2020 Week 9 Bills Injury Preview- Seahawks

Proceed with caution, this is a long one.

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

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

OUT 

RB Taiwan Jones (Hamstring)

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

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

C Mitch Morse (Concussion)

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

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

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

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

LB Matt Milano (Pectoral)

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Milano has been placed on IR.

CB Josh Norman (Hamstring)

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

RB TJ Yeldon (Back)

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

QUESTIONABLE

TE Dawson Knox (Calf)

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

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

DE Darryl Johnson (Knee)

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

DT Vernon Butler (Groin)

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

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

G Cody Ford (Right knee)

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

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

ACTIVE 

WR John Brown (Knee)

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

RG Brian Winters (Knee)

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

DE Jerry Hughes (Foot)

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

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

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)

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

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

S Micah Hyde (Concussion)

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

DT Quinton Jefferson (Knee)

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

G Jon Feliciano (Pectoral tear)

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

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

Inactives:

QB Jake Fromm

CB Josh Norman

LB Matt Milano* IR

RB Taiwan Jones

C Mitch Morse

RB TJ Yeldon

DE Daryl Johnson

TE Dawson Knox

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

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

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

Top Photo Credit: BillsWire-USA Today

2020 Week 8 Bills Injury Review- Patriots

What are the concerns with Mitch Morse? How is Matt Milano doing?

A win is a win. Despite 6-2, the perception of the fan base is that the win over the vaunted Patriots was not convincing. No one’s going to look back and say how unconvincing a regular-season win was when a team wins the Super Bowl or makes a deep playoff run. I know we’re not at that point yet, but put it into perspective when you look at a quality of a win. Enjoy a win over a team that has tormented us for the better part of two decades. 

As this season progresses, the wins will continue to become harder to come by especially as the injuries continue to mount. Below are the injuries from Sunday. 

C Mitch Morse (concussion)

Morse made it through 3 plays before suffering a concussion picking up the block from Patriots S Adrian Phillips in the first quarter. The hit itself appears to be rather benign, but considering Morse’s 4 previously publicly documented concussions, sometimes it does not take much to suffer another concussion. Below is the hit that he likely suffered the concussion.

He was quickly ruled out of the game with an official designation as a concussion and has been placed into the concussion protocol. Now that Morse has suffered 5 concussions, there are concerns about his professional future and health. 

I will say that he is an intelligent individual who has all the resources and information available to him to make an informed decision regarding his career and health. Looking at the research, an article published in 2003, those that suffer 3+ concussions are 3 times more likely to sustain another one. 

Looking at timelines for recovery, on average, it takes 10 days to recover from a concussion. To note, that is looking at the general research; individuals may take considerably longer than 10 days to return to sport. Also to note, the amount of force required to sustain another concussion decreases as the number of concussions increase, leading possibly to why Morse suffered another concussion. He had several factors going against him that at this point, some he simply cannot control.

It is impossible to identify how long he will take to return. When he suffered his concussion last year, the team knew that he could not talk to the media while in protocol and they also took their time to ensure he was fully healthy before returning to play. They were also not in a rush to have the independent neurological consult for clearance as it was the preseason. This may have influenced the length of time he was in the protocol.

It would be reasonable to assume he could return quicker than last time, but impossible to say. The only thing we can go off of is his levels of participation at practice which will be watched closely. Hopefully, he is able to return in a quick but safe manner. Based on his history, I don’t see a scenario where he plays in Week 9. I also don’t envision a scenario where it takes him another 6 weeks to return as in the case with former Bills QB Derek Anderson, but it can’t be ruled out either. We simply need more information before determining return to play.

RB Taiwan Jones (right hamstring)

Jones suffered a right hamstring strain on the kickoff following the second Bills TD of the day. He suffered the injury running full speed down the field and roughly halfway down the field, he began to pull up, grabbing at his right side. He didn’t appear to change direction or slow down, the hamstring simply went. 

He did deal with hamstring injuries last year when he was with the Texans, but it’s not clear that the previous injuries are directly related as there is roughly a year apart. It may simply be that the hamstring was strained as the result of top-end sprinting.

After seeing all the injuries that Jones has suffered, there is not a doubt in my mind that he will return to play eventually or try to at least. Based on how the team manages hamstring strains, he will probably be out 1-3 games but could be a candidate for IR if the strain is severe enough. We will know more in the coming days. 

WR Stefon Diggs (abdomen/neck)

Diggs went down briefly with 4:58 left in the 3rd quarter after catching a 6-yard pass near the sidelines. Upon review of the play, he appeared to get punched in the abdomen and hit on the back of the neck upon getting tackled. He was motioning to his left flank area before he went down to be assessed by trainers.

He was able to return to the game shortly after a break, but it appears that Diggs had the wind knocked out of him based on what’s on film. He is not a player who has been showing up on the injury report this season though there are scares at times. At the time of writing this article, I don’t see an injury that could limit him from playing next week, but players show up all the time on the report with ailments not previously identified.

LB AJ Klein (left knee)

Klein suffered a left knee injury in the 4th quarter with 4:03 left in the game. He was tripped as he was attempting to pursue Patriots RB Damien Harris towards the sidelines. He came up grabbing at his left knee/shin area briefly but was able to return the next play. 

It’s not clear what he exactly did, he looked to get tripped or pushed down, may have been a contusion or the calf area getting struck. It wasn’t serious enough to even miss a play for further evaluation. Considering how Klein was playing on Sunday, he probably could have used the time off the field.

LB Tremaine Edmunds (left leg)

On the same play that Klein went down, Edmunds also suffered a left knee injury that the trainers had to tend to on the field. Looking at the video, he got knocked off balance, having to take a bigger step forward with his left leg to try and stay upright before falling down. He missed two plays before returning to the game signifying that this may not have been serious.

Upon review, it’s possible that he may have slightly hyperextended the knee or hit the ground when he fell, causing momentary pain. It doesn’t appear to be much of anything but will be something to review further if he shows up on the injury report. 

LB Matt Milano (left pectoral)

Milano did not suffer a re-injury to the area, but his play continues to be compromised due to the injury. This was notable in two places. He played in only 23% of the snaps, down from 33% last week. He also got burned badly by Patriots RB Rex Burkhead on 3rd and 10 with 4:15 left in the 3rd quarter. 

He attempted to grab Burkhead with his left arm as he was falling down, unable to reach him before S Jordan Poyer was able to stop him. Looking at the video, Milano wasn’t in the best position to tackle, but the arm tackle that he has made so many times before could not be completed I believe due to the shoulder harness he is wearing.

The cuff attaches to the arm and has a strap that connects to the chest wall seen in the picture. This is designed to limit abduction and external rotation, similar to cocking back to throw a ball, both movements that could stress the healing pectoral muscle. When he went to tackle Burkhead, his left arm comes up into abduction and quickly snaps back down, indicating that he was suddenly stopped by the bracing. The brace did its job, but this injury continues to limit Milano with his availability and utilizing his skill set. You can see the strap that attaches near the armpit below.

Credit: Breg.com

I have received a lot of questions regarding when he will be fully healthy again. It’s possible that he will be following the bye as it will have been nearly 8 weeks since the original injury. He could hypothetically ditch the brace if the area shows that it’s fully healed. This could obviously change if he re-injures the area or if the team continues to have him wear the brace for further protection. Muscles usually heal up a lot easier due to a rich blood supply to the area, but re-injuries can complicate that healing process.

Those suggesting that he eventually requires surgery, the literature suggests that surgery isn’t performed on partial pectoral tears due to the lack of need. This includes partial tendon tears and tears within the muscle belly. Simply put, Milano needs time to rest. Limiting his snap count to obvious passing downs, limiting his practice reps, and continuous rehab can help maximize the healing process, but he still needs time to rest. Like Edmunds with his shoulder injury, I hope to see that his play improves as the season progresses and that he’s healthier for the playoffs.

G/C Jon Feliciano (pectoral injury)

Week 8 marked the return of G/C Jon Feliciano after suffering a right pectoral tendon tear shortly after training camp started. He had implied that he would return in Week 4, but the team had a say in stopping him from returning sooner to prevent re-injury. The plan appeared to have him worked in and rotate at the guard position, but the injury to C Mitch Morse prevented Feliciano from doing that.

Feliciano ended up playing in 100% of the snaps, all but 3 plays at the center position. G Ryan Bates did come in shortly after Morse went out, but the decision was quickly made to insert Feliciano into the role despite not practicing at the position leading up to the game. With Morse out for an unknown amount of time, the team has to make a decision at center. Feliciano is the obvious choice, but I don’t believe it’s smart to have him play the entire game again coming off an injury such as that, even with the shoulder harness he is wearing, similar to Milano. Just because he played one game like that doesn’t mean that he can’t suffer another injury. 

The team does have options at center including Bates, G Ike Boettger, or practice squad member C Jordan Devey. I’m not certain that rotating at the center position would be great for offensive consistency. To save Feliciano, he should probably switch back to guard, continue to rotate in with someone else and keep another player at center consistently unless more injuries occur. That’s just my opinion, but I’d hate to lose Feliciano just after getting him back and not have Morse for possibly the immediate future. 

Like we have seen every week, I expect to see a surprise injury or a few pop up on the injury report Wednesday. Hopefully, we see the return of S Micah Hyde, DT Vernon Butler, and CB Josh Norman to help shore up the defense as they begin to prepare for Seattle’s high powered offense. We may also see a trade today to bolster the defense as they prepare for the second half of the season. As the season progresses, the hope is that the injury list dwindles in time for the Bills to play their best football in December and make a deep postseason run. 

Top Photo Credit: Billswire.usatoday.com

2020 Week 8 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

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

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

Ok OUT

G Cody Ford (Right knee)

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

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

CB Josh Norman (Left hamstring)

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

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

QUESTIONABLE:

G Brian Winters (Knee)

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

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

DT Vernon Butler (Groin)

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

Credit: wnyurology.com

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

S Micah Hyde (Concussion)

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

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

Credit: NFL

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

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

DE Jerry Hughes (Foot)

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

DT Quinton Jefferson (Knee)

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

CB Cam Lewis (Left wrist)

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

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

Update: Lewis has since been placed on IR.

LB Matt Milano (Left pectoral)

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

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

ACTIVE

QB Josh Allen (Left shoulder)

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

WR John Brown (Left knee)

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

WR Isaiah McKenzie (Ankle)

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

Other injury news:

CB Levi Wallace (Left ankle)

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

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

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

Update: Wallace has been activated from IR.

G Jon Feliciano (Right pectoral tear)

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

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

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

Housekeeping:

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

Inactives:

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

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

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

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

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

Top Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills

2020 Week 2 Bills Injury Preview- Dolphins

Will the LB corps survive without Milano & Edmunds?

We knew that injuries during the regular season would be increased due to the lack of preseason, but injuries are taking their toll greater than most Bills fans would like. The big talking points of the week was Josh Allen running the ball along with the injuries to Matt Milano & Tremaine Edmunds. 

We will let the talking heads and Twitter debate the abilities of Josh Allen in the rushing game, but you’re here for the injury breakdown. 

There have been several new developments this week with the injuries that will be described below. The one thing that I want to impart to the readers is how drastically different doing this job is this year. What I’m seeing is not that the injuries change, we are seeing an increase in frequency that was expected, but in how the Bills are using the Injured Reserve designations and Practice Squad call ups. 

We are seeing injuries would normally be played through or that wouldn’t require extensive time missed get that IR designation or missing the game altogether. I have several theories on their roster management in how it pertains to each player, but this will continue to take time to get adjusted to interpreting properly. Make sure to come here for the latest Bills injury impressions.

OUT

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

Edmunds has been an interesting injury to assess this week. He injured it while trying to tackle Jets WR Jamison Crowder on the 69-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter. The only contact that he made was with the ground falling into the turf. His right shoulder hit the turf hard with his arm close to his body. He played in the extra point play but didn’t appear in distress.

He was assessed in the blue medical tent for a while, later coming out without pads, signifying his day was done. Later in the locker room, he didn’t have any ice, bracing, slings, anything to allude to the severity of the injury.

He then practiced in a limited fashion in mostly individual drills Wednesday and Thursday. Typically limited practices translate towards a player likely suiting up on Sunday. Edmunds was ruled out Friday morning even before practice took place. 

Either this injury is way more severe than we thought, which is entirely possible. Instead of the contusion/minor AC joint sprain, there still is the possibility of a labrum or rotator cuff tear. That is a scary proposition, but if the labrum is torn, I expect to see bracing used next week on the right shoulder. This was not something I observed this week from video available below.

You can also use bracing for a rotator cuff tear, but it is not necessary as we saw with G Jon Feliciano last year. I have thoughts that the shoulder is still a painful shoulder contusion. This is something that he could have played through, but the team is allowing him to be fully healthy and miss a winnable game instead of laboring through the next few weeks with it. If it’s worse, then maybe a trip to the IR would do him good now that it’s 3 weeks in duration instead of 8 weeks. 

The fact that the coaching staff did not get the opportunity to get preseason looks at their other guys may have played into this decision as well. If they know they can be without him, then they can get their backups some of the vital game time reps that they needed to improve as players. Add in the practice squad call ups in with both LB Deon Lacey and LB Andre Smith available, why wouldn’t you want to protect your top assets with other guys who can at least fill in for the time being?

Until we get more information, I don’t believe my eyes are deceiving me. I wonder if this is more of the coaching staff maximizing the new roster rules to a competitive advantage.

LB Matt Milano (hamstring, possibly right)

Since his injury on Sunday, he has been a long shot to play. He had 3 straight DNP’s which usually equate to being ruled out for Sunday. I’ve seen various percentages for return to play, anywhere from 13-18 days on average for a Grade 1 hamstring strain, but Milano would not have fit that timeline anyway. He will miss Sunday, but his absence can be withstood as Miami still doesn’t appear to be a threatening team yet. The hope is that the hamstring was truly minor and he can return next week against the Rams. That’s a big hope for me right now. If not, a matchup in the desert against the Raiders may be more likely.

Before I can be sure of a true timeline, he will have to have at least 1 full practice but would do better with 2-3 before I could say he’d be out there. If he continues to miss & be limited, then it was likely more severe and he’s looking at 3+ weeks, similar to what the team has done in the past. There is a possibility that he goes on IR which Sean McDermott had alluded to in Friday’s press conference, but now it’s too early..

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Phillips is out with a quadriceps injury after missing 3 straight practices. He only played in 7 special teams plays according to snap counts. He did not appear in the game again following the kick-off which resulted in a touchback following the score that sent the Bills to a 14-0 lead. On broadcast, the camera pans towards the location of the ball, unfortunately away from the Bills running down the field. For All-22, that play does not exist. For whatever reason, there were glitches and delays for All-22 this week and that play may have been a casualty. 

Until he resumes practicing and getting full practices in, we are left to guess the injury and when he returns. Considering this was a touchback, this leads me to believe it may have been more of a quadriceps strain sprinting or slowing down rather due to the lack of contact. This could also be from a previous play that he could not continue to play though. I didn’t see any major contact for him, but some injuries are virtually impossible to spot on film.

ACTIVE

WR John Brown (foot)

Everyone was quite worried about Brown missing practice Wednesday with a foot ailment. Little information is known other than Stefon Diggs had no idea he wasn’t at practice. 

