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 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 9 Bills Injury Review- Seahawks

Looks like the Bills may finally be getting healthier.

The Bills are 7-2 for the first time since 1993 and in control of the AFC East following a convincing win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. To put it into context, I was 5 when this last happened. A lot has changed since then, but the Bills are finally contenders again and it’s a great feeling! On top of the excellent start, there were minimal injuries that have been termed day-to-day from Sunday.

In-game injuries:

G Cody Ford (right ankle)

Ford suffered a right ankle injury on the first TD of the day to TE Tyler Kroft. This was the result of Ford getting knocked backward from his block before tripping over RB Zack Moss as he tumbled backward. It wasn’t clear initially what he had injured, but based on how he fell outward, it appeared that he rolled his ankle. It’s also possible he could have stepped on Moss as he came through, leading to the injury. Here’s the play below.

He made it to the sidelines before getting carted to the locker room for further evaluation. He eventually returned to the sidelines later in the game. He was even observed holding his helmet and jogging, ultimately not returning to the game. Considering he was coming off the right MCL injury and now dealing with a right ankle, it appears the team did not want to risk further injury and kept him out as a precaution.

Unless the practice reports show otherwise, he may be limited with an ankle sprain this week and tape it up for Sunday. Small possibility they have him sit to maximize his healing time with the bye coming up.

G Brian Winters (left knee)

Shortly after Ford went down, Winters suffered a left knee injury with 14:23 left in the 2nd quarter. He fell down in a pile of bodies as the pocket collapsed, leading to him having some difficulty getting off the field.

On broadcast, he was observed rubbing the inner portion of the knee indicating a possible mild MCL sprain or patellar contusion. It’s also not clear if this is the same knee that he has been limited with the past 2 weeks. He eventually returned roughly a half-hour later to finish out the game. He may continue to show up on the injury report this week with a knee ailment, but it doesn’t appear that this is a concerning issue.

T Daryl Williams (leg)

Williams may be the most difficult injury to observe on film similar to Winters, also falling in a pile of bodies with 6:40 left in the 2nd quarter. He landed on his left side and appeared to be favoring the left side slightly walking off.

The injury did not appear to be an issue as he returned several plays later and finished out the game. Based on the pile of bodies and short time missed, it was likely that he suffered a general contusion that required brief attention before returning. Normally, injuries to Williams and Winters are inconsequential, but at one point the Bills were without 3 offensive linemen available to protect QB Josh Allen.

CB Tre’Davious White (left ankle)

White sustained an ankle injury late in the 4th quarter with 3:16 left, quickly getting tended to by trainers before hopping off to get taped. Upon further review, it appears he suffered a medial eversion ankle sprain. There was a possibility that he suffered a mild high ankle sprain, but his foot appeared to be pointed down more towards neutral than upward into dorsiflexion, avoiding the more severe injury observed in the top picture below.

White quickly got taped up and was walking around on the sidelines, possibly waiting to return. He was designated as questionable to return but ultimately was not needed as the team iced the game with the recovery of the onside kick.

It appears that White avoided major injury and he should play next week. It’s possible that if the ankle is worse than originally thought, he could miss the next game considering the bye coming up, but the video and sideline impressions following the injury don’t imply that it was.

Other thoughts:

G/C Jon Feliciano (pectoral)

Feliciano continues to play in 100% of the snaps in the absence of C Mitch Morse following his concussion. For someone 3 months removed from tearing his pectoral muscle, he looks pretty good out there. I had hoped that he would be worked in to not stress the surgically repaired area, but at this point, it doesn’t appear to be an option. The band-aid has been ripped off; there is no point in trying to restrict him now. Hopefully, he continues to work back into shape and round into form for the late-season stretch.

LB Matt Milano (pectoral)

Milano was placed on IR on Saturday to better manage his pectoral injury. He missed the Titans and Chiefs game but returned for the Jets and Patriots game, but was on a pitch count and obviously limited. Based on what he was doing out there, he was able to play and did make a difference in pass coverage, but when asked to tackle or stop the run, he simply could not wrap up his tackles. This was a concern of mine returning from the injury and it appears to be true.

