Bills Rumors

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Wilson, Hall, Pats

The Bills have an obvious 1-2 punch at wide receiver in Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis. In the slot, though, it has looked, recently, like Buffalo may be moving towards a bit of a position battle, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic.

After initially favoring Isaiah McKenzie in the first few weeks of the season, the Bills moved closer to an even split of snaps between McKenzie and Jamison Crowder in the team’s win last week over the Titans. Buscaglia notes that, in the game, the duo were only on the field at the same time for three snaps, indicating a one-or-the-other situation. In the remainder of the game, excluding garbage time, Buscaglia counted 21 offensive snaps for McKenzie and 16 for Crowder, a stark difference from the snap advantage McKenzie enjoyed to begin the season. This could lead one to believe that Buffalo is becoming more comfortable with the consistency it gets out of Crowder than the all-or-nothing, big play potential it gets out of McKenzie.

This theory failed to hold up in today’s loss to the Dolphins. Though snap totals have yet to be reported, quarterback Josh Allen clearly favored McKenzie today, targeting him nine times to only three for Crowder. McKenzie rewarded the extra attention with seven catches for 76 yards and a touchdown, tacking on a six yard rush, while Crowder only reeled in one pass for nine yards. If the Bills staff needed to see consistent production out of McKenzie, today was a good start.

Here are a few more rumors from the AFC East, starting with some usage notes from the Jets:

  • There was early concern surrounding New York’s usage of rookie first-round pick Garrett Wilson after the tenth-overall pick only saw the field for 38 of the offense’s 79 snaps in Week 1, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Two weeks later any concerns have certainly been quelled for the time being. Wilson’s playing time did increase to over 50% of the team’s offensive snaps, increasing to 61% in Week 2. While Jets fans may want to see him on the field even more often, he’s made the most of his playing time, becoming the favorite target for quarterback Joe Flacco. After three weeks, Wilson’s 32 targets and 214 receiving yards outpace Elijah Moore‘s 22 targets or Corey Davis‘ 187 receiving yards, both second on the team, despite both older receivers spending more time on the field.
  • There’s been an unpredictable fall from grace this year for Jets cornerback Bryce Hall, according to Cimini. Last year, Hall was fourth in the entire league for defensive snaps played. So far this year, it’s been a completely different story. Hall understandably lost his starting job to rookie fourth-overall pick Ahmad Gardner, but after three weeks, it appears that he’s also fallen behind the other four cornerbacks on the roster. Hall only played five defensive snaps in Week 1 and has been a healthy scratch for the past two games.
  • According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, the Patriots were experiencing some punter-envy today. Reiss reported that Ravens rookie punter Jordan Stout was “highly regarded by the Patriots in this year’s draft.” Stout entered the week ranking 30th in the league for average punt distance, but, even after a dismal 23 yard punt today, he was able to improve to 20th in the league with a 45.9 yard average.

Bills S Micah Hyde Done For Season

9:20pm: Poyer is not expected to play tomorrow, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). The news confirms what was feared about the status of his foot injury, and means that Buffalo will indeed be without both members of their highly-touted safety duo against the Dolphins.

10:40am: The Bills have suffered a major blow to their secondary. Safety Micah Hyde will miss the rest of the season with a neck injury, agent Jack Bechta announced on Twitter. The veteran is expected to make a full recovery in time for the 2023 season. Hyde will land on injured reserve later today.

Hyde suffered a neck injury during Monday’s win over the Titans. The injury limited him to only 64 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in Week 2, and he was held out of practice all this week. While Hyde had already been ruled out for Week 3 prior to today’s news, there wasn’t any hint that the injury would ultimately sideline him for the entire 2022 campaign.

While the Bills have been rolling through the first two weeks of the season, it’ll be hard for them to make up the absence of Hyde, who has established himself as one of the team’s defensive leaders. The veteran had one of the best seasons of his career in 2021, finishing with 74 tackles, five interceptions, and 10 passes defended. He finished the season ranked fifth among 92 qualifying safeties on Pro Football Focus. Through one-plus games in 2022, the 31-year-old was still plenty productive, with PFF ranking him 21st among 67 qualifying safeties. Hyde totaled seven tackles between his two appearances.

NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe tweets that fourth-year safety Jaquan Johnson will likely slide into the starting lineup in place of Hyde. Johnson saw time in 44 games between his first three seasons in the NFL, but he was limited to only one start while mostly playing a special teams role. He’s already seen a jump in playing time in 2022, with the 26-year-old compiling three tackles through two games. The Bills don’t have much else for depth at strong safety, with Jordan Poyer and 2021 sixth-round pick Damar Hamlin serving as the other safeties on the roster.

Speaking of, the Bills are also awaiting the status of Poyer for tomorrow’s contest against the Dolphins, as the safety is currently dealing with a foot injury and is “very much questionable,” per Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic (on Twitter). If Poyer is forced to sit out tomorrow’s game, the Bills will be eyeing an inexperienced safeties corps heading into a showdown with a Miami offense that scored six touchdowns last weekend.

