Training camp for the Buffalo Bills is about to begin and outside of the team story lines, everyone wants to know about injuries including who’s healthy, who isn’t, and how the backups are in case of injury. Most of the concerns about last year’s injuries have been addressed in the offseason but those coming out of mini camp are more of an acute nature. Part 1 of the training camp injury preview will outline concerns on the offensive side of the ball going into camp Thursday, and identify who may be still be limited.
The first four players listed below do not have any information regarding why they were not participating in mandatory mini camp.
WR Zay Jones
Going in order, Zay Jones has had knee, ankle, and shoulder issues in the past but those are well over a year ago, none which should have a lasting effect considering he participated in OTAs. There’s an expectation that he’ll take the next step as a wide receiver in 2019, so any time spent recovering from an injury during training camp would not be ideal.
G Jon Feliciano
Jon Feliciano had a calf injury in 2018 that sent him to the IR with three games left, however, muscle injuries heal up rather quickly with rest and rehab. To make matters more confusing, he was participating in full during OTAs and no mention of injury arose.
G Ike Boettger
Ike Boettger has become a developmental player for the Bills this past season appearing in four games towards the end, but has no NFL injury history. In college he had a left ankle injury in 2015 and a torn Achilles in 2017, causing him to miss parts of seasons for both injuries. It’s possible he could have been dealing with soreness or a strain from the Achilles, but that’s the only possibility outside of unreported injuries.
OT Ty Nsekhe
Finally, Ty Nsekhe comes over from Washington and has bounced around the league since 2009. The only injury he had from last season was a knee injury that cost him two games. Normally, older players have required rest days but to miss the entirety of minicamp is questionable. Along with six weeks of recovery, Thursday should tell us if he’s dealing with something.
Moving to the known injuries:
TE Jason Croom: Hamstring
WR David Sills V: Hamstring
Both Jason Croom & David Sills were dealing with hamstring injuries going into the break. Sills suffered his during rookie OTAs but later participated in minicamp. Croom suffered his during Phase 3 OTAs and it caused him to miss minicamp. Croom was seen on video running through activities without restriction, which indicated that not practicing was more of a precaution. Hamstrings can become chronic if not treated correctly, but with six weeks off plus proper rehab, there should be no restrictions come Thursday for either player.
Bills have plenty of players either not practicing or limited. But looks like positive steps for all three of these pass catchers: pic.twitter.com/SofCBb4VQb— Sal Capaccio (@SalSports) June 12, 2019
WR Robert Foster: Foot
Robert Foster was dealing with a foot injury that prevented him from participating in mini camp, but video during that time showed that it was likely minor as he was still running without any noticeable limp. As to the exact injury, it’s hard to identify without seeing specific compensation patterns or mechanism of injury. Whatever it was, it may have been something that was aggravated by top-speed movements but should not be a concern come Thursday.
Robert Foster is out here jogging and walking the field under the eye of a trainer. So that’s positive news. McDermott said he’s out with a foot injury. pic.twitter.com/5cqvVxoU45— Sal Capaccio (@SalSports) June 11, 2019
OT Jeremiah Sirles: Foot fracture
Jeremiah Sirles was also dealing with a foot injury that appears now to be a possible metatarsal fracture. According to specific details from former ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak, this occurred at the beginning of June. This is supported by the fact that he limped off the field, then was in a short cast walking boot several days at the ACES Bowling Benefit on June 8th. As a result, he did not participate in minicamp. To support this theory further, on July 15th, he had a picture during his baby shower showing him without a boot identifying the proper management and progression of the metatarsal fracture rehab.
I especially enjoyed chatting with @Sirles71_HSKR about his good boy golden retriever and @ChristianWade3 about transitioning to American football! It was really a great day all around! #ACESBowlingBenefit pic.twitter.com/vuBNagEeI1— Yunker (@yunkadunk1) June 8, 2019
Had an absolutely amazing time last night at our diaper fiesta! I want to thank everyone who came out to celebrate with us and a HUGEEE s\o to my wife @esirles06 for hosting such a fun evening! 2 week countdown baby boy, we are waiting. pic.twitter.com/2AjN3jEdIn— Jeremiah Sirles (@Sirles71_HSKR) July 14, 2019
As this injury occurred early June, he is still about two weeks out from the bone fully healing by the time training camp starts. During this time, he’s still able to do biking, pool workouts, and upper-body lifting—basically anything that won’t put stress through the healing foot. Regrettably, Sirles has since been placed on IR, meaning he won’t be able to be activated until Week 9 if the team designated him to return. He could be released with an injury settlement before that but I believe the team has Sirles in their plans and may hold onto him until he is ready to play.
TE Tyler Kroft: Foot fracture
Tyler Kroft continues to work back from a broken foot he suffered on the first day of OTAs in May. While there aren’t specific details regarding the injury, he did injure the same foot from last year while with the Cincinnati Bengals, which sent him to the IR with eventual surgery. Kroft broke the foot and required further surgery leading to a three- to four-month recovery timeline consistent with a Jones fracture. He will be roughly two months out from the surgery on Thursday, which puts him on pace to be able to begin participating with activities in late August. He’s starting on the PUP list to work back into full participation mode before attempting to step back on the field. He can come off PUP anytime during training camp, but if he starts the regular season on PUP, he would not be eligible to return until Week 6. This would be the best move going forward, both from roster management and Kroft’s health.
RB Frank Gore: Foot/ankle/unknown
Frank Gore continues to play football at the ripe age of 36, when most of his contemporaries have hung up their helmets. Gore missed the last twp games of the 2018 season for the Miami Dolphins with a foot/ankle injury that limited him in 2019 OTAs. However, he was a full participant in minicamp as evident in this video. Unfortunately, Gore was placed on the Non-Football Injury list Monday. This signifies that he injured something that’s considered “minor” outside of football activities over the past six weeks. What it could be is anyone’s guess. There’s video of Gore boxing at the beginning of July, which narrows down the timeline a little but, still, no specifics noted. According to new ESPN Bills beat reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques, this designation is to limit the wear on his body. We will have to play it by ear until more information is available.
I'm told Bills RB Frank Gore is "fine" despite being added to the Non Football Injury list. This is an effort to limit the wear on his body in what will be his 15th NFL season.— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel_LJ) July 23, 2019
Expect increased opportunity for 2019 third-round pick Devin Singletary https://t.co/t56Uh9g1vK
C Russell Bodine: Shoulder surgery
Moving onto Russell Bodine, he was coming off shoulder surgery from an injury late in the 2018 season. He was observed wearing a neoprene sleeve over the shoulder towards the end, which makes me believe he was dealing with pain and inflammation. He had surgery to most likely clean out the shoulder and prevent further deterioration to the joint. They may have shaved down the acromion, he may have had some arthritic changes in the shoulder, or he may have had some loose bodies floating around in the shoulder. Either way, he should be ready for camp.
C Mitch Morse: Core muscle surgery
WR Cole Beasley: Core muscle surgery
Mitch Morse and Cole Beasley both had core muscle injuries that required surgery shortly after signing their contracts. Both did not miss time with these injuries last season but missed all of OTAs and minicamp with the exception of Morse who caught the tail end of minicamp. Both will be fully available for training camp.
RB T.J. Yeldon: Groin
T.J. Yeldon was dealing with a groin injury that was more precautionary in managing than actually limiting. Groin strains can be tricky and painful but the time off should have helped him recover fully.
OT Quinton Spain: Thumb surgery
Finally, Quinton Spain was dealing with a thumb injury that required surgery in late May. He may have dealt with skier’s thumb or a simple thumb fracture, both which would require surgery to stabilize. While he did miss minicamp as a result, he really shouldn’t be limited during training camp. He may have protection such as bracing to ensure full healing and prevent future injury.
While there are a lot of injuries and unexpected news to account for from OTAs & mini camp, all the players with the exception of Kroft, Sirles, and Gore should be cleared in full to hit the ground running. This is an exciting season to be hopeful for and barring any big injuries, should really see the Bills take that next step in their development towards the goal of a championship.