I question whether he had a setback with regards to the timeline the team has taken with this injury. He could have re-injured some of the healing tissue in the pectoral region, leading to putting him on the shelf. It’s more likely that they weren’t satisfied with his play and limited availability, leading to the shutdown.

The team saw an opportunity to put him on IR to maximize his healing time while minimizing games lost. He does have to miss 3 games which means he was out for the Seahawks game and will be out for the Cardinals and Chargers game.

In addition, he will use the bye to get an entire month off to recover. A whole month of no football activities to allow the pectoral muscle to heal in addition to the past month of rehab he’s already performed should work out in his favor. With this timeline, he could potentially come back close to 100% when he returns.

I saw some comments on social media questioning the handling of Milano’s injury. I can say with a moderate level of confidence that they handled it the best they could with the information they had at the moment. That’s all you can do in situations like this. They had the physical testing, the imaging, and they made an informed decision. The research supported his ability to return when he did. Injuries like this, a likely Grade 2 strain, do take upwards of 6 weeks to heal, but in the NFL, these players don’t typically get that time to fully recover, leading to him returning after 2 games.

In rehab, I have had countless patients “fail PT” or not progress as expected. This is due to other circumstances that play into the decision-making process or are considered in the plan of care but overtake the issue at hand, preventing the patient from reaching their goals.

Sometimes, those other issues need to be addressed before therapy can be successful. For example, people with arthritic knees that can’t tolerate progressing exercises secondary to pain, sometimes they need a cortisone injection to help calm things down before they can complete PT.

In other cases, a surgically repaired area needs further healing before therapy can be initiated or progressed. Sometimes a chronic health condition can become problematic and must be addressed to maximize rehab. I have had many cases where this needed to be completed in order for the patient to ultimately be successful at rehab.

In Milano’s case, they let the research and imaging dictate when he returned. They probably realized he wasn’t as effective as he could have been and ran the risk to suffer further injury and shut him down. Medicine is a lot of trial and error at the end of the day based on the research and experience of the providers treating those issues. The providers are allowed to change their minds if something isn’t working or adverse effects occur. The poor decision would have been to be stubborn and continue to play through the injury, potentially leading to a worse outcome.

Fortunately, the team has the short term IR to allow him to rest and not waste a roster spot. In other years, he probably would have continued to try and gut it out like we saw LB Tremaine Edmunds do earlier this season, though it’s important to note that the injuries were different.

As the theme has been this year, there will likely be an injury here or there that shows up on Wednesday that we did not expect. My hope is that some of these injuries do fall off the list because if the list grows anymore, we may need a magnifying glass to look at some of these names. However, the bye is coming up and while it feels much later than usual, it is perfectly timed. I would rather have a late bye with all these injuries to get right for the final push rather than limp into the postseason. The Bills are 7-2, life is good.

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Tight End

Will this be Knox’s breakout year?

This is Part 4 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 4 consists of the tight end room.

Players Returning

TE Jason Croom

Spent 2019 on IR with a right hamstring injury. 

Croom has been an interesting case. He was too good to cut outright but not good enough to bring back up to the roster. He missed most of training camp due to a nagging hamstring injury. He ended up playing in only the 4th preseason game against the Vikings, grabbing 2 catches for 27 yards.

Surprisingly, he made the 53 man roster and then was immediately placed on IR which gave the team the ability to call him back up later if there were other injuries. Fortunately, the Bills were incredibly healthy last season and his services were not needed. 

Reports later came out that he tore his hamstring during spring practices and just wasn’t able to fully get healthy, immediately re-injuring the hamstring again. It has been a year since Croom injured his hamstring and there haven’t been any reports stating that he isn’t healthy. There is a chance he could reinjure the area again, but the time off from football along with rest and proper rehab should reduce that. The only possibility of this becoming an issue again is if he hasn’t been keeping up with conditioning. Training camp will quickly reveal if Croom is 100% again.

