Milano was assisting on a stop of Trevor Lawrence as the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback tried to escape a Bills pass rush and throw the ball into the end zone. While the stop was successful, it came at a heavy price: Milano’s season.
While we don’t have official word from Buffalo yet, sources have said that Milano’s injury consists of a broken leg with possible tissue damage and that the Bills are awaiting an MRI to determine if there was also damage to his ACL.
#Bills star LB Matt Milano suffered a fractured leg and is feared to have suffered a season-ending knee injury in today’s loss, sources tell me and @MikeGarafolo. They are checking on the ACL. MRI coming, but missing the rest of the season is likely. One of the NFL’s best LBs. pic.twitter.com/dZsJM5fSMI— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 8, 2023
After the game, which the Bills lost 25-20, head coach Sean McDermott indicated that he wasn’t expecting good news. In a post-game media session, McDermott said that the lower leg injury was “not looking good right now.”
Milano, who has spent his whole career in Buffalo after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, earned All-Pro honors for the first time in his career last season despite missing two games due to an oblique injury. The linebacker’s 20 tackles, two interceptions, forced fumble, and two passes defensed were on pace to improve on last season’s performance.
For Buffalo, the loss of the veteran linebacker for two-thirds of the season is more than just lost tackles or quarterbacks pressured. Milano was the returning linebacker for a Bills defense that had seen a lot of changes over the offseason. With second-year linebacker Terrel Bernard taking over for Tremaine Edmunds who left via free agency, Milano was providing leadership in the team’s linebacker room.
With Milano out, Buffalo will have to turn to rookie linebacker Dorian Williams, the Bills’ third-round draft pick in this year’s draft, to step up quickly. The Bills also have veteran Tyrel Dodson — and he and Williams tag-teamed in and out to fill Milano’s role on Sunday — available, although he spent his offseason and training camp learning the role of inside linebacker — a job he ultimately lost to Bernard at the start of the season.
Other options to fill in for Milano could include Baylon Spector who is currently on Injured Reserve dealing with a hamstring injury he sustained in training camp. Spector can return whenever the Bills’ training staff decides he is ready or veteran A.J. Klein who is currently on the team’s practice squad. Tyler Matakevich is also on the roster but is seen primarily as a special teams player.
While Buffalo has options, they aren’t anywhere near the capacity of an All-Pro veteran and that is disheartening for a defense that, having just watched cornerback Tre’Davious White tear an Achilles last week, is dealing with the second in that category in two weeks.