The Buffalo Bills finished the regular season 13-3 and are fresh off of a Wild Card victory, extending their winning streak to eight games. The Bills got through last week without any major injuries, which will be vital as they face off against the Bengals, who are on a nine-game win streak of their own. Just three weeks ago, these teams witnessed the unimaginable with the Damar Hamlin injury. Now, they face off again in what appears to be destined for an instant classic.
Throughout the season, injuries have been unpleasant to the Buffalo Bills. The team’s IR-list includes S Damar Hamlin, DE Von Miller, WR Jake Kumerow, and OT Tommy Doyle. Good news arrived last week when Buffalo activated WR Jamison Crowder and S Micah Hyde from IR, opening a 21-day practice window. The estimated return of Crowder is unknown, but we now know Hyde will not be back until the AFC Championship Game at the earliest.
As for the Cincinnati Bengals, they will be down three starting offensive linemen on Sunday. Notable players on the IR include CB Chidobe Awuzie and OT La’el Collins. Listed as OUT for the game will be OT Jonah Williams and OG Alex Cappa. CB Tre Flowers is doubtful.
DT Jordan Phillips
Phillips suffered his ‘shoulder’ injury back on December 1 when the Buffalo Bills played in New England for Thursday Night Football. He fell on an outstretched arm when pursuing QB Mac Jones late in the game. Phillips’ injury caused him to miss the following two weeks.
In my opinion, he appeared to suffer a dislocation/labral tear. The average return to play is three weeks. He was able to return to action against the Bears, three weeks after his injury, but only at a 24% snap share. This was about half of his usual rate. After a virtual week off due to the Hamlin injury, Phillips played a 28% snap share in the regular season finale against the Patriots. He must have aggravated his injury, as he was unable to play last week against the Dolphins.
The problem with a shoulder dislocation is that the shoulder can be unstable. In essence, this means it can pop out of the socket more easily and further damage the shoulder joint. It is unknown if he has had subsequent dislocation or subluxations, but it wouldn’t be surprising.
As for this week, Phillips was able to participate in a limited fashion each practice. This is an upward trend, as he missed all practices last week. I think Phillips straps it up and plays this week, but re-injury risk is high.
DT DaQuan Jones
There were no reports of an injury during the last game, yet DaQuan Jones has been limited all week in practice for a ‘calf’ injury. DaQuan has been quietly putting together significant snap count shares over the past month, averaging about 70% of the snaps. This was no different last week against the Dolphins, as he played in 69% of the snaps.
Since Jones was able to practice in a limited fashion all week, I think the team is just managing his reps. He might be dealing with a very low-grade strain, causing soreness during the week. I think he still suits up on Sunday, but may need to roll back his snap share, especially if Phillips is able to return.
CB Dane Jackson
Dane suffered a ‘knee’ injury against the Dolphins last week. Although he didn’t return to the game, it has been reported that he was available if needed.
Dane has popped up on the injury report for knee ailments a few times over the past two seasons but has never missed time. Potentially, he briefly aggravated a chronic condition. It will be interesting to see if CB Kaiir Elam takes over most of the snaps they have been sharing over the past month.
WR Isaiah McKenzie
Lil’ Dirty popped up on the injury report with a ‘hamstring’ last week. It has since been reported that he sustained his injury in practice.
McKenzie missed the rest of the practice sessions last week but has been able to return in full this week. He likely sustained a low-grade strain and will be available this week.
S Jordan Poyer
Poyer was listed with a ‘knee’ the past five weeks. It is now known he is dealing with a lateral meniscus tear, which is why he continues to have limitations during the practice week.
A few weeks ago, Poyer said that he ‘banged’ it up when the Buffalo Bills took on the Dolphins in Week 15. He has played a full snap share since his injury occurred, however. Meniscal tears are common in the NFL. However, lateral tears are a little more difficult to deal with. It appears he will be able to continue to play through this injury, but it can have a negative effect on his cutting/change of direction. To note, he has not been wearing any type of brace.
QB Josh Allen
Josh Allen suffered an ‘elbow’ sprain back in Week 9, which is believed to be a UCL ‘Tommy John’ injury. He hasn’t missed a single snap though and has been a full participant in practice six out of the past eight weeks. (He logged one ‘limited’ session prior to Weeks 16 and 18.) Allen is fine, and this is yet another example of his injury resilience.
CB Cam Lewis (forearm) was also listed and will play.
- Okoroha KR, Taylor KA, Marshall NE, Keller RA, Fidai M, Mahan MC, Varma V, Moutzouros V. Return to play after shoulder instability in National Football League athletes. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2018 Jan;27(1):17-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2017.07.027. Epub 2017 Sep 20. PMID: 28941971.
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