Matthews, whom Buffalo acquired (along with a third-round pick) in an August trade in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby, had been serving as the Bills’ de facto No. 1 wideout, although he is actually third in receptions behind running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Charles Clay. On 13 targets, the 25-year-old Matthews has managed 10 catches for 162 yards and one touchdown for the surprisingly 3-1 Bills. Playing in his contract season, Matthews is scheduled to become a free agent next spring.
Given that the Bills were already fielding one of the NFL’s worst receiving corps before the Matthews injury, the club will likely lean on the run game even more heavily than it had in Weeks 1-4. Buffalo has thrown the ball at a lower rate than any other team in the league thus far (just 45.31% of plays), and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that percentage dip even further.
Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, and Kaelin Clay will likely see more targets with Matthews sidelined, while the Bills could also promote either Malachi Dupre or Brandon Reilly from their practice squad. A free agent addition probably doesn’t make sense given that Matthews will return later this year, but Anquan Boldin is still available after retiring from the Bills just before the season began. The veteran pass-catcher has ruled out a late-season return, however.
Matthews wasn’t the only Buffalo player to go down on Sunday, as linebacker Ramon Humber suffered a broken thumb and will miss time, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Humber, who has never been a full-time starter during his nine-plus-year NFL career, had played on nearly 95% of the Bills’ defensive snaps to this point and graded as the league’s No. 33 linebacker, per Pro Football Focus. Matt Milano is likely to step into the starting lineup, while Deon Lacey and Tanner Vallejo could also see increased usage.