Sitting at 7-6 with the start of another pandemic wave, the Buffalo Bills have minimal room for error. It appears COVID reserve will be a revolving door as we make our way to the finish line. Luckily, at the most key position, the Bills will have their star QB under center this week. However, the great news was dampened, as LT Dion Dawkins was added to the COVID list on Friday.
As for Carolina, they are in far worse shape on the injury front. On the IR, Carolina will be without RB Christian McCaffrey, CB Donte Jackson, C Matt Paradis, and CB Jaycee Horn. Also listed as OUT this week is CB A.J. Bouye. Questionable, and unlikely to play, is WR D.J. Moore. Interestingly, they activated QB Sam Darnold from the IR this week, however he is not expected to play.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
Sanders left last week’s Bills game just before the end of the first half. He appeared to sprain his knee on Josh Allen’s lone INT of the game. McDermott described him as week-to-week, so we are likely looking at a mild sprain or an aggravation of his meniscus. He has a lengthy injury history that can be found here.
It’s interesting he was listed as doubtful because he did not practice all week. He may be on the mend, but he will not play this week.
DT Star Lotulelei
Star was placed on the COVID list prior to the Buffalo Bills’ Week 10 matchup with the Jets. This caused him to miss three games, but he was able to return for the Patriots game for a 53% snap share. The 53% snap share was the exact average from his previous six games. There was no report of an injury after the game, but he showed up on the injury report as limited with a ‘toe’ injury last week. He subsequently was downgraded to a DNP on Thursday and Friday and missed his fifth game of the season.
It is unknown if the injury was sustained from the game or at practice. Usually toe injuries are a sprain, aka ‘turf toe’, and they vary with their recovery times. They can take 1-3 weeks to recover, but can be easily aggravated. Another theory is he could be dealing with ‘COVID Toe’. If this is the case, his toe is likely swollen and painful. The recovery time is a big unknown. Usually, it will clear up in two weeks, but can last up to 2-6 months in extreme cases.
This week, Star was limited every day of practice. Although this is better than last week, he still was not able to return in full. For that reason, I believe he misses this game but returns for the Patriots in Week 16.
RB Taiwan Jones
Jones banged his ‘knee’ on a punt coverage in the first quarter of the Bucs game. He was able to return to the game though. However, he was a DNP early in the week and finished with a limited participation on Friday. He has an extensive medical history, but he is a veteran and solely plays special teams. The Bills have been conservative with him in practice this year, and he always seems to suit up. I do not see him missing this game.
DE A.J. Epenesa
A.J. is not a stranger to practice injuries. Unfortunately, this one occurred on a Friday. With limited time to heal, he probably will miss the game this week. Will be interesting to see how he is listed in practice next week. His injury is likely an ‘ankle’ sprain, but the type and severity is unknown.
QB Josh Allen
The Allen foot fetish has been in full effect this week. His injury from last week was broken down extensively here. It should be assumed that he is dealing with a mild, grade 1 midfoot sprain. I do not think he is 100%, but The General is active.
DE Jerry Hughes
Jerry played his usual 52% snap count for the Bills last week. He was not mentioned as having an issue after the game, and he even went out to see the Hamilton play on Tuesday. However, he was limited with a ‘foot’ ailment on Wednesday and Thursday. Fortunately, he finished the week as a full participant and will be active for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. He might be dealing with something as simple as a bruise.
TE Tommy Sweeney
Sweeney was listed with a ‘hip’ injury after playing 22% of the snaps in the Patriots game, which had been his norm over the previous three games. He started last Wednesday as limited participant and may have injured himself in practice. He was subsequently downgraded to DNP for Thursday and Friday and missed the Buccaneers game. His injury is a mystery, but he was able to finish this week as a full participant and will be active Sunday.
BUFFALO BILLS COVID LIST
New rules have been implemented. Vaccinated players only need one negative test, or produce a CT level of 35+. It is unknown how long it takes to get to a CT level of 35, but should be faster returns than normal.
- LB AJ Klein was placed on 12/6/21; activated 12/15/21
- LB Tyler Dodson was placed on 12/14/21
- LT Dion Dawkins was placed on 12/17/21