The Bills’ loss in London ended with significant defensive setbacks. After losing Tre’Davious White to a torn Achilles, the Bills will likely be down Matt Milano and DaQuan Jones for the season as well.
Jones will see his second Bills season stall because of a torn pectoral muscle, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. The veteran defensive tackle will need surgery, per Sean McDermott, and this development is expected to lead to a rehab timetable that extends into the 2024 offseason. This will be new territory for Jones, who played in at least 16 games in seven of the past eight seasons.
In the second season of a two-year, $14MM deal, Jones had operated as a Bills starter throughout his tenure. The 10th-year D-lineman had been enjoying a quality start; Pro Football Focus ranks Jones third overall among interior defenders. Coupled with the White injury, the Bills are set to lose key starters on all three levels in the span of two weeks.
Milano, who sustained a serious knee injury Sunday, signed a second Bills extension this offseason. Unfortunately for Jones, he is in a contract year. A seven-year Titans mainstay, Jones has been one of the more unheralded parts of the Bills’ stout defense over the past two seasons. After a one-year stopover in Carolina, Jones has excelled in Buffalo. PFF slotted Jones as a top-20 interior D-lineman last season, when he finished with a career-high 11 quarterback hits.
Veterans flood the Bills’ D-tackle group, but Jones has started every game he has played in with the team. The Bills will need to lean on their other experienced players inside going forward. Buffalo handed Ed Oliver a $17MM-per-year extension this offseason and still rosters 2022 free agency pickup Tim Settle. Jordan Phillips, who is in his second stint with the franchise, looms as a key depth piece as well.
Settle and Phillips have seen roughly equal workloads this season. Settle has logged 105 defensive snaps, while Phillips has been on the field for 113. The team also signed Poona Ford this offseason, but the ex-Seahawk has only been out there on 23 defensive plays. In light of the Jones injury, that number figures to go up. The Bills are interestingly well-positioned to handle a DT injury, seeing as four vested veterans are part of this mix even without Jones. But this will be a blow to a team also set to be without White and Milano.