AFC Injury Updates: Bills, Raiders, Leonard

As the Bills head to South Florida for a noon matchup against a red-hot Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins, they have seen a tough challenge get tougher. Buffalo released an injury update on its website today reporting that the team expects to be without four starters: two in the secondary, in safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Dane Jackson, and two defensive tackles, Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips. Jackson, Hyde, and Phillips all left Monday night’s game with injuries, while Oliver will miss his second straight contest.

Jackson left the game last week after a collision that forced his head backwards in a scary-looking neck injury. He was taken off the field in an ambulance, but, luckily, avoided any major injury. Unfortunately, Jackson hasn’t been able to practice at all this week but has been able to be around the team at the facilities.

Hyde also suffered a neck injury, albeit a far less severe-looking injury than Jackson’s, that held him out of practice this week. Phillips left the game Monday with a hamstring injury and also was unable to practice this week. Oliver has been dealing with an ankle injury that held him out last week, as well.

Missing three starters in the secondary (cornerback Tre’Davious White remains on injured reserve) makes the prospect of facing Tagovailoa a bit more cumbersome one week after he threw for 469 yards and six touchdowns against a banged up Ravens secondary. They’ll turn to rookies Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam to fill in at cornerback with help from veteran Bills cornerbacks Taron Johnson and Siran Neal. Damar Hamlin and Jaquan Johnson will be asked to step up in Hyde’s absence, as well.

With both Phillips and Oliver out on the defensive line, it’s a good bet that the Bills will mirror their gameday practice squad call-ups from last week in defensive tackles C.J. Brewer and Brandin Bryant.

Here are a few more Sunday injury statuses we learned about today, starting with a couple of big starters out in Sin City:

  • The Raiders are set to face off against the Titans this weekend without two Pro Bowlers as wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and linebacker Denzel Perryman are officially out, according to Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Hill also reports that, after missing two practices with an illness, running back Josh Jacobs is questionable to play this Sunday.
  • Despite initial reports in the preseason that Colts star linebacker Shaquille Leonard would not miss any time, the 27-year-old is set to miss his third straight game after being ruled out against the Chiefs this week, according to Mike Chappell of Indianapolis Fox59. Head coach Frank Reich told the media, “Deep down it’s the player. Deep down the player has to know he can play winning football and help this team win. That’s where we’ve got to get to.”

NFL Suspends Bills OL Bobby Hart

SEPTEMBER 22: Hart’s appeal was unsuccessful. The eighth-year offensive lineman will serve his one-game suspension.

SEPTEMBER 21: Hart’s post-game altercation was with Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, reports Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). During Hart’s appeal hearing today, it was alleged that Simmons spit on Hart, leading to the skirmish.

During altercation postgame with Simmons, Hart inadvertently made contact with a Titans assistant coach, leading to the one-game suspension levied by NFL vice president of operations Jon Runyan.

SEPTEMBER 19: The NFL handed Bills tackle Bobby Hart a one-game suspension Tuesday. A fight following the Bills’ Monday-night win over the Titans led to this ban.

NFL VP of football operations Jon Runyan‘s suspension letter to Hart indicates the veteran lineman threw a punch at a Titans player postgame. The punch struck a Tennessee coach in the head. This unnamed Titans assistant coach had attempted to separate the players.

Hart, 28, is in his second season with the Bills, but the former starter spent time with the Titans last year. In between Bills stays, Hart played in three games with the Titans.

The Bills signed Hart in March 2021, but he did not make their 53-man roster and landed on the Dolphins’ practice squad. Soon after, Hart re-signed with the Bills via a practice squad deal. He ended up with the Titans after the team poached him off Buffalo’s P-squad in October. After Tennessee demoted Hart to its P-squad, Buffalo made the same transaction by signing Hart to its active roster in November. The Bills circled back to Hart in free agency earlier this year.

A former seventh-round pick, Hart has done well for himself by making it into an eighth NFL season. The Florida State product was a multiyear right tackle starter for the Giants and Bengals. He has settled in as a backup. Monday night’s blowout led to Hart seeing some fourth-quarter snaps. Hart made one Titans start in 2021.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/21/22

Today’s practice squad moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Houston Texans

  • Signed: OL Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/21/22

Today’s minor transactions:

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Signed off Rams practice squad: DE Benton Whitley

Los Angeles Rams

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Kazee was suspended three games for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse. After signing with the Steelers this offseason, he landed on injured reserve after the preseason. Per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor (on Twitter), Kazee will be allowed to serve his suspension while he’s on IR.

Hopkins was also suspended three games for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse.

Latest On Bills CB Dane Jackson

Last night’s Titans-Bills game featured a frightening moment when Bills cornerback Dane Jackson collided with teammate Tremaine Edmunds and suffered a neck injury in the process. He was ultimately taken off the field by an ambulance, leading to concerns about his short- and long-term health status. Encouraging reports have since come out on that front, however. 

