilliam is designated a tight end and plays special team, there could be a one for one swap for Tyler Kroft considering Kroft has played a decent amount of special teams so far this year. 

QUESTIONABLE

S Jaquan Johnson (Right ankle)

Seeing Johnson practice after two full weeks off is promising after he had his right ankle taken out late in the Steelers game. I had thought he suffered a high ankle by the way he got hit from the outside. The fact that he practiced in a limited fashion this week is promising. 

Looking back at the others who have had similar practice designations through the week, the team has been all over the place. We have seen players not practice all week but play Sunday in the case of Andre Roberts, players practice in full but are ruled out on game day such as Vernon Butler, and everything in between. Those that have followed exactly what Johnson did indicates that he will play. He is a vital special teams player; it would be expected that he plays considering Gilliam is out.

T Ty Nsekhe (Groin)

I don’t know what to make of Nsekhe. This was his first extended time playing this year with 30 snaps on offense following mostly special teams snaps during the year. Reviewing the film, there wasn’t anything obvious as to how he would have injured his groin.

Nsekhe did leave practice briefly on Wednesday but later returned but has been DNP all this week except Friday when he was limited. Things certainly aren’t trending towards him playing which is concerning due to the fact that he replaced Daryl Williams last Saturday. Thankfully, the team does not have a designation for Williams which allows them to find a different depth option.

ACTIVE 

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

I’m not sure which joint is still bothering him to be on this injury report, my guess is his ankle. He didn’t wear a brace on the right leg and was running all over without hesitation. This may be more of a formality but this injury isn’t a factor from what we can see with his mobility. 

WR Stefon Diggs (Left foot)

Diggs foot injury was concerning at first until it was reported that it wasn’t overly worrisome. I had thought that he might be limited this week, but fortunately he has practiced in full every day. He may still be dealing with some pain but his foot getting stepped on won’t affect his performance Monday night.

DE AJ Epenesa (Not injury)

Epenesa is on this injury report due to being evaluated for a head injury late in the game Saturday. He was ruled to not have a concussion but apparently since that designation was not made before the end of the game, this designation indicates that there was a potential injury that was cleared. Otherwise, no issues for Monday. 

WR Andre Roberts (Low back)

Roberts has been limited all week with the exception of Friday in which he practiced in full. Considering he is such a vital part of special teams, it was expected that he did suit up since it isn’t ideal that Micah Hyde returns punts. It’s great Hyde is available but to have a Pro Bowl-caliber return man that specializes in trying to flip the field is better. The hope is that he was dealing with general pain or spasms that have since calmed down. 

CB Tre’Davious White (Neck)

White suffered a stinger in the game on Saturday, went out briefly and then came back to finish the game. He has suffered stingers before and for several weeks last season, he dealt with a neck injury, though it did not affect his availability at the time.

He did practice in full this week indicating this isn’t a big issue; it is possible that he is dealing with some general soreness in the neck with certain movements or it is possible that he is still dealing with some occasional numbness/tingling in the neck/arm that isn’t affecting his abilities. If that’s the case, I’d expect him to continue getting treatment to manage his complaints and be ready for Monday. 

T Daryl Williams (Groin)

Williams was the big concern to miss Monday’s game due to exiting shortly after halftime during the Broncos game. The research has shown that he could be out 8-20 days which initially after the injury, seemed like he wasn’t going to play against the Patriots. However, he has practiced all week with a limited designation which indicates that the groin strain isn’t as severe as initially thought. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

T Ty Nsekhe

TE Reggie Gilliam

DE Trent Murphy*

*If John Brown is activated. 

WR John Brown (Right high ankle sprain)

I also expect that John Brown will be recalled from IR back to the active roster and get some playing time to get ready for the postseason. The team has until 4 pm on Monday to make this designation. This squad is quite healthy in the big picture, though most of these guys are banged up and dealing with smaller injuries to varying degrees. 

The Patriots will be without Stephon Gilmore and likely Julian Edelman, both of whom didn’t play in Week 8 when the Bills last played them. Besides that, 20 players were listed on the injury report with limited participation by all and carrying a questionable designation. 

If you want gamesmanship, this is it right here folks. I can say with 100% certainty that 13 of the 20 players listed will play. As for who won’t, that’s anyone’s guess besides Bill Belichick. A small part of me wants to speculate who plays and who doesn’t, but that exercise would be fruitless. If this had serious playoff implications or was a playoff matchup, I’d dig into this, but I’m not going to let Bill Belichick waste any more of my time. He’s already given nearly 20 years of misery to this fan base. 

I do expect the Bills to go 4-0 in December to sweep the Patriots for the first time since 1999. If they do, this will be their highest win total since 1993 and will be the 6th time that they have achieved 12 wins or better in franchise history. I want to continue to see the Bills maximize their offensive firepower as they inch closer to the playoffs to win their first playoff game since 1995 and complete a deep playoff run. Enjoy the moment, Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Rumblings

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 Preview- Steelers

Will Feliciano and Roberts be effective Sunday night?

It seems like it’s deja vu for the Bills heading into this week. No no, I’m not talking about 2020, that’s simply Hell at this point. I’m talking about the Bills having the ability to clinch a playoff spot (albeit, with some help) on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers as they did last season. Despite the Steelers owning an 11-1 record, things can and do change quickly in the NFL which means that a stellar record such as that doesn’t assure a win.

The Bills are a team on the rise and must take care of business again on a national stage. They also need to secure this win if they want to lock up the AFC East and potentially have the opportunity to obtain the number one seed. This is a very exciting time as a fan and the fact that the team is getting healthy as the final stretch approaches is fantastic! Below are the Bills’ injuries for Sunday night.

OUT

S Jaquan Johnson (ankle)

Johnson appeared on the injury report after not being noted when it occurred Sunday. Reviewing film, this occurred with 3:44 left in the 4th quarter on a punt return. Johnson tried to double back up to tackle the returner before getting taken out by Tyler Matakevich, hitting his right ankle. Johnson didn’t get up immediately and the camera panned away from the field, preventing further views of Johnson’s reaction or if he required assistance to get off the field.

Looking at limited video and angles available, Matakevich hits Johnson from the outside and strikes his right ankle. I do worry about a high ankle sprain due to the foot being planted in the turf, placing the foot into dorsiflexion with eversion due to the hit from the outside. Add in the fact that he has not practiced this week may shed some light on the severity. 

This will be something to watch in the coming weeks with the possibility of sending him to injured reserve if the injury is as bad as I fear. 

ACTIVE

WR Andre Roberts (Achilles)

Roberts only played in 7 snaps, all on special teams Monday night. In fact, he only really had two plays with the ball where he actually ran. One was a 1st quarter kickoff he brought out for 25 yards that was followed by a routine tackle. The other, a 21-yard punt return early in the 2nd quarter.

The punt return is possibly the only play where I believe he could have strained his Achilles. He caught the ball, stepping back hard onto his left foot, eccentrically loading the leg to push off of before accelerating forward. He dodged and weaved through traffic before being brought down at the 31-yard line. 

Credit: SouthEast Podiatry

He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but practiced in full on Friday, but as a veteran, his body may need more rest than recovery from actual injury at this point in the season. He did not have to exit the game for the injury which indicates that this may be more of a minor strain overall. I don’t anticipate this injury to affect his abilities to perform, but will be something to monitor.

G Jon Feliciano (foot/left knee)

Feliciano officially showed up on the injury report with a knee injury along with the foot injury from last week. There are still no specifics regarding the details of the foot injury in which he played 100% of the snaps against the Chargers. As for the left knee, he did get hit in the left knee/thigh area by 49ers defensive tackle Kevin Givens which led to his brief exit followed by his return. He eventually left the game again but that may have been due to the team being up by so much at that point.

By video, it still appears to be a contusion that he can play through. It was somewhat worrisome that he went from full participation on Wednesday to limited on Thursday, but Friday was a full practice and he does not have a game day designation. Overall, he should be able to perform for Sunday night. 

DT Quinton Jefferson (hip)

Jefferson was another surprise addition to the injury report this week with a hip injury. He did play in 44% of the defensive snaps which is slightly lower than his regular playing time, but this may have been due to Harrison Phillips being activated and less due to the injury. It was not clear on film where he suffered his injury and what he exactly did at all.

I did find two possibilities but far from assured this is when the hip injury occurred. The first instance came late in the 1st quarter where he fell hard onto his left hip trying to get into the backfield. The second instance came with 7:05 left in the 4th quarter on the Tre’Davious White interception play. These are the only two instances where he fell hard onto his hip, possibly causing a contusion.

If he suffered some type of groin injury or hip flexor strain, this would be very difficult to find on film without more information. Jefferson did trend upwards this week from a DNP to limited to full on Friday indicating that he may have needed more rest than recovery from injury. If he exits the game Sunday night, this could be an area of concern to look into further.

QB Josh Allen (right knee/ankle)

Josh Allen is simply a tough player. He has battled through injury and adversity this season as he continues to rack up AFC player of the week award, his 3rd such honor this season. His passing ability was not hampered, evident with 375 yards and 4 TD’s. It is important to note that he rushed only 6 times for 11 total yards which supported my theory that he would be limited in his mobility.

Reviewing the box score, he only ran out to his right on passes and only ran to his right or up the middle. He never attempted to stress the right knee and ankle by running to his left unless he was flushed out of the pocket. Whether this was by design or coincidence, that will not be known. Heading into the Steelers game, I would expect that his mobility will increase but not be back to 100% yet with his body now two weeks removed from the original injury. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

TE Tyler Kroft

S Jaquan Johnson

DE Trent Murphy

The Bills certainly have an advantage over the Steelers in the injury department with Pittsburgh dealing with ailments to several key positions including linebacker and cornerback depth.

At linebacker, the Steelers have already lost Devin Bush and Bud Dupree to season-ending ACL tears and are now down a backup, Robert Spillane to a knee injury, likely an MCL sprain. He did not practice all week and this could force Marcus Allen, a converted safety into starting. Add in the fact that Vince Williams was a high-risk COVID exposure and will not play leaving the Steelers linebacking corps extremely thin.

At cornerback, Steven Nelson will play with a knee injury but his counterpart Joe Haden will not due to a concussion from Monday. This forces rookie James Pierre into starting which could really make for a great mismatch for the Bills wide receivers.

The Bills can certainly win this game. They have the talent to do so. The Steelers are a well-coached team and an NFL team doesn’t get lucky and stumble to an 11-1 record, no matter the circumstance. This will still be a hard-fought game but the Bills have the advantage due to lack of injuries and greater depth available. 

Heavy on the bias, but the Bills do have what it takes to win this game. If they don’t, I’d expect it to be close, showing the Bills can keep up with the AFC’s best. Make sure you get all your chores done and possibly get a nap in, it should be an exciting game Sunday night.

Top Photo Credit: Bills Wire-USA Today

2020 Week 13 Bills Injury Preview- 49ers

Will Milano and Dodson get activated?

