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Bills vs. Buccaneers: Mid-week injury trends

Who’s playing on Thursday?

Buffalo Bills v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

While the rest of the league is still in game-planning, film-watching, and skill-sharpening mode, the Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just 48 hours away from their Thursday night game at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, NY.

That means that we’re at that point of the week where we check in on the team’s injuries, and discuss the impact each injury makes on who’ll get the start and who’s likely to be sitting come game time.

The news looks pretty straight forward for the home team, even though that look isn’t very promising.

Bills players trending up

  • QB Josh Allen (shoulder)
  • LB Terrel Bernard (knee)
  • OT Spencer Brown (knee)
  • CB Kaiir Elam (ankle)
  • DT Ed Oliver (toe)

Allen is on this list because he will play. The Bills, coming off three very dismal performances, can’t afford for him not to. Despite being a full participant in practice since Friday last week, it’s obvious that something isn’t quite right with Buffalo’s franchise quarterback. But it’s not enough wrong to keep him sidelined either. Allen plays.

Bernard and Brown both got a little banged up Sunday, but it wasn’t enough for either of them to miss a single snap on their respective sides of the ball. They will both be in uniform — again, if for no other reason than simply the Bills can’t afford for them not to be. It’s no secret that Buffalo is frighteningly low on linebackers right now, and with linebacker Baylon Spector having trouble with his hamstring again (see below), Bernard is a must-have in the defensive secondary.

I have Oliver on this list because he wants to play. He wanted to play last week and his absence was pretty obvious as the Bills failed to get any pressure on New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, only recording one sack — and that by safety Jordan Poyer. Oliver wants to play. The Bills need Oliver to play, just as much as they need Josh Allen to play. And, to be honest, the videos coming out of the open-to-the-media portion of today’s practice, make it look as if the Bills’ fifth-year tackle is moving around pretty freely.

Bills players holding steady

  • DT Jordan Phillips (back)
  • OLB Von Miller (knee)

In the videos above, neither Miller nor Phillips look particularly loose. I would probably have dropped the pair down a category if it weren’t for (A) the Bills are running out of bodies to put on the field and (B) head coach Sean McDermott continued claims that Miller is improving and that his lack of playing time on Sunday (just six snaps, down from 27 the week before) wasn’t because of a new injury.

Bills players trending down

  • TE Dawson Knox (wrist)
  • LB Baylon Spector (hamstring)
  • TE Quintin Morris (ankle)

The first of these names really goes without saying. Yesterday, Sean McDermott announced that Knox would be having surgery on his wrist. Today, he said the tight end was on his way to the surgery site while the head coach was giving his pre-practice interview. McDermott said that the injury, which happened when the Bills played the Jacksonville Jaguars in London during Week 6 — the beginning of what has become a trifecta of terribleness for Buffalo — wasn’t made any worse on Sunday but that it was something that was affecting him. Just how long the Bills will be without their fifth-year tight end is unknown.

Complicating the injury to Knox is that tight end Quintin Morris suffered an ankle injury in Buffalo’s only win in the past three weeks. While it was Knox and Morris playing tight end during the Bills’ Week 6 win over the New York Giants, it was Knox and Kincaid (who was able to clear concussion protocol) last week against the New England Patriots. Now it’s only Kincaid who’s likely to be active this week.

Baylon Spector is listed with a hamstring injury again. The second-year linebacker started the season on Injured Reserve (IR) after he was injured in training camp. After just two weeks back, his name is back on this list and he’s back to not practicing. This isn’t a good sign for a team that’s without All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano for an unspecified amount of time after a lower-leg injury (that’s all the information we’re getting) in London resulted in the need for surgery and a stint on the IR. Now without Spector, the Bills just have second-year back Terrel Bernard (who took over at the middle linebacker position this season after Tremaine Edmunds left via free agency), rookie Dorian Williams (who started the last two weeks in place of Milano but was replaced by fourth-year back Tyrel Dodson midway through Sunday’s loss), and A.J. Klein (who was inactive after being signed to the active roster from the practice squad when Milano was placed on IR).

As for the visiting Buccaneers, they aren’t especially healthy either.

Bucs injuries trending down

  • G Matt Feller (knee)
  • S Kaevon Merriweather (ankle)
  • DT Vita Vea (groin)

Bucs injuries trending up

  • QB Baker Mayfield (knee)
  • RB Chase Edmunds (knee)
  • WR Chris Godwin (neck)

Like Josh Allen, Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield will play. Tampa Bay can’t afford for him not to. Sitting at 3-3, the Buccaneers are just a game behind the division-leading Atlanta Falcons. With Mayfield saying that he’s fine — and that it’s a pain-management plan, not anything serious — it’s highly unlikely that Tampa Bay would roll with Kyle Trask as their starting quarterback.

With just one more day of practice before it’s game time, tomorrow will be a big day for both teams as they try to sort out who’ll be their game-day inactives on Thursday.