Last night, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted that the 25-year-old underwent a CT scan and X-Ray, adding that he experienced full movement in his lower extremities. Adding to the positive news, Pelissero’s colleague Mike Garafolo reports that Jackson walked out of the hospital this morning, and there is a belief that a major injury has been avoided (video link).

A team update indicates that he will undergo further evaluation today to determine the length of his absence. That will become an important piece of information, given the fact the Buffalo is already without No. 1 corner Tre’Davious White. He remains on the reserve/PUP list, having been placed there last month; that move ensured that the All-Pro would be sidelined for at least the first four games of the season while he continues to recover from a torn ACL.

That made Jackson’s role even more important for a Bills secondary which faced questions at the CB spot entering the season. The former seventh-rounder logged a 97% snap share and recorded an interception in Week 1, and was in line to continue operating as a full-time starter until the injury. Especially until White returns, Buffalo will lean heavily on rookies Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford.

In other injury news, Pro Bowl safety Micah Hyde also left the game with a neck injury, as detailed by ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg. His status will be worth monitoring, as will that of Jackson, who very much appears to have avoided the worst-case scenario in his situation.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/19/22

Today’s minor moves, including some standard practice squad elevations for the two Monday Night Football games:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Commanders

 

Brewer has completed a pretty unlikely path to an NFL game. Coming out of Coastal Carolina, the defensive lineman had to have surgery following an injury suffered in the Chanticleers’ bowl game. With no college all-star game and no NFL Combine, Brewer had only his Pro Day to show his ability. After going undrafted and unsigned as a college free agent, he earned a rookie mini camp tryout and got to stay for training camp as the lowest player on the depth chart. Brewer played more than any other defensive player in training camp and stayed healthy. He got cut, signed with the practice squad, and is now getting an opportunity to appear in his first NFL game.

The Cowboys had hoped to re-sign Ridgeway after waiving him. It doesn’t appear that Washington was the only team to keep him from returning to Dallas, as multiple teams reportedly submitted claims for the former fifth-round pick.

Bills’ Gabe Davis To Miss Week 2

The Bills’ passing attack will see one of its top cogs miss Week 2. Gabe Davis is not expected to play Monday night, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

Davis suffered a noncontact ankle injury during Buffalo’s Saturday practice, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. It will lead to an absence against the Titans. This is an early blow to a Bills team coming off a dominant season-opening win over the Rams. The Bills have officially declared Davis inactive.

After Buffalo let Emmanuel Sanders walk in free agency — months ahead of the veteran’s retirement — Davis moved into the team’s starting lineup opposite Stefon Diggs on the outside. The team also released Cole Beasley this offseason, leading to an Isaiah McKenzieJamison Crowder slot pairing. Both the inside receivers played extensively in Week 1. Each should be expected to play a bigger role tonight.

A former fourth-round pick, Davis has been a steady part of Buffalo’s passing game since his rookie season. The Central Florida alum surpassed 500 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons, despite the presences of John Brown and then Sanders as starters. Davis delivered one of the great receiving games in NFL history in January, catching a playoff-record four touchdown passes in the Bills’ shootout loss to the Chiefs. That offered the Bills more than enough evidence to indicate the 6-foot-2 target was ready for a full-time role in 2022.

Depth-wise, Jake Kumerow and fifth-round pick Khalil Shakir round out Buffalo’s receiving corps. The rookie, who topped 1,100 receiving yards as a Boise State senior, did not dress for the Bills’ Los Angeles opener. Shakir should be expected to suit up Monday, with ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen indicating the team has confidence the rookie can contribute (Twitter link). Having famously received an Aaron Rodgers endorsement, Kumerow has been with the Bills since 2020. He has played mostly on special teams, having caught just three passes for 50 yards as a Bill.

Bills DT Ed Oliver Ruled Out For Week 2

The Bills will once again be on primetime in Week 2, but they will be missing a key member of their defensive front on Monday night. Per a team announcement, defensive tackle Ed Oliver has been ruled out. 

The 2019 first-rounder took on a starting role midway through his rookie campaign. Since then, he has been a steady presence on the Bills’ d-line, appearing in every contest so far in his career. With 12 sacks, he has shown the pass-rush ability which made him a top-10 pick in addition to his work against the run.

The latter skillset has been poorly graded by PFF, but Buffalo still generated little surprise when they decided to pick up his fifth-year option. As a result, Oliver will make $10.75MM in 2023 while the Bills look to keep their young, championship-caliber core intact.

While it remains to be seen how long the 24-year-old will be out, the fact that he will be absent against the Titans could prove significant. Derrick Henry represents the obvious focal point of Tennessee’s offense, especially since they traded away A.J. Brown in the offseason. The All-Pro running back ran for 82 yards in the team’s Week 1 loss to the Giants, but has shown himself capable of much more when healthy.

The Bills, meanwhile, put up the best defensive performance against the run during their win over the Rams last week. The defending champions were held to just 52 yards on the ground; a repeat of that could help lead the Bills to a 2-0 start on Monday night, but it will require a larger workload from the likes of Jordan Phillips, DaQuan Jones and Tim Settle