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Bills-Bears Week 16 injury trends: Josh Allen back to full practice

Who is likely to be on Saturday’s active roster?

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

The mid-week injury report for the Buffalo Bills is indicating that the team from Western New York should be in good health for their Christmas Eve match up with the Chicago Bears.

Bills injuries trending up

  • QB Josh Allen (elbow)
  • OG Rodger Saffold (knee)
  • OG Ryan Bates (ankle)
  • DE A.J. Epenesa (elbow)
  • DB Cam Lewis (forearm)

Allen injured the elbow on his throwing arm back in Week 9 as the Bills fell to the New York Jets in the first meeting between the two teams this season. While Allen never missed an offensive snap due to the injury, he did bounce around from not practicing to being limited in practice over the next couple of weeks. However, since Thanksgiving Day, Allen has been a full participant in every practice. Until yesterday. The Buffalo quarterback today said that yesterday’s limitation was more about being smart during a walk-through practice and that the decision was the right one, as he felt better during today’s practice than he has in a while.

Bates being elevated to a full participant today is a good sign for the Bills’ offensive line. Bates injured his ankle two weeks ago as Buffalo beat the Jets in Week 14. Bates sat out last week’s game with the Miami Dolphins, but the offensive line lost veteran center Mitch Morse to a concussion right after halftime of that game. Having Bates back will provide Buffalo with some options to look at when they shuffle their line on Saturday, since Bates can play center.

Epenesa and Lewis haven’t been limited at all in practice this week, with the latter appearing on the list every week with a forearm injury that hasn’t been keeping him sidelined. Saffold took his usual vet rest day on Tuesday, but was also listed with some type of knee issue. With Saffold back to being a full participant today, there’s no reason to think any of these three will be unable to play on Saturday.

Bills injuries holding steady

  • DT Ed Oliver (calf)
  • DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder)
  • LB Matt Milano (knee)
  • S Jordan Poyer (knee)

Milano has been bothered by some knee pain over the past three weeks now. The last two weeks, the linebacker has spent the first two days of the week not practicing, and then participating on a limited basis in the week’s final practice. This week, he has started on the limited list, indicating that whatever has been bothering him may be getting better. The injury hasn’t kept the sixth-year player off the field in either Week 14 or 15, and it is doubtful it will keep him out this week, as well.

Phillips return to practice is good news for the Bills pass-rush crew that is playing without Von Miller for the remainder of the season. Phillips, who injured his shoulder at the end of the Bills’ Week 14 win over the New England Patriots, has practiced twice this week — something he hasn’t done since he made a diving (more like flopping and rolling) attempt to sack quarterback Mac Jones. Whether he will play this week in Chicago is still not decided, but it’s definitely a possibility.

Poyer showed back up on this week’s injury list — again. Poyer has spent three stints on the list this season: once with a foot injury, once with a rib injury, and once with an elbow injury. Poyer, himself, met with media after practice today, and said that the injury happened in last week’s win over Miami, but that he doesn’t think it will be enough to keep him out of this Saturday’s game.

Oliver’s calf injury is somewhat of a mystery. The defensive tackle was not on the list yesterday, and then appeared today in a limited fashion. While typically this would seem like a downward trend, the fact that head coach Sean McDermott didn’t mention Oliver’s injury in his media session earlier today, as well as the fact that the fourth-year lineman was able to practice in some capacity, would make us think that it is something he might be able to play through.

Bills injuries trending down

  • C Mitch Morse (concussion)
  • DE Boogie Basham (calf)

Morse suffered his sixth concussion in eight years right after the halfway mark of last week’s game. Morse is still in the league’s concussion protocol, and it is unlikely that he will be able to reach all of the benchmarks and work his way through all five phases before Saturday.

Basham, who has two sacks and one interception on the season, came out of the Bills win over the Dolphins with an undescribed calf injury. Two days of not practicing doesn’t look good for the second-year player to make the game-day roster this weekend.

In Chicago, there are a lot more players not practicing, making for a lot of questions for the Bears’ game-day roster.

Bears injuries trending down

  • WR Chase Claypool (knee)
  • WR Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion)
  • TE Trevon Wesco (calf)
  • OG Teven Jenkins (neck)
  • OG Cody Whitehair (knee)
  • CB Kindle Vildor (ankle)

Chicago has both of its boundary receivers on the DNP list, and it isn’t looking positive that either of them will be available by game time. Claypool missed the Bears’ Week 15 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and now has moved from a day of limited practice on Tuesday down to not practicing again today. St. Brown has a concussion, and, like Morse on the Bills’ sideline, is running out of time in this short week to work through the league’s five-phase protocol.

The Bears are also missing both starting guards on their offensive line, and like Claypool, Jenkins — who is dealing with a neck injury — has moved down from a day of limited practice to not participating at all today. Whitehair, on the other hand, hasn’t practiced at all this week.

Wesco continues to be a non-participant for the Bears; he hasn’t played the past two weeks as he deals with a calf injury, but the fourth-year player out of West Virginia hasn’t seen much action this season.

Like Wesco, cornerback Vildor hasn’t been on the field since Week 12 as he deals with an ankle injury — and, with no practice yet this week, it is unlikely that he will make it onto this week’s active roster, either.

Bears injuries trending up

  • WR N’Keal Harry (back)
  • OT Riley Reiff (illness)
  • OT Larry Borom (knee)
  • DT Justin Jones (illness)
  • DT Armon Watts (shoulder)
  • CB Jaylon Johnson (finger/ribs)
  • CB Josh Blackwell (shoulder)

The Bears had a couple of players dealing with illness, while several more are still appearing on the team’s weekly injury list, indicating that they may be receiving treatment of some kind. But with the exception of Jones and Reiff, they have all been full participants all week. Jones and Reiff missed the week’s first practice with an illness, but it isn’t of the lingering variety, and they were both back to practice as full participants today.