When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I felt great. I had a nice cup of coffee, ate a good breakfast, and took the dog for a walk. By the time I got home, I had three major pieces of Buffalo Bills news to sift through. Micah Hyde and Jamison Crowder returned to practice, Tua Tagovailoa was ruled out for Sunday’s Wild Card matchup, and Damar Hamlin was released from hospital. Not a bad day, all told.
It was a busy day in the community, so let’s go over what all of this means for the Buffalo Bills, their playoff run, and more.
Micah Hyde & Jamison Crowder Return
The rumours are true. All-Pro S Micah Hyde, who injured his neck in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans and was thought to be out for the year, has returned to practice off the injured reserve. Alongside Micah is WR Jamison Crowder. Crowder adds depth to a WR room that needed it.
Crowder brought high expectations into training camp as the Bills expected starting slot receiver. Unfortunately, he was injured all camp long, and lost the job to Isaiah McKenzie.
He had a disappointing start to the season as a result, and then went to the IR after reportedly breaking his ankle in Week 4.
Prior to his time in Buffalo, Crowder was an excellent receiver out of the slot, and had earned great acclaim whilst working with mediocre to bad quarterbacks. It’s a shame he missed his chance to show out this season. However, if he can return to the lineup for the playoffs, he just might earn himself another contract.
Micah Hyde said after his injury that he would see us in 2023. We didn’t know just how literal that was going to be.
When Hyde went down, Damar Hamlin stepped up. Hamlin did well, but the team traded for former Bills S Dean Marlowe for added depth. They needed it, and Marlowe filled in well for the sidelined Hamlin in the season finale. He’ll do the same this week, as Micah Hyde has been ruled out against Miami in the Wild Card round. He sported the red non-contact jersey in practice; it’s something he likely won’t remove until sometime next week.
The Buffalo Bills will have to beat the Miami Dolphins without him, but we could see Hyde back where he belongs as soon as the Divisional Round. Assuming they win, of course. This next piece may help you decide how we expect the Wild Card round to pan out.
Tua Tagovailoa Isn’t Ready
The fanbase holds mixed feeling about how the NFL worked out playoff seeding. The removal of the Bills-Bengals game caused a rift, and the Kansas City Chiefs’ extra game meant that they were awarded home-field advantage and a first-round bye. The home field was mitigated by NFL rulings, but having to play three games in the postseason instead of the two that a Buffalo victory over Cincinnati would have allowed is a significant loss of advantage.
Luckily for the Buffalo Bills, their first round matchup just got that much simpler. It’s not a bye, but it’s favourable.
Tua Tagovailoa has been ruled OUT for Sunday’s Wild Card matchup. We don’t celebrate injuries here, and Tua’s latest concussion is no joke, but we can take relief in knowing that the replacement, Skylar Thompson, doesn’t hold a candle to the starter. Tua has played well this year, and not having to worry about him this weekend is a big break for a Bills team desperately in need of one.
In his absence, Thompson was far from effective. In his start against the New York Jets last week, he went 20-of-31 for only 156 yards, with no touchdowns. He didn’t impress, and this defense likely wont give him another chance to; they’re one of only three teams to allow fewer points than the Jets in 2022/23. Both the Bills and Jets also rank in the top four in passer rating against, which bodes ill for the rookie.
Damar Hamlin Comes Home
Lastly, the Buffalo Bills officially announced that Damar Hamlin has returned home after being discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. His progress through his recovery has been nothing short of remarkable, and it’s a huge boost to know he’s back where he belongs.
Damar’s support meant a great deal to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, and knowing that their brother is back home is a massive load off of everyone’s minds.
Whilst none of the information we have been given so far indicates that he’s going to be forced into retirement, we expect that he doesn’t play again this season. He went to the IR on Friday, January 6th, and will be paid his full salary whilst on it.
Like this piece? Check out the previous Buffalo Bulletin on playing for Damar Hamlin.
The Buffalo Bulletin on Buffalo Fanatics is a weekly editorial by Iestyn Harris. Check back regularly for hot topics, riveting discussion, and, occasionally, some actual insight.
Original Featured Image: Adrian Kraus/AP; Composite By Iestyn Harris