Hey Bills Mafia! Week 7 has concluded, and the Bills are 5-2. I couldn’t have hated the first half of that game more, but a win is a win. I know the Jets are historically bad, but division games on the road are never going to be free wins, which many Bills fans looked at this matchup as. Historically, Brady and the Patriots struggled mightily on the road in Miami against much inferior Dolphins teams. Yes, the Jets are a dumpster fire and came into this week after being shut out by Miami in Week 6, but that was with Joe Flacco under center. I’m not surprised the Jets and Sam Darnold came to play on Sunday, well for one half at least. I’ll take 5-2 though; it could have been worse. Going 5-4 over the final 9 games should be good enough for the division. Unfortunately, the Bills have the toughest strength of schedule remaining for all AFC teams and 30th in the NFL. It will be a tough task, let’s hope they can do it.
Bills Injury Updates
First, let’s take a quick look at the injury situation heading into this week. The Bills were able to escape New Jersey without any new injuries which is great considering the problems MetLife’s new turf, as well as Gregg Williams’ headhunting defensive mentality, have caused. Additionally, Jon Feliciano, Levi Wallace, and Del’Shawn Phillips have been designated to return from IR. I expect Feliciano to be promoted to the active 53-man roster by Saturday. Phillips and Wallace have 21 days to be activated, so I do not expect them to make it to the active roster quite yet. However, it is a great sign that they have returned to practice. Wednesday’s practice report was lengthy and interesting. Let’s take a look:
- DT Vernon Butler – Groin – Limited. Butler is a new addition to the injury report
- G Cody Ford – Knee – DNP. No surprise here as he is “week to week”
- FS Micah Hyde – Concussion – DNP. This is a surprise. He finished the game on Sunday and was not mentioned with an injury post-game or on Monday during Coach McDermott’s media session. WKBW’s Matt Bove posted a video on Twitter of Micah Hyde on the practice field and participating in stretching. This is noteworthy because it informs us that Hyde is in stage two of the protocol at the least. If you remember back when Knox was in concussion protocol, I laid out the stages for you. Stage two is when players can be back on the field participating in light work. We are not aware of what else Hyde did in practice today, but if his neurological tests clear tomorrow, he may be allowed to ramp up his work for tomorrow’s practice, and again on Friday. This is something to surely monitor as his absence would have a major impact.
- DE Jerry Hughes – Foot – DNP. Jerry is a new addition to the injury report. My gut tells me he’ll be fine and will be active on Sunday.
- DT Quinton Jefferson – Knee – Limited. Another new addition, but the fact he was on the field in a limited fashion is a good sign for is availability.
- CB Cam Lewis – Wrist – Limited. Cam was limited last week as well with the same injury, this is nothing new.
- WR Isaiah McKenzie – Ankle – Limited. Hmmm, this is a new one as well. I did not notice him injure it on Sunday and he did finish the game. If he practices the next few days, he should be fine.
- CB Josh Norman – Hamstring – DNP. Norman re-aggravated his hamstring late last week which caused him to be inactive on Sunday. I wrote about Norman in the summer and warned everyone about this very thing happening, the lingering of the injury all season long. This is now Norman’s second setback this season with this hamstring injury, and I do not expect him in the lineup on Sunday again.
- G Brian Winters – Knee – Limited. Winters was limited last week during practice with the same injury, but he did not miss the game on Sunday. This is likely the same situation here, and he should be good to go on Sunday barring any setbacks.
Guess who wasn’t on the report at all? John Brown. Let’s hope he stays healthy and avoids re-aggravation of the knee and calf during the remainder of the week. If you watch Bills games, I don’t need to inform you of his importance to this offense. Welcome back, Smoke!
COVID-19 and the Bills
Now, I want to bring COVID up again because we all know we haven’t heard enough of it yet! A couple of weeks ago, right after the Bills traveled to Nashville for their matchup with the Titans, I wrote my blog about some things to watch for, COVID-wise. I was concerned and am still upset that the NFL forced the team to travel there since they had over 20 active COVID cases, and I just don’t see how the benefit of having the game played outweighed the risk. But with the NFL, money > player safety, and that gets more evident as each day passes. In that blog, I specifically stated that the following 14 days after their departure from Nashville were going to be critical to watch for any positive results within the Bills organization and locker room. Since the incubation period can last 14 days, the timeline from October 13th-October 27th is/was crucial. Why am I bringing all this up again?
On Saturday morning, we learned that TE Dawson Knox tested positive, and three other players were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, including Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeny, and Nate Becker. If you notice, all of these players happen to be tight ends. The other three were placed on the list since they were deemed to have “close contact” with Dawson, per NFL protocols. This makes sense since they are all in the TE room/meetings. Luckily, Tyler Kroft avoided this since he was at the hospital with his wife, as she was delivering their newborn baby. I’m not sure how Reggie Gilliam escaped the list. Maybe he has been in the RB/FB room? The team socially distanced on Saturday, withholding pregame team meetings virtually on Saturday night in their hotel rooms and had to eat dinner alone in their rooms as well. McDermott and the Bills’ staff are very strategic and particular, and we can feel safe knowing they will be strict and do everything by the book to keep their players safe.
Knox’s positive test result was announced Saturday 10/24, meaning this was from his test that was administered on 10/23, 10 days after the team’s matchup against the Titans. The next few days are going to be critical, as this team really cannot afford to lose players should they test positive. They have already battled a long list of injuries that have left them without key players in multiple games and still are battling injuries to multiple starters. Thankfully, they were able to escape MetLife without any new injuries, especially with how harsh that new turf has been to visiting players this season. Under the NFL’s COVID protocol, here is what needs to happen with the players who were placed on the list.
- Knox – since he tested positive, he cannot return to the facility until 10 days have passed OR he has two consecutive negative tests that are separated by 24 hours, is asymptomatic, and is approved by the team’s physician.
- Sweeney, Smith, and Becker – since they did not test positive and are on the list due to being considered a close contact, they can return when they return two negative PCR tests that are separated by 24 hours, meaning they have the opportunity to return to the facility this week if they each test negative twice.
The Bills and their staff will be closely monitoring their players this week and adhering to strict testing and proper distancing to ensure their safety. Let’s hope Knox is the outlier and only member of the Bills to test positive. His calf injury could be a blessing in disguise since it kept him away from the majority of the team. My concern, however, is that he was infected in Nashville and didn’t test positive until now. Now, we play the waiting game and see how it all unfolds.
Stat of the day
Ed Oliver ranks 5th in the NFL among DT’s for pass rush win rate with a win rate of 20%, behind Aaron Donald (28%), Chris Jones (26%), Grady Jarrett (24%), and DeForest Buckner (21%) per PFF’s Austin Gayle. That’s pretty good company to be in for big Ed! Only one and a half years into his career, it’s fair to believe he’s only going to continue to improve.
And one last shoutout to my guy, Jerry Hughes! AFC defensive player of the week for his Week 7 performance against the Jets that included two sacks, a forced fumble, one TFL, and the game-sealing interception. Anyone who reads my stuff here at Buffalo Fanatics or follows me on Twitter knows I love my guy, Jerry Hughes!
We’re onto New England! Thanks for reading everyone!