TE Tyler Kroft 

11 games, 3 starts, 14 targets, 6 receptions, 71 yards, 1 TD

Kroft did not have the season anyone envisioned for him coming from Cincinnati in the offseason. His production simply did not meet the contract he signed. He dealt with several injuries that really prevented him from contributing in a meaningful way. 

Below is his injuries:

    • Right foot fracture

In 2018, he missed 11 total games dealing with a broken foot, likely a Jones fracture which required surgery. He managed to get through the offseason before getting to Phase 3 of OTA’s where he broke the same foot again on the first day. He eventually spent all of training camp on the PUP list before getting activated to the 53 man roster on cut down day as he continued to work back into shape.

    • Left ankle sprain

As Kroft was rounding into form and preparing to play against his old team in Week 3, he sprained his left ankle during a routine practice. While the ankle sprain wasn’t much of an issue, it held him out an additional 2 weeks until he made his season debut against Miami in Week 7.

Kroft never got the reps needed with Josh Allen in order to be successful & allow him to become a weapon in the offense. While the foot fracture was a fluky thing, once the screw is removed following a re-fracture in a Jones fracture repair, the injury doesn’t appear to be recurrent. What this means is that he is unlikely to suffer another similar injury to the area. 

TE Dawson Knox

15 games, 11 starts, 1 rushing attempt, 9 yards, 50 targets, 28 receptions, 388 yards, 2 TD’s

Knox quickly became a favored target in the offense despite coming out of Ole Miss with little production. During his rookie season, he nearly eclipsed the entirety of his college production. He managed to put together a solid season despite dealing with several injuries along the way, including one that cost him most of training camp. Knox was overall fairly available, only missing the final regular-season game against the Jets due to resting for the playoffs. 

Knox’s injuries:

    • Hamstring

Knox suffered a hamstring injury early on in training camp during routine drills. This injury cost him the better part of a month, later returning to play in limited amounts against both the Lions and Vikings in the preseason, not getting any catches during this time. While it did appear that the hamstring was a Grade 1 due to some of the progress observed, a rush back to the field was not in the cards for Knox until he was 100% healthy.

    • Knee

He was dealing with some “knee soreness” prior to the second matchup against the Dolphins down in Miami. This injury did not hold him out from playing or appeared to affect him in any way. At the time, I had thought maybe he was hitting the proverbial “wall” due to the increased level of competition along with a longer season when compared to college football. The injury did not show up again later that season & appear to affect his play.

Like Croom, there is concern that Knox could re-injure his hamstring strain. There is reason to believe that Knox has taken extra steps to ensure that he comes to training camp in shape and will be more diligent in preparing his body to reduce his injury risk.

TE Tommy Sweeney

6 games, 1 start, 13 targets, 8 receptions, 114 yards

Sweeney was the less-heralded other tight end selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. He didn’t have the same impact that Knox has in his first year with the Bills, but Sweeney also did not have any known injuries. While he was inactive most weeks, he did appear in a handful of games early on as TE Tyler Kroft worked his way back into the lineup. Once Kroft returned, Sweeney was expendable and was not called upon until the regular-season finale against the Jets. 

TE Lee Smith

16 games 5 starts, 5 targets, 4 receptions, 31 yards, 1 TD

Smith is about as durable as they come. He didn’t miss any games and also did not appear to suffer any known injuries. While he wasn’t very productive in the offense, he continued to excel as a blocking tight end and as a leader in the locker room. As Smith increases in age, he will eventually be phased out, but as long as he continues to be a leader and effective blocker, he will be hard to beat out for a spot on the team.

TE Nate Becker

Becker spent the 2019 training camp with the team after getting cut by Detroit prior to training camp. He did not survive training camp cuts and was later signed to the practice squad where he sat for the remainder of the season. He did not appear to suffer any known injuries. To read more on Becker’s previously known injury history, click here.

2020 Outlook

The tight end room is not an area where major injuries happen. A foot fracture, ankle sprain, and a pair of hamstrings make up the entirety of the injuries to the position. None of the injuries appear to be chronic or likely to recur in 2020. While Knox & Smith are locked to make the team next year, Sweeney still appears to be a strong shot to make the roster again. Croom better produce at a high level & show the team that he has something from 2018 to indicate to the team that he plans on sticking around. 

Unless Becker somehow unseats Smith by dramatically improving his blocking skills, the lineup will likely be Knox, Smith, & Sweeney for 2020. The tight end position for the Buffalo Bills is not a sexy one at all, but it hopefully will become a position that grows in importance as Josh Allen improves his game. 

 

Week 15 Bills Injury Review- Steelers

How is Tre’Davious White’s injury?

The Buffalo Bills have secured a playoff berth! Following a 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football, the Bills have secured no worse than a 5th seed in the AFC. What Sean McDermott & Brandon Beane has accomplished in 3 seasons is nothing short of amazing. This is proof that with the right mindset & knowledge, a team can improve & not relegated to forever known as a loser. There is still a lot of football left to be played, but the Bills are in an excellent position to make a deep run with their continued health a major reason for their success.

CB Tre’Davious White (left shoulder/stinger)

White scared all of BillsMafia late in the 1st quarter when he laid a hard hit on Johnny Holton as soon as he caught the ball. White led hard with his right shoulder on a textbook tackle, taking the ball carrier down before getting up, briefly running to the sidelines, motioning to his left shoulder before rolling down to the ground.

He was assessed on the field before making his way into the medical tent before returning to play. Based on the video, it appeared that he suffered a left-sided stinger. Despite leading with the right arm, his head was snapped violently to the left, potentially compressing on one of the lower cervical nerve roots coming out of the neck. This would have sent weakness, numbness, & pain with a potential electrical shock feeling going down the arm as the nerve essentially gets shocked from the impact. 

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White went into the medical tent and sat out 1 play before returning to continue his stellar play. He also did not appear to have any ill effects from the hit for the rest of the game. During Monday’s press conference, it was noted that nothing was significant about White’s injury. Unless he is limited or continues to have issues, then I may consider this a dead issue as he came back & lit it up. Stinger’s can linger but considering that he returned so quickly, he may avoid problems. Only if he has future stingers will there be concerns.

OT Jon Feliciano (leg cramps)

Feliciano suffered leg cramps early in the 4th quarter despite the weather hovering around freezing. Typically, cramping is seen in hotter weather due to excessive sweating, rapidly losing water. However, coming off the flu in which the body can become dehydrated faster due to vomiting or diarrhea, this is the likely cause. I am sure the team was force-feeding him fluids, but the body can only hold so much & the sweat he was producing became too much for him, causing dehydration.

After getting some fluids & time on the bench, he was able to return & finish out the game. Hopefully, he is on the mend & recovers enough for Saturday in order to play in Foxborough. 

CB Taron Johnson (left hand)

Johnson suffered a left-hand injury as the result of attempting to bring down Nick Vannett right before the 2-minute warning, receiving help from S Jordan Poyer. He sat up, looking at his left hand before getting tended to by trainers. After a commercial, he was observed in some distress as the medical staff began buddy-taping the 4th & 5th digits together for support. It isn’t clear what he did to the hand as the angle wasn’t the best; he either stubbed it trying to bring Vannett down or got hit crushed together between Vannett & Poyer. 

Either way, these aren’t the types of injuries that would hold a player out. The Bills still have something to play for against New England & missing this game is not an option for most players. A hand injury should not stop Johnson & I expect he continues to play.

OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle) & DT Corey Liuget (knee)

Nsekhe missed his 4th straight game with his low ankle sprain suffered in the win over the Dolphins. Liuget missed his first game with a knee injury following the loss to the Ravens. Both are progressing, according to Monday’s press conference. We don’t know much about Liuget’s injury, other than it’s termed as a knee.

As for Nsekhe, he needs to return to practice in a limited fashion before I can say when he will return. I continue to speculate that he will be back in time for the Patriots game, but that window is rapidly shrinking unless he practices on Wednesday. Until there is an update for either player, it will be a wait-and-see approach.

