Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Running Back/Fullback

The RB/FB room is full of youth & leadership. Can it produce in 2020?

This is Part 2 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 2 consists of the running back/fullback room.

Not Returning

RB Frank Gore

16 games, 8 started, 166 attempts, 599 yards, 2 TD’s, 16 targets, 13 receptions, 100 yards

The future Hall of Famer ran towards football immortality with his latest stop in Buffalo in 2019. While he is not the bell cow back he once was, he still provided an excellent change of pace for rookie RB Devin Singletary. Gore was able to carry the load early on but his age and the season caught up with him as Singletary took more of the load. 

In addition, Gore was excellent at avoiding injury, only taking a shot to the head early in the season in the win over the Giants. He was evaluated by the medical staff and eventually returned, but that was all that could be identified injury-wise. As Gore has moved onto the Jets for 2020, his absence is hopefully replaced by a more effective back. 

Returning Players

RB Devin Singletary

12 games, 8 starts, 151 attempts, 775 yards, 2 TD’s, 41 targets 29 receptions, 194 yards, 2 TD’s, 4 fumbles

Following his first season in the NFL, Singletary lit up the Bills running attack despite playing in the season as Frank Gore began to wear down, establishing himself as the feature back as the Bills only 3/4ths of the team’s regular-season games. He progressed in the second half of the march towards the playoffs. In addition, he managed to stay fairly healthy despite a hamstring strain early in the season.

    • Left hamstring

Singletary suffered a hamstring strain while trying to pick up additional yardage late in the 4th quarter against the Giants. His day was done and as a result, missed the next 3 games and 4 weeks in total due to the bye week. While hamstring strains are not totally preventable, he did not have a recurrence of the injury later in the season.

There is concern that he could suffer another hamstring strain later, especially while ramping up to the regular season, but the fact that he is doing work now according to Instagram states that he will be at lower risk rather than if he was sitting on his couch all offseason. It also helps that Singletary is used to a high workload coming out of college which helps him to avoid injury as he does not risk overworking his body to meet the demands of the NFL.

RB TJ Yeldon

6 games, 17 attempts, 63 yards, 15 targets, 13 receptions, 124 yards 1 fumble

Yeldon wasn’t much of a factor during the season, playing in the first 5 games following a string of inactive designations before playing in the season finale against the Jets. Yeldon did not appear to suffer any known injuries but the lack of play was far more telling of his talent than availability. 

GM Brandon Beane has described Yeldon as a 3-down back, but in this current Bills offense, Yeldon is lucky to get on the field for even one down. The lack of injuries may play well to where he can be traded in case of other needs on the team or can slide into a backup role in the event of an injury in the running back room.

FB Patrick DiMarco

16 games, 4 starts, 3 attempts, 7 yards, 7 targets, 5 receptions, 41 yards

DiMarco, a special teams captain, once again had more emphasis as a leader in the locker room and on special teams than he did in an offensive role. The stats above clearly indicate that. In addition, he also suffered several injuries that were overall minor.

    • Concussion

DiMarco was a surprise addition to the injury report following the loss to the Patriots early in the season. He was able to play the entirety of the game but likely had concussion-related symptoms following the game, leading to him entering the protocol that week. He was limited during practice that week but was able to return to play the following week against the Titans.

    • Right ankle contusion/sprain

DiMarco also suffered a right ankle contusion/sprain during the first Miami game in which he had a flurry of bodies come down on his ankle, dropping him to the turf. Fortunately, his toe was pointed down and this allowed his ankle to avoid a high ankle sprain due to getting locked into eversion and dorsiflexion. He was able to resume playing, albeit likely hurting.

DiMarco is at risk to suffer another concussion in the future, but this appears to be a mild one. This doesn’t reduce his risk any more than it is now but is something to watch as training camp nears.  

RB Christian Wade

Wade, the former rugby star converted to NFL running back, spent his time on the practice squad last season as an international exemption. While he did flash during the few times he touched the ball in the preseason, he was far from ready to see action in a meaningful NFL game. He did not suffer any known injuries.

New to the roster

RB Zack Moss

A physical back out of Utah, Moss takes the place of the departed Gore. While Moss does have a variety of injury concerns, he comes to the Bills healthy and also used to a heavy workload, thereby reducing his risk to suffer overuse injuries as he transitions to the NFL. His detailed injury analysis can be found at Cover 1 and also at Buffalo Rumblings.  

RB Antonio Williams

Williams, a former back that played for both Ohio State & North Carolina, comes to the Bills as a UDFA. He enters the NFL fairly healthy with only a hamstring strain to his name while at Ohio State. You can read his full injury analysis here at Banged Up Bills.

FB Reggie Gilliam

Gilliam, the Toledo special teams standout, finds himself squarely behind DiMarco at the fullback position. One thing that Gilliam has over DiMarco is fewer miles on his body and far fewer injuries. However, experience and a captain’s designation still get DiMarco places in the NFL. Read up on Gilliam’s injury analysis at Buffalo Rumblings

2020 Outlook

The only locks on the team are Singletary, Moss, & DiMarco. Strong cases can be made for Yeldon & Wade, though Wade has a spot on the practice squad barring an unbelievable training camp. Williams & Gilliam are longshots, but an injury could help them find a roster spot in Buffalo. Both have strong cases to make the practice squad, but with how the practice squad rules change due to the new CBA & Covid-19, this could mean they still have a shot. 

The RB room is incredibly young & cheap which allows the Bills to maximize production while putting money elsewhere in their attempts to make deep postseason runs. Both Singletary & Moss are used to heavy workloads which in turn should help keep them available barring any freak accidents. Overall, there are no concerns as a group moving forward. 

Wild Card Weekend Bills Injury Preview- Texans

What is the status of Nsekhe, Roberts, Lawson, & Wallace?

