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Bills vs. Steelers: Good news (and some less so) on team’s first postseason injury report

Johnson, Dawkins and Dodson all get to practice; Davis, Rapp, and Douglas do not.

Dallas Cowboys v Buffalo Bills Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon for Super Wild Card Weekend of this year’s NFL playoffs. Buffalo’s first official injury report of the week has a pretty even mixture of good and not-so-good news on it.

To start with, quarterback Josh Allen is still dealing with some neck soreness from a stinger he suffered at the end of team’s Week 17 win over the New England Patriots. But the good news is that the finger on his throwing hand, which had appeared swollen all last week, and which had been on the injury report up until Week 18’s game day, appears to have completely healed.

In other good news, safety Micah Hyde is starting the week off with a full day of practice. Hyde suffered several stingers this season, with the last of them coming in Week 14. After missing two games, Hyde started both Weeks 17 and 18 limited in practice before working his way up to full practices. Hyde, who will be a free agent when this season concludes, did play 100% of the Bills’ defensive snaps in the past two games.

Defensive end Leonard Floyd and edge rusher Von Miller had their regular veteran rest days. However, Floyd had been on the injury list for a ribs injury as well over the past few weeks. Today, he has no injury designation to go along with his rest day. That’s great news for the team’s 2023 sack leader.

While offensive tackle Dion Dawkins, running back Ty Johnson, and linebacker Tyrel Dodson were all limited in today’s practice, that’s not necessarily bad news for the Bills. Dawkins received stitches late in Sunday’s season finale, but he returned to play as the team cinched their fourth-straight AFC East division title by defeating the Miami Dolphins on the road. It’s reasonable to expect Dawkins to be limited as keeping the stitches in place, as well as possibly letting some swelling heal, is going to be a priority.

Ty Johnson entered the league’s concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head at the goal line right before half time last Sunday evening. The fact that he was limited in practice today means that he has already moved through at least the first three stages of the NFL’s five-step protocol that players must clear before being allowed to return to play. With three more days before game day, it’s reasonable to guess that Johnson could be ready by game time on Sunday afternoon.

The other player listed as a limited participant was linebacker Tyrel Dodson. Wednesday morning, head coach Sean McDermott had listed Dodson — who has been playing in place of Matt Milano since the All-Pro linebacker was placed on Injured Reserve following Week 5 — as one of four players who would not be able to participate in today’s practice.

Getting Dodson back in action will give Buffalo a huge boost as they attempt to stop the Steelers’ run game in Sunday’s win-or-go-home game. With Terrel Bernard starting at inside linebacker, Buffalo has Dorian Williams and Baylon Spector listed as the only other linebackers on the active roster.

As for the not-so-good news, wide receiver Gabe Davis injured his knee in the first half of Sunday’s game and was a non-participant on Wednesday. It was reported on Monday that Davis is dealing with a PCL injury, but the extent of the injury has not been discussed.

Cornerback Rasul Douglas was also injured in the first half of Week 18’s game in Miami. While, unlike Davis and Johnson, he wasn’t ruled out for the game, he didn’t return to play with Dane Jackson taking the remainder of the snaps. It’s good news that McDermott considers Douglas as “day to day” and not “week to week” — but it’s not great news that he didn’t practice on Wednesday. If Douglas can’t play Sunday, Buffalo has Dane Jackson and Kaiir Elam, the latter having only been active on game day twice this entire year, on the active roster. They also have veteran cornerback Josh Norman on their practice squad and used him in three separate games this season. With no limit on game-day elevations during the playoffs, they could bring the 36-year-old Norman back to the field again.

Safety Taylor Rapp didn’t practice on Wednesday either. Rapp intercepted a pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to secure the Bills’ win Sunday night, but came up limping after the play. If Rapp is unable to play this week, Buffalo does have safety Damar Hamlin on the active roster. Hamlin has been dealing with a shoulder injury for three weeks — but, despite still showing up on the injury report, started this week as a full participant at practice. While the Bills don’t have any safeties on their practice squad, Cam Lewis, who is on the active roster, has filled in at a variety of defensive back positions and could also get some time spelling Rapp if needed.

Tomorrow’s midweek report will give us a better idea of which players we might see on Sunday. That news will be key as the Bills, who at one time were the 11th seed in the AFC, try to take advantage of having secured the conference’s two seed and home-field advantage for this weekend’s start to the 2023 NFL playoffs.