TE Tyler Kroft

Kroft stepped up in quite possibly the biggest moment of the season & possibly his career, securing the game-winning TD to put the Bills up 17-10 in the 4th quarter. Thankfully he didn’t suffer any further injuries following his broken foot & sprained ankle, but I bring him up for a reason.

During Monday’s press conference, Brian Daboll noted that the route he ran for the TD was the same one that he broke his foot on during OTA’s. Kroft has been invisible nearly all season & to come back, score the go-ahead TD on the exact route that cost him half the season is simply ironic. But this shows that football is a team sport & that everyone has their part.

The Bills have done it, they made the playoffs & can begin thinking about their opponents, whoever it may be. This doesn’t mean that they will rest all their starters or phone it in as teams that have done that typically don’t fare well later on. I do expect to see important players continue to play the next two games but are pulled similar to a preseason game in order to prevent injury. 

To see the Bills grab an AFC East crown would be incredible & put the Patriots into unfamiliar territory as a Wild Card team, where they haven’t been seeded that low since 1998 when they finished 9-7 as a 6th seed. As Bills fans, we’ve seen crazier things happen that have both favored us & harmed us. By now, why think anything different? The impossible is possible!

Top Photo Credit:

Democratandchronicle.com

Week 7 Bills Injury Review- Dolphins

Breaking down the severity of Williams, Coleman, & Johnson’s injuries.

I love the Buffalo Bills, I really do. But that was one hard game to watch on Sunday. The Bills, coming off a 4-1 start & a bye week, hosted the 0-5 Miami Dolphins at New Era Field. While the final score of 31-21 was not as close the game really was, the Bills nearly gave Miami a win which would have dealt a blow to their playoff chances. Fortunately, the Bills moved to 5-1 with fewer injuries than they had following the Titans win. 

Prior to the game, it was announced that both LB Corey Thompson (ankle sx) & Matt Milano (hamstring) were ruled out indicating that the Bills would be short at the position Sunday. While Milano’s presence was missed, it was still the right move to not rush him back as there is still much more football to be played.

Others coming back from injury included WR John Brown (groin), TE Tyler Kroft (ankle), RB Devin Singletary (hamstring), & CB Taron Johnson (hamstring) were all able to return and did not appear to demonstrate any restrictions, though their production in play greatly varied. Moving to the Dolphins game, reviewing the injuries below:

 

CB Kurt Coleman (hamstring)

Going in chronological order, Coleman suffered a hamstring strain late in the 2nd quarter with 2:15 left on a punt return. It was difficult to see on the broadcast, but this occurred as he ran down the field as a gunner before coming up lame before the ball was even caught. 

Like all the other hamstring injuries this season, expect the Bills to be conservative in slowly bringing Coleman back into the special teams fold. Look for a minimum of 2 games before he is able to return. Observing the hamstring injuries so far this season, most have come on full out sprinting with some change of direction or deceleration incorporated into the injury. This doesn’t mean that the Bills are doing anything wrong in preventing these injuries, it just shows that going all out on every play, even the best, most conditioned athletes can get hurt. 

 

WR Duke Williams (right shoulder)

Williams suffered a right shoulder injury on a 23-yard completion late in the 3rd quarter. After hauling in the catch, Williams fell hard onto his right shoulder before rolling out of bounds in obvious pain. Miraculously, he was able to return late in the 4th quarter in a red zone package on the WR Cole Beasley touchdown. Later, it was reported that he went in for x-rays following the game.

Looking at the actual injury itself, it appears as though Williams suffered either a contusion or AC joint sprain, also known as a separated shoulder. The mechanism of injury for this is falling directly onto a shoulder without the ability to brace against the fall. Considering that he fell more on the top of the shoulder, I believe he may have sustained an AC joint sprain. This is the area that the acromion connects with the collarbone. This allows the collarbone to connect to the scapula and create a framework for the shoulder muscles to connect in order to move freely during arm motion and overhead movement.