Well, we’re finally here, the playoffs are upon us! We are moments away from the Bills playing in Houston on Wild Card Weekend for the first NFL game of 2020! The Bills are beat up but still in a better spot than the Texans. While I could detail out every injury for Houston & compare it to how the Bills could take advantage, I may be better off writing the sequel to War & Peace. But if you want to get some detailed analysis of the Texans injuries, check out my latest appearance on Locked On Bills with Joe Marino. I have nuggets on JJ Watt, Johnathan Joseph, Bradley Roby, & Will Fuller V. Make sure to check out the pod below!

Locked On Bills 

If you want to know why Houston DE JJ Watt is able to come back so quickly from his pectoral tendon tear, check out my latest article at Buffalo Rumblings!

JJ Watt’s Unexpected Return

As this blog is a Bills based site, the Bills injuries are below & my impressions of them.

QUESTIONABLE

DE Shaq Lawson (left hamstring strain)

Lawson continues to recover from his hamstring strain suffered late in the Patriots loss but appears on the right track. He has been limited the past week, but with controlled activities, he has looked great on film.

I’ve stated all season that the hamstrings are vital for running & blocking, important responsibilities for a defensive end. It’s not a muscle group that can be babied or managed with certain bracing or necessarily protected. Even with the best rehab & rest, injuries can still occur and Lawson may be a casualty of that. 

He missed the Jets game & would probably benefit from another week off, but considering each game now is single elimination, Lawson should not miss. I have a strong suspicion that he plays.

WR Andre Roberts (foot)

Little is still known about Roberts’s foot other than it cost him another game against the Jets. Matt Parrino of NYUp.com noted that he was taking punt & kick returns in practice, accelerating up the field without issue. Any foot injury would limit sudden acceleration as the toes & foot act as a lever to push off the ground to move forward. 

If he had something such as turf toe, a foot sprain, fracture; there would be difficulty getting up to speed & slowing down. As long as Roberts is able to play Saturday, then it won’t really matter what’s wrong as long as he can add another dimension to the team.

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle contusion)

Nsekhe continues to work back from his right ankle that cost him 5 games this season. He was rolled up on again Sunday & but appears to be working through the injury just fine. This appears to be more of a contusion which was supported by the fact that he’s practicing all week & only has a brace on, the same one that he appeared to be wearing on Sunday.

I feel strongly that Nsekhe will suit up Sunday & will be in a rotation with OT Cody Ford with Ford taking a bulk of the snaps. 

CB Levi Wallace (right medial ankle sprain)

Wallace is the big iffy for Saturday. At the end of the day, he is still dealing with an ankle sprain that requires rest. The part of the ankle he injured was the medial side which is the inside portion of the ankle. The deltoid ligament is the strong inside portion of the ankle that provides stability between the tibia, talus, calcaneus, & navicular. This is the reason why it is so difficult for the inside portion of the ankle to suffer a sprain. If the outside portion of the ankle had the same type of structure, I would imagine we would all run very differently. You can see the makeup of the deltoid ligament below.

Deltoid-Ligament-Structure-location
Credit: medicpassion.com

The next picture below is a great example of how the injury occurred with Wallace with regards to the motion & the area injured. To note, the ligament does not likely tear that severely for Wallace or a fracture sustained as dictated in the picture.

medial-ankle-sprain419
Credit: http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/

If this was a regular-season game, Wallace would surely miss Saturday. Considering it’s the playoffs, I imagine that he will try to suit up with a heavy tape job similar to the one seen below. His major limitations will be pivoting, attempting to stay with his assignments. He will be able to run straight & cut off the left ankle, but forcing Wallace to jump, cut to the right, and backpedal will limit his effectiveness. I expect that CB Kevin Johnson gets the start & majority of snaps with Wallace as a backup or used in certain packages. 

Probable Inactives:

TE Tommy Sweeney

DT Vincent Taylor

S Kurt Coleman

S Dean Marlowe

OG Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

OG Ryan Bates

The Bills are in a great position to win their first playoff game since 1995 & move to the divisional round against a likely rematch with the Ravens. I could see this Bills team make a run like the Jaguars did a few years ago; anything can happen in the playoffs. 

On top of that, the injuries listed today won’t be real factors outside of Wallace heading into next week. There is always the possibility of new injuries, but thankfully the injuries we do have are at positions of depth at OT & CB. 

Regardless of the outcome, you will be hearing from me next week. However, I highly anticipate that I will be coming to you with an injury review & preview heading into the divisional round. GO BILLS!

Top Photo Credit:

USAToday.com

Week 16 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Is Buffalo treasure Tre’Davious White healthy & ready to go Saturday?

This is odd, isn’t it? Playing meaningful December football, no longer being “in the hunt”, potentially winning the AFC East. It’s wild stuff! To top it off, the Bills continue to stay healthy as they head to Foxborough for a huge game with seeding implications. Win out & the Patriots lose out, the Bills win the East, potentially obtaining the 3rd seed and a home playoff game. Otherwise, the Bills get the 5th seed. Healthwise, the Bills have the advantage over the Patriots & appear to have the talent in order to win. We can only hope that the Patriots will continue their substandard play over recent weeks & allow the Bills to get their 11th win.

OUT

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe has already been ruled out for his 5th straight game due to his ankle injury against the Dolphins. I don’t really have anything to add besides that 4 weeks was an appropriate timeline but on the accelerated side of the healing timelines. These injuries can take 4-6 weeks, sometimes longer & he could be close but maybe closer to returning next week or for the playoffs. Until he practices in some fashion, only time will tell. By no means does there appear to be complications or lingering issues at this time.

QUESTIONABLE

DT Corey Liuget (knee)

Little continues to be released with Liuget’s knee injury. We still don’t know what side or the exact nature of the injury. He did have a quadriceps tendon tear that cost him half of last year. It’s possible he could be having some pain associated with that such as arthritis as he does have a lot of miles on him, but until more is made available, we are guessing. All the work that went into rehab & the severity of the actual injury supports that after a month of actual football could be causing some issues that need time & rest. The fact that he is limited is promising, but I need to see a full practice before I can be confident he will play. Until then, I expect DT Vincent Taylor will get another start. 

