Week 5 Bills Injury Preview- Titans

Will Allen be cleared to play in time?

While the Bills are still banged up, they are far from out of contention after the quarter pole of the season. They sit at 3-1 with the 3rd best record in the AFC and still very much in control of their own destiny. While there is a lot of uncertainty heading into Week 5 against the Titans, most of the players are starting to turn the corner injury-wise. Today’s article outlines the injuries heading into Week 5 and who is expected to play.

RULED OUT:

LB Corey Thompson (ankle) & TE Tyler Kroft (ankle)

Thompson is still dealing with surgery that was likely the result of a cleanout from a previously unknown injury. His timeline is fluid and is not expected to be back for another 2-3 weeks at best guess. Kroft is still working back from his low ankle sprain in his left ankle & I would not expect him to be back until after the bye. Until he gets 3 consecutive full days of practice in, consider him benched until further notice. 

 

QUESTIONABLE:

QB Josh Allen (concussion)

As it’s widely known, Allen is coming off a concussion sustained Sunday at the result of Patriots CB Jonathan Jones. There has been a lot of optimism that he can return to play Sunday but historically, most players who sustain a concussion miss the next week. There have been instances where last season QB Phillip Rivers cleared concussion protocol before clobbering the Bills in the 2017 season in the infamous Nathan Peterman game. Former Bill RB LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion last year in the loss to the Colts & returned in time for MNF against the Patriots. 

Concussions are unique in that no one is ever the same and timelines for recovery vary. Considering Allen was in Stage 4 of the protocol all this week & practiced in full, this still isn’t a guarantee. He still has to be cleared by the independent neurologist. The reports look promising and I’m leaning towards him playing, but until we get word that he’s cleared, there isn’t a guarantee he plays. 

S Dean Marlowe (concussion)

Marlowe suffered his concussion after the first Bills scoring drive in which he wrapped up the kick returner before getting hit in the head as he required assistance to complete the tackle. This was with about 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. He appeared wobbly on the field before reportedly was assessed for a head injury. Like Allen, Marlowe is in protocol & appeared to be in Stage 4 as well. If Marlowe is able to clear the protocol, he will be a key special teams player & necessary depth. If he isn’t cleared, expect S JaQuan Johnson to go.

FB Patrick DiMarco (concussion)

DiMarco was a surprise addition to the injury report this week with the 3rd concussion from Sunday. While we generally know when Marlowe’s occurred & certainly when Allen’s happened, DiMarco’s was less apparent. DiMarco was in the game with 3:19 left in the 4th quarter on punt coverage indicating he wasn’t knocked out of the game like several others. He did suffer a hard hit several times including on 2nd & 9 on the flea-flicker to RB TJ Yeldon while performing a chop block. He does get a knee to the head but doesn’t appear to be initially fazed. He also takes a hard hit on 4th & 10 with 8:44 left in the 4th quarter, but this wasn’t out of the ordinary for physical football hits. 

During Wednesday’s practice, he was able to be on the sidelines working on the stationary bike indicating that he is in Stage 2-3, working through increasing the heart rate & tolerating sustained physical activity. Thursday improved his status to Stage 4 with him participating in non-contact activities. Friday indicated that he practiced in full. It’s likely but uncertain if he will play Sunday, but considering how important he is in special teams, it would be beneficial.

Author’s Note:

I try to keep these articles as objective as possible with a little bit of opinion because, well, it’s my website. But I’ve noticed that a lot of people on Twitter are on the bandwagon that if Allen sits for an extra week, then he’ll be extra healthy, especially after the bye. Some people have commented that how do we know if the brain is fully healthy? How can he heal so quickly?

Frankly, we don’t know the brain is fully healthy. We don’t have the technology at this point to look further. But what we do have is objective measure testing. What this encompasses is testing his memory and processing through cognitive testing, his coordination & how his eyes are responding/interacting with input from the outside world with vestibular testing, his physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness which can be measured by heart rate & blood pressure. 

We’re looking at baseline testing from the beginning of the season & compared to how he re-tests to measure where he is at. The hope is that he excels and outperforms the baseline. The baseline acts as a control in the scientific method. The experiment is objective testing. The idea is that does this objective testing correctly measure whether he is healthy & able to return? So far, we have seen this utilized successfully & with great results. 

So what does this boil down to? Once the testing shows that a player has been tested & passes protocol, then he is cleared. Simple as that. Until there are methods that further identify whether the brain is fully healthy, we go with what we know best. Remember, doctors used to use leeches for bloodletting, cocaine/heroin for nearly every remedy, & lobotomies for mental illness. We learn from these mistakes. The hope is that we work with what we know at the time & look to improve the process. 

WR Robert Foster (groin)

Foster suffered a groin injury late last week, missing Week 4 due to the acute nature of the injury. He was able to practice in full Wednesday & Thursday which was an excellent sign & may be ready to contribute in both the offense & special teams. We do not know the specifics of the injury, there is a higher risk to re-injure the area, but practicing in full is always a good sign. However, he was limited Friday and is now officially questionable for Sunday. Considering he is still dealing with the turf toe from training camp & in addition to the groin, it’s reasonable he’s questionable, but certainly more likely to play this week than last.

CB Taron Johnson (hamstring)

Johnson has missed the past 3 games with a hamstring injury dating back to the season opener. He has looked excellent in practice the past 2 weeks performing agility & football-specific drills, but was, in my opinion, a surprising inactive for Sunday. Either he felt he was not ready or had some type of setback with tweaking the area prior to the game. He has been limited the past 2 weeks in practice. 

