The Buffalo Bills are 11-3 and on a five-game winning streak. This upcoming matchup is looking like a lump of coal, as the weather appears to be a factor again. Luckily, nothing decks the halls like Josh Allen’s (foot)balls.
The injury bug has earned a spot on Santa’s naughty list for what it’s done to the Bills this season. DE Von Miller, CB Christian Bendford, WR Jake Kumerow, WR Jamison Crowder, OT Tommy Doyle, and S Micah Hyde are on the IR. Fortunately, Buffalo got an early Christmas gift, as G Ike Boettger was activated from the PUP list and is now on the 53-man roster.
As for the Chicago Bears, they have a few key players on the IR. This includes WR Darnell Mooney, FS Eddie Jackson, and MLB Jack Sanborn. Their change-of-pace RB Khalil Herbert may return from the IR this week. TE Trevon Wesco, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, and CB Kindle Vildor are OUT. Meanwhile, OG Teven Jenkins, WR Chase Claypool, and OG Cody Whitehair are listed as DOUBTFUL.
C Mitch Morse
Morse left last week’s Dolphins game early in the third quarter with a ‘concussion’. This is troublesome, as Morse has had several documented concussions throughout his career with the Chiefs and the Bills. He has been DNP all week and will miss this game. It is unknown how fast he will recover, but he will need to go through the NFL’s concussion protocol.
This is now Morse’s sixth concussion in eight seasons. He suffered two concussions in 2015, his rookie year with the Chiefs, which caused him to miss three games (one regular season game and two postseason games). In 2018, he sustained his third concussion with the Chiefs and missed five games. When he joined the Bills in 2019, he had his fourth concussion in training camp and missed the entire preseason. Head injuries returned in 2020, causing Morse to miss two games (three weeks including bye week). Now, after suffering his sixth concussion, it may take him anywhere from two to five weeks to return. It’s anyone’s guess.
DE Boogie Basham
Boogie also exited the Dolphins game last week with a ‘calf’ injury in the second half. He has likely suffered a strain and has been DNP all week. The average return to play in NFL is 17.4 days (1), which likely means Boogie misses next week as well.
DT Ed Oliver
Oliver was limited with a pectoral injury last week. He played in the Dolphins game without issues, but Oliver popped up on the injury report mid-week with a ‘calf’ injury. When a player gets a new designation during the practice week, then they likely suffered the injury in practice. Oliver was limited on Wednesday and did not practice on Thursday.
The new injury is likely a calf strain. Just as mentioned above for DE Boogie Basham, the healing time may force Oliver to miss next week as well.
DT Jordan Phillips
Phillips suffered his ‘shoulder’ injury late in Patriots game. He fell on an outstretched arm when pursuing Mac Jones. Phillips has missed every practice for two weeks. This week, he was able to practice in limited fashion for all sessions. In my opinion, Phillips appeared to suffer a dislocation. The average return to play is three weeks (2) which, for Phillips, would be this week. Expect Phillips to play, especially with the injury to Oliver. Philips will likely wear a harness moving forward and may be susceptible to future subluxations/dislocations.
OG Ryan Bates
Bates was a victim of friendly fire when Dion Dawkins pancaked a Jets defender into his legs in Week 14. This caused him to miss Week 15 against the Dolphins. The injury has been reported as a ‘low ankle sprain’, but it had the mechanism of a ‘high ankle sprain’ written all over it. Potentially, Bates only suffered a medial ankle sprain. Ironically, Dawkins returned from a similar mechanism of injury in 17 days for Week 14. Bates will be returning with 13 days rest.
LB Matt Milano
Milano was a surprise addition to the injury report with a ‘knee’ injury two weeks ago. It was odd, as he played 100% of the defensive snaps against the Patriots in Week 13 and Jets in Week 14. As with Week 14, Milano went ‘DNP-DNP-Limited’ in practice but played against the Dolphins last week. Leading up to this week, Milano logged ‘Limited, Limited, and Full’ practices, which is an encouraging sign that he is on the mend. In my opinion, he likely has a minor meniscal tear. Other possibilities would be a chronic cartilage or overuse injury such as tendonitis.
QB Josh Allen
Josh Allen suffered an ‘elbow’ sprain on the third to last play of the Jets game. However, Allen returned to the lineup without missing any time. After stacking the past three weeks of practice as a full participant, Allen had a ‘Limited’ session this week. Fortunately, he was able to practice in ‘Full’ the rest of the week. The Bills dodged a bullet with this one, and it is just another example of the injury resilience of Josh Allen.
DE AJ Epenesa
Epenesa landed on the injury report this week with an ‘elbow’. He likely sustained a minor sprain and was able to practice in ‘Full’ the entire week. His snap share did drop to 36% in Week 15 compared to 49% in Week 14.
S Jordan Poyer
Poyer was listed with a ‘knee’ this week. He likely suffered a minor sprain or contusion from last week’s Dolphins game. He will be suiting up this week after returning to practice in ‘Full’ on Thursday.
- Werner BC, Belkin NS, Kennelly S, Weiss L, Barnes RP, Potter HG, Warren RF, Rodeo SA. Acute Gastrocnemius-Soleus Complex Injuries in National Football League Athletes. Orthop J Sports Med. 2017 Jan 11; 5(1): 2325967116680344. doi: 10.1177/2325967116680344. Erratum in: Orthop J Sports Med. 2017 Jan 30; 5(1): 2325967117693882. PMID: 28203595; PMCID: PMC5298443.
- 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.
Featured Image: AP Photo/John Munson