Dawson Knox is in the building. That’s good news for the Buffalo Bills, who are currently operating with only one healthy tight end. Knox is still weeks away from being ready to suit up on game day. That’s also good news for the Bills who are being forced to learn just how great an asset rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid is to their high-powered offense.
While Kincaid’s getting all the first-team reps and the offense has to go back to 11-personnel — something they have tried to vary from this season — due to lack of eligible players to run much else, the offense was firing on all cylinders for much of last week’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Quarterback Josh Allen had a Josh Allen kind of day, passing for 324 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 106.7. But as good as all that sounds, having Knox back is still going to be critical for the Bills as the season stretches into December — if they want to play long into January.
Knox is a solid tight end. Yes, he was dropping passes that infuriated all of Bills Mafia and even had the usual say-nothing-telling head coach Sean McDermott making comments that there were plays they expected him to make. But the guy was playing with a wrist injury — one he’s now saying got worse as he moved from Week 5 to 6 to 7 — so “cutting him some slack” may be in order. Also, Knox is a good blocker. When healthy, he provides some security for Josh Allen — especially when he decides to go rogue and run wild, whether it’s sideways or heading north toward the goal line. So far, Kincaid is being used primarily as a receiver (the Bills brought offensive lineman David Edwards in on the end of the line in more than just goal line situations several times last week). Also, Knox has some crazy catches — again managing to get open when Josh Allen is out there running around doing Josh Allen things (remember Knox catching the pass Allen was trying to throw away last season or even the 2-point conversion in Week 7 this season?). Knox is an offensive asset. End of story.
But here’s the other story. The injury. Knox was injured when Buffalo played the game everyone wishes they could forget — the one against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London during Week 5. While Knox was never taken out of the game or listed with any kind of designation, later film reviews did show him taking an after-the-play hit to his wrist by the helmet of a Jaguar.
#Bills Dawson Knox Right wrist inj.— Banged Up Bills (@BangedUpBills) October 10, 2023
In 4Q, Knox grabs a pass over the middle & is tackled. At the end, a late defender appears to hit Knox in the R wrist as he cradles the ball.
Has only armbands prior, exits, & later has tape on R wrist.
Hoping for contusion/minor sprain. pic.twitter.com/oMS35jZsg3
Knox played the next two weeks, but was progressively getting worse, including some badly timed drops in Buffalo’s Week 7 loss to the New England Patriots — the ones that prompted McDermott’s quip about expecting him to “make those plays.” On October 23, just one day after dropping a key fourth-down pass in the final quarter of the Bills’ loss to the Patriots, it was announced that Knox would undergo surgery. Then three days later, right before the Bills’ Thursday night kickoff against the Buccaneers, moving him to Injured Reserve (IR).
Now, less than a week later, Knox is back in the building. That means he’s working with team doctors and trainers to rehab his wrist as he tries to get back to playing status. Today, Knox said he tried to push through the injury but that by the game in New England he felt “very limited,” something that could be seen as part of the reduction in his playing time, down from 75% of the Bills’ offensive snaps in Week 6 to just 63% in Week 7.
Knox also said that he knew getting the surgery would be the right decision for not only himself, but for the team, so that he can be fully healthy “down the stretch.” At the same time, Knox was quick to admit that had this been the playoffs, he would have “tried to push through it” a little longer.
Dawson Knox talked today about the decision to have surgery on his wrist.— Andy Young (@AndyYoungTV) November 1, 2023
After trying to play through it he says "it was best decision for me and for the team to get it fixed and knowing that in a few weeks I'll be fully back without it lingering or anything."#BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/uhClFHQ5C8
So, with a trip to the IR, Knox has to sit out a minimum of three more games. That means the first time he could be back in a uniform would be Week 12 when Buffalo travels to Pennsylvania to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bills aren’t known for rushing players back to the field, so with a bye week in Week 13, it’s plausible to think that they might let him wait a little longer. However, with the team being sure to get him added to IR before kickoff in Week 8, it looks like they want him available as soon as possible — or at least to keep that option open.