The Bills are back into the swing of things following a well deserved & well-timed bye week. The team has been preparing all week getting ready for a tire fire that is the Miami Dolphins franchise, looking to move to 5-1. While most fans are overlooking this game as a win, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL & this is no exception. Regardless of the opponent, the Bills are getting healthier for the next 11 games. The injury concerns are as follows:
LB Matt Milano (left hamstring)
Milano resumed practice Monday performing ladder drills off to the side while everyone else ran through regular drills. Considering that Milano plays such a vital role in the defense & has to react to what he’s seeing in front of him, forcing him to keep up with the play. He will have to backpedal, change directions suddenly, and sprint. These activities will require a full recovery before attempting to return to play.
Milano was limited in practice Wednesday but was running and performing drills, indicating that he may be further along than originally anticipated. He was running a straight line, albeit, not full speed. He was performing tackling drills without much compensation. He is moving well considering he had a hamstring injury, but doesn’t appear to be fully healthy. He has been ruled questionable & I don’t expect him to play.
LB Corey Thompson (ankle surgery)
As it’s well known now, Thompson has been working back from ankle surgery that has kept him out the past 2 games.
The video showed that Thompson returned to practice in a limited fashion Wednesday indicating that he is approaching his return. He may be nearly healthy & just working to get back into game shape. It is still unknown what ankle he had the surgery on but the video appears to show some greater bulk on the right ankle which may indicate bracing for extra support. He has since been ruled questionable, but I believe he has a shot to play in a special teams role to work back into game shape. He could also be available as an emergency backup in the likely event that Milano doesn’t play.
CB Taron Johnson (right hamstring)
Johnson has been an enigma this season, coming back from a torn labrum last season that ended his season prematurely. He appeared incredibly healthy & ready to take the next step until he suffered a right hamstring strain during the Jets game. He has since missed the past 4 games that makes me believe he suffered some type of setback prior to the Patriots game.
It’s a shame that his body does not appear to withstand the rigors of the NFL game. This doesn’t mean he won’t even be able to play again, but he may need to reinvent himself in order to last longer than 1 season in the league.
This week’s practice was promising that he was practicing in full, but no other updates other than his availability was noted. Interestingly though, he has been ruled questionable. The only possibility is that he wants to test it out to ensure that he is truly ready. He’s been out long enough that he should be fully healthy & regain his starting role in the secondary.
WR Robert Foster (turf toe/groin)
Foster continues to battle through a recent groin injury & what is now a possible lingering turf toe injury. While the groin injury is more pronounced, the toe is still likely causing issues regarding running efficiency.
However, things are looking promising for Foster as he was able to practice in full this week indicating that while he may not be 100%, he is closer to playing this week as indicated by the practice designation. Players are deemed to practice in full if they take all the normal reps at that position. They are limited if they miss reps by design or due to injury. If they did not take reps, but practiced on the side, then they are did not participate. Thankfully, Foster will be able to play Sunday.
OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)
We still don’t know the specifics dealing with Nsekhe, coming off a minor Week 3 ankle injury followed by a Week 4 injury that appears to have been either a contusion or high ankle sprain. According to still pictures from Monday’s practice, this may be more of a contusion as he did not appear to have any bracing on the right ankle. Other shots showed that he was able to go through blocking drills without any significant issues.
Wednesday’s practice noted that he did not practice due to requiring a veteran rest day, but the video showed him performing warm-ups and side-stepping drills. Fortunately, Nsekhe was able to practice in full Thursday despite the cold & rainy weather which indicates that this supports the contusion theory. Friday’s injury report states that he will play Sunday.
There is a concern that Nsekhe is unable to hold up through an entire game, much less than an entire season. He is 33 years old in a physically demanding position with nearly a decade of professional football to his resume. Whether he can withstand full games anymore is only something that Nsekhe & the training staff know. If OT Cody Ford continues through his development, there is hope that Nsekhe can sink back into a reserve role. Until then, he will rotate with Ford unless the team says otherwise.