Brown could have had some general soreness from Sunday due to getting actual game reps, he could have had it stepped on, he could be dealing with plantar fasciitis with sudden overloading of the tissues due to the loss of reps from preseason. There could be a Morton’s neuroma where a nerve in the foot between the metatarsals is irritated, leading to pain. 

He could have strained some of the musculature in the foot, he could have stubbed his toe at home, there’s just so many possibilities that it’s impossible to pinpoint without Brown or the team noting what he’s dealing with. 

Film review didn’t show anything definitive but he may have been limping a little after plays in the 4th quarter. Could have been fatigue, could have been the foot, but there was not anything definitive on film to suggest an injury. 

He did practice in full on Thursday and Friday, not receiving an injury designation for Sunday. This will be one to watch in case he has issues later. Right now, I don’t have any reason to believe that this is a huge concern. He will be someone to watch closer on Sunday. 

WR Vernon Butler (hamstring)

Butler missed last week with a hamstring strain despite being questionable. While the weather is supposed to be much warmer and still wet, the extra week to recover along with full practices all week only made him more available. I’m excited to see how he will perform. There is still concern he could re-injure the hamstring, but after 3 weeks since the original injury, the risk continues to lessen, but not eliminated. Keep in mind, every injury is unique and responds differently to treatment.

LB Tyrel Dodson (neck)

Excellent to see Dodson cleared to play for Sunday following exiting the game late with what we now know was a neck injury. Looking back, he may have suffered a generalized neck strain or whiplash when he completed his tackle. There may have been more soreness and limited movement rather than outright damage. 

He is taking over starting for Tremaine Edmunds on Sunday which will be a huge test calling out plays for the defense. This is his opportunity to show why the team stuck by him last year following his domestic violence issues last year and keeping him on the roster this year. 

DE Jerry Hughes (calf)

Hughes was a surprise addition to the injury report Thursday with a calf ailment. He was limited on Thursday but able to practice in full on Friday. He may have had some calf soreness that he missed some drills for, leading to the limited designation, he may have injured it Thursday, little is known. 

This is yet another soft tissue ailment that we expect to see early in the season. With the calf, I am slightly worried about his ability to explode off the line with that first step and get around the edge. He might have a little less explosion, but to the casual fan, may not be noticeable.

Whatever it is, Hughes will play through it, we saw that last year with his wrist and groin. Right now, I consider this to be something to note, like a timestamp, in case issues occur later. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (hamstring)

Like Hughes, McKenzie was limited Thursday but with a hamstring. He may have been feeling something and pulled himself out or injured it the day before. Considering he is cleared for Sunday makes me think it’s not a glaring concern. 

But hamstring strains don’t just disappear. We will have to watch if this is recurring. I also did observe last year that despite an injury, players were still active but played little or not at all due to the Bills not being able to field a full roster otherwise. I don’t believe this to be the case, but sometimes injured players have to be active. 

Once again, something to note and reference in case of injury later.

Inactives:

LB Matt Milano

LB Tremaine Edmunds

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

G Ike Boettger

RB TJ Yeldon

QB Jake Fromm

Final thoughts:

It’s easy to worry about all the soft tissue injuries and the linebacker corps. This was going to happen when the preseason did not allow guys to prime their bodies to game time action. The Bills also have a lot of depth available to withstand most of these injuries. They have also been churning the bottom of the roster and practice squad bringing in free agents weekly, trying to find out who else they can bring in if further injury occurs. 

The Bills are still in great shape heading into Sunday with the Dolphins not having starting linebacker Elandon Roberts out with a concussion. DE Clayton Fejedelem is doubtful with a pectoral injury and WR DeVante Parker is questionable with a hamstring. 

A doubtful designation isn’t a great chance to play and considering the weather mentioned above being warm and wet, I don’t believe Parker plays, especially after injuring last Sunday. If he does play, then I expect him to be limited and increase the potential for this to linger all season. Not the best idea for your top receiving option.

The Dolphins are better than the Jets, but this is an opportunity for the Bills offense to take control now that the defense is not at full strength. With the rain, I expect to see some injury incidence reduce due to the poorer footing, but the risk isn’t totally eliminated. I expect a Bills win and hopefully to write a much shorter article postgame.

2020 Week 1 Bills Injury Review- Jets

How serious is Edmunds & Milano’s injuries?

The Bills showed up and did their job. That’s the most important take away of Sunday. But there were several injuries that really had the fan base shook up, specifically at the linebacker corps. There were also some concerns about the Bills ability to pull away in the second half, letting the Jets get back into the game, albeit briefly. Below are the injuries & severity.

S Micah Hyde (left ankle)

Hyde went down late in the first quarter while attempting to change directions to bat down a Sam Darnold throw & came down with a lower leg injury. Video isn’t the best, but an explosion of rubber pellets as Hyde jumped from the turf shows him attempting to bat the ball to his right. He came down and was having issues with his left ankle, hopping off briefly before returning. He later had it heavily taped up for the second half.

He may have tweaked the ankle just prior to jumping by quickly changing directions. It appeared it was more of a pain issue than anything else because he was moving fairly well the rest of the game. This appears to be a garden variety sprain, whether its lateral or medial, based on how he was jumping, possibly medial. This could change though with other video angles. This is probably not an injury that will end up on the injury report; he may feel the effects of it for a few games but it’s not something that typically causes long term issues despite his position unless he suffers a re-injury which I am not concerned about. 

