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Injury analysis: Buffalo Bills LBs Tyrell Adams and Marquel Lee

Both bring questionable injury concerns to the Bills

NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Rams at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Far from done, the Buffalo Bills signed a pair of veteran linebackers on Wednesday in Tyrell Adams and Marquel Lee. This comes on the heels of last season where it was evident that the linebacker depth wasn’t adequate when Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano went down for various ailments.

While both are expected to compete for backup positions, each player comes with injury concerns that are not that clear-cut, making their projection to make the roster and durability a question. Below are each player’s publicly known injury histories:


Tyrell Adams

2015 Seattle Seahawks/Kansas City Chiefs

UDFA out of West Georgia. Spent time with both the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs on their respective practice squads. No publicly reported injuries.

2016 Chiefs/Raiders

Spent time with both the Chiefs and Oakland Raiders practice squads, appeared in 6 games with Raiders, no publicly reported injuries.

2017 Raiders/Bills

Appeared in 6 games with the Raiders before getting cut following Week 6. Picked up on waivers by Buffalo before getting cut due to a failed physical, did not play the rest of the season. We don’t know why he failed the physical, but he didn’t play again in 2017.

2018 Indianapolis Colts/Houston Texans/San Francisco 49ers/Texans

Signed in offseason to Colts, placed on IR following training camp. Signed by the Texans in October of that year, placed on IR three weeks later. Signed to the 49ers practice squad in November before being re-signed to the Texans in December. Appeared in four total games with Texans over two stints.

2019 Texans

Appeared in 5 games towards the end of the season, with no publicly reported injuries.

2020 Texans

Appeared in 16 games, with no publicly reported injuries.


Marquel Lee

2017 Raiders

Fifth-round draft pick by Raiders out of Wake Forest. Appeared in 13 games, missed three games in Week 5 due to what appeared to be a high ankle sprain on the right side based on the video.

2018 Raiders

Appeared in 16 games, with no publicly reported injuries.

2019 Raiders

Appeared in 5 games, suffered a left ankle injury in Week 3, appeared to be a high ankle sprain by video, placed on injured reserve. Lee also notes that his injury was similar to his ankle injury during his rookie year which supports this thought. Returned Week 14, suffered a toe injury possibly prior to return, side not specified. Missed Weeks 16 and 17, went back to IR to end the season.

2020 Raiders

Surgery in offseason June 26, 2020 on right ankle. Was placed on PUP list, waived several days later with a failed physical designation, and didn’t play in 2020. The specifics or the reason for the ankle surgery are unknown.


Bills impact

Tyrell Adams

Adams is hard to predict because there are no reported injuries during his time in college and there are no details regarding his NFL injuries. Everything is termed as “undisclosed” which is typically the team’s decision for that determination. There are no details regarding the specifics of his failed physical with the Bills, which is intriguing. That season, he appeared in every game for the Raiders before getting cut with no injury designation at Pro-football-reference.com or NFL.com/Injuries. He also played in three of four preseason games, only missing the last one, which is reserved for guys trying to make the team.

Adams also didn’t play the rest of the season following the failed physical designation with the Bills. This is equally interesting in that he was healthy enough to play before a failed physical and then he couldn’t catch on anywhere else. There simply isn’t any information that sheds light on the failed physical other than asking Adams or the team directly.

There has been some turnover on the medical staff since 2017, but that was at the Head Athletic Trainer position with a few other positions below that. As far as I know, the orthopedic doctors have not changed within the Bills where a new set of eyes could have had different thoughts on the injuries. He continued to show up on IR in 2018 with the Colts and Texans before sticking with the Texans and establishing himself.

I do pride myself on digging deep into these injuries to find all the information possible and this has by far been one of the most challenging players to research.

Marquel Lee

Lee hasn’t been available due to what appears to be awful luck with the ankle injuries. Hopefully, a year off allowed for Lee to get fully healthy and prepare his body to withstand other injuries that could crop up in the future. Not playing in 2020 due to his failed physical and the COVID-19 pandemic likely made the decision to get healthy much easier.

Both are competing for backup positions but have starting experience if called upon to play. Adams showing he can finally stay healthy and Lee taking a year off should bode well for both to have an impact if they make the roster.

These are the types of low-level, higher injury-risk players general manager Brandon Beane has taken a flyer on knowing it won’t cost him much if they don’t make the roster come September. Take these signings for what they’re worth, but another team’s castoffs may be the Buffalo Bills’ treasure.