Bills Season Injury Review-Linebackers

Read up on the returning & new faces of the LB corps going into 2019 including how injuries may impact them.

As training camp approaches, optimism is high for the linebacking corps in 2019. The spotlight is placed on this unit due to the lack of availability in 2018 that was apparent as key injuries occurred. During the off-season, Brandon Beane made it an effort to find more talent in order to create competition at the position in the event that starters go down. Today’s post will review the injuries from 2018 and if it will impact 2019.

First up is LB Corey Thompson. The rookie UDFA out of LSU appeared in 6 games with 1 start. During his playing time, he was able to rack up 1 forced fumble, 14 combined tackles, 8 solo, 6 assisted, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit. Injury-wise, he suffered a minor ankle injury during the loss to the Patriots. Thankfully, this was not an injury that appeared to be serious and does not have any repercussions going into 2019. However, Thompson will have a difficult time making the roster with all the additional depth and will have to make his mark on special teams to have a chance.

Next up is LB Deon Lacey. The veteran linebacker appeared in all 16 games with 0 starts, completing 7 combined tackles, 5 solo, 2 assisted. Most of Lacey’s playing time was spent on special teams where he did not appear to suffer any injuries but he will once again have to fight tooth and nail to earn another spot on the 53 man roster for 2019.

LB Julian Stanford makes the list as another primary special teams contributor from 2018. He appeared in 13 games with 1 start. He accumulated 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 15 tackles, 13 solo, 2 assisted, 1 tackle for loss. While his contributions appear to be more versatile compared to his other special teams’ counterparts, he still is also not a lock to make the roster. Injury-wise, he suffered a broken nose during the last preseason game which caused him to miss the season opener. He also missed the last game of the season due to what appeared to be a high ankle sprain during the loss to the Patriots. This isn’t an injury that lingers but he will still have to fight in order to make this roster in 2019.

Next up is the ageless LB Lorenzo Alexander. Despite his age and time in the league, Alexander continues to produce, appearing in 16 games with 8 starts. During the season, he recorded 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 6.5 sacks, 74 combined tackles, 55 solo, 19 assisted, 11 tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits. On top of his stellar play, he continues to avoid injury through his rigorous recovery routine during the season. He is coming back to the team in 2019 as he is an incredibly vocal leader and will still prove to be valuable on both defense and special teams.

LB Tremaine Edmunds arrives next on the list with a solid rookie campaign but at times had injuries which limited his ability to fully showcase what made him a 1st round pick in 2018. His stats are as follows: 15 games, 15 starts with 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, 121 combined tackles, 80 solo, 41 assisted, 5 tackles for loss, 7 QB hits. While he was incredibly productive as the quarterback of the defense, injuries certainly impacted the ability to maximize his potential.

Edmunds suffered a concussion early in the season during the first Patriots game on MNF in where he collided with FB James Devlin and caused him to miss the next game against the Bears. Edmunds also suffered injuries to his right leg and low back during the season. The right leg injury was due to the foot getting caught in the turf and being hit by a falling body which could have caused some serious damage if he was falling the other way but thankfully he just tweaked things. He also suffered a back injury during the win over the Lions which did not cause him to miss anytime but he was labored in his movements following the hit from OL Frank Ragnow. None of the injuries were serious outside the concussion, but Edmunds has a lot of work to do to improve off his rookie season in 2019.

Finally, LB Matt Milano rounds out the linebacker group from the 2018 season. Milano was on pace for a Pro Bowl season appearing in 13 games with 13 starts accumulating 3 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 sack, 78 combined tackles, 52 solo, 26 assisted, 12 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits before injury struck. Reviewing all his injuries, Milano suffered a head injury during the first game against the Jets. Considering he had the bye week right after the game, it was unknown if he was officially diagnosed with a concussion, but it was not something that appeared to cause any long term issues.

Unfortunately, Milano’s season was cut short with a gruesome ankle injury in where he broke his fibula as the result of QB Sam Darnold falling onto his ankle and Milano getting hit from behind. There was and still is much concern regarding how he is progressing in his rehab which I have detailed in my article with Buffalo Rumblings. He should be 100% going into the season and this is supported by his full participation in OTA’s. He is another component that will continue to shore up the linebacking corps in 2019 and take the defense to the next level.

New faces to the team include 5th round draft pick LB Vosean Joseph, UDFA’s Tyrel Dodson & Juwan Foggie, and FA Maurice Alexander. It’s likely that L. Alexander, Milano, Edmunds, Joseph, and M. Alexander all make the team with Dodson, Thompson, and Foggie possibly making the practice squad as they still have eligibility. As for Lacey, he still has a shot to earn a roster spot but as he is a veteran, there may be cheaper options on special teams. This will be a strong corps regardless who makes the final roster as McDermott has a penchant for linebackers and safeties on special teams. The top half of the linebackers is set, the bottom half will be fun to watch!

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

Buffalo Bills Draft Recap

Analyzing the newest Bills draft picks and their injury histories including where they may end up after training camp.