For more reading on Liuget’s injury, check out this piece from the Buffalo News Jason Wolf. It’s very comprehensive & accurately details the original injury, physical therapy techniques, struggles, and overall rehab. Worth the click.

CLEARED TO PLAY

CB Tre’Davious White (left shoulder)

White appeared to suffer a minor stinger on a hard tackle late in the 1st quarter Sunday night. He missed one play & was able to return, continuing his stellar play. The fact he didn’t end up on the injury report is promising as it may have truly been a minor issue & should not impact him at all Saturday. 

CB Taron Johnson (left 5th digit)

Johnson suffered a left finger injury late in the 4th quarter but was part of a key stop & prevented moving the chains for the Steelers. Video is poor & doesn’t show exactly what Johnson did, but it was observed he was getting his fingers buddy taped. He either stubbed it, suffered some type of crush injury, or possible dislocation. Either way, an injury as minor as this wouldn’t affect Johnson’s ability to do his job. Certainly, something to monitor. 

Something else that’s interesting that I’d like to note. The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia noted that practice squad member CB Cam Lewis wasn’t practicing the past 2 days. Typically practice squad members get really no press unless they are involved in a transaction or are called up. There aren’t details noted about Lewis’ injury, but for that attention to detail from Buscaglia & others that I routinely follow & retweet really set the Bills coverage apart from other fan bases. Bills Mafia, we’re blessed!

Probable Inactives:

OG Ike Boettger

OT Ty Nsekhe

DT Corey Liuget

TE Tommy Sweeney

RB TJ Yeldon

S Dean Marlowe

WR Duke Williams

Saturday will be a fun game, win or lose, but I’m feeling a win. This fan base knows the team can hang with anyone in the league & playing the Patriots again will only reinforce this. I think we’re starting to see the end of the dynasty that is New England & observing the rise of prolonged sustained success in Buffalo. This is a fun time to be a fan, such a different mindset than the past 20 years. It’s a beautiful feeling. GO BILLS!

Top Photo Credit:

ESPN.com

 

 

Week 15 Bills Injury Preview- Steelers

What is going on with Liuget & Feliciano?

The Buffalo Bills haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 1993, a 24-3 win in their march towards a 3rd Super Bowl appearance. Regular season, they haven’t won there since 1975. To date, the Steelers have won the last 6 meetings with the last win coming in 1999. Safe to say there’s a lot riding on this game, a chance to make up for previous failures. To top it off, this is a Sunday Night game, the Bills haven’t appeared on Sunday night since 2007, an embarrassment by the Patriots. There’s so much at stake, we may need a priest to perform an exorcism for good measure. 

The one upside is that the Bills continue to be healthy heading into a win & in playoff scenario. Players are reducing padded practices per the CBA & trying to manage their health during the week to maximize their abilities on Sundays. Below are the injuries & expected inactives prior to the Sunday game. 

OUT

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe will miss his 4th straight game following his severe sprain suffered in the win over the Dolphins. He continues to show progress, observed walking without a walking boot, but not practicing just yet. I had anticipated that he could come back in time for the Patriots game which is still realistic, but not a guarantee. Once he begins practicing, then a return to play timeline can be definitive.

QUESTIONABLE 

DT Corey Liuget (knee)

Liuget has been dealing with a knee injury all week that forced him to miss Wednesday’s practice, but limited Thursday & Friday. It is not known which knee is bothering him but there were several instances where he could have sustained a contusion due to hitting his knee on a helmet, getting kicked, or having bodies fall on him. Unless a clear mechanism of injury is identified or even which side, hard to really tell if he’s a guarantee to play. If he is unable to go, DT Vincent Taylor gets the nod.

OG Jon Feliciano (illness)

Feliciano was sent home Friday with an illness that affected RB Frank Gore this week & RB TJ Yeldon & OG Quinton Spain last week. It’s flu season & people are bound to get sick. He is truly a 50/50 on whether he plays Sunday night. Considering he has extra time to recover with hitting the fluids & resting, there may be a chance he plays. From the looks of what I’ve seen him do this season, he’s one tough dude. With the ability to clinch a playoff spot, I would think he could muster enough energy Sunday night. If he can’t go, OG Spencer Long would likely get the start.

CLEARED TO PLAY

DT Jordan Phillips (knee)

Like Liuget, it’s unknown which knee he is dealing with. He popped on the injury report as limited Thursday indicating he missed some drill at some point, reportedly receiving extra attention from the training staff at the beginning of practice. Looking back at Sunday’s game on replay, it was a brutal, physical game. It’s no surprise several guys are banged up, especially the big uglies in the trenches. Thankfully, Phillips is cleared to play & he will continue his rotation on the defensive line as they have every other game. 

QB Josh Allen (left ankle)

Allen suffered a mild left ankle sprain as the result of getting stepped on by C Mitch Morse which forced him to limp off the field briefly. He quickly got his ankle taped back up & was able to return to play without missing a snap. As he didn’t appear on the injury report this week, I don’t anticipate it being an issue. He will likely have either some bracing or have it taped up in order to provide extra support. I don’t believe that it will hinder his overall mobility. 

Probable Inactives:

TE Tommy Sweeney

OG Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

OT Ty Nsekhe

DT Corey Liuget

S Dean Marlowe

WR Duke Williams

The Steelers boast a talented defense, strong offensive line, beat up starting running back in RB James Connor, lacking their top wide receiver in WR Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster & playing their 3rd string QB Devlin Hodges. Heinz Field is not an easy place to play as Steeler Nation shows up every game & this will be no exception. It will be cold & the pressure will be on. The Bills appear to be the more talented team heading down to Pittsburgh to play on the national stage. They have shown they can hang with anyone; this is a winnable game & I expect Buffalo to end Sunday night with 10 wins. 

On a personal note, growing up in Erie, PA, I was surrounded by Steeler fans including many family members. It is incredibly satisfying to see Facebook meltdown after a Steelers loss. I plan on watching the game from the comfort of my own home, watch the Bills win, and then sit back, with a tasty beer as Steelers nation cries themselves to sleep. GO BILLS!

