La Cosa Nostra knows pain. Buffalo knows pain. Put those two together and you have yourself a Bills Mafia injury report. To highlight injuries of note heading into training camp, what better way to explain than a Mafia family tree?
Paralleling player injury concerns to a mafia organization chart is very simple. Sometimes you just ask.
Matt Milano is the undisputed leader for injury concerns heading into 2021. The problem with Milano’s injury history is the abundance of soft tissue ailments. These types of injuries can rear their ugly heads throughout a player’s career. Milano most notably had a pectoral tear in 2020, which required him to miss five games. He also missed a sixth game with a hamstring strain. Speaking of hamstrings, he missed time in 2017 and 2019 due to the same condition. There was also the broken shin bone in 2018, which required him to hit the IR and miss the last three games.
I would have reservations that he will be limited in his hamstrings and pec for the remainder of his career. Now does it show on film in 2021? Probably not. However, the risk for recurrence is there. Milano’s health is vital because the Bills won all but one game he played in during the 2020 season. Coincidence? I think not. I wish you good health Matt Milano, the Don Corleone of 2021 injury scares.
Cody Ford enters 2021 with some serious baggage. He’s definitely an important piece to the puzzle for the Bills, as improved Guard play is a must. However, he’s not as important as the Italian Stallion, Matt Milano. These words could make Cody defensive, but I don’t blame him as he has had an injury-plagued start to his career.
It all started in college when Cody missed several games after leg surgery as a freshman. This was a similar injury when Matt Milano suffered his fibula fracture in 2018. Fractures happen, but sprain and strains can last forever. Cody has been reported to have had shoulder surgery after the 2019 season. This was likely a labral/stabilization surgery that he played through.
In 2020, Cody had the MCL injury, which resulted in a few missed games. Then he suffered an ankle injury that cost him another game. Trying to get back to practice, Cody tore his meniscus in the same knee, thus requiring a meniscal repair. To add to his offseason, Cody was also reported to have underwent an operation on his other shoulder. Most likely, he had another labral/stabilization surgery that he likely has been playing through.
Overall, it can be assumed Cody entered the league with bad shoulders. Well, those are now fixed. His knee is going to be a tough one though because it was reported to be a meniscal repair. This differs from the E.J. Manual’s meniscus surgery (Meniscectomy) due to the recovery timelines. Meniscal repairs take a long time to fully recover, around 8 months for return to play (Blanchard, Hadley, et al., 2020). Remember, E.J. was able to come back in less than 2 weeks. On the bright side, the repairs do better for a player’s longevity if the procedure holds well, and August will mark his 8 months post-surgery mark. Cody will definitely need to have strong thighs entering 2021. Hopefully, he caught wind of a few BF articles that highlight that bodily region.
Leading a vast crew of other injury concerns is Zack Moss. Just as he was becoming a confidant to the run game, Zack’s season ended with a high ankle sprain/fracture in the Wild Card game. It was reported he underwent tightrope surgery to repair the torn ligament. Although Tua famously returned to play four weeks post-surgery, Zack has had the luxury of six-plus months to fully recover. This should not create any issues for his production in 2021. However, his toe injuries might. Zack had missed time in college for turf toe and that caused him to miss action in his rookie year with the Bills too. I would have a legitimate concern that his toe sprain (turf toe) may continue to linger throughout his career.
The 2021 Draft Class are made men. However, they are low on the organizational chart due to their lack of experience and need for immediate playing time. Injury histories are plentiful, especially with combine sensation Spencer Brown.
Will the Vax/COVID situation, a global turning point of mankind, come back to bite this team in the ass? Only time will tell. Of course a microcosm of today’s society arrives at our doorstep with our best chance since ’94. Because it’s Buffalo…
- Blanchard ER, Hadley CJ, Wicks ED, Emper W, Cohen SB. Return to Play After Isolated Meniscal Repairs in Athletes: A Systematic Review. Orthop J Sports Med. 2020; 8(11): 2325967120962093. Published 2020 Nov 20. DOI: 10.1177/2325967120962093