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Buffalo Bills Injury Primer (2021): Week 1

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The fall is here and Buffalo Bills football is back. With the sizzling offseason in the rear view mirror, the Bills are charging into destiny. A world in constant chaos, one team can alter the fate of the globe. A Lombardi Trophy to the Buffalo kids would likely create world peace. The General and his herd of Buffalo face one grave threat… injuries.

The offseason saw a few marquee players have operations. Cody Ford had a knee/shoulder surgery, while Zack Moss had ankle surgery. Although he did not need an operation, Matt Milano’s soft tissue issues are always on my mind.

The draft class also brought some medical drama. Almost all our draft picks had question marks concerning their injury history. Ironically, the greatest physical specimen,Spencer Brown, draws the greatest concerns.

For week 1, the Steelers have only one questionable player listed: LB Alex Highsmith (groin). He finished the week with a FULL practice, which makes him likely to play. DE Stephon Tuitt is OUT on IR.

OUT

DT Star Lotulelei

Star has been absent from practice since the last preseason game. Listed with a “calf” injury, it is unclear when he sustained it. After his last series during the Packers game, Star was seen on the sidelines in no apparent harm. Not even an ice wrap was applied to his sweltering body. Usually a calf injury would imply a strained muscle.

Regardless of the intricacies of Star’s injury, the healing process is at 2 weeks come this weekend. Strains usually take 2-6 weeks to recover. And the fact we didn’t see the muscle ‘pop’ on film, I’d prognosticate that this is a mild strain. Calf strains are known to be tricky and can easily aggravate, as previously noted with Jerry Hughes’ preseason calf injury. This is likely why the team will continue to be cautious (Star has been a complete DNP from activities for the past two weeks). Next week will be 50/50, but I wouldn’t expect Star to return any later than week 3.

squareonephysio.ca

QUESTIONABLE

WR Emmanuel Sanders

When Emmanuel took the podium after his preseason debut in the Packers game, he was not ailing. He is listed with a “foot” injury, and likely will be a frequent flyer on the injury report all season long. He was listed as a limited participant all week in practice. This past training camp he missed time for that same condition. This designation is likely due to the fact Emmanuel will need frequent load management as he carries a significant medical history below his waist:

  • 2010: Thigh injury (missed 3 games), broke right ankle in Super Bowl
  • 2011 Offseason: Stress fracture repair and bone graft on left foot
  • 2011: Left meniscus surgery (missed 2 games), foot inflammation (missed 3 games)
  • 2013-16: Various minor injuries (no time missed)
  • 2015: High left ankle sprain (missed 2 games)
  • 2017: Right ankle injury (missed 4 total games)
  • 2018: Achilles’ tear (missed last few games of season)
  • 2019 Offseason: Tight rope procedure done on right ankle

Since his last surgeries, Emmanuel has still sustained respectable numbers over the past two seasons. He has averaged nearly 800 yards, 64 catches, and 5 TDs per year.

The morale of the story is Emmanuel will be playing this Sunday. He is 34 and he has had multiple surgeries on both ankles and/or feet throughout his career. He will likely need weekly load management, which will require limited practice time and frequent listings on the injury report. Fortunately, he will likely continue to suit up and play unless he has a major re-injury.

Prediction: ACTIVE

ALSO LISTED

CB Taron Johson

Listed with a “hand” injury, Taron first started missing practice about 2 and a half weeks ago. The specifics are unknown, but based on the return to practice timelines and the protective equipment he has been sporting, he likely sustained a metacarpal fracture in his hand. These usually only take 2-4 weeks to return, hence why he will be active this Sunday.

Jon Scott on Twitter: “Taron Johnson moving in the right direction with his hand injury.No more fully wrapped “club.”More of a wrap on that right hand.Even see him catching balls today at practice.#Bills pic.twitter.com/WG1bNav3Y5 / Twitter”

Taron Johnson moving in the right direction with his hand injury.No more fully wrapped “club.”More of a wrap on that right hand.Even see him catching balls today at practice.#Bills pic.twitter.com/WG1bNav3Y5

WR Isaiah McKenzie 

After reportedly taking a rough shot from Jordan Poyer in practice 2 and a half weeks ago, Isaiah has been dealing with a “shoulder” injury. He was a FULL participant all week and will be suiting up this Sunday. Isaiah likely had a moderate AC joint sprain.

Kneeandshoulderclinic.com.au

DT Harrison Phillips

Rising from the darkness of a potential significant “knee” injury, Horrible Harry shocked the medical community and bounced back quickly. After leaving the Bears game early just two weeks ago, Phillips has been a FULL participant this week and will strap it up. The knee injury was to the same knee that underwent TWO ACL reconstructions. A legend in the making.