Buffalo Bills wide receiver Jordan Matthews is only two-and-a-half weeks removed from thumb surgery, but he’s officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s tilt against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn both practiced fully today, which headlines the Friday injury report.
Without Matthews and tight end Charles Clay (who will not play on Sunday), the Bills’ offense struggled mightily in their 20-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago. Matthews hasn’t been a dominant force, with only ten catches for 162 yards and a touchdown in three-plus games this year, but he’s a dependable target on a team that is severely lacking them right now. The Bills did sign Deonte Thompson this week, but the return of Matthews would be a much bigger development.
Linebacker Ramon Humber, who is also recovering from thumb surgery performed after the Bills’ Week 4 win against the Atlanta Falcons, is the only other player ruled out for Sunday. Matt Milano will start his second straight game in Humber’s place, although defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has made it clear that the job is Humber’s when he’s healthy again.
The only other players listed as questionable for Sunday are cornerbacks E.J. Gaines (groin) and Leonard Johnson (hamstring). Gaines missed the Bengals game, while Johnson only saw limited action before leaving early on, leaving the Bills extremely shorthanded at cornerback. While Shareece Wright remains the most likely fill-in for Gaines, Greg Mabin is now on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad. Both starting safeties have cornerback experience, but the defense would be better served by having Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde in their normal roles. For what it’s worth, both Gaines and Johnson have been full participants at practice for the last two days after a limited session on Wednesday.
Glenn, who has slowly been coming back into the fold and was active against the Bengals (although he didn’t see the field with the offense), was a full-go at practice all week and is not on the injury report. Regardless of his health, it remains to be seen whether he reclaims the left tackle job from rookie Dion Dawkins.
On the Buccaneers’ side, the biggest injury by far is the right shoulder of quarterback Jameis Winston. He was limited on Wednesday and Thursday before practicing in full on Friday, and although he’s listed as questionable Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said that Winston will start on Sunday.
Aside from Winston, two key Tampa linebackers are listed as questionable but should play on Sunday. Kwon Alexander (hamstring) hasn’t played since Tampa’s season-opening win over the Chicago Bears, while Lavonte David (ankle) returned to the field last week after missing two games.