Top Photo Credit:

Sportsbookreview.com

Week 14 Bills Injury Preview- Ravens

Breaking down why Nsekhe is out so long.

9-3. What a sight to behold!

The Bills are 9-3 heading into the month of December. That’s pretty incredible after all the years of cold meaningless football. While the Bills still have more work to do this month, this has turned into quite a special season, making the national media take notice on the team from Western NY. As the Bills embark on vital December games, the team continues to stay healthy following a rash of injuries around a well-timed Week 6 bye. But the Bills, they’re incredibly healthy now & in prime position to capitalize on teams limping into the playoffs. With the Ravens coming to town on an 8-game winning streak, this is a true test for the Bills to create an opportunity to capture an elusive AFC East crown.

OUT

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe continues to rehab back from his severe ankle sprain suffered against the Dolphins back on November 17th. On Wednesday, it was reported that Nsekhe would be out on the practice field in some role, however, he was a DNP all week. This is not surprising considering the severity of the ankle sprain he suffered, assessed out at least as a Grade 2 inversion ankle sprain. 

The reason this ankle continues to require more time is due to how ligaments heal. Like all tissues, they are made up of various building blocks. In the case of ligaments, water, collagen, & amino acids create the makeup of the tissue. During normal use, the ligaments crimp & uncrimp based on the tensile loads placed through the joint as they connect bone to bone for structural support. As the joint is progressed through the range of motion, the ligaments elongate until they are maximally stretched. Prior to the injury, the striations of the ligaments are linear and allow for support during the full range during joint motion. Think of the striations in a nice steak, all linear and uniform as seen below.

blood cell types
Credit: Sportsinjuryclinic.net

When an injury occurs, the ligaments are either overstretched or outright tear. When a joint is taken to its end range, the proprioceptive nerves in the ligament start signaling for the muscles around the area to contract to prevent the joint from injury. While this attempts to reduce injury, the muscles are not always able to overcome the forces from the injury. Based on the severity, anywhere from several fibers to the entirety of the ligament can tear. 

During healing, the body attempts to heal quickly by putting scar tissue down in a haphazard fashion to heal the tissue. Because the tissue is not linear, the elasticity decreases & the tissue is not as strong as what was originally torn. What happens then is if the tissue is reinjured, it takes less force for the tissue to tear or it stretches out & does not regain its normal shape as easily. You can see below how the makeup of the tissue changes with injury.

scar-tissue-image-300x175
Credit: oregonmassageandwellnessclinic.com

All this tissue healing takes time, anywhere from 6 weeks to a few years for the tissue to fully mature. Fortunately, progressive loading movements help remodel the tissue as it heals in order to return to activity sooner. This is why we are able to gauge return to play timelines based on the severity of the injury. At the end of the day, Nsekhe needs proper rest with increasing loading of the surrounding tissue and ankle joint to ensure that he regains full function in the ankle without causing further damage to the healing tissue.

According to ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques, Nsekhe is out of the walking boot this week, hopefully walking without pain. Ideally, he begins to practice in a limited capacity next week with an outside chance to play against the Steelers but more realistic chances to return against the Patriots. 

CLEARED

OG Quinton Spain & RB TJ Yeldon (illness)

Both Spain & Yeldon missed Thursday’s practice with what was described as an illness. Considering its flu season, that’s likely the cause. Neither were ruled out and while Spain won’t be 100%, enough fluids & Vitamin C should get him through the game. Just another reason to get the flu shot so you don’t get the flu. If you can’t get the shot, you know you can’t. But if you’re able, it helps keep you & others around you healthy. 

Possible Inactives:

TE Tommy Sweeney

OG Ike Boettger

OT Ty Nsekhe

WR Duke Williams

RB TJ Yeldon

S Dean Marlowe

DT Vincent Taylor

The Ravens are on an 8 game winning streak coming into New Era Field. Winning streaks in the NFL like this are rare & need to end at some point. I believe the Bills with their elite defense are primed to stop Lamar Jackson & Greg Roman’s offense. The Ravens are dealing with injury, but the Bills are healthier which with that and the ability to contain Lamar Jackson, could propel the Bills to victory. Here’s to a competitive game with the home crowd advantage, leading to a defining Bills win.
Top Photo Credit:

Baltimore Sun

Week 13 Bills Injury Preview- Cowboys

How are the Bills looking as they go down south?

The Bills travel down to Dallas with a lot at stake. Win, move to 9-3 & gain the national “respect” that they deserve? Or lose, drop to 8-4, and have continued questions whether they are actually a playoff-caliber team. With both teams playing on short weeks, this game will come down to who makes fewer mistakes & can capitalize on the opportunities given to them. Fortunately, the Bills are far healthier than the Cowboys & can make the most with their roster to secure a win before hosting Baltimore in Week 14. 

OUT

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe continues to work back from the sprained ankle suffered in the win over the Dolphins. He missed the Broncos game & won’t be back for the foreseeable future. He will continue to rehab & begin working on increasing his workloads to eventually return to practice with the hopes that he returns before the Patriots or Jets game. 

QUESTIONABLE

C Mitch Morse (right 5th digit)

Morse appeared to jam his right 5th digit or pinky on a play late in the 1st quarter, striking his hand into the ground towards the end of the play, coming up & grabbing at the area. He was unable to return for the rest of the game but was at times observed snapping to QB Matt Barkley & getting his finger buddy taped to the ring finger for support. He is likely dealing with some minor loss of range of motion, pain, & swelling. It also doesn’t help that 40% of grip strength comes from the muscles that move the 5th digit, significantly limiting Morse’s ability to grip & snap the ball. 

It’s possible he broke his finger, but without clear video, hard to say. However, he has been limited Monday-Wednesday with the finger injury, indicating that this may not be the case. It is very possible that he still plays with the fingers buddy taped together for support to play effectively. If he is unable to go or re-injures the finger, then G Jon Feliciano would slide back over with G Spencer Long taking his place.

