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Bills vs. Giants: Midweek injury trends aren’t telling us a whole lot

Shaq Lawson and Christian Benford should play; other than that...

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills are getting ready to host the New York Giants at Highmark Stadium for Sunday Night Football. The Bills will be looking to rebound from last week’s forgettable game in London while the Giants are trying to find just their second win of the season. But both teams will take the field without key members of their rosters.

Here’s a look at the midweek injury trends for both teams.

Bills players trending up

  • CB Christian Benford (shoulder)
  • DE Shaq Lawson (toe)
  • *LB Baylon Spector (hamstring)

Both Benford and Lawson missed last Sunday’s game with injuries, but I would expect the duo to be on the field Sunday. Benford was injured two weeks ago when he tackled Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert. Despite getting a clear x-ray during the game and returning in a limited capacity during the second half, Benford was among last week’s game-day inactives. Now, though, with two full days of practice already this week, we should see the second-year cornerback back in uniform.

As for Lawson, he practiced all week last week — including in Friday’s walkthrough in London. Then, in a surprise move on Saturday, the Bills announced that he was questionable with a toe injury. While we never received any further information, the veteran pass rusher wasn’t active by game time. This week, however, like Benford, he has been a full participant at both days of practice.

That brings us to Baylon Spector. The second-year linebacker has been a full participant at both of this week’s practices, but Buffalo hasn’t added him back to their roster as of yet. Spector injured a hamstring during training camp and has been on the team’s Injured Reserve (IR) since day one of the 2023 season. Now that linebacker Matt Milano has been sent to the IR due to surgery on a broken leg he suffered in London, the Bills are scary-thin at linebacker. Spector is no Milano, but I would expect to see him activated soon.

Bills players holding steady

  • TE Dalton Kincaid (concussion)
  • TE Dawson Knox (wrist)
  • DE Greg Rousseau (foot)

I would have liked to see Kincaid as a full participant in today’s practice, but considering that yesterday was only a walk-through, it’s likely he wasn’t able to take that next step on the NFL’s concussion protocol. There was some video of him running routes and catching footballs, albeit in the green non-contact jersey though so, barring any setbacks, I would expect him to move up a level tomorrow. The question is whether he can come out of that practice without any symptoms or setbacks.

Dawson Knox was also limited both of the last two days, but, like Kincaid, was catching passes without any visible difficulty. I would expect him to be available Sunday — especially if Kincaid isn’t.

Rousseau, however, seems to still be struggling a little with a foot injury that kept him out of the game in London. The Bills’ third-year edge rusher injured his foot in Week 4, didn’t practice last week, and was ruled out as soon as the Bills’ touched down in the UK. In the video below, it looks as if he’s pushing off on the non-injured left leg a lot better than when he’s on the right. I’d think they would like to see some more out of their third-year pass rusher before they put him in uniform.

Bills players trending down

  • CB Dane Jackson (foot)

Jackson got the start in London for Tre’Davious White who was put on IR the day before to make room for the return of edge rusher Von Miller. With White out, presumably for the remainder of the season, with a torn Achilles, Jackson should have been the next man up. But now, with a second day of no practice, it looks like the Bills will have to dig deeper into the cornerback room to fill Sunday’s roster spots.

Other Bills players worth noting

  • OT Dion Dawkins (personal)
  • LB Matt Milano (leg)
  • DT DaQuan Jones (pec)
  • CB Tre’Davious White (Achilles)

This isn’t a category I usually include here, but it seemed fitting this week. Players on IR — and not designated to return yet — aren’t listed on the weekly injury list. But with three key defensive players being moved in the last two weeks, it seemed fitting that we mention that they aren’t going to be on the field Sunday — or for quite some time. However, head coach Sean McDermott did say this week that he’s holding out hope that Milano and Jones could be back by season’s end — good news for sure.

As for Dawkins, personal is just that so we don’t know why he wasn’t at practice today. Hopefully it wasn’t something too pressing and he will be back tomorrow.

While Buffalo is struggling with “semi-permanent” injuries to this year’s roster, their active roster injuries are pretty straight forward this week. Not so much with their weekend guests. The Giants’ roster is a complete disaster at this point and I wouldn’t want to be the one responsible for the game plan — on either side of the ball.

Giants players trending down

  • QB Daniel Jones (neck)
  • DE Azeez Ojulari (ankle)
  • OT Matt Peart (shoulder)
  • C John Michael Schmitz (shoulder)
  • OT Andrew Thomas (hamstring)
  • RB Gary Brightwell (ankle)
  • OT Evan Neal (ankle)
  • DT DJ Davidson (knee)

The first five guys on this lengthy list haven’t practiced at all this week, while Brightwell went from being limited yesterday a downgrade of DNP today. Neal and Davidson were fine yesterday and now were limited with new injuries today.

Of course, the most concerning of these names is the one at the top. Jones was injured last week as the Giants lost to the Dolphins. Early in the week, head coach Brian Daboll said he was planning on Jones being the starter in Buffalo this week, but with just one practice left, things aren’t looking too good.

Giants players holding steady

  • LB Micah McFadden (ankle)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee)
  • TE Darren Waller (groin)
  • CB Deonte Banks (ankle)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle)
  • CB Cordale Flott (ankle)
  • G Shane Lemieux (groin)
  • G Marcus McKethan (knee)

All eight of these players were limited in today’s practice. Eight is better than six — except when some are trade-outs. McFadden, Robinson, and Waller didn’t practice at all yesterday but were able to practice in a limited capacity today. I know — that means they are trending up, but not really enough. I’m sure that the Giants are hopeful that all of these guys are in uniform on Sunday, especially running back Saquon Barkley who has been inactive since Week 2 when New York beat the Arizona Cardinals. But at this point, what their game day roster is going to look like is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that they had exactly zero players from yesterday’s injury report upgrade to a full participant in today’s practice — not a good sign for a team that has four losses, all by double digits, in a five-week-old season.

Other Giants players worth noting

  • P Jamie Gillan (illness)

Since I added this category for the home team this week, we might as well talk about Gillan too. The fifth-year punter who is in his second season with the Giants, has been called on 21 times this season for an average of 48.38 yards per punt. Gillan has pinned opposing teams inside the 20-yard line seven times this season. With three days until game day, I would expect the Giants punter, who also doubles as the holder for field goals and PATs, to be fine.

Tomorrow’s injury reports and subsequent game day designations is going to be interesting.