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Credit: http://www.dovemed.com

There is a slight chance he could have suffered a glenoid labrum tear, but that is relatively unlikely considering the shoulder was slammed into the ground versus falling on an outstretched arm. If he sustained this, then I expect to see bracing on the area which will be a dead giveaway. There was also a chance he could have sustained some type of clavicle fracture due to the hit, but if he had sustained that, he would not have been cleared to return & a public report would have been made.

The fact that he was able to return to the game even in a limited fashion indicates that this may be more of the AC sprain/contusion variety. He may be limited in practice this week as he recovers, but his availability in practice will further dictate the specifics of the injury. Looking back at past research from other articles, the average time for a player to miss is 9.8 days according to data obtained from the NFL injury surveillance system. The fact that he doesn’t have to throw a football may accelerate his return. It’s very possible he plays next week. If he does miss any time, it should be minimal one game as a precaution.

 

LB Maurice Alexander (left hip)

Alexander, filling in for the injured Matt Milano, suffered a left hip injury while tackling Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki going out of bounds. The tackle itself was clean; the injury occurred when Alexander’s left hip fell on Gesicki’s foot while going down. He attempted to walk back to the field but quickly went down for medical attention, motioning to his left hip/back region.

Thankfully, he was able to return as the Bills were only carrying four linebackers Sunday. This injury may have been a hip pointer which is a deep bruise to the iliac crest. This is the portion of the hip where the core muscles attach and give that distinctive flair out seen in the hips. Considering the muscles attach there; twisting, side-bending, & engaging the core muscles further aggravate the injury with pain being the major limitation.

This may be an injury that Alexander doesn’t miss anytime with or even show up on the injury report. If he does miss anytime, I wouldn’t expect any more than one game. But noting these minor injuries here explain why the player went down & the possibilities of the injury.

 

CB Kevin Johnson (stinger)

Johnson suffered what has now been termed a stinger following evaluation for a head injury Sunday. These injuries are subtle on film and may not be apparent, but Johnson’s last play during the game came with 3:27 left in the 4th quarter. Johnson managed to tackle Dolphins WR DeVante Parker with assistance from Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds. 

While we are not certain that this play caused the stinger injury, it’s likely due to the fact that his head bent awkwardly & was rolled over as he hit the turf. He initially appeared dazed for a moment following the play & did not return. 

A stinger occurs as the result of the neck getting forcefully sideways and down, putting pressure on the cervical nerve roots coming from the spinal cord. These can be pinched by the vertebrae stacked above & below the nerve or can be the result of a disc protruding out & pushing on the nerve root. The nerve roots can also be overstretched due to traction from the neck getting hit in the opposite direction. A direct blow is yet another way for this to occur.  The pain associated with this is what gives it the name burner or stinger. The nerve root that is compressed sends a pain signal down that nerve & gives the unwelcome sensation. 

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Credit: http://www.aafp.org

This pain would only be produced in the affected nerve roots which means if someone sustains a stinger, they could feel it down in the specific parts of the arm/hand based on which nerve has impinged. This could be felt in places such as the 4th and 5th digits on the hand with resulting grip weakness or difficulty lifting the arm up overhead, indicating the specific nerve root affected. The effects of the stinger may linger for several days or the symptoms could resolve quickly.

Most of the time, these injuries are minor & don’t cause further issues. Return to sport would be indicated when the player is pain-free, full strength and range of motion have returned, and no flare-up of symptoms occurs. If this becomes recurring or linger, then further examination is warranted. This could involve getting an MRI or nerve conduction studies to further identify the specifics of the injury. It could lead to surgical consults if there was a need for cervical fusion due to instability or if the injury was high enough in the cervical region, potentially career-ending as in the case of former Bills C Eric Wood

I do not believe this to be the case. I merely lay out the possibility of the severity of the injury & what this means regarding stingers. It is still too early to determine if he misses any games or will be limited in practice.