It’s December and the Bills are not only playing meaningful football, but it’s in prime time! In addition, getting this injury report really feels like Christmas with how much improved the report is and for my sake, a much easier review to write up. While there are minimal injury concerns this week, there are still several players to note and watch for Monday’s contest against the 49ers. This is the first time since Week 10 of the 2019 season against Cleveland where there were not any game day designations prior to the game.

QB Josh Allen (Right knee/ankle)

Allen has practiced in full this week despite dealing with a minor knee and ankle sprain from the result of a Joey Bosa tackle. Fortunately, he did not suffer worse damage despite how rough the injury originally looked. For more details, check out my article from Tuesday that breaks down why he is also dealing with a knee injury on top of the ankle injury. 

Thankfully he can play through a likely minor MCL sprain with bracing and with an effective tape job he can manage the ankle sprain he’s dealing with to play against the 49ers. He may be limited with running but it doesn’t mean that he won’t be mobile. 

G Jon Feliciano (Foot)

Not much is noted about Feliciano and his foot. He did play in all 62 offensive snaps and didn’t appear to require any medical attention during the game. This could be as simple as he was stepped on and made note of it to the training staff. Feliciano was a full participant all week and considering he’s missed enough games already this season, I didn’t expect him to miss for minor ailments. 

DE Mario Addison (Knee/vet rest)

The details of Addison’s knee injury continue to escape me but he is 33 and requires more time to recover than when he started out. The knee may be a chronic issue at this point and the team may be looking to keep him as fresh as possible and for as long as possible. 

TE/FB Reggie Gilliam (Hamstring)

Gilliam’s first appearance on the injury report with a hamstring isn’t all that concerning as he was limited Thursday and practiced full on Friday & Saturday. This may be something that’s sore, something that he wanted to make the team aware of in case it worsens Monday night. His practice participation suggests that this is minor and not something that should hold him out. 

He continues to see most of his time on special teams with 44% of snaps taken there compared to 10% of snaps on offense. I would say his injury risk is higher with a hamstring injury present, but between those two percentages, that’s only 18 plays. He’s on the field infrequently and that may benefit him, in the long run, to get past this hamstring and off the injury report. 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

It’s unclear if this hamstring is a continuation from the last hamstring strain that cost him two games and the bye week or if this is a new issue. Jones has shown the ability, again and again, to play through injuries and if he is practicing in full, this doesn’t concern me for Monday especially with the extra day of rest. 

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral strain)

After missing two games due to a pectoral injury followed by two ineffective games, Milano was placed on IR to take a full month to recover for the final stretch of the regular season. While at the time of publication, the team has not made any official designation on whether they will activate Milano. They have until Monday at 4 pm to make this designation. I fully expect the Bills to wait until the last second for a competitive advantage. 

The only way we find out sooner is if it’s confirmed that Milano travels with the team as injured reserve players don’t travel on game days. I do expect that Milano gets activated as there are open roster spots for him right now and playing against the 49ers would allow for him to get back up to game speed.

Observed in Thursday’s practice is the fact that he continues to wear his shoulder harness on his left arm which isn’t a surprise. I don’t expect him to get rid of that harness until the end of the season to prevent any further issues. It also appears that may be on a pitch count, similar to what he was on earlier and what the expectations would have been for Jon Feliciano if not for Mitch Morse’s concussion.

I expect the team to adhere to the pitch count and to get back in the swing of things as he prepares for bigger opponents such as the Steelers. 

LB Tyrel Dodson (Hamstring)

Dodson is in the same boat with the roster designation and activation for 4 pm Monday. He continued to work back from his hamstring strain suffered against the Chiefs in Week 6. It’s impossible to determine the grade of the hamstring strain by video but considering he was out for 6 weeks, he may have had a Grade 2. The only reservation I have regarding whether it was is whether the team needed to pull him off IR or kept him there to get fully healthy and he was not needed before that especially when Matt Milano was playing after his return. 

Either way, Dodson should be very close, if not 100%, giving the Bills a much-needed boost at linebacker depth heading into the final stretch of the season. I also believe that Dodson will return due to the open roster spots available. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

DT Harrison Phillips

DE Trent Murphy

TE Lee Smith

*With the health of the team, they may not need to have PS callups, leaving 5 players inactive. 

Looking at the game, there is a lot of money going towards the 49ers making this game a pick ‘em which could be a concern Monday night. While bettors do not decide the games, they are betting on an improving 49ers team from a health standpoint and angry that they cannot play in their own stadium due to local restrictions in California. 

While the fan base waits for a designation for Milano and Dodson, the 49ers are in the same boat with QB Jimmy Garoppolo and TE George Kittle as they are finally eligible to return off injured reserve with their respective injuries. However, the team has not activated their practice window according to reports. The Bills appeared to have dodged a bullet in not seeing those two for this game.

The 49ers will be without reserve CB K’wuan Williams (ankle) and CB Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring) is questionable. While these are not starters, the loss of any depth can be tough to overcome if starters go down with an injury. There are still questions that cannot be answered until 4 pm Monday, but this is the best information that we can go off of right now. 

The Bills have an excellent shot to win this game and move to 9-3 on the season. December is the time of the year where this makes or breaks most teams, I believe the Bills have what it takes in order to end 2020 strong and head into the playoffs ready to make a deep run.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills

2020 Week 10 Bills Injury Preview- Cardinals

Will Hyde and Ford suit up with their respective ankle injuries?

