As the Buffalo Bills prepare for their Week 3 matchup with the division-rival Miami Dolphins, all eyes will be on the trainers and medical staff to see if they can get the slew of banged up Bills back on the field in time for the game.
Buffalo entered their Week 2 game short a few of their key players—Gabe Davis (ankle), Ed Oliver (ankle), and Tim Settle (calf)—and while the Bills were able to dominate the Tennessee Titans on the field, the number of injuries piled up almost as fast as the number of points hitting the scoreboard.
On the first day of practice for Week 3, 11 players appear on the injury report and eight of those are on the defensive side of the game—something that will make defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier’s job difficult as he creates a game plan to try slowing down a Dolphins offense that put up over 500 yards and 42 points last week against the Baltimore Ravens.
Wednesday injury report pic.twitter.com/Vf1SP2R5rF— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) September 21, 2022
Safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Dane Jackson are the most serious injuries on the report as both had to leave Monday night’s game and be taken to Erie County Medical Center for tests on their heads and necks. Hyde was able to walk off the field, although he looked a little wobbly, before being taken to the hospital. The ambulance was brought directly onto the field for Jackson who was involved in a helmet-to-helmet collision with teammate Tremaine Edmunds while they were both attempting to tackle a Titans receiver.
It was reported that both Hyde and Jackson were able to walk out of the hospital under their own power and that they told teammates that they “would be alright,” however, faced with the possibility of missing both of them for the upcoming game, attention will be on rookie cornerbacks Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam.
The possibility of starting two rookie cornerbacks against Jaylen Waddle and the speedy Tyreek Hill looms large for the Bills, who are already missing All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White. Still recovering from last season’s ACL injury, White won’t be available unitil the Week 5 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the very earliest.
Frazier said that both Elam and Benford have seen playing time in the first two games as he has used them in a rotation to fill in for White, and that they have shown they understand the game plan and were able to go out and execute it.
“That’s a good sign. We would be confident if it came to that,” Frazier said about the possibility of needing to start the pair of rookies against the Dolphins and said that Elam and Benford will continue to prepare for the game as they have each of the first two weeks of the season. “Their preparation has been the same. They have prepared each week to play.”
Defensive tackles Tim Settle (calf) and Ed Oliver (ankle) were on the injury list last week and were inactive against the Titans, so seeing them listed as limited in practice is a good sign that both are trending upward towards available by Sunday. The pair would surely help what has been a solid defensive line rotation keep the pressure on Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in an attempt to keep him off balance and unsettled in the pocket.
Getting back one, or both, of last week’s injured linemen would be a good sign for Buffalo as defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who has been dominant in the pass rush in his return to Buffalo this season, went down late in the game against Tennessee with a hamstring injury. Phillips could be seen falling to the ground in a non-contact play while running down field as linebacker Matt Milano returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter. Phillips was listed as a “Did not Participate” for Wednesday’s practice.
Milano, however, who also went out of the game late on Monday with yet another neck injury for the Bills, was a full participant in the first practice of the week—giving Buffalo hope that the linebacker’s Monday night injury was minor.
Also showing up on the injury report were safety Jordan Poyer (foot) and tight end Dawson Knox (foot). With Hyde—one half of Buffalo’s All-Pro safety duo out with the neck injury—Poyer’s status (he was limited in practice) will be something to keep an eye on as the week progresses. As for Knox, who was listed as DNP, the tight end has been a key part of the Bills’ offense. With wide receiver Gabe Davis still limited (ankle) in practice, it will be interesting to watch what targets are available for quarterback Josh Allen as the week progresses.
Buffalo’s Wednesday practice was just a walk-through, and with having a late game for Week 2 (Monday night) many of the players are still in game-recovery mode. Thursday’s full practice and subsequent injury report will be more indicative of how the team’s roster is trending and what adjustments they will need to make to their lineup before Sunday’s 1:00 PM Eastern kickoff in Miami.