However, looking back through the past 3 years of Bills injury reports on pro-football-reference.com, historically, with this medical staff, players have missed 2-3 games before returning to play. To go down the rabbit hole further, none of the players that suffered a hamstring strain appeared on the injury report later in the season with the same injury. I believe that the team would rather have the player miss more time to recover then rather than suffer re-injury later. I still believe he can play Sunday, but it may be truly his decision on whether he plays. 

RB Devin Singletary (hamstring)

Like Johnson, Singletary has been dealing with a hamstring strain suffered in the win over the Giants. He missed the Bengals game as expected, but was nearly able to play against the Patriots. His hamstring injury appears to be milder than Johnson’s based on games missed and reports indicating that he was almost better to play last week. He is still questionable going into Sunday from the injury report. I believe he has a better shot to play Sunday than Johnson, but it may come down how he feels & whether the weather will play a factor with a chance of rain. Along with Johnson, the slick grass could potentially aggravate any injuries if they were to slip or attempt to stop.

OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)

Nsekhe was dealing with an ankle injury from Sunday but has been on a constant rotation with rookie Cody Ford. It’s not apparent when he suffered this ankle injury, but he was working through what appeared to be a right ankle injury last week in the Bengals game. He did leave briefly & returned to the game, but it is possible that he could have re-injured the area. We do not know what ankle he is dealing with, but I bet it’s the same ankle again. He did not participate in practice on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday which normally indicates that a player won’t play Sunday.

 

CLEARED

OG Spencer Long (ankle)

Long suffered an ankle injury late in practice last Friday for which he was limited. As the team has several reserve linemen, they likely did not feel that it was appropriate for Long to try and play through a fresh ankle injury, whatever it may be. He has since practiced in full on Wednesday indicating that he is moving past the issues from last week. 

CB Tre’Davious White (ankle)

White is coming off an obvious low right ankle sprain suffered midway through the 2nd quarter. He was able to leave briefly before returning to finish playing. At times, he appeared to be a step slower with his coverage assignments due to the inability to pivot & push off the foot. From what is available in practice, he does not appear to be wearing any bracing & not wearing a red contact jersey as well. Barring setbacks, he should play in full Sunday & then have an extra week to rest & recover.

WR Cole Beasley (ankle)

Beasley was a new addition to the injury report with an ankle injury. Looking at the film, he played in 85% of the plays & there wasn’t any clear instance where he would have suffered an ankle injury. Without more information, it’s hard to speculate the exact injury, but considering it’s an ankle & he practiced in full, he should play Sunday. To note, he does require veteran rest days throughout the week which explains the DNP on Friday.

 

OTHER’S TO NOTE

OG Jon Feliciano (neck)

The reason I bring up Feliciano is due to a play that was tweeted from @Cover_1. It shows that Feliciano blocks effectively, but gets hit in the mouth before dropping to his knees, becoming rigid like a board, and falling to his right side, lying for a moment before getting back up. It’s unknown if this was related to the neck injury, but he hasn’t appeared on the injury report indicating he is healthy enough to play football.

WR Zay Jones (shoulder)

Jones continues to be an enigma to Bills fans this season. After having a regrettable rookie year due to a torn labrum in the shoulder, he was able to return in 2019 and produce some solid statistics. The hope was that he was able to continue building off the promising 2018 campaign, but so far, he has missed the mark. He did not appear on the injury report this week, but I still question if this shoulder injury isn’t somehow contributing to his decline in production this season. Looking back on his rookie year, the torn labrum was clearly a factor. 

WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle)

As you can see the theme with the injury report, McKenzie is also dealing with an ankle injury. This occurred sometime late during practice last week but he was active on gameday. He only played in 1 offensive snap, indicating he probably needs to rest & recover, but the Bills required certain depth and to fill out the 46 man gameday roster. He wasn’t on the injury report this week indicating that he is getting better with & should be able to play in full if another receiver can’t go.

OT Conor McDermott- waived

McDermott was waived Thursday afternoon leaving the Bills at 52 players. While there hasn’t been a corresponding move yet, the team can go in several options. There is an outside chance that Allen can play Sunday, which means someone like WR Duke Williams could come up to show what he is able to do. If Allen can’t play Sunday, then practice squad QB Davis Webb could be called up to back up QB Matt Barkley. Another option could be if RB Devin Singletary can’t go again, then they could call up RB Byron Marshall due to DiMarco unlikely to play. 

Possible Inactives:

TE Tyler Kroft

LB Corey Thompson

S Dean Marlowe

CB Taron Johnson

WR Robert Foster

OG Ike Boettger

OT Ty Nsekhe

Overall, this bye week is coming at an opportune time. Last time this year, the Bills were incredibly healthy, dealing with little to no injuries according to records. Most of the players should be able to come back after the bye & contribute barring any new injuries Sunday. 

Top Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Week 4 Bills Injury Preview- Patriots

Will mounting injuries prevent the Bills from getting a key win?

The Buffalo Bills enter Week 4 with a record of 3-0 against the also 3-0 New England Patriots with a chance to stay undefeated this late in the season for the first time since 2008. However, despite the promise of 4-0, the Bills have really taken the name of this website, Banged Up Bills, to a literal definition. Following Friday’s injury report, there are 11 players listed with a variety of injuries with even more who required veteran rest days. There have been thoughts that the Bills are taking a Patriots approach in injury reporting in order to confuse New England into having to over-prepare. While there might be a hint of the Patriot Way, the Bills are still dealing with very real injuries that will put several players availability into a game-time decision. Put a pot of coffee on, this is going to be a long one.

Special note:

If you haven’t read already, DT Harrison Phillips tore his ACL at the end of the game last week and has since moved to IR with eventual surgery. This was a big blow to the rotational depth at DT, but he suffered a direct contact ACL tear which are fairly difficulty to avoid. In his place, the Bills brought up former practice squad member DT Kyle Peko. To read more about Phillips, check out my video below & article at Buffalo Rumblings.

https://twitter.com/bangedupbills/status/1176327735444160512?s=21

RULED OUT

TE Tyler Kroft (right foot/left ankle)

Kroft is once again ruled out for the fourth straight week in a row with an injury. He is still recovering from the right foot injury that he suffered a possible Jones fracture back in OTA’s. However, the combination of the right foot fracture and left ankle sprain does not bode well for Kroft trying to return to play. There is a possibility he could return in Week 5 against Tennessee or return in Week 7 after the bye. If I was Brandon Beane, I would hold Kroft out until after the bye because TE Dawson Knox and TE Tommy Sweeney are filling in quite well in his place. 

LB Corey Thompson (ankle)

Thompson, like Kroft, is already ruled out for Sunday due to an ankle injury, later requiring surgery. He was questionable for last Sunday indicating the ankle injury was suffered previously. Reviewing film from Sunday’s win, he played in 6 special teams plays, 2 kick off’s & 4 punt coverage plays. Each play failed to show any possible mechanism of injury. All the plays occurred in the first quarter and he did not appear in the game after that. He may have determined that his ankle was bothering him too badly and declined to continue on which led to the eventual surgery.

I suspect that he had some type of ankle clean out due to possible bone chips or loose bodies from a previous injury. These are fairly routine but do take time to rehabilitate because it is still a surgery, even as minor as it appears. Ideally, with the bye week coming up, he can return quickly and continue his contributions as a key special-teams member.

RULED QUESTIONABLE

LB Maurice Alexander (knee)

Friday was the first instance where Alexander appeared on the injury report. It was reported that he was doing with a sore knee and held out of practice as a precaution. It’s unknown what is causing the knee soreness, but it has officially changed his status for Sunday to questionable. With an effective warmup before the game, he could be ready to play in limited action.

OG Jon Feliciano (neck)

Feliciano has been dealing with a neck injury suffered on the first scoring drive from Sunday. He was knocked over to the left onto C Mitch Morse and hit from the right side from Bengals DT Geno Atkins as he was falling down. He appeared to suffer a whiplash injury and did not return after the 2 point conversion. Later, he was observed wearing a neck brace in the locker room.

He has since been limited in practice the past two days with Friday able to practice in full. However, he is still designated as questionable most likely due to the limited practice days & whether he feels he can go for Sunday. The only way I do not see him playing Sunday is if he has a setback and he would have to make a decision not to play. If he is unable to go, G Ike Boettger or G Ryan Bates could step into his place. He has gone on the record reporting that he feels that he can play Sunday and I expect him to be a full participant.

WR Robert Foster (groin)

He appeared to suffer the groin injury on Wednesday, limiting him for Thursday. As this likely happened in practice, we do not know the severity or how it occurred. Foster has already been dealing with a turf toe injury during preseason dating all the way back to OTA‘s. I do not believe the turf toe is related to the groin. There is difficulty pushing off the toe and performing the movements expected every receiver to perform including twisting, cutting, pivoting, and running/sprinting. This would make everything that much more trying with a groin injury. While he is questionable, he is one guy that I could see inactive as the team already has WR John Brown as a deep threat and WR Cole Beasley underneath in order to keep the Patriots defense guessing.

CB Taron Johnson (right hamstring)

Johnson has been battling back from a hamstring injury suffered in the season opener, missing the past two games. However, he has looked incredibly good in practice from the video obtained from various beat reporters. It does not appear that he’s going full speed, though he appears to be much closer to full speed than others dealing with hamstrings. I have been on record multiple times stating that I believe he will play on Sunday and he’ll be a great matchup for the wide receivers. Expect him to play & be a difference-maker.

OG Spencer Long (ankle)

Long was another late addition to the injury report with a did not participate due to an ankle injury from either Thursday/Friday. Like Foster, we do not know the extent of his injury, nor what caused it. He is ruled questionable; this may be a game-time decision to determine if he feels he can play Sunday.

WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle)

McKenzie was added to the injury report Thursday with a did not participate, but was able to practice in full Friday. Like several mentioned above, we do not know the extent of the ankle injury or how it occurred. There does not appear to be anything on film to suggest that there is an injury; unfortunately injuries are easy to miss due to how TV broadcasts show the game. He is somebody that is likely to play on Sunday.

RB Devin Singletary (left hamstring)

Singletary is one of the key components in the Bills offensive attack early in the 2019 season. He has been electrifying, producing 12.7 yards a carry and showing that he can handle the load left vacant by the sudden cut of veteran RB LeSean McCoy. Unfortunately, Singletary suffered a left hamstring strain late in the win over the Giants. He missed the last game as expected but has looked quite good from video obtained during the week. Since this is a hamstring injury, he is still 50/50 and will likely be a game-time decision depending on how he feels. I have a sneaking suspicion that he will play on Sunday but may be limited to prevent overworking and re-injury of the hamstring.

EXPECTED TO PLAY

WR Zay Jones (shoulder)

Jones made the injury list as a surprise addition early in the week with a shoulder injury. From my previous tweets & observations on Locked On Bills, we know that he has a shoulder injury, but don’t know the severity, side, or type. We know that he had a torn labrum two seasons ago for which he had it repaired and did not appear to have any issues last year. I do not believe this is a recurrence of the injury and there wasn’t anything from the Bengals game to suggest any new injuries. This might be soreness that the team wants to avoid any type of contact to prevent limiting his catch radius. He was not designated questionable and is expected to play Sunday.

CB Tre’Davious White (neck)

White was once again on the injury report with a neck injury now 2 weeks ago. He was wearing a red non-contact jersey Wednesday & Thursday for practice. Thankfully, he was able to practice in full on Friday and did not have an injury designation for the game Sunday. I am still not certain exactly what Tre is dealing with but this might be something that the team is closely monitoring and ensuring that he isn’t injured further in practice. As he is now becoming an established veteran, he has begun to earn these rest breaks and limited play in order to preserve his body.

If you’re still reading, congratulations, you are a true Buffalo Bills fan! I anticipate that there is a little gamesmanship going on to prevent the Patriots from fully knowing who will be playing on Sunday. I expect the inactive list to read as follows: 

Robert Foster

Ike Boettger

Conor McDermott

Ryan Bates

JaQuan Johnson

Tyler Kroft

Corey Thompson 

The only wildcards from this are Feliciano & Singletary. If the Bills are hurting for RB, they can call up RB Byron Marshall or WR Duke Williams if Foster can’t go. This is exactly the reason for depth.

Despite the Patriots being who they are, the Bills are playing at home with a deep and talented roster. I truly believe they have a legitimate shot to win. It will not require perfection, but little to no mistakes to come out victorious. Costly errors will quickly submarine their chances to move to 4-0. If the Bills come out with a W, I expect that New Era Field may shake so hard from the raucous cheering from Bills Mafia that it crumbles to the foundation. LET’S GO BILLS!

 

Preseason Review & Week 1 Bills Injury Preview- Jets

Reviewing the starters preseason injuries & Week 1 injury preview.

Week 1 is days away & the Bills appear to be healthy after a successful preseason. Despite the team reporting that the roster is mostly healthy, several players are still dealing with the effects of the preseason. Below is a list of players who have suffered injuries through the preseason. This is broken into 3 tiers to identify severity level and what to watch out for in the coming weeks.

Minor but noteworthy:

LB Corey Thompson- Groin

Thompson missed the Panthers as the result of a groin strain suffered during the Colts game. Groin injuries can linger if not addressed with rest & rehab. Considering Thompson is a backup & special teams contributor, the likelihood of re-injury is low.

WR Zay jones- Back soreness/hamstring

According to video, Jones appeared to be working through general back soreness early in camp. This was concerning as he had missed minicamp with undisclosed reasons. It was later revealed that he had been dealing with a hamstring issue that did not get re-aggravated during the preseason.

Jones was able to play a various positions during the preseason & played late into games. As a result, there is always concern that he could suffer an overuse injury. Hydration along with proper warm up will can reduce the chances the hamstring flares up.

S Micah Hyde- Neck

Hyde battled a neck injury early in camp, causing him to miss the Colts game. Looking back now, it appears that he suffered a mild strain. This isn’t likely to be a chronic or recurring issue, but still worth taking note. As he’s such a vital part of the secondary, any injury to Hyde is worth watching.

OG Quinton Spain- Thumb surgery/ankle contusion/foot soreness

Spain has battled several injuries since signing with the team in free agency. He first suffered a thumb injury which required surgery. Once training camp began, he dealt with foot soreness early in camp which forced him to miss some time. He appeared to be on the mend & play well until he got stepped on by RB Frank Gore during the Lions game.

This appears to be a bruise to the area that control the foot arch and help to push off during running. These muscles will also be effective in pushing forward to hold during blocking. For Spain, this shouldn’t be a long term issue. The only limitation will be if pain is still affecting him at that time. This shouldn’t be a problem for Week 1, but we don’t know every single bit of info that goes into the decision.

WR Andre Roberts- Quadriceps

Roberts suffered a quadriceps injury sometime during Monday’s practice. McDermott reports that he day-to-day which bodes well for his availability for Sunday. Considering that practice was stretching and individual drills, I suspect that he suffered more of a quadriceps strain. This could have been during a routine drill, stopping suddenly, or jumping for a ball. Without video or specific injury information, my assumption is that he will play Sunday and is out of precaution to ensure that he is healthy.

Worried but should be alright:

CB Tre’Davious White- Quadriceps contusion

White suffered a quadriceps contusion in the Lions game that initially appeared to be worse at first glance. After the injury, he was observed moving around on the sidelines without much difficulty and has since been able to practice without restriction. The quad contusion actually protects him from further injury at the moment as he may not have 100% function, but he won’t be able to push past it and overwork it. This isn’t something that typically lingers either, needs rest and proper healing.

TE Dawson Knox- Hamstring

Knox missed most of the preseason with a hamstring strain suffered early in camp. Hamstrings are tricky as even though they heal, they can be re-injured if the muscle group maxes out & fails. This is the problem as the player may feel good and then suffer a setback. I hope that Knox doesn’t have any further issues, but it’s far from a guarantee.

CB Taron Johnson- Groin

Johnson’s groin in itself isn’t the biggest concern, but rather his past injury history & his style of play. He missed the 2nd preseason game with the groin injury, but was able to play without apparent issues in the 3rd game. Groin issues can reoccur, especially with the positional demands of the cornerback position. However, with his torpedo type tackles and smaller frame, he may suffer further injuries this season unless he puts some finesse on his game to allow him to stay healthy.

G Spencer Long- MCL sprain

Long missed early parts of the preseason with what was described as “knee soreness”. However, he was seen with a compression sleeve followed by a hinge knee brace that provides lateral support to the knee which indicates he may have suffered a mild MCL sprain. These heal up quite well and as Long is a lineman who works in small spaces, he doesn’t rely on the MCL for cutting as much as a RB or CB would need. He shouldn’t have issues from this injury.

OT Ty Nsekhe- Knee sprain

Nsekhe is another player who suffered a “tweak” in his knee that caused him to miss parts of the preseason. On what the tweak is, hard to say without a mechanism of injury or further details. Considering his age and experience in the league, this may have been more precautionary. He, like Long, works in small spaces and should be able to perform his job without difficulty.

Can play, concerned for further issues:

WR Robert Foster- Turf toe/shoulder

Foster had an emergence last season after getting cut early on before changing his attitude and becoming a favorite target of QB Josh Allen’s. Foster was dealing with a shoulder injury early in camp that didn’t limit him but the turf toe that he has battled in the spring returned. Turf toe is a sprain of the great toe joint which is essential for push off during walking & balance. This is essential for sprinting as most of Foster’s activity is short bursts and pivots. He will most likely need a stiff sole or orthosis to restrict movement in the toe and frequent rehab to heal the injury & to prevent it from getting worse. He should be able to play Week 1, but he is coming in not quite 100%.

DE Jerry Hughes- Ankle/R hand/wrist

Hughes dealt with an ankle injury that limited him early in training camp but didn’t appear to be a factor during preseason games. It may have been general ankle soreness but more of a veteran rest injury. As for his wrist, he has worn a brace on the right side but hasn’t missed practice. It appears he injured it sometime during the win over the Panthers. Reviewing game film didn’t reveal any specific instance of injury. Having the wrist in a brace will limit his ability to hand-fight to get inside but shouldn’t affect the ability provide pressure. Wrist sprains in itself aren’t too concerning & should remedy within the next week barring any new information.

OT Conor McDermott- Concussion

While McDermott has been cleared from the concussion protocol, there is always a greater chance that he could suffer a future one later this season. From what I have found, this is his only documented NFL concussion, but his college career regarding injury is unknown. As he is a reserve player, the chances for concussion are less but still present.

C Mitch Morse- Concussion

Much has been said about Morse’s concussion including the moment when he sustained the injury back in late July. He has since cleared the protocol and returned to practice, but this is now his 4th documented concussion. It’s unknown if he will have further issues this season or if he has another concussion, only time will tell.

TE Tyler Kroft- R foot fx

Kroft has been working back from a fracture in his foot suffered during the first day of OTA’s back in the spring. Despite staying on the PUP all preseason, he made the 53 man roster and has been limited in practice though appearing to take part in individual drills. Video has shown the ability to push off the foot with conviction and pivot to turn up the field in the videos shown below. It appears that he will be ready soon, it may be a conditioning limitation at this point until he is fully ready to go. We may see him as soon as Week 3 for the home opener.

Despite the above mentioned players, outside of Roberts & Kroft, the team is actually very healthy. Understand that it will not stay this way, but there are several teams such as the Bengals who have been decimated by injury before Week 1. This can be a special year, the health of key players mentioned above will determine the course of the season.

Bills Season Injury Review- Wide Receivers

2018 Bills season review at the Wide Receiver position including injuries & who is likely to make the roster in 2019.

The 2018 Buffalo Bills WR corps weren’t expected to light up the NFL in any fashion but did have several bright spots from young contributors from which the team can possibly build off of going into 2019. Today’s article will review all the injuries sustained during the 2018 season at the wide receiver position.

A total of 12 players suited up for the Bills throughout the season with varying degrees of success. The total wide receiver statistics were: 149 receptions on 290 targets for 1,989 yards and 11 TD’s. While these stats do not jump off the page, they do represent the wide variety of talent on the roster and will identify who is likely to come back next year.

The first players that will be addressed will be veteran players who suited up for the team but have since been released for a variety of reasons and are unlikely to see 2019 in a Bills uniform. Those included are: WR Jeremy Kerley, WR Terrelle Pryor, WR Andre Holmes, and WR Kelvin Benjamin. Starting off with Kerley, he saw action in one game for the Bills this season before his eventual release. He was initially released to provide DT depth moving forward with plans to bring him back into the fold, but that never materialized. Kerley’s stats were as follows: 1 game, 4 targets for 2 receptions and 7 yards and 0 TD’s. He did not suffer any injuries and is not a player that is expected back next season.

WR Terrelle Pryor spent the first part of the season with the NY Jets and was released due to a groin injury. Once healthy, he was quickly signed by Buffalo appearing in 2 games with 1 rushing attempt for -1 yard, 8 targets for 2 receptions for 17 yards and 0 TD’s. He is also another veteran that did not suffer any injuries while in Buffalo and will not find himself on the Buffalo sideline in 2019.

WR Andre Holmes spent the entire 2017 season with the Bills and part of 2018 until his release late in the season. In the 12 games he appeared in, he started 3 and was targeted 23 times for 12 receptions for 157 yards and 0 TD’s. He was eventually released and picked up by Denver and played sparingly for them until an ankle injury forced him to IR. During his time with the Bills, he did suffer a neck injury that did not force him to miss anytime this year but he has had neck injuries in the past; 2017 saw his season end due to a neck injury. It is possible the Bills could take a look at him during free agency, but unlikely as he is no longer productive and is getting older.

Finally, WR Kelvin Benjamin, the receiver that is one Popeye’s biscuit away from a TE according to Booger McFarland. The much maligned wideout suffered a knee injury and brutal hit to the head during this season that did not force him to miss any games. Despite being available every week, appearing in 12 games and starting 10, Benjamin was only able to amass 62 targets for 23 receptions for 354 yards and 1 TD. The overall lack of production along with many instances in where he did not go all out on plays or fight for contested balls led to his eventual release where he was quickly picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs. However, he was found to be a non-factor in the playoffs and his season ended in the AFC championship game not even seeing one snap. Unless the Bills build a Chick-Fil-A in the team facility, there is no way Benjamin will come back to Buffalo and as a result, the Bills are far better off without him.

Next up is young receivers who could make the roster based on strong training camps in 2019 who include: WR Cam Phillips, WR Da’Mari Scott, WR Victor Boldin, and WR Ray-Ray McCloud.

WR Cam Phillips appeared in 2 games hauling in his only target for 1 reception for 9 yards and 0 TD’s. While his playing time was severely limited this year, it appeared as though the coaching staff were enamored by his abilities which led them to keep him on the practice squad after his initial release from the active roster. He may be a quality depth/special teams player going into the 2019 season and as he did not have any injuries, makes for an attractive, cost effective option moving forward at WR.

WR Da’Mari Scott appeared in 3 games for the Bills after spending most of the season on the practice squad for the Cleveland Browns. While Scott did not record any stats during his time with the Bills, he did contribute to several offensive plays and special teams. Like Phillips, he may be a quality depth/special teams player that the front office wants to keep around going into next season if he has a strong training camp.

WR Victor Bolden was another late season addition to the roster after spending most of his season with the 49ers. Like Scott, he did not produce any offensive stats, only receiving 5 kick returns for a total of 116 yards. Based on what the front office sees in him, he could be another option on special teams moving forward until they find higher quality players.

WR Ray-Ray McCloud was a surprise addition to the roster at the beginning to the season following a knee sprain during the Bears preseason game that forced him to miss 2 games as a result. He was able to come back after fully healing and spent most of his time on special teams appearing in 10 games, starting 1. He had 2 attempts for 4 yards rushing to go along wit 6 targets for 5 receptions for 36 yards. As he was a 6th round pick that did not produce when it counted, he may be a player who has to fight in training camp in order to secure a job next season. I see him as a strong possibility to return but buried on the WR depth chart or relegated to primarily special teams.

Others that saw time at the WR position this season in a limited role was WR Deonte Thompson. The veteran receiver spent time with Buffalo last year before returning after a stint with the Dallas Cowboys. During his time in Buffalo, he appeared in 5 games, starting 2. He was targeted 10 times for 3 receptions and 37 yards with 0 TD’s. He dealt with an Achilles strain shortly after he rejoined the team that did not force him to miss any games. Unfortunately, he later suffered a toe injury in the loss to the Patriots in Week 16 which caused him to miss the season finale. I had suspected that he suffered turf toe or a plantar plate injury which would cause him to miss time but as it was the season finale, the team elected to not dress him and shut him down for the year. That injury moving forward would not affect him going into 2019, however, due to his veteran status and lack of production this year, he may be a candidate that the Bills let hit free agency knowing there’s cheaper options after the draft.

Next is the 3 players that made the most impact in the and are certain to make the roster next year. First up is WR Robert Foster. The UDFA burst onto the Bills roster after an up and down training camp appearing in 13 games with 3 starts garnering 44 targets for 27 receptions and 541 yards with 3 TD’s. Along with the unexpected production, Foster did suffer several injuries including very hard shots to the head/neck area and thigh region that thankfully were not serious.

The most significant injury Foster suffered was what appeared to be a thumb injury in the win over the Jets midway through the season which may have been a dislocated thumb. He exited the game briefly but was able to return with a possible thumb spica and gloves to finish the game. This thumb injury was most likely his most serious injury but should not have any long term impact going into next season. Considering the type of relationship that Foster developed with QB Josh Allen, he appears to be a lock on this roster moving forward.

WR Isaiah McKenzie was incredibly productive after being picked up on waivers from the Denver Broncos midway through the season. He appeared in 7 games with 1 start demonstrating versatility with 10 rushing attempts for 66 yards and 2 TD’s to go along with 30 targets for 18 receptions for 179 yards and 0 TD’s. McKenzie appeared to suffer several serious injuries that required the use of the gator to remove him from the field this season but none of the injuries were even remotely serious. He suffered a toe injury in practice back in December that did not appear to affect his mobility in anyway followed by minor ankle tweaks and cramping in his calf which brought on initial fears of an Achilles tear. Thankfully this was not the case, but due to the violent nature of the game, he got banged up pretty good. However, McKenzie should be able to rest up and prepare his body for another year of pro football and build off his excellent 2018 season.

Finally, the most productive receiver on the Bills this year, WR Zay Jones. He appeared in all 16 games for 15 starts with 102 targets, 56 receptions and 652 yards with 7 TD’s. While at times he was streaky with his production, he took a big step forward in both his statistics and health, avoiding the injury report all together this season after a trying off-season in which he got his labrum in his shoulder repaired along with a bizarre incident in LA which resulted in him cutting his knee open trying to kick through a glass window. That knee injury along with the resulting surgeries did slow his participation in the preseason but he quickly was able to come to form during the regular season. He began to show flashes of why he was able to leave college as the NCAA career leader in receptions and will hopefully be able to build off this going into 2019.

Overall, the wide receiver position will have significant turnover with only Jones, McKenzie, and Foster as locks to return in 2019. Phillips, Scott, Boldin, and McCloud are all practice squad or depth options moving forward, but we have seen every preseason someone make that next leap forward as in the case of Foster. In addition, the Bills signed WR Duke Williams out of the CFL to help shore up the WR corps going into training camp. I believe that the WR position is something that will be addressed somewhat in free agency but will be further addressed in the draft. While there are tempting targets early in the 1st round along with big fish in free agency with Antonio Brown and Golden Tate, I believe Brandon Beane when he says they will be judicious and avoid some of the flashy moves that have put the Bills in a bad spot in years past.

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!!

Preseason Injury Review- Panthers

Reviewing the injuries sustained during the loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Football is back! The Bills opened the 2018 season with a preseason tilt against the Carolina Panthers with an unfavorable outcome in a 28-23 loss. Overall, it appeared as though the Bills played pretty well despite the loss with the QB competition beginning to parse itself out. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained in the Panthers game and what these mean going forward. Thankfully, the Bills didn’t suffer any season ending injuries and move onto next week against the Browns with a healthy roster.

Prior to the game WR Zay Jones, WR Corey Coleman, WR Cam Phillips, LB Corey Thompson, and DE Trent Murphy were all ruled out prior to the game. Jones did not play as he is still recovering from off-season knee surgery and while he is medically cleared, he is not quite ready to participate in full contact football. I expect that he should be ready next week against the Browns once he gets in better shape. It was reported that he was participating in 11-on-11 drills today at practice.

Coleman was ruled out due to his recent trade and inability to learn the offense quickly enough to participate. Prior to the acquisition, it was reported that he was having a strong training camp after initially being slowed up with a hamstring injury. It was not disclosed what Thompson is dealing with and no further information has been revealed since then. Phillips is still dealing with a groin injury sustained late last week in practice and is most likely what is still affecting his availability.

Finally, Murphy has been dealing what appears to be a Grade 1 groin strain. He has been limited in practice over the past week and the team is not willing to let their new DE injure himself further after coming back from an ACL tear which wiped out his entire 2017 season. Expect Murphy to play against the Browns barring any setback.

Following the loss, several players along the defensive line were reported injured which may affect their availability next week. First up is DT Star Lotulelei who suffered a back/neck injury. While I do not have video to fully assess the specifics, I can speculate that he may have sustained a trapezius injury. The trapezius muscle is a large muscle that covers the upper back and neck which provides support to the arms and shoulders which in turn assist in raising the arms. It also assists in extending the neck and adduction of the scapula which allows a person to pinch their shoulder blades together.Trapezius.jpg

I suspect a trapezius injury due to the fact that the muscle covers such a large area, it connects from the head down to middle of the back as seen above and the nature of the injury falls in line with his positional duties. He may have sustained a neck injury which is affecting his upper back with movement. Typically, violent twisting or collisions cause trapezius injuries which could explain the back/neck designation due to the location. Either way, it was reportedly not severe which may limit his practice availability but should be able to play next week.

DT John Hughes suffered a groin injury and while there is not video, it appears to be a Grade 1 strain according to the team. He may ideally need a week off similar to what DE Trent Murphy is going through but Hughes may not have the opportunity to rest as he has not exactly stood out in practice and is in danger of being cut. DT Marquavius Lewis also suffered an ankle injury which may appear to be a mild lateral ankle sprain. This is something that Lewis should be able to play through with some rest and rehab along with taping to support the area.

Finally, WR Brandon Reilly suffered a rib injury as reported. Rib injuries are typically more painful limitations than functional issues. As it was reported not serious, it may be bruised ribs which will require rest and extra padding but could resolve over the next week with no long lasting issues.

Fortunately, the Bills did not suffer any major injuries unlike the Redskins and Colts who suffered ACL tears in their respective games last night. The Bills continue to manage their injuries effectively and have been fortuitous in maintaining their depth players. Expect to see all these players be available for next week against the Browns with continued limited participation from starters.

Continue to follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, and at www.bangedupbills.com. Continue to look for new articles on common NFL injuries and the latest injury news. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Buffalo Bills Training Camp Injury Primer

Reviewing last season’s major injuries and how they will impact the 2018 season.

Training camp is upon us! Thursday is the first full day for the Buffalo Bills to begin training camp at St. John Fisher in suburban Rochester, NY. This training camp, as many others, will shape the 2018 roster. We will see new players rise up to the challenge and find themselves on an NFL roster. Others will experience the heartbreak of falling short of their dreams. Finally, we will see many players whose seasons will end before they even really began due to injury. Today’s post will review some of the high profile Bills players and their previous injuries and what this means going forward. If you would like to listen to the audio version of this article, I appeared on the Cover 1 podcast last night and discussed these injuries, check it out!!

First up is RB Travaris Cadet. The 6th year back was an effective backup behind RB LeSean McCoy and allowed the offense to keep defenses on their toes. Regrettably, Cadet fractured his ankle in a gruesome manner late in the season and was placed on IR. After an injury such as that, there are natural concerns for his ability to recover and rejoin the team. According to what we know regarding the timeline for his recovery, he is fully healed and videos such as this indicate that he is at full health. I do not believe his injury will hold him back; rather his skill may be the biggest detriment as the Bills have loaded themselves up on running back. Look for a full contribution from Cadet and time will tell whether he finds himself on the 53.

Next man up is WR Kelvin Benjamin. The gigantic wideout comes back to the Bills for the final year of his contract and his production this season will determine his future home. Fortunately, Benjamin comes into this season healthy after being limited with a partially torn meniscus sustained in the dumpster fire that was the Chargers game. The 4th year wideout had surgery in the offseason and while he may have issues well after his playing career, he should not have any setbacks in camp as the offending tissue has been excised and rehab fully complete. Hopefully he will have a QB that is more likely to throw, leading to a big season for Benjamin.

Continuing our trend of injured Bills, TE Charles Clay. The 7th year tight end suffered a partially torn meniscus and MCL tear in the loss to Cincinnati but was able to return down the stretch to push the Bills into the playoffs. Clay should not have any limitations following that injury going into training camp. However, he may continue to have issues with his chronic knee condition he has dealt with in previous seasons. I believe this will slow him down but as he has shown in previous seasons, it really does not stop his ability as he has been able to appear in at least 13 games every year over his career. He will need veteran rest days but should be fully healthy in training camp.

DE Trent Murphy enters his first training camp with the Bills after spending the first 4 years with the Redskins. Up until last year, Murphy had shown the ability to provide pressure on the end and get to the quarterback, racking up 9 sacks in the process in 2016. His 2017 season ended quickly with a torn ACL in the preseason opener and was lost for the season and released afterward. Typical ACL recoveries take roughly a year to return to full form and this is evident with Murphy starting the season on the active roster after being limited in OTA’s. He should not be limited due to his previous injury, but he still carries a higher risk to re-tear his graft or tear the other ACL for up to 2 years.

LB Ramon Humber is another veteran returning to camp this season. The 9th year linebacker had a hot start to his season before suffering a broken thumb in the win over the Falcons last season which cost him 3 games. He was able to return and still contribute, but rookie Matt Milano got some game time experience which allowed him to excel in McDermott’s defense and hold onto the starting job. Humber will continue to provide a veteran presence and leadership on this team going into 2018.

Newly acquired CB Vontae Davis comes from the Colts after an injury shortened season in where he suffered a sports hernia, limiting him to 5 games. Davis elected to take the surgery which led to his release from the Colts, but I believe that he made the right choice in order to extend his career. As indicated in the hyperlinked article, 90% of NFL players who suffer a sports hernia are able to return to the NFL after surgery. While talent may differ due to each player, the ability to come back at all is the most important thing. I believe Davis will not miss a step and will actually be an upgrade to former Bill CB E. J. Gaines.

Our final defensive player on this list today is LB Matt Milano. The rookie linebacker out of Boston College outplayed where he was drafted in the 5th round and provided a bright spot at what was a weak linebacker corps. Milano had issues with his hamstrings last season and continued to be limited during OTA’s. He should be at full health coming into training camp but should be eased in slowly, avoiding game speed reps until he is confident that he is ready. I do not expect him to fully avoid re-injury, but limit the severity of the strain if it does occur again. Look for another solid contribution this year barring major injury.

Rounding out this article is WR Zay Jones. The NFL has not been kind to the rookie WR so far in his young career, suffering what appeared to be the yips early in the season. We now know that this was attributed to a labral tear which limited his ability to catch effectively. He had surgery in late January and should be cleared medically. In addition, Jones also had surgery on his knee in mid May. As he was recently placed on the active/non-football injury list, this indicates this injury occurred in the off-season. Whether this is tied to the well publicized hotel incident is in question, we may never know. Once Jones is cleared medically for his knee, he should not have any further complications moving forward. He will need a big season to right the ship and maintain a long career in a Bills uniform.

This wraps up the the major injuries heading into training camp. We will begin to see a host of new injuries, some minor, some major, but Banged Up Bills will be here to report all of those! As a fan, I am looking forward to this upcoming season after such a memorable 2017. Continue to follow on Twitter @BangedUpBills and at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Zay Jones Knee Surgery Speculation

Speculating the type of knee surgery that WR Zay Jones may have had which is forcing him out of spring practices.

This new regime knows how to keep secrets! It appears nothing seems to escape the fortress that is One Bills Drive. This explains why news that WR Zay Jones underwent knee surgery last week which will force him out of the rest of spring practices. Today’s article will attempt to identify what the procedure may have been and explain the timing.

If you recall, Jones had a repair of the labrum in his shoulder which limited his production during his rookie season. Looking at a general protocol following a labral repair, Zay would be in the 3rd phase of his recovery by now according to the timeline as stated in January. By reaching this stage, he would demonstrate the strength required to adequately use crutches to assist in weight bearing following a knee surgery. This would explain why he is having knee surgery now at this time in the off-season rather than immediately such as most other players do. What this knee surgery also tells is us that his shoulder rehabilitation is progressing as expected and should be able to return to full health by the time the regular season rolls around.

As in most cases, we always want to know what type of procedure that the players have. While this is private information for both HIPPA and competitive reasons, I am still able to speculate the type of procedure. The information released is generally vague which indicates Jones escaped serious injury including ACL, MCL, severe meniscus tears, patellar fractures, etc. These types of injuries are almost always reported and would have ramifications regarding his availability for the season.

I believe this injury is related to the injury sustained during the Jets game during their 3 game slide in the middle of the season. If you recall, he hyperextended his right leg as the result of being tripped during a route run. He was later listed on the injury report with an ankle injury which may have bore the brunt of the injury acutely, but he may have suffered minor damage in the knee which may not have affected his production at the time.

Due to the hyperextension, Jones may have suffered a frayed meniscus that could have possibly caused pain, swelling, catching, occasional locking, and general discomfort. He may have also suffered from plica syndrome. This is a condition that is due to to irritated synovial membrane that may be the result of a meniscal tear, repetitive knee bending or straightening, blunt trauma or twisting, or altered knee motion. Both of these issues can be managed conservatively and addressed with physical therapy with effective results. Unfortunately, In Zay’s case, there was apparently not enough progress which warranted surgery.

There were some Twitter trolls who believe this surgery may have been related to his meltdown in Los Angeles in where he was in an altered mental state and attempted to kick through a window and jump out. I do not believe that to be the case as he would have suffered more superficial injuries to his foot, ankle, and lower leg which would have required immediate surgery compared to a scheduled surgery.

McDermott during his press conference noted that this was a procedure that he has needed, he had addressed it during rehab while addressing his shoulder, and that he miss only the spring session. According to the schedule, there are OTA’s until mandatory minicamp from June 12-14. This would give Jones about 4 weeks to recover in order to participate in some fashion, though it was made known he would likely miss minicamp. There is no timeline so in case there are any setbacks, he will not be held to any standard. The average time to recover is 4-6 weeks for both types of surgeries which fit the limited timeline that the Bills suggested missing the spring.

Either way, this is something that should not warrant any complications. It appears he is addressing his injuries, his shoulder is on track with rehabilitation, and looks as though he will be at full health come training camp. It is unfortunate that he has to deal with these issues, but sometimes, this is unavoidable.

Continue to check back for the latest updates at Banged Up Bills. Follow on Facebook at Banged Up Bills and on Twitter @BangedUpBills. As always thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!