The 2021 Buffalo Bills season is polarizing. From the state of the world in general, Beasley’s outburst, Allen’s extension, stadium drama, to our best roster since 1990. This is the way better than watching The Bachelorette. As for the team’s health, we are dealing with a myriad of injuries and more COVID. Let’s take a look.
Big news dropped yesterday that a Bills trainer, who is vaccinated, tested positive for COVID. Cole Beasley, Vernon Butler, Star Lotulelei, and Gabriel Davis were identified as close contacts and sent home for a five-day quarantine. Hopefully, these players do not catch the virus. However, the names are interesting.
For obvious reasons, Cole Beasley is getting dragged through the national media circuit. It’s fascinating that Star sat out last season, but returned this year unvaccinated. Last but not least, it appears Butler practiced before he was told to go home. To each their own, but just seems odd on the surface. Matt Milano and A.J. Klein also did not participate out of caution, but their omission from the COVID list means they were either (a) close contacts and vaccinated, or (b) determined not to be close contacts.
Due to the protocols, all players will sit out five days. If they continue to test negative, they can return. If they test positive, add another 10 days minimum. The whole situation is definitely debatable. Vaccinated players are only being tested every two weeks, while breakthrough positive cases surge in the United States. Should only be a matter of time before the testing policies change, unless there is a reason behind the madness…
WR Isaiah McKenzie
We had an unfortunate camp injury in practice yesterday. Isaiah McKenzie apparently turned up field and got blindsided by Poyer. He was said to be down for several minutes, with a neck/shoulder injury. In my opinion, this screamed concussion and/or stinger. However, reports later in the night stated it was a shoulder only injury.
Although it could still be the former, if it truly is shoulder, we are looking at a potential AC joint separation or a glenohumeraldislocation. Neither is great for a receiver, who needs his arms to utilize his full catch radius. An AC joint injury would involve a quicker recovery. (This is what Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds suffered last year.) Whereas a dislocation usually needs surgery for his position specifically, unless he wants to play in a harness and with significant limitations. This surgery would sideline him for six months. At this point, any diagnosis is a crapshoot guess at best, but those are the likeliest current avenues.
Injuries from the Bears Game
DT Harrison Phillips
Harrison Phillips went down on the first drive during the Bears game. Take a close look at his left leg in the image below. The view isn’t great, but when his foot planted, it basically bowed outward while he was toppled over. He was seen grabbing the outside of his leg after he stood up. He was a beast, staying in for two more plays. You can make a case it might have been his MCL, because his knee kind of made a windshield wiper motion, therefore caving inward real quick before it eventually buckled outward. However, he grabs the outside of his knee after he stood up, so I am concluding its LCL.
He could have also damaged his meniscus, however, he would already have had surgery by now if that was the case. Fortunately, it looks like he avoided a major injury (i.e. another ACL tear), but he might lack stability in that knee due to two previous ACL reconstructions. LCLs don’t heal as fast as MCLs, so we could be looking at a four-to-six week recovery period. With his injury history, I would hope the team leans on the full six weeks.
WR Marquez Stevenson
Marquez Stevenson appeared to sprain his right ankle on an incompletion early in the third quarter. The camera angle is tough, but it looks like he got rolled over for a traditional low ankle sprain. This would carry a one-to-two week recovery time. He stayed in for one more play, and then the ensuing punt return TD. However, he was gimpy as he crossed the goaline and never returned. Given that he was seen in a walking boot, I’d fear a high ankle sprain and/or a Jones’ fracture, ala Sammy Watkins. However, he was said to be out of the boot at practice today, so that aligns more with a mild ankle sprain.
OT Spencer Brown & Tommy Doyle
Both rookie OTs exited the game early with knee injuries. The video footage is murky, but both seem to have only sustained mild ailments. I would throw both of these guys in the bucket of day-to-day unless more information surfaces. Spencer is the most worrisome, as he has a long injury history with his knees already.
CB Dane Jackson
Dane Jackson started the game, but exited late in the first quarter. It is reported that it may be a stinger, but Leslie Frazier stated he was going for an MRI when he spoke to the media yesterday. There could be more than meets the eye here, but likely a one-to-two week deal for Dane.
Rounding out the lengthy injury list of contributors from yesterday’s practice: RB Antonio Williams (stinger), RB Christian Wade (shoulder), TE Tommy Sweeney (foot), and WR Isaiah Hodgins (knee). These should mostly be considered day-to-day and were reported in last week’s injury primer. I would worry the most about Sweeney’s being a long term injury.
Quietly, S Jaquan Johnson (ankle), DE Mike Love (undisclosed), and DT Treyvon Hester (undisclosed) missed last week’s game and are still out.
On the bright side, Stefon Diggs is back baby!!