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Bills vs. Cowboys: First official injury report of the week

Not as clean as last week for the Bills as Epenesa and Hyde were unable to practice

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills are officially in Week 15 preparation, and as they prepare to host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon, they’re once again doing so without key members of the defense.

Safety Micah Hyde and defensive end A.J. Epenesa were unable to practice on Wednesday, though that wasn’t unexpected after head coach Sean McDermott announced on Monday that the pair would be week-to-week with injuries they suffered in the Bills’ 20-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Today, however, McDermott was even more non-committal about the immediate future of the 32-year-old Hyde and the 25-year-old Epenesa: when asked about the possibility of Injured Reserve (IR) he simply said “we’ll see.”

Epenesa, who started the Bills off by tipping, and then intercepting, a pass from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes on Sunday, spent Buffalo’s first two defensive stands in and out of the blue medical tent before ultimately being shut down (although officially only listed as doubtful) mid-way through the first quarter. Hyde lasted longer, but, for the third time this season, saw his game cut short by a stinger that sent him to the bench before half-time.

There were a few more injuries coming out of the game, although not as game-plan affecting as Hyde and Epenesa. Tight end Dalton Kincaid has a shoulder injury, but according to McDermott it was more of a “re-aggravation” of one from earlier this season. And, now we’re finding out that Taron Johnson has a new ankle injury. The pair were listed as limited today, While quarterback Josh Allen, tight end Dawson Knox, and defensive end Leonard Floyd continue to work through lingering injuries that they’re receiving treatment for but aren’t limiting them on the practice field — or in game time either for that matter.

Kaiir Elam continued to practice with the team. The cornerback is currently still on IR with an ankle injury but had his 21-day practice window opened last week. Today, Buffalo opened the window for wide receiver Justin Shorter to also return from IR. Shorter has been on the Injured Reserve list, effectively red-shirting his rookie season, since the first day of the 2023 season. While the Bills will have to make a decision on whether to activate Elam by Christmas Day, they will now have until January 3 to decide whether to add Shorter to their active roster for the final week of the season or just call it a year for the 23-year-old rookie out of Florida.

The Dallas Cowboys are worried about the availability of Johnathan Hankins for Sunday’s game. The 11-year-veteran defensive tackle has 10 solo tackles and three sacks on the season, but had to be carted off the field during the third quarter of Dallas’s Sunday Night Football win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Hankins later returned to the sidelines under his own power but is now listed as dealing with a high ankle sprain. Should Hankins not be available on Sunday afternoon, the Cowboys list rookie Mazi Smith as the next man up at the nose tackle position on their defensive line.

Of course, the Cowboys have been playing all season without cornerback Trevon Diggs while the Bills have been playing without tackle DaQuan Jones, linebacker Matt Milano, and cornerback Tre’Davious White — all of whom are on their team’s IR lists and will not be back for Sunday’s matchup.