WR Robert Foster (right hamstring)

Foster suffered a right hamstring injury on his biggest play of the day Sunday on a 24-yard catch & run down the sideline. Unfortunately, he got pushed out, forcing him to catch himself on his right side from falling over. As he was doing this, he was decelerating, regrettably overloading the eccentrically contracting hamstring and he suffered a strain. The team has been incredibly conservative with hamstring injuries this season with great success. 

Despite practicing in a limited role Tuesday & Wednesday, soft tissue injuries need time to heal up & with 5 days between games, the time simply is not there. As Foster is ruled questionable, WR Duke Williams will likely get the start after 4 games inactive. Hopefully, Foster’s strain is a minor one & he can return to play against Baltimore. 

CLEARED TO PLAY

S Siran Neal (concussion)

Neal managed to progress through the concussion protocol quickly, only missing the Dolphins game & not practicing at all last week. Last we knew, he was in Stage 2 of the protocol going through a pregame workout on Sunday. For him to progress to practicing in full & clearing the protocol is promising, indicating that he will resume as a vital cog in the special teams play.  

Possible Inactive’s:

TE Tommy Sweeney

DT Vincent Taylor

WR Robert Foster

OT Ty Nsekhe

S Dean Marlowe

RB TJ Yeldon

OG Ike Boettger

There isn’t much to discuss moving forward other than the Bills have to go down to Dallas & take care of business. Ideally, the Bills move to 9-3, shutting up the critics as the Bills march towards the playoffs despite a tough stretch of games. Either way, the Bills have taken care of business, winning the games they need to & putting themselves into opportune positions, rather than relying on others screwing up for the Bills to have a favorable outcome. Bills Mafia, enjoy your Thanksgiving & GO BILLS!!

Week 12 Bills Injury Preview- Broncos

Get the comprehensive timeline on Nsekhe’s ankle & rehab process.

It was expected that the Bills couldn’t stay healthy forever. NFL games are a brutal endeavor & not everyone can avoid injury. While the Bills are down a few players going into Sunday’s game, they still appear to be on track towards making the playoffs which means they could get timely reinforcements when the health improves. The injury report is pretty cut & dry this week but there are still details to discuss especially as we are rapidly approaching 2 games in 5 days. Below is the injury breakdown prior to the game & outlook for the short week.

RULED OUT:

S Siran Neal (concussion)

Neal suffered a concussion with 7:41 left in the 2nd quarter on a routine kickoff following the 2nd FG of the day by K Stephen Hauschka. He appeared to bullrush his assignment and hit his head in the process before getting up appearing to be dazed. In a twist of irony, one of his teammates patted him on the head after the play, not exactly the ideal thing to do after a possible concussion. Neal’s day ended early, getting ruled out & placed into the concussion protocol. 

He was unable to practice all week & was observed watching practice from the sidelines which indicates that he is in Stage 2 of the protocol. He has already been ruled out & it is a guess when he will progress through the protocol to be cleared.

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)

Nsekhe managed to avoid a severe ankle injury when Dolphins DE Avery Moss landed on the back of his foot during a routine run play midway through the 3rd quarter. I had originally stated that he suffered a fracture/dislocation & that his season would likely be done. I have the receipts to prove I am wrong. My buddy, Dr. Chao, aka @ProFootballDoc, also had thought the same thing but thankfully we are now looking at a week-to-week injury instead of season-ending IR. Below is a video detailing why he avoided a fibular fracture.

There were reports that Nsekhe was out at practice in a walking boot which appeared to rile up the masses in a good way thinking that the injury wasn’t as serious as it appeared to be. At the end of the day, he suffered a low ankle sprain which comes with it a still very real & arduous rehab timeline. The reason he was out in a walking boot was the fact that he didn’t have any restrictions in weight-bearing. In the rehab world, it’s encouraged to resume weight-bearing as tolerated unless specifically contraindicated in order to allow for the healing process to take place.

Yes, everyone has heard of PRICE (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), but after that initial 24 hours of rest, exercise & mobility activities are encouraged for better outcomes. Multiple studies have shown that introducing exercise shortly after the injury reduces the time that one is out compared to immobilization with a 4-7 day reduction in the timeframe for return. Right now, that could be the difference between going to IR versus playing on Wild Card Weekend. 

Allowing weight-bearing allows for joint approximation is vital for the healing process. This allows the muscles in the ankle and lower leg to cocontract & increase joint stability. This also allows the joint to begin to regain proprioception which is the perception of awareness of the body in space in relation to its surroundings. These are all fancy terms, but what does this mean? This means that just by weight-bearing, he is improving his strength and joint positioning with each step he takes. As the pain & swelling reduces, he will continue to perform active strengthening in the area along with balance exercises, increasing the difficulty until he is able to begin walking without the boot. 

As he progresses to higher-level activities, jogging, running, football-specific drills will continue to increase until he is ready to resume playing. This process can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks for a Grade 2-3 sprain. As I previously mentioned in my article from Tuesday, Nsekhe is a big dude, all of 6’8” & 325 lbs. A human that big will require some extra time to fully recover from any lower-body injury. 

While this is not a great injury down this tough stretch of games, having OT Cody Ford with experience helps until Nsekhe is able to come back. The hope is that he’s back in time for the playoffs, but he could realistically come back in time for the Patriots game on the 21st. We’ll see how he progresses, but it’s hopeful that the new training center allows for him to shave more time off to shore up the offensive line. 

Final thoughts on Nsekhe, the team has been bringing in a multitude of offensive tackles to work out including former Bills Sam Young & Seantrel Henderson as possible options in case OT Ryan Bates can’t cut it as a backup or if Ford struggles. 

SUITING UP SUNDAY

DE Jerry Hughes (groin)

Hughes continues to battle through a nagging groin injury suffered sometime earlier in the season which forced him to pop up on the injury report late last week. He was able to play in a season-high 53 snaps on defense. Considering that Hughes is a right defensive end, it’s possible that he is dealing with a left-sided groin strain. He lined up most of his snaps at his natural right side but did line up several times on the left, most likely due to the particular scheme. 

