Tre’Davious White‘s early Thanksgiving exit turned out to be brutal news for the Bills. Buffalo’s top cover man suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Bills announced the MRI result Friday.
The two-time Pro Bowler had not missed a game this season and has only been absent for three throughout his five-year career. This will certainly sting a Bills defense that has rebounded to return to an elite level.
Signed to a monster extension last year, White is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons. While Buffalo has been one of the NFL’s best pass defenses throughout the Josh Allen era, White’s first lengthy absence will test the Super Bowl contenders’ capabilities.
The Bills beat the Saints’ low-wattage pass offense to improve to 7-4, but they will go through their two Patriots matchups, a Buccaneers tilt and obviously their playoff docket without their outside coverage ace.
White’s yards-per-completion (9.9) and yards-per-target (5.2) figures rated as career-best marks through 11 games. The 60.8 passer rating the fifth-year corner allowed while in coverage is way down from last season as well.
Buffalo has Levi Wallace and high-end slot corner Taron Johnson anchoring its cornerback corps, and Siran Neal has been with the team since 2018. A seventh-round pick last year, Dane Jackson ranks fourth on the Bills in corner snaps this season — with 86. This setback coming after the trade deadline limits the Bills’ replacement options, though the presence of veteran safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer will help the Bills pick up the pieces to some degree.
November 19th, 2021 at 9:45am CST by Zachary Links
The Bills have signed offensive lineman Bobby Hart, per a club announcement. He’ll help fill in for right tackle Spencer Brown, who was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list earlier this week.
Hart has managed to stick in the NFL for seven seasons despite being selected in the seventh round of the 2015 draft. The lineman started 21 games for the Giants between 2015 and 2017. He later started 45 games (out of 46 appearances) for the Bengals between 2018 and 2020.
The Bengals dropped Hart in March and he’s been making the rounds ever since, spending time with the practice squads of the Bills and Dolphins. The Titans also picked him up for a bit, using him in three games this year. Now, the 6’5″, 330-pound lineman is back in Buffalo with a chance to play.
Per a team announcement, the Bills have placed DT Star Lotulelei on the reserve/COVID-19 list, thereby rendering him ineligible for today’s game against the Jets. Fellow DT Brandin Bryant has been elevated from the taxi squad to take Lotulelei’s place on the active roster, as Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic tweets.
Lotulelei, who will turn 32 next month, is in the midst of a five-year, $50MM deal he signed in 2018. He exercised his right to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, which tolled his contract and keeps him under club control through 2023. He landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list in August, but he returned for Buffalo’s Week 2 win over Miami and has started each of his seven games this season.
Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics have not been high on Lotulelei’s work in some time, and that trend has continued this year. Though his 66.8 pass rush grade is above average — he does have two sacks this year, which matches his 16-game total in 2019 — his overall mark of 53.1 positions him as the 86th-best interior defender out of 124 qualifiers. Still, he typically plays the most snaps in Buffalo’s D-line rotation, so his absence will be noticed.
As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk observes, it is believed that Lotulelei is unvaccinated. That is because the 2013 first-rounder previously needed to isolate for five days following a close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, something that only an unvaccinated player would be required to do.
There is some good news to pass along for Bills fans. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, RB Zack Moss, who suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to the Jaguars, has cleared protocols and will be able to play this afternoon. Moss and Devin Singletary have shared RB duties this year, but Singletary has been the better performer from a YPC perspective. Moss has mustered just 3.6 yards per carry on 65 attempts, while Singletary has posted a strong 4.9 YPC mark on 73 carries.
Moss, however, has been more effective as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 18 balls for 166 yards and a score.