TE Tyler Kroft (left ankle/right foot)
Kroft is finally looking good after an incredibly trying season thus far. The video below shows that the right foot appears to be completely healed up & the left foot/ankle accepting dynamic weight bearing activities during the cone drill. He doesn’t appear to miss a step, he doesn’t appear to favor one side or slow down when pushing off. I’m very optimistic about him finally making his season debut. He was able to practice in full this week which is about as good of a sign as one can get.
RB Devin Singletary (left hamstring)
Without question, Singletary will play Sunday! He looks excellent on video, there haven’t been any changes in how he looks from the last video available & barring a meteor hitting Buffalo, he should play, even if the weather isn’t ideal. At some point, an athlete has to play. The conditions will only be so ideal or so much rest will help. He may get injured, but any guy can be injured on any given play. Singletary continues to look good in practice this week & there should be no reason why he can’t play Sunday.
OT Cody Ford & DE Trent Murphy (concussions)
Both Ford & Murphy are working back from concussions sustained in the Titans game and appear to be making some progress. Reports from Monday’s practice indicated that both were working through the protocol performing light aerobic exercise which indicates that appear to be in Stage 2 of the concussion protocol.
However, this week’s practices indicated that both were able to practice in full signifying that were in Stage 5, requiring that they needed to be cleared by an independent neurologist. Monday’s practice may have been just the nature of the activities they were performing rather than the actual stage of recovery. They have both appeared to have been cleared by the neurologist which indicates they will play Sunday.
WR John Brown (groin)
Brown was a surprise addition to the injury report Wednesday with a groin injury & was limited in practice. His snap counts from the past 5 games can be seen below & did not greatly differ from game to game.
Reviewing game footage from the Titans game didn’t reveal any specific instances of injury which leads me to believe that he suffered the injury during Wednesday’s practice. Thursday’s practice was more promising in that he moved well on film, but did not show his full abilities. However, he has since been ruled in to play but it will be interesting to see if his snap count is affected by the groin & addition of Foster.
C Mitch Morse (right ankle)
Morse sat out the rest of the Titans game as what appeared to be a precaution to avoid worsening any injuries. He appeared to be dealing with a contusion suffered midway through the 2nd quarter. While there is pain, there isn’t much that is functionally wrong. He should not have any issues come Sunday & continue to demonstrate why he’s one of the highest paid centers in the NFL. This week’s practice supported how he is recovering with no bracing or difficulties observed according to reports. He at most may have had his ankle wrapped in prewrap & tape, but this would not be concerning for his ability to play Sunday.
QB Josh Allen (hand)
Allen appeared on the injury report this week with a hand injury but was able to practice in full. To specify, he injured his left hand when he threw his interception against the Titans in where he hit his hand against Harold Landry III’s shoulder pads.
This may a contusion that he is still having some pain with, this may also be a minor sprain of the metacarpophalengeal joint due to the direct hit on the shoulder pads. He may have some bracing to the area at worst, but unlikely as it would restrict his ability to grip the football if he were to run or have to protect the ball.
However, as pointed out by a follower on Twitter, the injury report indicated the right hand was injured. This is a new development & previously unknown what caused this. As he practiced in full, this may not be an issue, but certainly, something to monitor.
My predictions for inactive’s are:
LB Matt Milano
OG Ike Boettger
OG Ryan Bates
S Jaquan Johnson
S Dean Marlowe
WR Isaiah McKenzie
TE Tommy Sweeney
This is a very winnable game to get to 5-1. This Bills team is not what we are used to seeing, getting full of themselves, beating them at their own game when cupcakes like this come up on the schedule. This is a team that is built to play, a team that knows their role each and every Sunday. This team may not be the most talented, but they are certainly one of the hardest working. The bye week really made a difference in health & allowed the Bills to get back in the right frame of mind for the next 11+ games.