Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Review- Week 2

The Bills are still dealing with injuries, what ones are concerning?

Another week of Bills training camp is completed! Fortunately, the list of injured players has shrunk considerably from last week allowing the Bills to stay healthy & participate in training camp. For last week’s recap, check out my article at Buffalo Rumblings.

New additions to the injury report:

WR Stefon Diggs (knee/back soreness)

Diggs gave everyone a scare when he went down briefly on Monday when he stayed down for a moment while trainers tended to his knee. Specifics were not given regarding how the injury occurred, but he did not stay down long and returned to practice quickly, not appearing to give it any further attention the rest of the week. This is likely nothing but still important to note.

The more concerning of the two injuries is the back soreness that caused him to miss Thursday’s scrimmage. He was observed on the sideline tossing a football with noticeable limitations. In the video below, he doesn’t exhibit any trunk rotation, he throws purely from his arm and he appears very stiff indicating the low back pain.

This may be true soreness, he may have strained muscles or a sprain, impossible to discern from the video alone. The training staff will be focusing on managing and eliminating the pain and keeping him moving to prevent this from becoming a chronic issue. Like the knee, I do not anticipate this becoming a long term issue, but simply to note.

RB Taiwan Jones (knee)

Jones went down in practice on Sunday after he stepped awkwardly followed by trainers tending to him before ending practice early. Like the Diggs injury, little is known regarding the mechanism of injury. He did not participate in practice the rest of the week and was observed in street clothes during the scrimmage.

My speculation is that he suffered a knee sprain, possibly his MCL. These are quite common during training camp and can hold him out for 1-3 weeks. Until he returns to practice, hard to establish an accurate timeline without more information.

RB Christian Wade (quadriceps)

Wade has missed the last week of practice with a quadriceps injury that appears to be a strain. He could be dealing with a contusion which can be very painful, but not even practicing in a limited fashion indicates more of a strain.

While this could tank most players’ roster hopes, Wade still has his practice squad roster exemption that the Bills will likely use again this season. He simply is not ready to yet contribute to an NFL roster yet which means this injury is a minor issue.

LB Corey Thompson (knee soreness)

Like all the other injuries, we can only go off of what is reported by the team on Tuesday. Knee soreness is a vague term that limits any timelines to be established. He doesn’t have any previous known knee injuries which reduces the possibility that this is a chronic issue.

Injury updates:

WR Robert Foster (concussion)

Foster exited the concussion protocol on Wednesday. He was able to participate in Thursday’s scrimmage but due to media restrictions on reporting, his performance was not known. Foster has a week to show the Bills why he needs to stick around on the roster, but his chances appear to be dwindling.

G Jon Feliciano (pectoral tear)

Feliciano is still out with his pectoral injury & is not expected to be ready for some time. But it’s important to highlight that he was observed out of his sling by Spectrum News’ Jon Scott.

This indicates that he is on schedule with the rehab protocol but does not indicate that he will be back as soon as Week 4. I still maintain that he will be back around mid-season which will allow him to be fully ready rather than limited.

CB Josh Norman (left hamstring)

Despite his aging vet status, Norman still commands a lot of attention for the fan base. He has been out over a week with a left hamstring strain suffered while returning an interception & tackle.

DC Leslie Frazier is hopeful that Norman will be back in time for Week 1 and he still appears on track for that. Barring any setbacks or change in severity, I anticipate that he will play but CB Levi Wallace is available to start if Norman isn’t 100%.

No changes:

FB Patrick DiMarco (neck), TE Tommy Sweeney (foot) are still not practicing & are uncertain to return anytime soon.

LB Vosean Joseph (undisclosed) was dealing with an injury last week which DC Leslie Frazier acknowledged but details were not given.

DT Ed Oliver, LB AJ Klein, & LB Tremaine Edmunds returned to practice & hopefully will not have any recurrence of the injuries sustained last week.

Housekeeping:

CB Ike Brown retired and posted his statement regarding his reasoning below.

In his place, the Bills signed CB Brian Allen after spending time with the Steelers & Seahawks. His injury history is limited but detailed below.

The Bills also settled their special teams competition with the release of K Stephen Hauschka & P Lachlan Edwards.

The Bills continue to stay in excellent shape regarding injuries & should have nearly everyone available for Week 1 besides Feliciano and Sweeney.

Image Credit: BuffaloNews.com

Bills 2020 Training Camp Injury Preview: Linebackers

Will Milano suffer another hamstring strain?

This is Part 9 of the Buffalo Bills training camp preview revisiting injuries from 2019 & the impact it may have on their performance and availability in 2020. Part 9 consists of the linebacker room.

Not Returning

LB Lorenzo Alexander 

16 games, 7 starts, 9 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 2 sacks, 50 combined tackles, 31 solo, 19 assisted, 4 TFL, 9 QB hits

Newly retired, Lorenzo Alexander brought a lot to the Bills during his four years in Buffalo and really helped set the stage for hopefully long term sustained success. He was an effective leader, willing to do the dirty work on special teams, and guide young players as they entered the league. 

Despite his age and willingness to play anywhere asked, Alexander did not suffer any known injuries during 2019. In fact, he barely showed up on the injury report during his time with only a partially torn hamstring and ankle injury back in 2016. Since then, Alexander has not appeared on the injury reports with the exception of veteran rest days. 

While Alexander certainly suffered injuries that were not reported, he walks away from the game on his own terms, especially coming in as a UDFA, carving out a 15-year career. This was evident by his most recent post where he is wearing a surgery gown, ready to go into surgery for an unspecified procedure. Considering he has the NFL insurance & documentation from the injuries, it is wise to get any ailments addressed now while it is covered.

Bills Mafia thanks him for all that he brought to the area and we wish him well in retirement. 

LB Maurice Alexander 

7 games, 8 combined tackles, 6 solo, 2 assisted

Alexander did not quite have the season that he likely envisioned when he signed with Bills. He came in to compete for a backup job and contribute on special teams which he earned out of training camp. Unfortunately, he suffered a number of injuries and was pressed into playing on defense which likely led to his season-ending on IR.

During his 7 game stint with the Bills, he suffered knee, left hip, and calf injuries, with the knee injury originally occurring against the Bengals. He was questionable for the Patriots game but eventually played. He then suffered a left hip injury filling in for the injured Matt Milano playing against the Dolphins. 

He was later ruled out against the Redskins with a knee injury and then placed on injured reserve the next week with knee and calf injuries. The specifics of each of the injuries were never really divulged but whatever the injuries were, they were severe enough that he ended his season early. He has yet to find a job in 2020 but could find something if injuries occur if rosters expand due to the pandemic.

LB Julian Stanford 

16 games, 1 fumble recovery, 3 combined tackles, 2 solo, 1 assisted

Stanford, a crucial special teams contributor leaves the team following the Bills not signing him to a new contract for 2020. He contributed throughout his time with the Bills & at times was effective when called upon for defense, specifically in the season finale against the Jets. During 2020, he did not suffer any known injuries. He will also be forced to find a new team for 2020 in order to stay in the NFL.

Returning Players

LB Corey Thompson 

12 games, 5 combined tackles, 2 solo, 3 assisted, 1 TFL

For a player that is a backup and mainly special teamer, Thompson was oft-injured throughout the season. Despite all the injuries, he was still able to appear in 12 games and perform well on special teams, with his only defensive performance in the season finale against the Jets. Thompson continued to battle to be relevant on the field this year, but the injuries did take a toll on him.

Thompson’s injuries below:

    • Groin strain

He suffered a groin injury midway through training camp that may have been minor, but he still sat out as a precaution against the Panthers in the preseason. He did not appear to have any recurrence of the injury later in the preseason or regular season, but if not addressed properly, those injuries can linger and cause missed time in chunks as the injury becomes more chronic.

    • Ankle surgery

It was initially reported that Thompson suffered an ankle sprain just prior to the Bengals game which left him designated as questionable. It was also never revealed which side he injured. He ended up playing in the game, recording his lowest snap count of the season with 6 plays, indicating that he was not fully healthy to contribute. 

He missed the next 4 games requiring ankle surgery that was never fully explained why he required the procedure. At the time, it was thought that he may have bone chips or loose bodies floating around in there, causing the ankle to lock up. There are many other possibilities that it could have been, but considering there wasn’t a clear mechanism of injury and lack of reporting regarding the specifics, truly hard to say what he was dealing with.

Whatever it was, it was minor enough to only miss 4 games and then return to play later in the season. My initial guess is that this injury will not linger into 2020, but without more details, I am not 100% certain.

LB Tremaine Edmunds

16 games, 16 starts, 1 INT, 9 passes defended, 1.5 sacks, 115 combined tackles, 66 solo, 49 assisted, 10 TFL, 4 QB hits, 1 safety

Edmunds really can do it all. He has morphed into the middle linebacker that the Bills thought he could be when they drafted him in 2018. He also doesn’t appear to be stopping peaking anytime soon with his best football still appearing to be ahead of him. 

Thankfully he continues to stay healthy, suffering no known injuries in 2019. While he does play an incredibly physical position and is not immune to injury, the fact that he has avoided missing time due to concussions, strains, and sprains bode well for the linebacking corps going into 2020.

LB Matt Milano

15 games, 15 starts, 9 passes deflected, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1.5 sacks, 100 combined tackles, 64 solo, 36 assisted, 7 TFL, 7 QB hits

Matt Milano continues to outplay his original draft position which could set him up nicely for a payday when free agency arrives next year. He started off slow during his rookie year before coming on strong in the second half. He followed that performance in 2018 until an ankle fracture with dislocation stopped him from likely making a Pro Bowl that year. 

Milano came back strong from the injury and had quite a complete season, missing only one game due to injury. 

Below is Milano’s injury breakdown:

    • Left hamstring strain

He suffered the left hamstring strain while trying to catch Titans TE Jonnu Smith on the long reception in the second half. He began to decelerate before grabbing at his left hamstring as he ran out of the frame. He ultimately took 2 weeks to recover from the hamstring strain while only missing 1 game along with a well-timed bye week.

He returned to play against Philadelphia and did not appear to have any issues the rest of the season indicating the strain was mild to moderate. He also dealt with some hamstring issues during his rookie year which is concerning that this may become a more frequent injury for him. Recurrence rates for hamstring strains from year to year can be as high as 30% but vary based on the grade of injury.

It is also interesting to note that the Bills do treat hamstrings incredibly conservatively in order to ensure that they return to play at 100% instead of pushing them and risk re-injury. Considering his history and position he plays, there is concern that he suffers yet another hamstring strain either in training camp or early in the season as everyone adjusts to the abbreviated offseason.

LB Vosean Joseph 

Spent 2019 on IR with a torn labrum in the right shoulder

Joseph, unfortunately, suffered a shoulder injury after getting drafted in the 5th round of the 2019 draft. While Joseph wasn’t a lock to make the roster, the shoulder injury he suffered certainly didn’t help things. It appeared that he tore his labrum at some point during the 2nd preseason game which resulted in going to IR with season-ending surgery. Labral tears are typically full recoveries & the re-tear rates are anywhere from 13-26%. 2020 will hopefully allow Joseph to step up to the active roster and show why the Bills drafted him in the 5th round. 

LB Tyrel Dodson

Dodson spent the season on the practice squad and suspended list due to the domestic violence incident he had with his girlfriend. He ultimately served a 6 game suspension on the commissioner’s exempt list before ultimately being waived and signed to the practice squad. As expected, Dodson did not suffer any known injuries during the season and will hopefully come in ready to play with all his personal issues behind him.

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

Phillips spent the second half of the season with the Bills practice squad before signing a reserve/futures contract following the season completion. He enters the 2020 season with no publicly known injuries in the past 3 years and could fight for a practice squad/expanded roster spot if the league allows it. To read more on Phillips, check out the article at Banged Up Bills.

New to the roster

LB AJ Klein

It feels like the Carolina connection is becoming repetitive at this point. Klein is yet another example of a player who found success down south & is reuniting with Sean McDermott. Klein comes in understanding the systems and has shown to be healthy as evidenced by the article over at Buffalo Rumblings. He is certainly a player that can fill the gaps and provide veteran leadership as some of the younger players continue to develop.

LB Tyler Matakevich

Matakevich comes to Buffalo as a special teams ace after 4 seasons in Pittsburgh. The only concern he has injury-wise coming in was a torn labrum several years ago. In the Buffalo Rumblings, it was mentioned that there is an 8-10% chance that he re-tears the labrum. But up above with Joseph, there is a 13-26% chance he re-tears. The difference being the first source is more general population, the second source is more specific to the NFL. Either way, his risk is minimal due to the injury being several years old. 

I’ve read multiple instances where it will not be a good thing if Matakevich is playing defense for the Bills and that still appears to be the case going into 2020. 

LB Mike Bell

Bell is a familiar face, having spent rookie minicamp with the Bills in 2019 as a safety before ultimately being cut. He was out of football in 2019, working on a position change to linebacker and adding 20 lbs to his frame in order to adjust. 

There is a hope that he could transition as Matt Milano did coming out of college, but there is no guarantee that Bell will be able to adapt fully until he spends some time with an NFL roster, whether it is training camp or practice squad. To read more on Bell, check out Banged Up Bills.

2020 Outlook

The linebacker corps come into 2020 fairly healthy with Edmunds, Milano, & Klein locks to make the roster. Between the three, a knee and hamstring injury cost them a total of 2 games last season. There is concern regarding a recurrence of the hamstring strain for Milano going into 2020, but hopefully, he comes into training camp in excellent shape to help mitigate his risks. 

Others that are locked to make the roster include Matakevich, Thompson, & Joseph if he has a healthy training camp. Dodson, Phillips, & Bell all are still in play and will likely be in the plan for practice squad or bottom of the roster decisions for depth insurance. Most of the injuries at the position belonged to Maurice Alexander who takes his baggage with him into free agency. 

I am slightly concerned about the overall depth at the position if the top 3 get injured at any point. It is not realistic that there will be starting-caliber players for depth purposes at any position, but a lot will be riding on the health of the unit to ensure its effectiveness in 2020.

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!!