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Bills vs. Steelers: Mitch Morse, Isaiah McKenzie injuries trending positively

Several other key players—including the AFC Defensive Player of the Week, Jordan Poyer—still aren’t not practicing

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When the Buffalo Bills began preparing for their Week 5 AFC showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, they had a lengthy injury list, but on Thursday they got some good news when two of their key offensive players were upgraded.

Center Mitch Morse was elevated from limited on Wednesday to a full participant during Thursday’s practice. Another positive for Buffalo is that wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who is in concussion protocol, was upgraded to limited in today’s practice.

The news wasn’t all great coming out of Thursday’s practice however. Safety Jordan Poyer, last week’s AFC Defensive Player of the Week, and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds—both of whom are captains on a defense that has only allowed seven second-half points so far this season—did not practice for the second day in a row.

Morse injured his elbow in the first quarter of Buffalo’s Week 2 home opener, and spent time in the locker room getting x-rays before returning to the game after halftime. The anchor of the Bills’ offensive line missed the Week 3 game against the Miami Dolphins, and has been listed as limited on every injury report since—until today.

McKenzie was injured in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 23-20 come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Ravens. After taking a hit over the middle that he described as possibly “the hardest hit” he’s ever had, McKenzie jogged off the field and was escorted to the locker room, where he was evaluated for head and neck injuries. The fact that he was seen in the red non-contact jersey, with a helmet, and catching passes is a great sign that he is making good progress as he works through the league-standard steps for all players in concussion protocol.

Poyer had two interceptions in the game against the Ravens, the second of which came on a 4th & Goal when Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson tried to rifle a pass to the back corner of the end zone and break the 20-20 tie late in the fourth quarter. It was on that game-changing interception that Poyer appeared to get shaken up. While Poyer claimed he was fine and it was just a case of getting the wind knocked out of him, the All-Pro safety was sent for x-rays after the game and has now missed two practices with what is listed as a rib injury.

Edmunds, who has 26 tackles on the season—including one sack and four tackles for a loss as well as two quarterback-hits—missed a second day of practice with a hamstring injury.

Additionally, tight end Dawson Knox spent some time on the injury list in earlier weeks with a foot injury, but now he has appeared with both a foot and a hamstring injury, and has been a DNP for the past two days.

With Knox injured, wide receiver Jamison Crowder presumably headed to IR with the broken ankle he sustained Sunday, wide receiver Jake Kumerow continuing to miss practice for the second week in a row with an ankle injury, and McKenzie’s status still in question, quarterback Josh Allen could be looking at a different list of targets come Sunday.

On the “status quo” end of things for the Bills, defensive tackles Ed Oliver (ankle) and Jordan Phillips (hamstring) continue to be listed as limited in practice. On Wednesday, head coach Sean McDermott said that they were treating them both, along with newly acquired offensive lineman Justin Murray (foot) as day-to-day.

Here’s a look at the complete injury list heading into Friday’s final practice of the week: