Thursday injury report pic.twitter.com/glVBNcvkW8— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) December 21, 2023
Safety Micah Hyde was ruled out on Friday and, at the same time, head coach Sean McDermott announced that the Bills were moving defensive tackle Jordan Phillips to Injured Reserve (IR). Hyde is still dealing with issues stemming from a third stinger in the same season while Phillips had surgery to repair a dislocated wrist. While on Wednesday Phillips said that he hoped to just miss two games and be active at the season’s finale in Miami, it’s not to be. With a trip to the IR, Phillips will miss the remainder of the regular season as well as the first round of playoff games should Buffalo move up the ranks of the AFC and find themselves playing past Week 18.
Buffalo also ruled out wide receiver Justin Shorter, but the rookie is still technically on the team’s IR — where he has been since August 30. So, all this tells us that they will not be adding him back to the 53-man roster this week. They have until the end of December to make a decision about whether to add him or shut him down for the duration of the season. With the “out” designation, it would seem that they aren’t planning to bring him back to the roster when his 21-day practice window closes.
More interesting is that both cornerback Kaiir Elam, whose window will close on Christmas Day, and DaQuan Jones, whose window just opened this week, are listed as questionable. While neither are on the 53-man roster just yet — and it was expected that Jones would likely not be moved up until the end of the season at the earliest — questionable designations make it possible that we could see one or both of them added back to the roster soon.
A.J. Epenesa remains questionable for Saturday and McDermott said that he feels the defensive end needs more time to heal. This means we could potentially see Poona Ford, who has only been active three times this season, on Saturday and/or that the Bills could elevate Eli Ankou from the practice squad.
Sean McDermott says unlikely A.J. Epenesa will play Saturday.— Jon Scott (@JonScottTV) December 21, 2023
Still needs more time for rib to heal.#Bills
Maybe most concerning for Buffalo is that running back Ty Johnson is listed as questionable as he works through a shoulder injury he sustained in the first half of last week’s win over the Dallas Cowboys. Johnson was injured in the second quarter of Sunday’s game, went to the locker room, but returned to play. As practice opened this week, the fifth-year back, who is in his first season in Buffalo after being released by the New York Jets this spring, Johnson was limited and in a red non-contact jersey. While his status hasn’t changed all week, Buffalo does have running backs James Cook, who is coming off a career-best game, and Latavius Murray, as well as full back Reggie Gilliam, on their active roster, so they could choose to let Johnson rest a week if they feel that both the California weather combined with the Chargers’ defensive scheme is more fitting to a passing — or at least a more balanced attack than they used last week — game plan.
On the Chargers’ side of the field, they will be without a couple of key players as well.
Most notably, the Chargers will be without wide receiver Keenan Allen who is officially missing his second straight game with a heel injury. Additionally, linebacker Joey Bosa won’t be added back to Los Angeles’s 53-man roster this week. The Chargers are also not expecting to find a return of linebacker Tanner Muse, who is also on IR but has had his practice window opened, before Saturday. Despite defensive back Deane Leonard managing to work himself back to a day of limited practice, it’s also unlikely that he will be in uniform on Sunday.
Both teams have until 6:30 p.m. EST on Saturday to announce their official game-day rosters, and it would seem that there will remain a lot of uncertainty for both teams until that time.