LB Matt Milano (right hamstring)

Milano was a surprise addition to the injury report during the game with a hamstring due to him being shown on the sidelines talking to trainers and then walking slowly into the tunnel later. The initial incident wasn’t apparent until going back to the game footage. With just under a minute left in the 2nd quarter, Milano managed to tackle Jets WR Jamison Crowder out of bounds with his body swinging towards the sidelines as he took down Crowder. He attempted to stay on his feet, keeping his right leg up, landing in a half kneeling position. Considering he was trying to stop the forward momentum, it’s possible this is when he injured the hamstring trying to stop. This may be more of a proximal strain, which means that it’s closer to the buttocks.

The other possibility is the next play where he once again took Crowder down but the tackle doesn’t appear to suggest that he would have strained the hamstring on this play. He may have felt it starting to tighten up and pulled himself out. 

Considering the game was just about out of hand, it appeared wise to pull him out of the game. This was also an opportunity to get some of the backups vital reps that they simply did not get during the preseason. 

He has since been classified as day-to-day and it’s very possible that Milano misses the next game against Miami. He could return as soon as after 1 game or could miss 2-3 based on severity. Once he strings together some limited and full practices, then we will know how severe the injury was and when he will return. If I had to pick a game to miss, I’d be alright with this one. I’d expect LB Andre Smith to be called up from the practice squad for Sunday. 

LB Tremaine Edmunds (right shoulder)

The entire fanbase grew really concerned when Edmunds went to the injury tent midway through the 3rd quarter following the Crowder TD. He fell hard on his right shoulder while trying to make the tackle. He was in on the extra point but didn’t have to do much in the backfield. 

He had to remove his shoulder pads to receive a full assessment, eventually going to the locker room before returning without his pads. Based on video, it looks like he suffered a hard fall onto the shoulder. His arm wasn’t out to brace the fall, he didn’t require immediate attention and he did not require any wrap or sling on the shoulder. 

He was also observed later in the locker room with the arm at his side but not supported or in obvious distress. He may have fell hard onto the shoulder and it simply be a contusion or it could be an AC joint sprain. 

A contusion is more pain limiting, same goes for a mild AC joint sprain. He could get an injection for the AC joint if it’s bothering him next week but it’s something that can be played through.

There are other possibilities such as a labrum tear or rotator cuff sprain, but that won’t be known without further information. The only way we know if there is greater damage is if he’s wearing bracing or reports stating otherwise. 

Right now, it appears that Edmunds dodged a bullet and is currently day-to-day. 

LB Tyrel Dodson (not specified)

Dodson was the last linebacker to go down with an injury though it isn’t quite apparent what he was dealing with. From the video, it appeared that he simply got the wind knocked out of him trying to complete the tackle. He was down while trainers tended to him but he was able to get up under his own power. This may have been more of a scare due to the lack of depth at the position by that point, but unless more information is released, this doesn’t appear to be of any concern. Once again, he is also day-to-day.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps)

Little is known about Phillips, reports came down shortly after Hyde’s ankle injury that he was questionable to return with a quadriceps injury in the 2nd quarter. It is not readily apparent on broadcast when he suffered the injury. Typically I’ve seen quad injuries as either a strain or contusion. This is just a very meaty portion in the upper leg that can absorb some contact. He has since been listed day-to-day. I believe practice will tell more of his availability for next week. 

Injury Roundup:

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

A lot changed from my last article when Norman was ruled out of the game to when he was placed on IR. Fortunately the rules are different and allow a player to return after 3 weeks rather than the normal 8 weeks. Had this occurred in a normal season, the team likely doesn’t make this move. 

He will have the time to rest & rehab at this point. If this hamstring was more of a Grade 2, then 6 weeks total is more appropriate for him to return closer to 100%. It must be noted that Grade 2 hamstrings can take up to 8 weeks to fully heal. If it was a Grade 1 with reaggravation, then he could also get healthy within the timeframe which could be the more ideal situation. I am concerned for re-injury regardless of each scenario. We will have to see when he gets reactivated & his practice participation to when he can realistically play.

DT Vernon Butler (hamstring)

Butler was held out of the season opener likely as a precaution due to the weather since the rain could have exacerbated the hamstring. He did practice in full last week which is a great sign, but this also likely means that he should be able to play next week in Miami. The big thing for Butler will be to stay hydrated in order to avoid a re-injury due to the heat.

Final Thoughts:

Each injury in itself wasn’t all that concerning when isolated, but seeing 2 out of 3 starters and 4 of 6 total linebackers go down with injury is expectedly scary. All with the exception of Milano should return to play Sunday. Despite the team being conservative with hamstrings, there may be a possibility that Milano suits up. Impossible to determine until the practice report comes out later this week. Even with these injuries, the Bills still have excellent depth to overcome these brief deficits as they head into Week 2 against the Dolphins.

Photo Credit: AP

2020 Week 1 Bills Injury Preview- Jets

How are the Bills looking heading into the season opener?

FOOTBALL IS BACK!!

The Bills face the New York Jets on Sunday in a much-needed distraction from what 2020 has become. As expected due to the truncated offseason, both teams are entering the game with several injuries. Fortunately, the Bills appear to be the healthier of the two teams. Today’s post will focus on the Bills injuries as they always do. If time was to be spent on the Jets, we would be getting into making this a chapter book. For easy reference, see the Jets injury report below.

As for the Bills, there are several injuries on the defensive side of the ball that could challenge the depth that the front office has worked so hard to build up. Below is each player’s status & injury.

OUT


CB Josh Norman (left hamstring strain)

He has officially been ruled out of Sunday’s matchup against the Jets despite injuring his hamstring more than 3 weeks ago. This is regrettable as he appeared to be on track up until this week.

This tells us several things about the injury.

  • It was possibly more severe than originally thought. This strain could be a Grade 2 which can take 4-8 weeks on average to recover.

  • He may have suffered a Grade 1 but re-injured it on Monday, the last practice that he participated in. He had looked well in video running through drills, but still had the leg wrapped.

  • This also potentially resets the timeline of when he will return. 1-3 weeks is a typical timeline for Grade 1 strains, but if it’s a Grade 2, he may only be half better by now. Or if it was a Grade 1 with reinjury, he may have to restart his rehab which could mean that he misses 2-3 weeks.

Defensive backs make up 23% of hamstring strains when compared to other positions and 12% of all training camp injuries are hamstrings. Norman was just outside the 2-week window where re-injury is at its highest but that window is still open for up to 4 weeks from the onset of the injury. Next week will show where he may be in terms of recovery and availability.

These are frequent injuries seen in training camp & occur even without abnormal preseasons. He may not be 100%, but considering he has a specialized role on special teams, he could be effective in limited action. It will be important to note how effective running & cutting can be, especially when cutting to the left, pivoting off the right knee. could be continuing to deal with issues especially cutting, could limit his return ability. Jones has dealt with numerous injuries before, this will be yet another injury he plays through.

QUESTIONABLE

DT Vernon Butler (hamstring)

Not much more can be said about hamstrings that haven’t been mentioned already for Butler. He practiced in full which indicates that he is likely to play Sunday. He has the added benefit of being in a rotation on the defensive line which will limit fatigue & overuse throughout the game.

He won’t have to work up to top-end speed like Wallace & Norman do but he will have the responsibilities of trying to drive through and around his blocker which will force the hip into extension. This is a primary function of the hamstring which could cause problems if he does too much. He will likely play but there is concern that he re-injures it.

ACTIVE

CB Levi Wallace (hamstring)

Fortunately for the CB2 position, Wallace is active & will get the start Sunday. He suffered his hamstring strain shortly after Josh Norman went down with an injury.

The only difference between Wallace & Norman was the designations upon injury. Wallace was listed day-to-day whereas Norman was week-to-week. Hamstrings continue to be a common injury early in training camps & early-season games. Hopefully, Wallace does not suffer a re-injury due to fatigue & puts this injury behind him.

RB Taiwan Jones (right knee)

Jones has been dealing with the injury since August 26th as camp was wrapping up. Reports indicated that he stepped awkwardly and went down, requiring trainers to tend to him. Without video, it’s hard to get a true gauge on the injury. But based on the wording, he could be possibly dealing with an MCL sprain or meniscus tear. I’m leaning towards the MCL due to the shorter timeframe that he has been limited.

Remaining injuries on IR:

G Jon Feliciano (left pectoral tear)

He continues to work back from his injury, recently ditching the sling early last week indicating that he is on track with rehab. Based on his timeline, he has one month to get in NFL shape & strength which is a really tall order. If the Bills get off to a great start, then this can allow Feliciano to take the time he truly needs to return & not rush back, risking the possibility of re-injury.

TE Tommy Sweeney (left foot fracture)

Sweeney is on the PUP list with the foot fracture & is not able to come back until Week 6 at the earliest. As midseason gets closer, we will have an idea of a Week 7 return is realistic or if he will need more time to fully get back into shape.

INACTIVE LIST

This is incredibly tricky due to the fluid nature of the practice squad list. However, there still has to be several inactives.

CB Josh Norman
G Ike Boettger
QB Jake Fromm
RB TJ Yeldon
TE Reggie Gilliam
WR Isaiah McKenzie

Fortunately, the Bills are in much better shape than the Jets coming into the game. The true test will be managing the workloads of all the players & not exacerbating or creating any new soft tissue injuries. I expect a Bills win not only due to talent but overall health. It is simply wonderful that football is back & can provide some sort of normalcy in an already crazy world.

Photo Credit:

Niagara-Gazette.com

DT Vernon Butler Injury Profile

#94 Vernon Butler

Position: DT
Height/Weight: 6’4”/330 lbs.
Age: 26
College: Louisiana Tech
Year joined Bills: 2020
Acquired: Free Agency via Panthers

College Injuries:

TBD

Pro Injuries:

2016 Panthers:

Hand injury, preseason, missed 0 games.

High ankle sprain, Week 3, missed 5 games.

2017 Panthers:

Knee sprain, preseason, missed Week 1 game.

2018 Panthers:

No publicly reported injuries.