Things are finally trending up for the Bills on the injury front! While the list is still long, the players are getting healthier which is incredibly important heading into the bye next week. If you look around the league, many teams have long injury lists, but how those injuries have affected those teams’ records is interesting. Some have kept marching along and others have been decimated as a result.

Fortunately, the Bills are in the former group as they prepare to head out to Arizona to play the 5-3 Cardinals. A win Sunday would put the team as just the 8th team in franchise history to go 8-2 through 10 games according to fellow Bills content creator Circling the Wagons podcast. All those but one reached their respective league championship game. The one that didn’t in 1988 still made the AFC title game.

That’s some great information to look fondly back on. But before we start counting the chickens before they hatch, check out the injuries below. 

OUT:

RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring)

Jones misses his second game of the season with a hamstring strain suffered in the win over the Patriots. With how the team has managed the hamstring strains since Sean McDermott has been coaching, for Jones to miss 2 games is no surprise. 

It’s possible that Jones could have been a candidate for IR, but considering the bye is next week, the team can use that to their advantage and avoid roster moves. Hopefully, he comes off the report following the bye. 

QUESTIONABLE:

G Cody Ford (right ankle)

Ford was limited in practice all week with an ankle injury sustained in the win over Seattle midway through the 1st quarter. He later appeared on the sidelines, potentially able to play but never returned. By video, it appears he suffered a low ankle sprain when he got clipped by Zack Moss during the play. 

The fact that he was limited all week says that he can potentially play Sunday if he needs to. He may still be dealing with swelling and pain in the area, making him more of a true game-time decision. I suspect that he plays and allows the Bills to field the offensive line group that they haven’t been able to produce as originally envisioned for Week 1 (Dawkins, Ford, Morse, Feliciano, Williams). If he doesn’t play, then this may be out of an abundance of caution and using the bye week to get healthy.

S Micah Hyde (ankle)

Hyde suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice that left him limited and he did not practice Friday. While he is questionable, it may truly be a game-time decision whether he plays Sunday. We do not have specifics of the injury, only a timeframe of when it occurred. Frankly, I do not like the DNP designation on Friday. Those typically don’t bode well to play Sunday’s from my past observations of the injury report.

To note, he did have left ankle injuries in Week 1 and Week 3 of which he was able to play through. It’s not known whether he injured the same ankle again or if it is the other side. I’m not certain he plays Sunday, but I would be glad to be wrong. 

INJURED RESERVE:

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadricep)

Phillips lands on IR again, this time ending his season with a quadriceps injury. It appears that this is the same injury that he suffered in Week 1 against the Jets, went on IR, and then potentially injured again against the Seahawks. 

It appeared that he had suffered a strain in Week 1, but this seems to be an injury that Phillips cannot get past. His 2020 season consisted of 14 special teams plays over the two games. He goes to IR which ends his season as he has already had one trip to short-term IR. This opens a coveted roster spot for several possible players to be called up for depth.

ACTIVE: 

QB Josh Allen (left shoulder)

Another week, another Josh Allen sighting on the injury report with this shoulder injury. We have seen his play appear to be affected by the shoulder injury with his follow through and ability to throw the deep ball. We have also seen the level of bracing change from a shoulder harness to a brace to kinesotape for stability. This is now 6 weeks he has been on the report. The team obviously won’t tell us the specifics, but we continue to watch and see what’s going on with his play. 

WR John Brown (left knee)

Brown continues to work through the knee injury sustained in practice that caused him to miss the Week 5 matchup against the Titans and re-injured against the Chiefs. Sunday against the Seahawks appeared as though he was finally back on track with a stat line that matched his 2019 levels. He continues to work through these nagging injuries and will hopefully get healthy enough following the bye to become the WR2 that the team envisioned at the beginning of this season. 

G Jon Feliciano (back)

Little is known about Feliciano’s back other than the designation. He has played in 100% of snaps since returning and it’s possible that he has generalized back soreness from getting back into game shape. As he has no designation, this isn’t something I’m concerned about unless he lingers on the report as some of his teammates. 

DE Jerry Hughes (foot)

Hughes has been battling a foot ailment over the past few weeks that hasn’t hampered his abilities to perform. As his snap counts and production have not suffered, it’s hard to identify the actual specifics of the injury. He continues to show up week in and week out since his trade in 2013; I do not expect that to change. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse cleared the concussion protocol Wednesday following his 5th documented concussion in the win over the Patriots. The protocol is there for a reason to ensure players return safely at their own pace. He has cleared protocol, then I would have no reservations about him playing. The chance to suffer another concussion is there, but it has been there the entire time. If he for some reason doesn’t play, it would be deemed a healthy scratch and would likely come at the agreement of Morse, training staff, and the team collectively.

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

With no designation next to his name, Josh Norman returns to the field. This allows the Bills to showcase their cornerback depth for the first time since Week 4 when Norman returned off IR before Levi Wallace got hurt against the Raiders. Hopefully, Norman stays healthy for this game and then uses the bye to prepare for the final stretch of the season. 

While this season has not been what Bills and Norman envisioned, my hope is that he provides needed depth and veteran leadership at the position once the Bills enter the playoffs. I’m excited to see what he and Levi Wallace can do opposite Tre’Davious White for a full game.

CB Tre’Davious White (left ankle)

It seems anytime Tre’Davious White goes down, there is an audible gasp from fans. White has become the heart and soul of the secondary with his exemplary play as he has ascended to the ranks of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. 

He appeared to suffer a medial eversion ankle sprain late in the 4th quarter against the Seahawks. He was in pain on the field before hopping over to the bench to get it taped up, appearing ready to go back in if needed.

He practiced this week with a limited designation on Thursday and full on Friday indicating that this was not going to be an issue. He had also stated to the media that he would play. Despite the injury, he will likely not see any ill effects as he will probably have the ankle taped up and or braced. Arizona has some talented wide receivers and it will be White’s job to lock down whoever it may be, most likely DeAndre Hopkins

G Brian Winters (knee)

Winters appears on the injury report again with a knee ailment. He did exit the game briefly on Sunday with what appeared to be a knee contusion before returning later in the game. While he may have some acute injuries, this may be more of an acute on chronic issue that he continues to battle as the season progresses. 

RB TJ Yeldon (back)

Still, nothing is known about Yeldon’s back injury but he does not have a game status attached to him. This situation reminds me of several years ago when former Bills OL John Miller was on the injury report with an ankle injury for nearly 6 weeks despite not playing. 

Yeldon doesn’t appear to be in the game plans this Sunday and will likely be inactive. However, knowing he is healthy is good to know in the event that either Devin Singletary or Zack Moss goes down in the future. 

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

RB TJ Yeldon

S Micah Hyde

TE Lee Smith* active due to TE Tyler Kroft on COVID list

RB Taiwan Jones 

DT Harrison Phillips 

COVID list: Josh Norman, Dean Marlowe, Tyler Kroft, Levi Wallace

Elevated for COVID and PS call ups include Darron Lee, Daryl Worley, Jake Kumerow, Josh Thomas, Dane Jackson

The Cardinals are a talented team but the Bills match up well with them. Looking at the injury report for Arizona, they have several injuries that could impact their ability to match up as well as they have with other teams in the past weeks. Budda Baker is questionable with a groin injury, Kenyan Drake is still working through an ankle injury that you can read more about at The Game Day. Drake may play but I highly question his effectiveness. He may be best served to sit out one more game.

Dre Kirkpatrick their top corner is also working through a thigh injury and Dionte Thompson addressing a knee injury. On top of that, former Bill Jordan Phillips will miss the game with a hamstring strain. 

Even though the Bills are still working through some injuries, at worst they will not have Micah Hyde, Cody Ford, and they are already without Matt Milano. That is far better than the Cardinals potentially missing most of their secondary along with key offensive weapons. The Bills have shown they can plug up the holes required to get by without them for short durations. 

If the Bills play at all how they did last week, they have a very realistic shot to move to 8-2 heading into the bye. These games are incredibly stressful at times to watch but also insanely fun because this team is competitive and every single play means something now. It’s always been fun to be a part of Bills Mafia, but it’s so fantastic to be a Bills fan when they’re finally winning, it’s been worth the wait!

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo News

2020 Week 9 Bills Injury Preview- Seahawks

Proceed with caution, this is a long one.

The 2020 NFL season is truly something else. Lately, I cringe a little every time the injury report gets released. There’s a lot of names on that list. It’s at times dizzying to look and see that over 25% of the roster is injured to the point that they may not be available to play Sunday.

Over the past few years, there have been bouts where they have dealt with numerous injuries from week to week, but they have not had this level of injuries for this long of duration since HC Sean McDermott took over in 2017. As always here at Banged Up Bills, every injury is detailed out below to give an idea of the specifics and availability for Sunday’s game against Seattle. 

OUT 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

Jones is dealing with a hamstring strain that appears to be on the right side. He suffered this during kickoff following the second touchdown that put the Bills up 14-6. He was sprinting full speed and the hamstring just appeared to be overworked and it went. 

With how the team handles hamstrings and his positional demands, I do not anticipate him playing Sunday. He would need at least a week off if not more before he could return. It wouldn’t surprise me if he missed the next two games and then used the bye to get some extra rest. His loss on special teams will certainly be missed, but this isn’t something that he can gut out like he has so many other injuries.

C Mitch Morse (Concussion)

Morse suffered a concussion on the 3rd play of the 1st quarter and had to exit the game, quickly receiving the diagnosis. His long history of concussions dating back to his rookie year is well known and this is now his 5th publicly reported documented concussion. 

He was seen on the sidelines working out with training staff indicating that he is at least in Stage 2 of the protocol Wednesday and Thursday. Friday he was seen in a red non-contact jersey indicating Stage 3, very possible Stage 4.

Considering concussions take on average 10 days to return from and add in the fact that Morse has taken longer to return from a concussion, he was not expected to play Sunday. I see a scenario where he misses the next two games and uses the bye to get fully right before fully returning. He could play against Arizona if he clears the protocol, but only the team and he will know which path he wishes to take.

Morse has said that he can only worry about what he can control. He’s going to do everything in his power to return quickly but safely in order to help the Bills during the second half of the season. 

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral)

Milano did not practice this week after playing the last two games. He hasn’t exactly been playing perfect, but he has had to wear a shoulder harness to prevent stressing the healing area. It’s not clear whether he aggravated the injury on Sunday or if they are just trying to manage the injury efficiently. Friday’s press conference appeared to imply that they are trying to rest him as much as possible while allowing him to play as needed. 

My thoughts originally were that they were trying to preserve him for the week to play on Sunday’s. That now does not appear to be the case. It has been a month since he suffered the injury and while the area is healing, playing in a football game the past two weeks hasn’t exactly accelerated the healing process.

