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Injury analysis: new Buffalo Bills OL Forrest Lamp

Lamp hasn’t been able to stay healthy, is this the final stop?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has been known to stock up on offensive lineman in the offseason to create competition and insurance against injuries. Beane continues this trend with the signing of former Los Angeles Chargers offensive guard Forrest Lamp. He comes to the Bills on a one-year deal following four years with the Chargers marred with injury. While there is a significant injury concern, this isn’t a terrible signing. Below is his known injury history.


Western Kentucky

Played in 42 consecutive games at left tackle before suffering a right ankle injury against Miami (OH) early in the third quarter in 2016. By video, it appears as though he suffered a high ankle sprain for which he missed two games. Several reports indicated it was a knee sprain, but the official team page states an ankle injury and is more consistent with film than news reports.

Lamp then suffered a high ankle sprain early in the week at the Senior Bowl and could not participate. He later reported that he was fully healthy and that he had no issues whatsoever. The side was not specified but it would not be surprising if he had re-injured his right ankle.

2017

Drafted in the second round, 38th overall by the Chargers. Suffered a right ACL tear in early August shortly after training camp started. He missed the entire season rehabbing the injury. He appeared on track six months out from surgery in 2018 and was reportedly running prior to OTAs.

However, he required what was termed a “minor procedure” in April of 2018 that forced him to miss the entirety of the offseason. However, this procedure caused him to keep weight off his right leg for ten weeks, significantly hampering his abilities to be fully healthy for training camp.

2018

He ultimately played in two games after being activated off of the PUP list but was a healthy scratch for a majority of the season, appearing in only Week 6 and 17 for a total of 17 snaps. During the season, there were no other publicly reported injuries.

2019

Lamp finally appeared healthy, appearing in seven games before going down with a right fibular fracture against the Titans in Week 7. The injury sent him to injured reserve for the remainder of the season, forcing him to miss nine games total.

2020

Appeared and started in 16 games, with no publicly reported injuries.


Bills impact

On the surface, Lamp appears as another failed high draft pick who can’t stay healthy enough to warrant keeping on a roster. That appears to be the case for why the Chargers let him walk in free agency following the completion of his rookie deal. The change in the coaching staff and offensive direction of the team along with his inability to be available was more likely a deciding factor.

Looking at Lamp as a whole, he doesn’t look great. However, I can look past all the injuries. The high ankle sprains appear to be in the rear-view mirror and can occur at anytime due to the close-quarter play that is the offensive line.

The ACL tear was over four years ago, he could tear either side again, but his risk for re-injury is not a concern at this point. However, the minor knee procedure does raise a red flag. I cannot find any instance of why he would be required to not be able to place weight through his right leg for ten weeks. This article states that he had more pain that required the procedure, but the specifics on what was causing the pain are not known.

The initial thoughts that I had were a meniscus tear, microfracture surgery, or patellar fracture. All of those procedures have varying levels of non-weightbearing restrictions with the microfracture lasting six weeks, but even that doesn’t fully explain the ten-week timeframe. I’m not certain I would classify that as a “minor procedure.” There isn’t enough information to fully understand why he required the surgery.

The broken fibula was a freak injury; a similar injury that happened to Matt Milano several years ago. Lamp has already shown he was able to return following the injury as upwards to 90 percent of those who suffer this injury eventually return to play in the NFL.

The fact that he played in 16 games last year is promising. Ideally, he has a similar track moving forward to that of current Bills OT Daryl Williams. If you recall, Williams had several injury-riddled years that cost him some significant playing time and money. The Bills could bring Lamp in on this one-year deal to re-establish his value and potentially get some playing time, especially if Cody Ford continues to struggle with his own injury issues.

In past years, Lamp could be seen as a theoretical upgrade to the offensive line where the Bills would have to overpay despite the injury history. But in 2021, Lamp is simply another former highly touted prospect who is worth keeping around in case of injury or an asset if a trade needs to occur. I like this signing because it is low-risk and it could pan out very similarly to Daryl Williams. Lamp won’t be the final piece for a Super Bowl, but could be key if injuries occur.