Hello bye week!! What an exciting season so far for the Buffalo Bills! They’re 4-1, and it appears the bye is perfectly timed with the onslaught of injuries the team has been able to withstand so far. Today’s article won’t necessarily be a total season review of all the injuries thus far, but the most recent ones on offense and how the Bills will look coming out of the bye.
QB Josh Allen (concussion/left thumb)
Allen suffered his concussion during the loss to the New England Patriots, but miraculously came back to lead the Bills to a decisive win in Nashville. During the game, he was much more cautious and protective of the ball. The only injury observed was a left thumb injury due to hitting Titans LB Harold Landry III’s shoulder pad immediately following his interception.
Thankfully, this is his non-throwing hand and it didn’t appear to affect his overall play. A week’s rest should resolve any issues in the area, which is likely a contusion. If there are any lingering issues, a brace would suffice to protect the area. As for his concussion, he was cleared to play and that was the right move, but a week off will only help his health.
WR Robert Foster (groin/turf toe)
Foster continues to show little to no progress following his breakout rookie year in 2018. Foster has been injured most of the year dealing with a turf toe that was re-aggravated late in training camp. To add to this, Foster recently suffered a groin injury late in the week prior to the Patriots game.
It’s possible the turf toe contributed to the groin strain. Having the turf toe, regardless of side, will prevent Foster from running full speed, cutting, and pivoting. This would also make slowing down more difficult as humans run on the balls of their feet when sprinting. Not having the ability to accept weight through the big toe could have led to difficulty decelerating or slowing down. This could have resulted in a groin injury by compensating in using the hip and knee to overcome the lack of ability to slow down properly through the foot.
Groin injuries can linger. They can take a while to heal and they can be problematic. It’s unknown if Foster would have been able to play Sunday, but considering the field was slick, this would have led to him possibly making things worse.
As for whether he will be healthy after the bye, the jury is still out. An extra week will help, but his status won’t be known until he can begin to practice in full.
OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)
The veteran lineman has been dealing with an ankle injury the past three weeks, causing him to miss the Titans game. To recap, Nsekhe suffered a right ankle injury during the Cincinnati Bengals game late in the third quarter when he was bull rushed backwards, causing him to jam his right ankle. He was able to complete the rest of the Bengals game and play during the Patriots game in his continued rotation with OT Cody Ford.
During the Patriots game late in the first quarter, Nsekhe was involved in a routine run play where he got knocked over. Unfortunately, when he fell down, OT Dion Dawkins stumbled over Nsekhe’s right ankle, stepping on it before falling over. This caused him to leap up in pain before falling over again. Unfortunately, stepping on the ankle fits the mechanism for a high-ankle sprain. He could also be dealing with a contusion, similar to what OT Quinton Spain suffered in the preseason.
If it’s a high-ankle sprain, it appears to be mild as Nsekhe was able to finish playing while rotating with Ford. Typically high-ankle sprains can take 4-6 weeks to recover, but can have shorter timelines if mild or even be played through in the case of QB Patrick Mahomes. If it’s a contusion, it is realistic that he won’t have any issues following the bye. The Week 3 ankle injury may not have been fully healed and certainly didn’t help the most recent injury, but I don’t believe that it caused the high-ankle/contusion.
The reason Nsekhe could play through the high-ankle injury is due to the fact that he plays in smaller spaces and doesn’t require the dynamic mobility required of a running back or receiver. It still wouldn’t be ideal to try and play through it if he’s still having issues.
TE Tyler Kroft (foot/ankle)
Kroft has become an albatross to the Bills’ fan base, highly touted but hasn’t been available to live up to expectations. Kroft suffered what now appears to have been a right Jones fracture on the first day of Phase 3 OTA’s with a 3-4 month recovery timeline. He was progressing towards the lower end of the time frame and was practicing in full briefly before a low-ankle sprain on the left knocked him out for another three games and counting.
Normally low-ankle sprains can be played through, but considering this would place extra stress on the surgically repaired right side, the team isn’t taking any chances. Kroft should be able to play in full coming off the bye. (Key word: should.) However, he will need three straight full practices before I can be confident he’ll be cleared to play.
RB Devin Singletary (hamstring)
Singletary has been working back from a left hamstring injury sustained in the win over the New York Giants. He was close to playing in the Patriots game and most likely would have played in the Titans game if not for the rainy weather. He’s someone who shouldn’t have any issues coming back after the bye and should be fully healthy. On average, most Bills players during the McDermott era have missed 2-3 games dealing with hamstring strains. Like Kroft, he will require a full week’s worth of practice to ensure he plays.
Sean McDermott admits bye week played a part into keeping both Devin Singletary and Taron Johnson out of yesterday's game. #Bills— Jon Scott (@JonScottTV) October 7, 2019
OG Jon Feliciano (neck/right leg contusion)
Feliciano continues to earn his paycheck every week as an outstanding member of the offensive line. He suffered a neck injury that presented as a whiplash injury following the Bengals win and did not miss any games as a result. He also suffered a right leg contusion on QB Josh Allen’s interception from Sunday. This was the result of attempting to tackle Titans S Kevin Byard. Unfortunately, Feliciano fell down prior to tackling Byard and OT Dion Dawkins got knocked down, falling onto Felciano’s right leg. The time the defense was on the field was enough for him to recover and he didn’t miss a snap.
The week off will help with any bumps and bruises along with giving his neck further time to rest so he doesn’t have any recurrence or injury in the area. He shouldn’t show up on the injury report come next Wednesday.
C Mitch Morse (ankle)
Morse, the prized center from Kansas City, suffered a right ankle injury midway through the second quarter of Sunday’s win. On video, it appears that he gets stepped on by RB Frank Gore attempting to get open for a pass or struck similar to what occurs during a leg whip. The rest of the game showed Morse keeping loose on the sidelines, possibly able to go back in.
Monday’s press conference indicated that the ankle is not serious and that he could have returned to play if he was absolutely needed. Based on that information, it seems as though he has a contusion, similar to what OT Quinton Spain dealt with in the preseason. I don’t believe that this will cause him to miss any time following the bye.
OT Cody Ford (concussion)
Ford sustained a concussion during Sunday’s win on a play where he received a holding penalty despite getting pulled down, slamming head-first into the turf. I originally thought he had the wind knocked out of him, but he was later diagnosed with a concussion. A full week off plus a week of practice may be enough to work through the protocol, but we won’t know how far he is until he is back on the practice field. There is no guarantee he goes through the protocol quickly & each concussion is different.
Overall, the offense should be coming back quite healthy. I have no concerns about Allen, Singletary, Feliciano, or Morse. I’m also fairly confident with Nsekhe in his ability to return. I’m cautiously optimistic about Kroft and Ford being able to play against the Miami Dolphins if they’re able to practice. Foster is the only one I could see missing more time than the bye week, though I don’t believe his recovery time would be much longer than past the Philadelphia Eagles game.
To get eight of nine starters nearly guaranteed back on offense would be ideal for the remaining 11 games. Regardless of who won’t be ready or gets injured later, these past five games have shown the depth this team has and their ability to play effective football despite injury. This team will be tested again and again, but I don’t expect them to break.