I didn’t get the perception that he did suffer an aggravation on film, but we don’t know what the team knows. I can say with 100% certainty that he did not fully tear the area, otherwise, he would have been sent to have it repaired. You can live with a fully torn pectoral muscle in certain cases but not if you want to play NFL football.

It’s also important to note that the last two games have been against AFC East opponents which are more significant for the playoffs instead of the upcoming NFC games. Since the Bills won both games and the NFC games don’t hold as much weight for playoff seeding as a divisional game, it would make sense to rest Milano for this game. 

As he is not playing Sunday, this is the decision that was likely made with the team, training staff, and Milano together to ensure he’s healthy for later in the season. It will be interesting to see if newly signed LB Darron Lee makes an appearance due to the massive struggles of LB AJ Klein last week.

Update: Milano has been placed on IR.

CB Josh Norman (Hamstring)

Norman’s season continues to be a struggle for the veteran corner to stay healthy. He still continues to work through the same hamstring that he originally suffered in the preseason and then aggravated in practice two weeks ago. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to when he returns. My hope is that he takes the time he needs and is healthy for the final stretch. 

RB TJ Yeldon (Back)

I have absolutely no idea what Yeldon could be dealing with. He doesn’t have a publicly known history of back issues and he didn’t play in Sunday’s contest. This ailment either occurred during practice or this is an injury that the public isn’t aware of. As he is rarely active, this is a non-factor for Sunday. 

QUESTIONABLE

TE Dawson Knox (Calf)

Knox has had a rough season this year. He has been dealing with a concussion, a hamstring strain, a calf strain, and now COVID. It’s very possible that Knox’s calf is fully recovered from the original injury sustained against the Titans. On average, it takes about 17.4 days to return to play which is just under 3 weeks. Knox passed that window in terms of recovery time and is questionable to play.

The bigger concern will be how he responds following having COVID. Every day we are still learning the effects the virus has on the body and Knox is not immune to those effects. Right now, I hope that he can come back and just play before we get into considering how much of an offensive threat he can be. Due to the uncertainty of how COVID affected him, I want to say he won’t play, but with the number of injuries all over, he might be forced into being active on game day.

DE Darryl Johnson (Knee)

Johnson continues the trend of mystery injuries from Sunday’s game and it’s difficult to speculate the details. He did practice in full on Friday which was a great sign but was still ruled questionable. Considering DE AJ Epenesa was inactive last week, they could switch these two out. The only reason to play Johnson is his special teams contributions. He is a core special teamer whereas Epenesa has only played any special teams the past two weeks. It may just depend on how Johnson feels Sunday.

DT Vernon Butler (Groin)

Butler is moving in the right direction with a full practice on Thursday and Friday following a limited practice on Wednesday. When he exactly injured the groin against the Jets is not known, but the fact that he is able to return after one game indicates it was not that serious. This may come down to how he feels on game day, but the weather is supposed to be warm and dry, potentially lessening the risk for poor footing, leading to aggravation due to slipping. 

The Seahawks rushing attack will be limited due to the possible absence of RB Chris Carson and RB Carlos Hyde. With the addition of Butler, this will help stymie the run game to limit the weapons available for QB Russell Wilson and give the Bills a chance at slowing the offense. 

G Cody Ford (Right knee)

There is hope that Ford can suit up against the Seahawks on Sunday after missing two games with a likely right MCL injury. He did practice in full on Friday which is typically a good sign to play on Sunday. The team continues to have depth at the offensive line to patch things together, but returning Ford would be huge to help maintain consistency for the run game and pass protection.

He has had his share of injuries this season and the time off may have allowed him to get right in order to return to the left guard position and provide stability on an ever-changing offensive line. 

ACTIVE 

WR John Brown (Knee)

Brown continues to deal with nagging injuries from the beginning of the season with the foot issues progressing into the calf strain, working up to a likely left knee sprain. Wednesday was most likely a veteran rest day but practiced in full on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully, he can get through the next two games before the bye and finally get off the injury report. 

RG Brian Winters (Knee)

Winters appears on the injury report again with a knee injury; the specifics are not known. He is known to wear a knee brace during games on the right side. He did have a left ACL tear several years ago that I had thought he could be dealing with some arthritic changes, but impossible to confirm at this time. This may be an injury that the team continues to manage conservatively throughout the season as he is an older player. 

DE Jerry Hughes (Foot)

Despite the injury designation, Hughes continues to make an impact at the defensive end position while not missing any time. The injury originally occurred in the Jets game and it did not appear to affect him. He played in 62% of the snaps against the Patriots, roughly his normal snap count and there simply isn’t a lot of information regarding the injury. 

The bottom line, it’s going to take more than a foot injury to force Hughes to miss a game. 

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)

Allen continues to appear weekly on the injury report with a left shoulder injury originally sustained in the win over the Raiders. He also continues to wear a shoulder brace to address likely instability from that injury. He continues to practice in full but there is continued concern that he will aggravate the injury with an ill-timed hit or fall. 

This is something that we will likely get much more information on after the season. This is an issue that will continue to be monitored as he appears on the injury report and continues to wear a brace. 

S Micah Hyde (Concussion)

Hyde worked through the concussion protocol this week following his massive hit on Jets WR Breshad Perriman. He was limited in practice Wednesday but fortunately, practiced in full on Thursday and Friday. Per reports, he has since cleared concussion protocol and will suit up for Sunday to give the secondary a huge boost in containing the Seahawks offensive weapons.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Knee)

This is Jefferson’s second week on the injury report with a knee ailment that originally occurred in the Jets game. There aren’t any specifics regarding what he’s dealing with, but he, like Winters, did have an ACL tear several years ago. It’s possible the grind of the NFL season is wearing on his joints and he is dealing with some generalized arthritic pain following the ACL tear. He played last week and I expect him to play again this week.

