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Bills-Bengals mid-week injury trends: Buffalo staying healthy

Buffalo has a healthy roster; Cincinnati, not so much

Detroit Lions vs Buffalo Bills Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have been moving pieces and taping holes — both literally and figuratively — all over their roster this season. But now, as the NFL playoffs have arrived, the team’s injury report looks pretty clean.

Here’s a look at what few injuries the Bills have, and how those players are trending ahead of Buffalo’s divisional round playoff game with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bills injuries trending up

  • QB Josh Allen (elbow)
  • WR Isaiah McKenzie (hamstring)
  • CB Dane Jackson (knee)
  • S Jordan Poyer (knee)
  • S Cam Lewis (forearm)

It would be expected for all five of these guys to be on Sunday’s active roster. Khalil Shakir played pretty well in McKenzie’s absence last week, and the Bills signed Cole Beasley to the 53-man roster ahead of Buffalo’s 34-31 wild card win over the Miami Dolphins. Still, head coach Sean McDermott and his coaching staff tend to go with the “guy who has been there,” and that’s McKenzie. Should he not be in uniform Sunday, however, it won’t be because of the hamstring injury that occurred in last Wednesday’s practice — back-to-back full practices would indicate the injury has healed.

We’ve moved Allen from the “holding steady” category to “trending up” this week, because he’s only showing up with one injury now. The ankle injury that he picked up in Week 17, when the Bills and the Bengals faced off for what would become a no-contest, seems to be gone. Allen is now just dealing with the elbow injury he has been dealt with for half of the season — and it’s likely that it won’t go away until he gets some offseason rest.

Jackson has been elevated to a full participant after getting a limited day of practice in on Wednesday. Jackson injured his knee in the second quarter of last Sunday’s game. While the team officially listed Jackson as questionable to return (which he didn’t), McDermott said that after the game, team trainers told him that Jackson could have re-entered the game if he was needed. That news, coupled with a little rest and then a full practice, would indicate that the third-year corner will be ready to go on Sunday.

While Poyer didn’t practice on Thursday, the injury report indicates that was due to the All-Pro safety getting a veteran rest day. Poyer did practice on Wednesday, which is a step up from last week, where he started the week as a DNP before working his way up the list and into a uniform in time for the Bills to host the Dolphins.

The only other player on this list is Lewis. Maybe someday, we will find out what is wrong with his forearm. But for now, the special teams cornerstone just keeps receiving treatment and working through practices to games.

Bills injuries holding steady

  • DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder)
  • DT DaQuan Jones (calf)

Phillips continues to work through the shoulder injury that he acquired back on December 1. Phillips missed some time, came back, reinjured the shoulder, and then missed some more time. Now, with a couple of limited practices, it’s possible that he could be ready to go Sunday should McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier think the game plan calls for him.

Jones first showed up on the Bills’ injury list this week. While it isn’t apparent when or how the defensive tackle injured his calf, it looks as though it’s something he’s managing, as he continues to work through practices this week. Jones is one of only two Bills defenders to start every game this season (Taron Johnson being the other), and it’s likely that he will get the call again this week as he helps lead Buffalo’s pass rush through a banged up Bengals front line and tries to disrupt Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow.

Sunday’s visiting team, the Bengals, isn’t having quite the same injury luck, as they have a few key players still not practicing this week. Here’s a look at what’s happening in Cincinnati.

Bengals injuries trending down

  • OT Jonah Williams (knee)
  • OG Alex Cappa (ankle)
  • CB Tre Flowers (hamstring)

None of the above-listed players have practiced yet this week, and the Bengals have just one more day before they head to Buffalo for their win-or-go-home showdown with the Bills.

Cappa injured his ankle in the final game of the season, as the Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens to secure the AFC’s No. 3 seed and get home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Cappa wasn’t available on Super Wild Card Weekend, and it isn’t looking too likely that the veteran lineman will be protecting Burrow this weekend, either.

Williams has also not practiced this week. He dislocated his kneecap in the Bengals’ wild card win over the Ravens, and while it was thought that the injury might not be too severe — and might not keep the fourth-year lineman down for long — it’s not looking too good in terms of upcoming playing time for Williams.

To add insult to injury — pun intended — the Bengals are also without offensive tackle La’el Collins, who went on injured reserve after he tore his ACL on Christmas Eve. Cincinnati’s offensive line may have more holes than they can fill on Sunday.

Also on this list is Flowers, who hasn’t practiced all week due to a hamstring injury. While Flowers isn’t CB1 for the Bengals, the guy who is isn’t in the best shape, either.

Bengals injuries trending up

  • DE Joseph Ossai (shoulder)
  • CB Eli Apple (neck)
  • DB Michael Thomas (hamstring)

Apple has a neck injury. While it hasn’t kept him from practicing this week, it did cause him to miss part of the second quarter of the Bengals’ wild card game. Apple was back in the game after halftime, but this week will be tasked with keeping up with Stefon Diggs, who is known for being a great route-runner. While Apple is good to go for game time, how long he can keep up with Diggs shall be determined.

Neither Ossai nor Thomas are listed first on Cincinnati’s depth chart, but in a game where losing means you aren’t playing next week, it takes all 53 guys doing their one-eleventh, so having depth will be essential rather than a luxury for the Bengals as they try to make it back to the AFC Championship Game.