2019 Panthers:

Back injury, Week 9, missed 0 games.

2020 Bills:

Hamstring strain, preseason, missed 0 games.

Hamstring strain, prior to Week 1, missed 1 game.

Groin strain, Week 7, missed 1 game.

General links:

Buffalo Rumblings Vernon Butler Injury Profile

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Defensive Tackle

One of the healthiest position groups in 2019

This is Part 8 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 8 consists of the defensive tackle room.

Not Returning

DT Jordan Phillips

16 games, 9 starts, 1 forced fumble, 9.5 sacks, 31 combined tackles, 25 solo, 6 assisted, 13 TFL, 16 QB hits

Phillips made quite an impact on the Bills defensive line in 2019 with 9.5 sacks & an overall career year that put the Bills into a tough spot on whether to pay him in 2020. The Bills clearly elected not to pay him and let him go get paid by the Arizona Cardinals in the open market. Beane has gone on record indicating that if a guy has earned the money through his play, then he deserves to go get paid what he feels he’s worth. 

One of the reasons that Phillips was able to be so productive was the ability to stay healthy. He appeared in all 16 regular-season games and only suffered some sort of knee injury following the Ravens game. He was limited that week in practice but ended up playing without issue. 

Phillips earned his contract and hopefully will continue to produce at a high level for Arizona in 2020.

DT Kyle Peko

4 games, 4 combined tackles, 1 solo, 3 assisted

Peko was brought onto the Bills following a stint with the practice squad as a result of the Harrison Phillips injury. He played for 4 games as a placeholder until the Bills later brought in Corey Liuget for reinforcements. 

Peko did not suffer any known injuries during his short stint with the Bills & was cut in early November, spending the rest of the season with Indianapolis & Denver practice squads. 

DT Corey Liuget

7 games, 1 sack, 10 combined tackles, 7 solo, 3 assist, 4 TFL, 1 QB hit

Liuget came to the Bills as a more permanent fixture on the defensive line as Harrison Phillips was injured and Kyle Peko & Vincent Taylor weren’t getting the job done. He came to the Bills as a former first-round pick by the Chargers with a lot of veteran experience which allowed him to adapt to the demands of the defensive scheme with greater ease than Peko & Taylor. While Liuget is on the tail end of his career, he still provided effective play and showed that he could still perform despite his previous torn quadriceps tendon in 2018. Fortunately, Liuget had a better 2020 injury-wise.

He only suffered a knee injury late in the season. Not much is known about Liuget’s knee injury sustained against the Ravens late in the season. He spent two weeks on the injury report limited in practice, missing only the Steelers game before coming back the next week.

Looking back now, it’s hard to say what he was dealing with at the time. Whatever it was, he eventually returned to finish the season but that second-half performance wasn’t enough for Liuget to earn another contract with the Bills in 2020.

Players Returning

DT Harrison Phillips 

3 games, 2 passes defended, .5 sacks, 3 combined tackles, 1 solo, 2 assisted, 1 QB hit

Phillips was coming into his own this past season as a rotational piece in the defensive rotation before his season ended prematurely. He is slowly coming into his own on the field & in the locker room, but missing most of 2019 did not help his progress.

Phillips’ injury below:

    • Left ACL tear

Phillips suffered a torn left ACL in the win over the Bengals during Week 3. This occurred due to a flurry of bodies flying around with 2 minutes left in the game & a body hit the lateral side of his knee, causing the mechanism of injury required for an ACL. Phillips attempted to play in the final defensive series but his knee buckled and he was unable to continue playing. He later had an MRI to confirm the ACL tear and had surgery shortly after. 

He has been incredibly transparent in his recovery process throughout the past year on Instagram & Twitter which does give hope to the fact that he can return to form sooner. He does play in a tighter space which requires less knee movement. This in turn should allow him to be more effective and rely less on pivoting and cutting, demands more suited for other positions. To note, he did have an ACL tear on the same side back in college at Stanford which unfortunately did give him a leg up on knowing what rehab entails. To read more about his ACL tear, check out the article at Buffalo Rumblings.

DT Ed Oliver 

16 games, 7 starts, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 5 sacks, 43 combined tackles, 24 solo, 19 assisted, 5 TFL, 8 QB hits

Oliver had a productive rookie season, especially in the second half once he lost his starting position. He came back hungry and appeared to increase his game which really made people around the league notice, justifying his ninth overall draft selection. 

In addition, Oliver was relatively healthy during the season but we later learned that he was playing through at least one injury. 

Oliver’s known injuries:

    • Left foot/ankle

Oliver suffered a left foot/ankle injury late in the win over the Titans when he flipped over trying to tackle RB Derrick Henry. His foot slammed into the turf & he was visibly in pain as he got off the field and did not return. Due to the timing of the injury & lack of need for the defense at that point, he was not needed and likely used the bye week to fully recover.

    • Core muscle repair

He surprised everyone when photos of him in the recovery room of the Vincera Institute popped up following the playoff loss to the Texans. It was later revealed that he required core muscle surgery. There were never any indicators that he was dealing with the injury and he never appeared on the injury report with the issue. To read more on the core muscle injury, check out Banged Up Bills

Within a month, Oliver was snowboarding and participating in most regular activities as shown on social media. He appears to have healed up well and should be ready for training camp. As mentioned before, most players who require core muscle repair do very well & return to play with no drop off in action. 