G Jon Feliciano (Pectoral tear)

Felicano played in every snap Sunday after missing the first 7 games of the season due to the pectoral tear suffered in training camp. I highly doubt this was the plan due to C Mitch Morse exiting the game with a concussion, but he was pressed into service. Feliciano did note that playing center allows him to stay more protected against future injury, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility. 

I personally don’t like the idea of him playing 100% of snaps again, but he appears to be the best option at this time unless G Ryan Bates got up to speed to take snaps at center this week. He should be eased back in, but according to Feliciano, he is at 97% in regards to his recovery, so he may understand the risks involved and decide to play anyway. This will be something I watch for on Sunday with his playing time.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

CB Josh Norman

LB Matt Milano* IR

RB Taiwan Jones

C Mitch Morse

RB TJ Yeldon

DE Daryl Johnson

TE Dawson Knox

The one upside to this game is that the Seahawks are even more injured than the Bills are. The team will be down both RB’s Chris Carson and RB Carlos Hyde. They will also be without their starting cornerback in Shaquill Griffin and starting guard Mike Iupati. They do note on their practice reports the term load management and resting vet, but most are still working through things. 

Looking at this game, I’m biased, I want the Bills to win, but this is a tough offense. Ideally, the defense steps up as it did against Kansas City despite the loss and slows down the Seahawks just enough that the Bills offense can stay ahead. The team also desperately needs this bye week in Week 11 to get right for the final stretch. 

While COVID did mess with our schedule, it did not result in a bye like the Titans and Steelers received in Week 4. That early bye week may come back to haunt those two likely playoff teams come January. The late bye may make the difference for the Bills. I can stomach a loss, but I would rather take a loss and avoid further injuries than win and lose more key pieces. Survive to fight another day and get to the bye week. This should be an entertaining game with the hopes that the Bills move to 7-2.

Top Photo Credit: BillsWire-USA Today

2020 Week 8 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

The Bills are banged up, but so are the Patriots. Who will win the injury bowl?

It’s Patriots week! The two times during the season where the Bills play the New England Patriots, a team that has spent two decades tormenting the Bills. But the winds have shifted as they do so often in Orchard Park, this time, in favor of the Bills. The Patriots enter this contest 2-4, the Bills 5-2 with a chance for Buffalo to lock down the AFC East at the midway point of the season. One thing that could stop that is the ever growing list of injuries. Despite the Bills avoiding any in game injuries, there were six new injuries to the report which makes determining who will play all that much tougher. Below is the multitude of injuries.

Ok OUT

G Cody Ford (Right knee)

Ford was ruled out Friday morning during Sean McDermott’s press conference. He appears to be dealing with a right MCL sprain suffered in the loss to the Chiefs. I had said this was a 2-3 week injury and thought he would be best served to get a stint on IR.

The team elected to not go that route and he appears to be trending to try and play in Week 9 despite not practicing the past two weeks. We will see what happens following the Patriots game.

CB Josh Norman (Left hamstring)

Norman misses his 5th game now due to his balky left hamstring injury suffered in training camp. The severity of this latest injury is not known but considering this is the same side and a re-injury, the team is making sure he is absolutely 100% before trotting him back out onto the field.

Defensive backs are already at a higher rate to suffer hamstring strains and then add in the previous injury, this makes for a rough season for Norman. Hopefully he can resume practicing next week.

QUESTIONABLE:

G Brian Winters (Knee)

Winters appeared back on the injury report again with a knee injury though it isn’t clear when he suffered the injury. He played in 97% of snaps indicating that this may not be serious. While it’s not know which side is injured, he did show up on the injury report following the Raiders game with a knee complaint then.

He is an older player that plays a very physical position; he may need the rest from time to time and this may be more of a load management issue. While he is questionable, he did practice in full on Friday which is a good indicator that he should play. I would hope that he rotates with G Jon Feliciano or whoever else plays.

DT Vernon Butler (Groin)

Butler was a surprise on the injury report with a groin injury that wasn’t readily noticed on film from Sunday. He was a DNP for 2 straight days after being limited Wednesday.

Credit: wnyurology.com

While he is an interior line player at defensive tackle, I believe it would be hard for him to generate any power to shed blocks or quickly change direction to tackle a back in the running lane. He has already dealt with a hamstring injury this season and would be best served to sit this one out.

S Micah Hyde (Concussion)

Hyde was eventually diagnosed with a concussion following his bone crushing hit on Jets WR Breshard Perriman. It’s not certain he suffered the concussion from this hit, but it’s a very strong guess. He likely developed symptoms later on, sending him into the concussion protocol.

He was out at practice this week but stayed off to the side on the exercise bike, indicating he was in Stage 2-3. He is listed as questionable indicating the team may try to have him pass the protocol in time for the game Sunday.

Credit: NFL

I don’t anticipate he plays based on the fact that concussions take some time to heal. Literature suggests it takes on average 10 days to return but we have seen players return quicker than that and in other cases much longer. I’m also not certain how he goes through live football reps to ensure he doesn’t have any symptom reproduction afterward as part of the protocol as he didn’t practice this week.

There’s always a chance he could pass the evaluation, but it would be a truly impressive to pass through this quickly. I say he misses this contest.

DE Jerry Hughes (Foot)

Hughes made a surprise appearance on the injury report this week with a foot designation. Despite the injury, he was a terror on the field as he garnered AFC Defensive Player of the Week. With the lack of specifics of what he did to the foot, it’s hard to say what he’s dealing with. Looking back, he has played with far worse injuries and still produced. He has yet to miss a game in a Bills uniform; I don’t expect that to change Sunday.

DT Quinton Jefferson (Knee)

Jefferson also made an appearance on the injury report with a knee ailment. Like most of the injuries, it’s not clear when he suffered the injury, making specifics difficult to discuss. Considering he practiced in full on Friday and with the likely inactive coming for Butler, I’m leaning towards Jefferson playing.

CB Cam Lewis (Left wrist)

Lewis is still battling with a wrist injury that saw him active last week but not play. He was limited all again this week and is questionable. He continues to have the club on his hand which has me believe this may be more than a sprain. He may have fractured a bone in his wrist and simply needs time to heal. If he is looking at a fracture, it could be a 4-10 week timeframe for things to fully heal in there. Without further details, hard to elaborate.

For Sunday, he could sit out which I think is the smart move or he could once again be active but play only in the case of emergency. I envision him sitting this one out.

Update: Lewis has since been placed on IR.

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

Milano was limited all week in a red practice jersey which seemed to worry some members of Bills Mafia. He is designated as questionable but I fully expect him to play Sunday. His pectoral tear is still healing up and will not likely be fully healed until after the bye. He only played in 33% of the snaps on obvious passing downs illustrating his restrictions at the moment. I had thought that could be a possibility in my Buffalo Rumblings article.

He was likely limited due to the team not wanting to have him go through full practices and possibly re-injure the area. He doesn’t need to practice tackling, he needs to work in the game plan. I expect his snap count to increase this week but still rotate with LB AJ Klein to prevent further re-injury.

ACTIVE

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)

I continue to highlight Allen’s presence on the injury report because he clearly did something to the shoulder as evident with the shoulder brace. He’s going to continue playing through it but we’ve seen him have less scrambles and more designed runs or stay in the pocket. I still believe he injured the labrum or the rotator cuff. He continues to practice and play, but there is concern that he re-injures it at some point with a hard hit.

WR John Brown (Left knee)

Brown continues to battle through numerous injuries from earlier this season, but finally appears back on track to play Sunday. Three full days of practice indicates that he will play and with the Patriots potentially without CB Stephon Gilmore, Brown may have himself a day against a weakened secondary. He is still healing from the numerous injuries, but appears healthy enough to play.

WR Isaiah McKenzie (Ankle)

McKenzie only played in 20% of the offensive plays from Sunday but still managed to walk away with an ankle injury. As you see a theme here, there are no specifics on the exact injury as to what he’s dealing with. He did not have a game day designation meaning he will play and hopefully be effective.

Other injury news:

CB Levi Wallace (Left ankle)

Wallace is eligible to return from IR following his ankle injury in the Raiders game. He has missed the last 3 games and is in his practice window where he does not count against the roster.

Looking at the video, he’s moving around fairly well but still having some trouble going to his left and pushing off that side. As he is in the practice window, the team is not obligated to give an injury report or participation designation to him.

If this were a playoff game, I say he can play. While this is an important game, the Patriots are beat up themselves which means the Bills can afford to let Wallace rehab another week before returning to the field.

Update: Wallace has been activated from IR.

G Jon Feliciano (Right pectoral tear)

Feliciano is making his long awaited debut for the 2020 season after tearing his right pectoral muscle while weightlifting shortly after training camp started. I had speculated that he would return after Week 8, he returns before. He is wearing a shoulder harness as I suspected he would and I do not believe he plays the entire game.

I would expect that he rotates in on the line and gets his feet wet as he works back into game shape. He had told reporters that he wanted to come back sooner but they stopped him to essentially protect him from himself. The team made the right move in this case.

If I were the training staff, I would work him in over the next 3 games and then let him play the full games following the bye. He will be 4 months out at that point and while he can still continue to heal, he will be at a much lower chance to re-tear the area.

Housekeeping:

The Bills have activated TE Lee Smith off the COVID/Reserve list. The team elevated LB Andre Smith to the active roster, cut and re-signed LB Deon Lacey to the practice squad. The team is also in the process of signing former Jets and Chiefs LB Darron Lee to the practice squad.

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm
CB Cam Lewis* IR
DT Vernon Butler
S Micah Hyde
RB TJ Yeldon
CB Josh Norman
G Cody Ford

While the Bills continue to battle through the numerous injuries, the Patriots are dealing with their own. On top of all the COVID opt outs, they will also be without WR N’Keal Harry and WR Julian Edelman due to a concussion and knee injuries respectively. There is a possibility their top CB Stephon Gilmore missing the game due to a knee injury. DT Carl Davis has also been ruled out with a concussion.

Looking at the questionables besides Gilmore, there are a lot of significant names on that list. They are one team that is quite possibly as beat up as the Bills are.

Despite all the injuries on both teams, the Patriots still have Bill Belichick. He has been at this a very long time and will adapt his game plan to whatever he has available and may very well still be competitive. I will not count out the Patriots until the clock strikes 0:00 in the 4th quarter with the Bills having more points than the Patriots.

I am expecting the Bills to win this game because I believe they are the better team, but if the Bills struggle early like they did the past few games, this could spell trouble in securing the AFC East crown. With the weather expected to be poor, wet and windy conditions may lend itself to reducing injuries. The Bills need to get through this game with minimal injuries and get to the bye in order to make a deep postseason run.

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills