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!!

Buffalo Bills Season Injury Review- WR

Assessing the WR corps injuries sustained this season and impact for next season.

Continuing with the off-season coverage of Buffalo Bills position review, today’s post reviews the WR position. As other posts have shown, no position is immune from injury and lots of analysis continues. A total of 7 wide receivers suited up at the position for the team this season with a variety of outcomes this season. First up is WR Kaelin Clay who came over from the Carolina Panthers in a trade during training camp. Clay did not stay long as he saw 4 targets for 1 reception totaling 28 yards. He was shortly released afterward and reclaimed by Carolina. During his time in Buffalo, he did suffer a foot and back injury which possibly contributed to his lack of productivity but did not cause him to miss time. As he returned to Carolina, finding his way back to Buffalo unlikely anytime soon.

WR Brandon Tate saw most of his playing time during special teams in the return game. Tate’s limited playing time at the position saw him targeted 14 times for 6 receptions totaling 81 yards and 1 TD. Thankfully, Tate did not suffer any injuries this season. The 9th year pro’s value remains at the special team position and with his lack of recent injury history remains an appealing target to bring back with his versatility.

WR Andre Holmes became a steady player after coming from the Raiders last season. While he has career low as a regular player totaling 13 receptions for 120 yards and 3 TD’s, he was still a key depth player, appearing in 14 games. Holmes was limited around Thanksgiving with an ankle injury that he was able to play through. Unfortunately, the 7th year veteran suffered a neck injury which sent him to injured reserve. It is undetermined what type of neck injury Holmes dealt with. Neck injuries are a hot button in Buffalo at the moment with C Eric Wood forced to end his playing career and former S Aaron Williams announcing his retirement shortly after. My educated guess is that Holmes strained several muscles in his neck and wasn’t responding well to treatment, forcing the team shut him down. He still has 2 years left on a 3 year contract at an affordable rate which allows the Bills to bring him back for depth. Pending his neck injury, he should find his way onto New Era Field next season.

Next up is WR Deonte Thompson. The 8th year pro was quite productive after coming over to the Bills after being cut by Chicago earlier in the season. Playing in 11 games, he was able to snag 27 receptions for 430 yards and 1 TD. While none of these numbers are eye popping, the receivers as a whole were down due to QB Tyrod Taylor’s limited passing abilities. Thompson suffered several injuries throughout the season including an ankle injury sustained during the Chargers loss in which he attempted to catch a ball while going out of bounds. Towards the end of the season Thompson suffered a nondescript back injury during the first Patriots game. He then suffered a shoulder injury that was either identified later in the week or injured in practice which placed him on the injury report but did not cause any time missed. As Thompson is getting older and a unrestricted free agent, roster turnover will determine if he returns. As he earned the veteran minimum for his experience, he may command more money in free agency but an affordable option to bring back for next season.

Assessing the receivers who have some injury questions for next season include WR Jordan Matthews. The 5th year pro suffered a series of injuries that eventually landed him on IR for the end of the season. Starting off, Matthews sustained a chip fracture during the first practice after he was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia. The chip fracture limited his ability to participate during the preseason but he was able to return to start the season. After getting used to the offense, Matthews sustained a thumb fracture during the crucial win over the Falcons. Matthews only missed one week and was able to return far faster than anyone had expected. This is another injury that will not cause any issues next season.

However, Matthews’ knee landed him on IR and while there is not one particular injury that landed him there, it may have been a recurrence of knee tendonitis he was dealing with during the early parts of training camp when he was still with the Eagles. This knee injury may determine how much he can command on the open market. His stats for the season included 27 receptions for 282 yards and 1 TD may limit his bargaining power considering he is in the same class as former Bill Sammy Watkins, along with Odell Beckham Jr., & Mike Evans. Considering his contemporaries, he could command more money than what the Bills are willing to pay and I expect the front office to move on from Matthews.

WR Zay Jones suffered an up and down rookie season which is not uncommon for a new player to the NFL. Unfortunately, expectations may have been set too high as he came out of college as the all time leader in receptions which did not initially translate well to the NFL. Jones’ stats were similar to other receivers on the team with 27 receptions for 316 yards and 2 TD’s. A slow start to the season along with several now known injuries were contributing factors to his lackluster season. Jones suffered an low ankle sprain which had appeared to be a severe knee injury during the Jets game. Thankfully, his knee hyperextended and his ankle absorbed the brunt of the force causing the sprain. This did not force him to miss additional games outside of some plays in an ugly loss to the Jets.

The unknown injury that came out after the season in an interview with Zay’s father revealed a torn labrum in what was possibly his left shoulder. He did appear on the injury report during the last week of October but this did not force him to miss anytime. My article on his injury appears here, please take the time to read. He has since had successful surgery to fix the tear and should be back in time for the regular season. He will continue to be an integral piece of the offense and production should increase if the QB position improves.

Finally, WR Kelvin Benjamin was the biggest acquisition by the Bills this season of unexpected trades. Upon arriving to Buffalo, Benjamin never really took off, injuring his knee in his 2nd game against the Chargers which resulted in a partially torn meniscus. Missing 2 games to rehab and recover, he was able to return against the Colts and play through the injury for the rest of the season. His production, 16 receptions for 217 yards for 1 TD, was limited as expected but playing through the injury did not cause further injury. He has since had successful knee surgery to shave down the partial tear and will be able to return in time for OTA’s. As for injury risk next year, his previous ACL tear is more of a long term concern to re-injure than the meniscus tear. Benjamin will be back next year and pending salary cap ramifications, I hope the Bills find a way to keep him long term.

The Bills WR corps will look different next year with the exception of Jones, Holmes, and Benjamin. There is the possibility of Thompson coming back along with futures contracts of WR Malachi Dupre, WR Quan Bray, and preseason favorites WR Brandon Reilly and WR Rod Streater. In addition, the Bills also had WR Jeremy Butler on injured reserve due to a concussion during the preseason. The Bills are building something to create more stability in the offense and give either QB Tyrod Taylor or whoever the new Bills QB will be more weapons to energize the offense and build off the anemic passing offense of 2017.

Continue to check back with me regarding injury updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Zay’s Shoulder Struggles

Discussing Zay Jones recent shoulder diagnosis, types of dislocations and causes, and expected outcomes following surgery.

As the NFL continues to maintain the fans attention year round, constant news is churned out that help shed light on players issues during the season and provide answers to questions not fully explained. New information regarding Zay’s rookie season has brought up courtesy of the most recent The Bills Wire podcast. In the latest episode, managing editor Rob Quinn interviewed Robert Jones, Zay’s father, who revealed Zay had played his entire rookie season with a torn labrum in his shoulder.

What makes this comment interesting is the fact that Jones only appeared with a shoulder injury as a full participant in practice at the end of October before the Jets game. This issue was never publicly identified as a complaint until this interview. Today’s post will identify and discuss what the labrum is and its role in shoulder movement, how it possibly affected his play, and long term outlook following his upcoming surgery.

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Credit: http://gomidwestsports.com/surgical-procedures/labral-tear/

The labrum is a fibrous layer of tissue in the shoulder that deepens the socket in which the head of the humerus articulates with the glenoid fossa of the scapula. This allows for stabilization to the moving shoulder joint and prevents the joint from separating. Other structures including ligaments, rotator cuff, and connective tissue allow for additional support. Finally, the long head of the biceps tendon feeds into the glenoid and serves as an attachment for the biceps to contract. All these structures together help make up the shoulder joint and maintain stability through motion.

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Credit: moveforwardpt.com

The labrum can be torn by many different ways due to the structure of the joint. As with other joints, with increased mobility, there is decreased stability. Ways a shoulder can dislocate include a direct blow to the front of the shoulder, fall on outstretched hand also known as FOOSH which can cause posterior dislocations. In cases of anterior dislocation, extreme distraction to the area such as sudden pulling or placing the shoulder in extreme end ranges in external rotation and abduction. To picture this movement, envision the cock-backed position of the arm when throwing an object.

As a result of the shoulder dislocating, there is tearing of the labrum. There are various types of tears including SLAP tears or Bankart lesions and Hill-Sachs lesions, but not knowing the mechanism of injury prevents us from identifying specifically which lesion Jones suffered. However, upon dislocating, there is concern for damage to the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles to the surrounding area. The head of the humerus could pinch on one of those structures and cause long term issues if not addressed immediately. Once x-rays are taken and corresponding symptoms are assessed, the joint may be reduced and stabilized.

Most dislocations occur anteriorly with the literature stating that 97% occur in this manner. The remaining 3% are classified as posterior. When a dislocation occurs, the joint surfaces that articulate with each other become dislodged and remain separated until they are reduced manually. There are instances where the joint partially dislocates and relocates by itself which is defined as subluxation. In either instance, this creates damage and further instability leading to the possibility of future complications.

In Zay’s case, it was mentioned that he suffered the same injury in college during the 2015 season. While his father did not identify which shoulder he damaged, I will assume that he re-injured the same shoulder which according to the above posted article is the left shoulder. Jones did have surgery to repair the shoulder in college but due to the nature of the joint, it is very possible to re-tear the labrum on the same side, which appears to be the case. Unfortunately, the tissue in the area cannot be reinforced by other means which forces the surgeon to sew up and anchor the available tissue and immobilize in order to heal.

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Credit: http://www.shouldersandknees.com/labrum-tear.html

It is possible to surgically repair the area if it tears multiple times. However, repeated tears to the labrum has been described to me as trying to sew water together by an orthopedic surgeon as there becomes less and less tissue available to fix. Following surgery to anchor the tear down, immobilization in a sling allows the tissue to begin healing is typically the first step followed by range of motion and strengthening of the area to stabilize the area. This is followed by dynamic stability and strengthening with return to function over a 6-9 month period.

It is unknown when Jones suffered his torn labrum but due to his position, he was able to play with greater ease compared to QB Andrew Luck who had missed all of 2017 due to post surgical complications with the same injury. Had Jones suffered acute symptoms of the tear during the season, immediate pain and instability would have been present along with difficulty with overhead movements and weakness during resisted movements. This would have translated to difficulty creating separation between defensive players and himself along with trouble hauling in catches due to decreased strength of the affected arm.

The above mentioned complaints are the kind of symptoms that would have landed any player on the injury report. It is possible that these issues led to his early season struggles, but not confirmed. Jones could have also suffered the injury during the season and not initially been aware of the severity which could explain why he did not spend time on the injury report. It was reported that the tear was found at a routine end of season MRI.

Returning to comments made by Robert Jones, specifically, if Zay were to pick up a glass of water, his arm could dislocate; this is highly unlikely and hyperbole. A shoulder that has suffered a torn labrum that repeatedly dislocates can demonstrate significant instability which could eventually lead to minimal forces required to dislocate. However, picking up a glass of water would unlikely dislocate a shoulder as muscles of the upper arm and forearm primarily control this action . If his arm did dislocate this easily, he would no longer be playing football and he would have had many other conservative interventions prior to letting it get that severe. Adding in the fact that in between dislocations, the body is constantly trying to heal, laying down scar tissue to stabilize the area.

As Jones is a professional athlete, instability in a violent sport does not equal long term success when it comes to health. This surgery will assist in stabilizing the area and hopefully prevent any further issues. Thankfully, Jones should be able to return to full form in time for training camp and have no setbacks. He should not experience the issues that Andrew Luck had as he does not have to throw the ball or place his shoulder in extreme positions.

This injury news was totally unexpected, but it is common for NFL players to play through injuries varying in severity and still perform at a high level. I have full confidence that Jones will return to full health and build off his sub-par rookie season. Continue to check back for articles including Kelvin Benjamin’s meniscectomy and other procedures including possible surgical interventions for Cordy Glenn. Follow me on Twitter @kyletrimble88 for updates, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Kelvin Benjamin’s Meniscus Tear

Detailing Kelvin Benjamin’s knee injury, causes and types of meniscus tears, and expectations for the rest of the season.

Big news coming out of One Bills Drive today! It has been reported that WR Kelvin Benjamin suffered a meniscus tear during the 1st quarter of the disastrous Chargers game last week and will be out multiple weeks per reports. Benjamin was unable to return following the hit and had already had ligament damage ruled out via MRI. This is another blow to the WR corps that has been inconsistent this season due to the inability of Tyrod Taylor to move the ball effectively, opting for check-down passes to his RB’s. Today’s post will analyze Benjamin why suffered a meniscus tear, types of meniscus tears, and expectations for the rest of the season.

The meniscus lies over the tibia and acts as a shock absorber between the tibia and femur. It is made up two wedge shaped areas to assist in deepening the area that the femur articulates with the tibia. During meniscus tears, a rotational force is applied to the area while the knee is bent and causes a shearing motion, causing a portion of the meniscus to tear.

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Credit: physio-pedia.com

There are various types of tears which include but are not limited to: complete or partial, horizontal or vertical, longitudinal or transverse. Acute tears are more likely to present as longitudinal/bucket handle and radial tears. It is very hard to determine the type of meniscal tear that occurred, but may be a longitudinal/bucket handle tear upon video review. The knee was hit from the front and partially to the outside, causing hyperextension to his knee. As mentioned above, a rotational force or bent knee is far more likely to cause the tear. In Kelvin Benjamin’s case, a hyperextended knee caused the tear, but is usually less likely.

Symptoms of a meniscal tear typically consist of pain, tenderness, and swelling, locking or clicking during knee movement, and initially difficulty in placing weight through the knee. Meniscal tears are typically seen in conjunction with MCL sprains/tears and ACL tears due to the rotational forces through the knee during impact. Thankfully, Benjamin’s injury was isolated to only the meniscus and did not affect other structures.

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Credit: physio-pedia.com

The type of tear can affect healing rates: longitudinal tears heal better than radial; simple tears heal better than complex; traumatic and acute tears heal better than degenerative. Based on location and length of tear will determine management. The meniscus has several “zones of vascularity” which include: red-red zone, red-white zone, and white-white zone. The red-red zone has the highest blood supply and lie on the outermost portion of the meniscus. The red-white zone is the area that connects the red-red and white-white zone and contains some blood supply. The white-white zone has a poor blood supply and demonstrate the poorest area for healing. If the tear is small, conservative management or a meniscectomy may be performed to remove to remove the offending piece. If the tear is larger, then a suture repair of the meniscus is warranted and an extended rehab is required. As Benjamin is slated to miss weeks, this appears to be a minor tear and could come back this season.

I’m sure most people’s thoughts are why WR Zay Jones did not sustain the same injury that Benjamin did? Why Benjamin tore a portion of his meniscus and not WR Zay Jones against the Jets game is certainly confusing. My thought is that Jones got tripped , attempted to regain his footing, and merely fell; Benjamin got hit while his foot was planted causing more of a shearing motion, causing the tear. Whether Benjamin has surgery or not, he will be out several weeks. How long Benjamin is out is unknown at this time, but I foresee him missing most likely a month. Could he come back sooner such as 2-3 weeks? Possibly but highly unlikely pending the location of the tear. He could attempt to rehab without surgery which does show good results compared to surgical intervention but this is the NFL and time is a premium. If he were to be out a month, he could return by the 1st Dolphins or 2nd Patriots game if there is still playoff hope if his recovery went incredibly well.

Finally, Benjamin did suffer a knee injury earlier this season with the Panthers but I do not believe that he was traded to the Bills with a torn meniscus. His play would have been greatly affected and team doctor’s would have caught that. Add in the fact that the knee he hurt this season was on the other side and that was his surgically repaired ACL. There is also delays in reporting of the injury due to the fact that additional imaging is sometimes required along with a clinical evaluation and testing once swelling has reduced. Most likely, the team was waiting to see if the knee would resolve on its own or whether anything would present itself after several day.

The approach should be to rehab him with the hopes that the Bills are still in the hunt. If they fall out of contention, shut him down for the year. Even with the best rehab and doctors, his body still needs to heal and return to playing form. While QB Tyrod Taylor has not built up the rapport that he has with other receivers, it is still a starting caliber receiver that is not able to contribute.

Continue to check back regarding further updates and injuries following the Bills game. Follow me on Twitter at @kyletrimble88 for the latest updates and news. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!