The 2019 NFL draft has come and gone! Like a speeding train, you could hear and see it from a mile away, louder and louder as it neared, then gone as quickly as it came! Aboard that speeding train was a bounty of draft picks that have nearly filled out the Bills roster as the off-season continues. Today’s post will briefly review the players selected, their injury history, and where I believe they may end up at the end of training camp.

The Bills 1st round draft choice was DT Ed Oliver out of Houston. The junior defensive tackle was a 3x All American which demonstrates how special of a talent he was entering the draft. Regarding his injury history, he was relatively healthy throughout his career at Houston before suffering a knee injury in the game against Navy during this most recent season. As a result, he missed 4 games with what was described as a bruised knee. He was able to come back but reportedly wasn’t himself. Still, he was able to garner another AA nod and he was ready to cash in. The bruised knee is not something I am concerned about and it did not come up in the draft process indicating that this is a moot point. He should be a Day 1 starter and make noise his rookie year.

2nd round draft choice OL Cody Ford out of Oklahoma was the Bills top Day 2 pick.  The big lineman out of the midwest helped block for 2 Heisman winners and was the recipient of the Joe Moore award, given to the nation’s top offensive line group.  Reviewing his injury history, 2016 saw him play 3 games before suffering a broken fibula, causing him to miss the rest of the season. 2017 saw him miss 2 games with undisclosed injuries for which I was unable to find specific information. He avoided injury in 2018 and as a result, was highly sought after in the draft, falling to the Bills at pick 38. The previous injuries are not concerning as broken bones typically heal well and are unlikely to become chronic issues. Like Oliver, Ford should be a Day 1 starter and shore up the offensive line.

3rd round draft choice RB Devin Singletary out of Florida Atlantic was the 74th overall pick by the Bills. Looking at his injury history, there does not appear to be any concerns during his time at FAU. He appeared to stay healthy which would explain his insane level of production of 714 attempts for 4,287 yards and 66 TD’s over his career. While he was productive, there is a concern about how much tread is left on the tires despite his youthful age. Singletary will see the field during his rookie year, but he will not be the feature back which will allow him to acclimate to the game and avoid some of the wear and tear he’s had the past few years. Expect him to make the roster, but see minimal playing time unless there is a shake-up at the RB position.

3rd round draft choice TE Dawson Knox out of Ole Miss was the Bills 2nd pick in the 3rd round, 96th overall. Similar to Singletary, Knox has a limited injury history outside of a dislocated ankle during his senior season in high school. The ankle should not give him any issues as it has been several years since the original injury. One reason he may have been able to avoid injury in college was due to the fact that he only had 39 receptions for 605 yards and 0 TD’s. The lack of production is worrisome, but considering how WR Robert Foster performed last year despite a lackluster performance at Alabama, Knox’s numbers do not worry me. In fact, I believe he may exceed his career stats in his rookie year if he manages to secure a starting spot on the offense. Knox should make the 53 man roster with playing time available with a strong training camp.

(Note: after finding more information regarding Knox, it was later discovered that he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot along with a torn meniscus later in the 2017 season, both which required surgery. Both are concerning injuries as stress fractures are overuse injuries and the meniscus act as shock absorbers in the knee. There is potential for future complications but considering he made it through the 2018 season without apparent complications, this is a good indicator moving forward.)

5th round draft choice LB Vosean Joseph out of Florida is the next man up. The versatile linebacker was taken with the 147th overall pick and also demonstrated a propensity to avoid injury during his time as a Gator. He appeared in every game the past 2 seasons in Florida and showed ability on both the defensive side of the ball and on special teams. There has been talking that he could be a solid replacement for LB Lorenzo Alexander upon his retirement. Joseph will be another depth piece going into the regular season, earning playing time on special teams with the chance to get back up play as injuries occur.

6th round draft choice S Jaquan Johnson out of Miami was the 181st pick on Day 3. Johnson, like most others in this article, has minimal injury concerns, only missing 2 games during his senior season due to a right hamstring strain. Considering his position, these types of soft tissue injuries do occur but this does not appear to be a chronic issue, unlike other individuals around the league. Johnson also appears versatile and may make the roster as a depth piece behind S Jordan Poyer & S Micah Hyde, possibly seeing playing time if either goes down injured.

7th round draft choice DL Darryl Johnson out of North Carolina A&T makes his way to the Bills as the 225th overall pick. Like many others on this list, Johnson has no known injury history. He did have an injury senior year of high school that cost him scholarship opportunities but he was still able to receive an offer from NC A&T, allowing him to play well enough to be a draft selection. While there is the opportunity for him to make the roster with the turnover on the defensive line, he will most likely see the practice squad barring injury in training camp.

The final pick for the Bills in the 2019 NFL Draft was TE Tommy Sweeney out of Boston College. The 228th overall draft choice comes to the Bills without injury concern. During his time at BC, he proved to be durable, appearing in every possible game while in college. Sweeney is another player that could be destined for the practice squad, however, with the uncertainty at the TE position, it is possible he could sneak onto the roster with the right circumstances falling his way.

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