DT Star Lotulelei  

16 games, 16 starts, 1 INT, 1 pass defended, 2 sacks, 19 combined tackles, 12 solo, 7 assisted, 3 TFL, 3 QB hits

There is a reason the Bills keep Lotulelei around. He gets paid a lot, he knows the defense, & he’s available. While he does not get the eye-popping statistics that some elite defensive tackles accumulate, he does eat up space and allow those around him to make plays. Despite being one of the older players on the team, Lotulelei continues to be an effective player. He also did not appear to suffer any known injuries in 2019 which makes him even more valuable.

The Bills did restructure his contract to essentially ensure that he would be guaranteed a spot on the roster in 2020. If Harrison Phillips comes back strong, Lotulelei could begin to fade into a backup role as Phillips increases his playing time. 

DT Vincent Taylor 

3 games, 1 pass defended, 6 solo tackles, 1 TFL

Taylor came from the Dolphins as a 6th round pick along with season-ending injuries in consecutive years. He was waived by the Dolphins following cut down day in 2019. Taylor quickly found a home on Buffalo’s practice squad where he resided until the beginning of November when he was activated to the roster following Kyle Peko’s release

He quickly did not become an answer to replace Harrison Phillips and quickly lost playing time to Corey Liuget. In fact, he only played sparingly against Washington and Pittsburgh with most of his action coming in the regular-season finale against the Jets. Taylor did not have any publicly reported injuries and will have a long shot to make this roster in 2020.

New to the roster

DT Quinton Jefferson

Jefferson comes from Seattle, appearing to finally come into his own after a slow start to his career including two ACL tears and having an inability to stick on a roster. He eventually did become a role player with Seattle & became quite effective especially last season. However, he is coming off a Jones fracture in the postseason which required surgery.

There is a chance that he could have complications from the Jones fracture surgery, but he may be better off as he does not have to run & jump as some of his wide receiver counterparts which could place extra stress on the surgically repaired foot. To read more on Jefferson, check out the article at Buffalo Rumblings.

DT Vernon Butler

Butler comes to Buffalo via that strong Carolina pipeline that so many others have traveled. Regrettably, Butler comes with inconsistent play and several injuries to his name. Defensive tackles do take some time to adapt and as a former first-round pick, he still demonstrates some talent worth giving another shot. To read more about his injury history, check out Buffalo Rumblings.

2020 Outlook

Phillips, Oliver, Lotulelei, & Jefferson are all locks for the roster in 2020. Taylor and Butler have legitimate shots at making the roster and could benefit from roster expansion if there is a need due to the pandemic. Overall, the group is incredibly healthy with the exception of Phillips’ ACL tear when compared to other position groups.

Oliver should continue to grow as a defender & the hopes that Lotulelei can continue to be an effective player while Phillips regains his football abilities following a lost year will be key for this group to be successful. There is the option that the Bills could bring in other talents, but for now, this is a formidable group that can put pressure on the quarterback & provides a strong force upfront.

Buffalo Bills & NFL Draft Recap

Recapping the past two months worth of work for your reading pleasure.

Hey there Bills fans! After a long hiatus at Banged Up Bills, I am back with content as we continue to navigate this offseason during the pandemic. As I had said in a previous article, I would only be posting if there was breaking news. During that time, I had been feverishly working with Cover 1 writing up injury draft analysis. I have also been writing up injury reviews for Buffalo Rumblings post draft for our newest Buffalo Bills. 

As I write for my own site, Cover 1, & Buffalo Rumblings, it can be hard to track all the work I did unless you scour the Twitter feed on the side of the webpage. So to make it easy, below are all the newest Bills draft picks and free-agent signings for your reading pleasure. I have also included all my Cover 1 articles, two of the current Bills in Trey Adams & Zack Moss. 

Buffalo Rumblings 

DE A.J. Epenesa 

RB Zack Moss 

WR Gabriel Davis 

QB Jake Fromm

K Tyler Bass

WR Isaiah Hodgins

CB Dane Jackson

S Garrett Taylor

OT Trey Adams

FB Reggie Gilliam

 

Free Agent Signings

OL Garrett McGhin

OL Evan Boehm

CB E.J. Gaines

OT Daryl Williams

DT Vernon Butler

DE Mario Addison

DT Quinton Jefferson

LB Tyler Matakevich

LB A.J. Klein

WR Stefon Diggs

RB Taiwan Jones

CB Josh Norman

 

Cover 1

QB Tua Tagovailoa

EDGE Anfernee Jennings

EDGE Terrell Lewis

OT Trey Adams

CB Bryce Hall

OT Netane Muti

RB Zack Moss

S Antoine Winfield Jr.

LB Justin Strnad

LB Markus Bailey

OT Lucas Niang

WR Bryan Edwards

TE Jacob Breeland

WR Laviska Shenault

 

Podcasts

All Things Buffalo Bills Ep.9 

Locked On Bills 4/1/20

Rockpile Report Episode 189

Continue to check back for more injury history reports on the newest Bills signings as we slog through the offseason. Also, continue looking for position injury recaps as training camp approaches.