Lining up on the right side means that his power is coming from his right leg driving around the corner. He appeared to not have any issues driving off the left side, but when the adrenaline is pumping, anyone can work through some pain. He was not ruled out or had any injury designation, always an excellent sign. Some may wonder why he was a DNP Wednesday & Thursday but practiced in full on Friday. This was due to veteran maintenance & to save him for Sunday. Hughes may have benefitted from sitting out the Dolphins game, but both he & the training staff felt he was ready to go.

This will be an injury that he continues to play through, unlikely practicing unless it’s a walkthrough practice in the several days between Sunday & Thursday, but barring any further injury should play Thursday as well. While Hughes has not had the stat-bursting season that was expected, he still continues to force teams to game plan for him & pressure the quarterback each and every snap. 

S Jaquan Johnson (hand)

Johnson was a full participant this week despite a hand injury that popped up on the injury report Wednesday. Trying to identify a minor hand injury on film is quite difficult & it’s not clear when he suffered the injury. Johnson is a very physical player & there were many instances where he could have got his hand caught in a jersey, fell to the ground, or during tackling. Either way, he will be able to contribute to special teams & hopefully make an impact.

DT Jordan Phillips (toe)

Phillips showed up on the injury report Thursday with a toe injury. We don’t know which side, which toe, or when it happened. My guess is that this happened Thursday in practice & that it was an injury to the big toe. The big toe accounts for 50% of body weight during walking & without the toe, significant balance & walking issues arise. Injury to the other toes are rather minor & wouldn’t warrant reporting unless they were stepped on, making it a pain issue.

If this an injury to the big toe, the team can give him a stiff-soled shoe to take the pressure off the area during running and blocking. He also did practice in full on Friday which may show that this wasn’t all that serious & that he missed some drills Thursday, but didn’t have issues Friday. If he has issues in the game Sunday, we will see them. 

Possible Inactive’s:

TE Tommy Sweeney

DT Vincent Taylor

WR Duke Williams

OT Ty Nsekhe

S Siran Neal

RB TJ Yeldon

OG Ike Boettger

The Bills host the 3-7 Broncos who despite their abysmal record, carry an elite defense into the game with several pieces on offense, making them still a very dangerous team to play even at home. Like many other games this season, this is a winnable game & the Bills have to control the run game like they did last week. To move to 8-3 would be huge as the next stretch of games against the Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, & Patriots are no easy task. Continuing to stack wins will be vital in the march towards the playoffs. 

Top Photo Credit:

broncoswire.usatoday.com

Week 10 Bills Injury Preview- Browns

The Bills are healthy?

So hey Bills Mafia, what do you want to talk about? Clearly not about this injury report, I mean, there are all of two names on there. By the way, it’s Week 10. Week 10 of an NFL season. An NFL season which consists of broken bones, torn tendons, ligaments, concussions, & an endless supply of heartbreak. Yet, here we are at Week 10 with a “healthy” roster. I say nearly healthy because there are still injuries that linger, injuries that are unknown, injuries that are still on the mend. 

The Bills are 6-2 with a “healthy” roster coming into Week 10 against the 2-6 Cleveland Browns. That’s an awesome sentence to think about, write, & read. While the Bills still have to go & play the game, 7-2 is looking quite good right now. Before I get ahead of myself, there are a few injuries below, take a few moments to check them out, it’ll be brief!

Injuries during the game included WR Andre Roberts (leg), DE Trent Murphy (neck), & S Micah Hyde (knee) were all minor enough that they did not show up on the injury report & shouldn’t be a concern moving forward. To note, all did return to play after getting quickly evaluated by the medical staff. 

LB Maurice Alexander (knee/calf) was placed on IR this past week clearing the way for the Bills to sign DT Corey Liuget to help shore up the run game. The exact specifics behind Alexander going to IR is right now a mystery & may not be revealed until much later. To get more information about Liuget, make sure to check the tweet below. 

S Kurt Coleman (left hamstring)

Coleman suffered a hamstring strain on a special teams play against the Dolphins back in Week 7. He has since missed 2 games & frankly, the team has soldiered on without him. He continues to fit what the Bills training staff has done in managing hamstring strains. He was limited Wednesday when it was cold & windy outside, but since able to practice in full on Thursday & Friday. I expect he’ll play Sunday as he’s fresher than some of the other players who may be able to play but could use a week off.

CB Kevin Johnson (left knee)

Johnson was a surprise addition to the injury report Wednesday with a knee injury. Looking at the video below, it appears that he gets tripped up before landing hard on his left knee as he continued downfield.

He may have slightly hyperextended his knee, he may have twisted or tweaked the knee where it was sore, it’s not quite known what he’s dealing with. However, while he didn’t practice Wednesday, he was a full participant on Thursday & Friday. Johnson has been incredibly durable this year, only suffering a stinger which limited in practice during the week prior to the Eagles game but otherwise appears to have avoided serious injury that derailed multiple seasons when he was in Houston.  Either way, he should be good to go for Sunday to continue to special teams & defensive depth.

Probable Inactive’s:

TE Tommy Sweeney

S Jaquan Johnson

OG Ike Boettger

OT Ryan Bates

WR Robert Foster

RB T.J. Yeldon

DT Vincent Taylor

The Bills are looking to move to 7-2 following a trip to Cleveland in a battle for Lake Erie supremacy. All the talk about soft schedules, DVOA, power rankings; what does it matter if a win is a win in the NFL? Previous iterations of the Bills have received winnable games on paper & blown them, leading to a loss. So if the Bills get a win on Sunday, then they’re 7-2 & that much closer to a playoff spot and that much closer to a Super Bowl, even though that seems so far off. For now, I hope the Bills keep stacking wins, soft schedules be damned! Let’s hope for minimal to no injuries Sunday as the Bills march towards the difficult portion of their schedule.

 

Week 9 Bills Injury Preview- Redskins

Get the latest updates on Ford, Wallace, & Coleman.

What I do on a regular basis in observing & reporting Bills injuries at times can be simple or complex. Think of it as like an iceberg, in fact, think of it like the Titanic when it hit that god damn iceberg. Some of the injuries are easy & straightforward, as the top of the iceberg, easy to see. Some take some digging & detective work, real use of my professional degree to determine the true injuries. This is the part of the iceberg that you know is under the water, it exists, but the size or extent is not known. And then there are other injuries, injuries that just aren’t explainable & either won’t know the true story until either much later or really, ever. This is the Titanic, you can’t see it, you aren’t sure it’s even there, but you know its there somewhere. And maybe, the truth will eventually be found.

Why do I bring up a shipwreck that’s over 107 years old? BECAUSE IT GRABS YOUR ATTENTION!! How does the Titanic & football go together? IT DOESN’T!  But it gets one thinking about the complexities of determining injuries from not only video analysis, but from the reporting, news, & information available to the public. The Buffalo Bills fan base has been through enough with the Super Bowl losses, the Drought, the weather & nothing to do here jokes, you’ve heard them all. We deserve the best content because we love this team! From the beat reporters to the blogs to the pods, we are all trying to give our fellow fans the best insight possible so that we can be the best fan base ever. If I can use my education to connect with my fellow fan, then that makes me a better fan. So wrapping this all up, I do what I do because I love the Bills & love this fan base if I can add my two cents, then I feel I have done something positive.

Ok, passion-filled rant over. 

The Bills host the lowly Washington Redskins on what will appear to be a blustery and rather crappy day in Western New York. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. Buffalo weather baby!! In addition to the declining weather, the number of names on the injury report is also declining. As of this week’s count, there are only 4 names on the entire report dealing with injuries that could potentially cause them to miss Sunday. This is a far cry from 11 players for several weeks in a row. Below are the injuries & how it will affect their availability for Sunday.

 

OUT:  

LB Maurice Alexander (knee)

Alexander is a mystery as he appeared on the injury report Wednesday without any known mechanism of injury. He has not been able to practice the past week & there aren’t any specifics of what is going on. However, he was briefly on the injury report prior to the Patriots game in Week 4. He was a DNP the Friday before the game, was questionable, but able to play. He did have a hip injury in the win over the Dolphins but he did not show up on the injury report afterward. It’s also unknown if the knee injury from last month is related to this most recent injury. 

There is something that just isn’t know right now. See, iceberg, all coming full circle!

Until we get an injury that is a smoking gun, more information on what he’s dealing with, or really anything, this will be an injury that we simply don’t know. My initial speculation is he could be dealing with some type of tendonitis or small meniscal tear that he’s attempting to play through, but has flared up to the point he needs rest. Both could have been well managed until the issue was aggravated through regular play.

He is a key special team player so missing him Sunday will hurt. Fortunately, the return of LB Corey Thompson will help soften the blow as he is finally healthy from the recent ankle surgery that kept him out the past 3 games. 

 

QUESTIONABLE:

CB Levi Wallace (left shoulder)

Wallace has been ruled questionable following a shoulder contusion in the loss to the Eagles. To recall, he suffered the contusion as the result of getting run over by Eagles RB Boston Scott late in the 3rd quarter as seen below.

He has been limited all week but HC Sean McDermott was pleased by the workouts in practice the past few days which sounds promising for his availability for Sunday. While upper-body injuries are more difficult to assess on film in regards to practice, there is a strong chance that he plays Sunday. He will likely have additional padding to the area in order to protect the healing tissues, but there shouldn’t really be any reason that he can’t play unless he personally says he can’t go. I expect him to play Sunday.

 

OT Cody Ford (left elbow)

Ford suffered a left elbow contusion late in the 4th quarter which forced him to miss the last several minutes for a game that was clearly out of hand by that point. Ford has been limited all week but video available has been promising showing him shedding the red non-contact jersey and performing blocking drills despite having his elbow wrapped with a hinged brace to the area. The bracing will limit medial/lateral movement to reduce stress on the elbow if, for example, a defensive end is coming around the edge. This will also prevent hyperextension to the elbow during blocking and cause further damage. 

Considering how he had the elbow struck, coming from up underneath, there is a slight possibility that he suffered a UCL injury, similar to what QB Josh Allen had last year against the Texans. If this is the case, it’s quite possible to play through the injury with bracing, but I also don’t believe they would be putting him back out there so quickly if he had an injury of that magnitude to the area. 

He likely had the elbow struck & is dealing with more pain and swelling to the area, hence the extra protection. I expect that he plays Sunday, considering the injury & the lack of consistency that OT Ty Nsekhe is able to bring to the table this season. I also expect that he suits up with the bracing to get through the game. Continue the rotation that we have seen all season between Ford & Nsekhe.

 

S Kurt Coleman (hamstring)

Coleman continues to work back from a hamstring injury sustained in the win over the Dolphins 2 weeks ago. Like all other hamstring injuries this year, the team has been cautious in their approach & does not appear to be rushing anyone back well before they are ready. I have not observed any video of him in practice, but the fact that he is limited is promising. 

However, the weather is expected to be poor this weekend with a slick surface & cool weather. These are not the type of conditions ideal to play through with a hamstring injury. He may also be pressed into service if either starter goes down which, if he has a not 100% hamstring, could create a liability. I don’t anticipate that he suits up, taking the extra week before he gets a 2nd shot at Miami in the warmer weather.

 

Projected Inactive’s:

TE Tommy Sweeney

OT Ryan Bates

OG Ike Boettger

S Kurt Coleman

S Jaquan Johnson

RB TJ Yeldon

LB Maurice Alexander

 

Going up against a 1-7 Washington Redskins team should be an easy win. It should allow the Bills to move to 6-2 as they march towards the playoffs. But while the Bills see what appears to be an inferior opponent on the surface, below is still an NFL team with talented players that want to desperately win.

The Bills need to come out and control the line of scrimmage, punching the Redskins in the mouth right away to let them know they don’t belong at New Era Field. That loss to the Eagles last week hurt, I don’t expect the Bills to drop another, especially at home. I expect the Bills to finish their homestand with a win. On Sunday, at 4:30 pm, we will have an answer.

Top Photo Credit

BleacherReport.com

Phase 3 OTA Week 1 Recap

Assessing the latest injuries following the first week of Phase 3 of OTA’s.

In an offseason that appeared to be going well for the Bills with lots of new faces, a promising outlook, and possible long lasting stability, a jarring reality set in on Day 2. Tuesday brought a wide variety of injury news, some good, mostly bad that puts worry into every Bills fan even though it is May.

The most serious injury of OTA’s came in newly signed TE Tyler Kroft (foot). Unfortunately, he suffered a foot fracture on the first day which will require surgery. Regrettably, this is the same foot that he fractured last year that cost him 11 games. According to Ian Rapaport, this will sideline him for up to 3-4 months. While this is bad news, it’s not totally awful. The 3-4 months recovery timeline tells us several things. This tells us that this injury wasn’t as serious as it could have been. This rules out a Lisfranc as a conservative recovery would be 6 months.

We know that it’s not trauma or a stress fracture as trauma most likely would have been reported and a stress fracture wouldn’t require immediate surgery. This leads us to several possibilities. He could have had an avulsion fracture in where a portion of the bone is pulled away from the bone. He could have a metatarsal fracture in any of the long toe bones of the foot. Or he could have a Jones fracture.

Considering he injured the same foot last year, had surgery, and then fractured again, I am leaning towards the Jones fracture. It’s a surgery that requires stabilization with a screw, it has a known failure rate after the first surgery, and the timeline fits with the reported recovery time. The mechanism of injury is similar to an ankle sprain which can be rather innocent when dealing with positional drills, someone tweaks their ankle, steps funny, pushes off differently. Kroft most likely woke up the next day having issues, had imaging, and found out the bad news.

While he is still a near lock to make the roster, losing him for 3-4 months will allow some of the younger tight ends to get more reps and make the roster. Kroft will likely start the preseason on the PUP list, possibly paving the way to allow someone to get some playing time in place during the preseason. If he is on PUP at the start of the regular season, he wouldn’t be able to return until Week 6 when he is eligible. By then, there could be corresponding roster moves such as injury or insufficient play from other players which may prevent having to cut another TE before the regular season. This designation would also not count against an IR-to-return spot.

Others coming off injury are RB Frank Gore (foot/ankle) and RB TJ Yeldon (groin). There has been a documented injury for Gore at the end of last season which sent him to IR. There has been no known surgeries, but considering that Gore is ancient in NFL terms and these practices are voluntary, it’s an easy out to not participate in drills.

As for Yeldon, he may have tweaked something early on and decided to avoid making things worse rather than trying to go through meaningless drills. For both backs, there is no concern moving forward unless new information comes to light.

Many became worried with the revelation that both newly signed C Mitch Morse and WR Cole Beasley required core stabilization surgery, better known as a sports hernia repair. This is the same type of injury that infamous Bills CB Vontae Davis suffered 2 seasons ago. I detailed his injury when he originally signed with the team, make sure to click the link above for more information. While there is concern that they may not be ready for Week 1, it was revealed that they had their surgery several weeks ago with a general recovery timeline of roughly 12 weeks.

Both could certainly come back sooner than that based on the amount of damage in the region, but having surgery in April gives them a return to full ability in July. These injuries do unfortunately happen considering the positional requirements throughout the season but are able to play through. While there is always concerns for complications, the return to play rate is ~90% for NFL players, I do not expect anything less for Morse and Beasley.

Others nicked up include S Rafael Bush (groin/shoulder) and CB Taron Johnson (shoulder). Bush was seen wearing a red non-contact jersey alongside Johnson, but considering these workouts are voluntary, he may be just be cautious as he was dealing with a groin injury last season, according to research by Nick Wojton. Bush also did suffer a shoulder injury last season that may have lingered to the point where he didn’t want to risk anything and could be the true cause of why he was sitting out OTA’s.

Johnson is coming off his labral repair and has made excellent progress to this point. Considering he is 5.5 months out from surgery, he is able to participate in drills but contact is not advised yet, he’ll be ready come training camp. To read more, please check out the article here from Buffalo Rumblings.

Rookie WR David Sills V (hamstring) suffered a hamstring strain in rookie mini camp, these injuries occur despite the best preventative methods out there. He just needs rest and rehab. TE Jason Croom (undisclosed) was seen walking with a trainer, dealing with something, but no further information has come out regarding what he injured.

Finally, C Russell Bodine (shoulder) did not participate in OTA’s as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. I had noted last year that he was wearing a compression sleeve later in the season. He most likely had a shoulder debridement, possible subacromial decompression. This would be similar to what Panthers QB Cam Newton had recently. The procedure would smooth down any arthritic changes in the shoulder or trim back the acromion which could cause impingement leading to weakness, pain, and possible further complications with the rotator cuff if left untreated. He is also coming off a broken fibula requiring surgery that appears to fully healed. Regarding both injuries, he will be fine for camp and this is not worth any further words.

Players that suffered injuries last season that practiced in full were LB Matt Milano (ankle), P Corey Bojorquez (shoulder), and P Cory Carter (knee). Milano is coming off his gruesome fibula fracture with dislocation practicing in full. He appears to be on schedule and working back into football shape as expected.

Bojorquez suffered a torn labrum last season on his bonehead fake FG attempt, he was practicing in full and his shoulder won’t give any issues as he likely had surgery in October and he doesn’t take the regular contact or use the shoulder in a way that Taron Johnson would.

Carter is coming off his ACL tear that cost him all of 2018 due to a direct blow to the knee. He is roughly 9 months out from surgery and should be cleared to resume full activities. There is less concern for him returning from the injury than we saw last year with DE Trent Murphy.

Despite all the doom and gloom of Tuesday, there are still positives to take away as they still have 3 months before a meaningful snap is taken. All will be fine. We will also get to see more action on the 28th which will give us some glimpses into what the mandatory minicamp participation will be like. I believe most of these injuries will not be mentioned in June.

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