Fortunately, the Bills walked away from Sunday with far fewer injuries than in previous contests. The injury report will be far smaller than in past weeks & indicates that the Bills are getting healthy as a critical stretch in their season approaches. While the quality of the opponent’s vary, they still all pose a threat to the Bills playoff chances. This team is built for depth but there is a clear difference between starter & replacement level players, evident over the past few games. This week’s practice will hopefully show progress for Thompson, Milano, and Johnson as the Bills prepare to host the Eagles next Sunday. 

Top Image Credit:

http://www.predictem.com

Week 7 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins

Will Kroft, Johnson, & Singletary finally make their home debuts?

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:

QUESTIONABLE:

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.

WILL PLAY:

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. 

 

Week 5 Bills Injury Review- Titans

Will the Bills survive Sunday’s injury massacre?

Thank god that game is over. For all you new readers, this is my 3rd season covering Buffalo Bills injuries & while there have been some tough injuries to stomach, today’s game as a whole was painful both literally & figuratively. I do not remember a time where I nearly lost track because the injuries came in so fast. Fortunately, the Bills have a bye next week & it couldn’t have come at a better time. Last time this year, the Bills walked into Houston with no one on the injury report. Amazing how one year can change so much. This is a team that will bend, bend, bend, but not break. As always, injury recap below in chronological order. 

Those ruled inactive prior to the game included: 

WR Robert Foster (groin/turf toe)

TE Tyler Kroft (ankle)

LB Corey Thompson (ankle sx)

CB Taron Johnson (hamstring)

RB Devin Singletary (hamstring)

OG Ike Boettger 

OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)

Thompson & Kroft continue to be out until further notice. Foster, Johnson & Singletary are all dealing with soft tissue strains which could have been aggravated by the slick conditions. Nsekhe is dealing with an ankle injury that appears to have been an aggravation from 2 weeks ago. 

C Mitch Morse (ankle)

Morse was the first injury of the day, dealing with what appears to be a left ankle injury. The injury appears when RB Frank Gore ran up the middle with 9:25 left in the 2nd quarter and appeared to kick Morse by accident. Morse rolls over and appears to be favoring the ankle before getting up, walking with a slightly labored effort. 

He was able to play several more snaps before getting removed in favor of OG Jon Feliciano. Morse did not appear in the game the rest of the day but was on the sidelines appearing to stay loose. 

This may be more of a contusion, similar to an injury observed with a leg whip. There may have been other possibilities such as a low ankle sprain or mild high ankle sprain not readily noted on film, but this is most likely. This isn’t something that should hold him out for long, but reports indicated he was limping around the locker room after the game as evident by the video below.

During Monday’s presser, HC Sean McDermott noted that if it was needed, Morse could have gone back in and played if further injury occurred. This is incredibly promising as this indicates that the injury alone doesn’t appear to be serious if they were willing to play him. I believe he will be able to play against Miami.

C/G Jon Feliciano (right leg)

Feliciano was injured with 10:40 left in the 3rd quarter when QB Josh Allen threw a costly interception. The offensive mauler was attempting to bring down S Kevin Byard when he fell down attempting to get a tackle. Unfortunately, OT Dion Dawkins fell onto his right leg, leading to the injury. Friendly fire is never ideal but is a part of the game. 

He limped off but amazingly did not miss a snap, keenly aware of the lack of depth at the offensive line Sunday. I’m sure that he has some pain in the leg, but injury-wise, this doesn’t appear to be anything that should cause lasting effects. 

QB Josh Allen (left hand)

On the same play as Feliciano, Allen threw the costly interception and had a minor collision with Titans LB Harold Landry III in where his left hand appears to hit the shoulder pad, namely at the metacarpophalangeal joint. He may have jammed his left thumb or suffered a contusion, causing him to favor the area briefly after the play. Considering this isn’t his throwing hand & he didn’t miss a snap, this isn’t something that the team should be worried about. Even if something did happen such as a minor sprain, this is something that could potentially heal during the bye week. Worst case, he could wear a brace as it’s his non-throwing hand. Unless there is an injury update, consider this injury, like Feliciano’s to be a dead matter. 

OG Cody Ford (concussion)

Ford, unfortunately, suffered a holding penalty on the play that led to his exit from the game due to injury. With 4:53 left in the 3rd quarter, Ford engaged with his defensive lineman assignment & got pulled down, driven headfirst into the ground. It initially appeared as though he got the wind knocked out of him, but reports later indicated he was assessed for a head injury. 

He has since been placed into the concussion protocol since Monday’s press conference. To note, it’s not a guarantee that he moves through the protocol quickly like some of his counterparts. However, having the bye week to recover only benefits him. 

LB Matt Milano (left hamstring)

Milano, a beast all season, continued his stellar play this week until the injury bug hit. Milano tweaked his left hamstring while attempting to slow down & possibly change direction in preparation to take down the Titans TE Jonnu Smith on the long reception. On film, it shows that he grabs at his hamstring towards the very end but is able to walk around afterward.

He was able to participate in one more play before motioning to come out & did not return. Regrettably, the deceleration in slowing down due to the eccentric contraction of the muscle caused the injury. Considering the grass was slick due to the rain, it was smart for him to not return. 

Taking into account the fact that CB Taron Johnson & RB Devin Singletary did not play today due to the same injury, this led to Milano not returning. Based on identifying how the team manages hamstring injuries, it’s very possible Milano misses the Dolphins game. Even then, he could miss the Eagles game as well, but until we have more information, his timeline for return will be very fluid. 

To make a note, Milano dealt with some hamstring issues during his rookie year early on during the Panthers game in ‘17 & missed the playoff game after suffering a hamstring strain against the Dolphins. He did not appear to have any issues last year according to records. While he has a history of hamstring strains, I cannot find evidence that this was the same side nor do I believe that the rookie year strains are affecting his most recent injury.

DE Trent Murphy (concussion)

Murphy has been incredibly healthy all season up until early in the 4th quarter. With 14:12 left, he was closing in for a sack on the left side while LB Lorenzo Alexander was coming from the right. Alexander came in slightly more direct on Titans QB Marcus Mariota before Murphy came slightly outside and collided. As expected with any possible head injury, Murphy was assessed for a possible concussion, ending his day. 

Like Ford, he has since been placed in the protocol & the hope is that he progresses through swiftly. We will probably not know where he or Ford stand until next Wednesday when practice resumes. 

S Jordan Poyer (head)

Similar to Murphy’s hit, Poyer attempted to help take down the ball carrier, assisting LB Lorenzo Alexander before colliding with him with 8:20 left in the 4th quarter. He was quickly assessed, missing several plays. Based on his ability to return to the game, he did not have any concussion-related symptoms, but this doesn’t prevent him from developing issues later on.

Thankfully, there have been no reports of concussion protocol for Poyer, though Matthew Fairburn & Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic reported on the Buffalo Beat podcast that he got a stinger on the play. I haven’t been able to confirm this anywhere else, but when there are questionable head injuries, the team is required to remove the player for further evaluation until a determination has been made. I don’t expect that Poyer will miss anytime or end up on next week’s injury report barring any new information. 

DT Ed Oliver (left foot/ankle)

Finally, the carnage is over, the last injury of the game. Oliver appeared to injure his left foot/ankle with 4:53 left in the 4th as he attempted to tackle Titans RB Derrick Henry. He did succeed in his quest, but in the process, for flipped over & his left foot hit the turf. He was able to get to all fours but appeared in distress immediately. He was able to walk off under his own power after a brief assessment by trainers. He may have suffered a contusion or jammed his ankle as a result of the hard slam. He did not return to the game, but there was not an opportunity to as the offense was able to close out the final minutes of the game & seal the win. This may be yet another injury that may not make much noise & be quickly forgotten about.

This game is done, finito, finished, ceased to continue. The Bills escape Nashville with a hard-fought 14-7 win & a bevy of injuries, but a bye to look forward to next week. As for those still working through injury, this week off will ideally help several key players to recover to make their triumphant return to New Era Field against the Dolphins in Week 7.

Top Photo Credit:

Syracuse.com