Bills vs Ravens: Jordan Phillips, two more ruled out before Friday practice

Mixed news on the injury front for the Buffalo Bills as they put the finishing touches on their game plan for their matchup with the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Before Friday’s practice, head coach Sean McDermott met with the media and updated the status of several players on what has been a full injury list for the Bills over the past two weeks.

It came as no surprise that McDermott said that cornerback Christian Benford, who had surgery on his fractured hand earlier this week, would not be available for Sunday’s game. McDermott also said that defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury he sustained in Buffalo’s home opener against the Tennessee Titans, would be out for the second straight game.

Wide receiver Jake Kumerow injured his ankle on Sunday when the Bills fell to the Miami Dolphins in a battle for the top spot in the AFC East. Kumerow was later listed with a high ankle sprain, and so far this season Buffalo has been cautious with the other two players—wide receiver Gabe Davis and defensive tackle Ed Oliver—who have been struggling with ankle injuries. As expected, McDermott said that Kumerow would not be active this week against the Ravens.

“They want to be out there, but sometimes you have to hold them back because they can’t protect themselves or because they can’t do their job.” McDermott said that he knows that all of his guys want to be out on the field, but that there is more to consider than just emotions. “There’s a lot of communication that has to unfold there, and it has to be accurate. That’s the sweet spot, and it’s hard to get to.”

The Bills have a lot of players who McDermott listed as day-to-day and said that today’s practice will tell a lot about who will be suiting up on Sunday.

Gabe Davis, the third-year wide receiver who was predicted to have a break-out year this season, injured his ankle during practice in Week 2 and has been battling to get back to the lineup since. While he was active against Miami, Davis was still listed as limited in practice on Wednesday and a non-participant on Thursday.

“I don’t know if you would qualify it as a setback from a medical standpoint,” McDermott said about Davis’s status. “He just aggravated it and we gave him a day.”

McDermott said that Davis was among a long list of players whose status for Sunday was still to be determined. Also on that list are safety Jordan Poyer (foot), Ed Oliver (ankle), center Mitch Morse (elbow), tight end Dawson Knox (back/hip), newly signed offensive lineman Justin Murray (foot), and Dane Jackson (neck).

Jackson was injured in Buffalo’s Monday night game and sustained a very scary-looking neck injury. He was taken directly from the field to a nearby hospital by ambulance for evaluation.

With the league’s focus on concussion protocols and player safety, Jackson’s thorough evaluation showed that the injury was not head and/or brain related, but rather a muscle-related injury in his neck.

After sitting out Week 3, Jackson has been back at practice this week and, in great news for Buffalo, was out of the red non-contact jersey by the start of Friday’s practice.

In another hit to a defense that has taken maybe as many hits as they have given out already this season, McDermott said that he doubts that newcomer cornerback Xavier Rhodes will be ready for Sunday.

Rhodes, an All-Pro cornerback with Pro Bowl experience, was signed to the Bills’ practice squad earlier this week in what appeared to be an attempt to get some experience on the depth chart at that position. With Tre’Davious White still working his way back from last season’s ACL tear, Jackson’s uncertain return, and now Benford’s surgically repaired broken hand, Buffalo was running out of cornerbacks.

However, McDermott said today that Rhodes has a hamstring injury and is unlikely to be moved to the active roster for Sunday.

Buffalo’s offensive line is still a question mark for Sunday. Not only is Morse day-to-day, but Ryan Bates is still in concussion protocol and Tommy Doyle was placed on season-ending injury reserve with an ACL tear after Monday night’s game.

“He was our last lineman we had available to us,” McDermott said. He knew Doyle had injured his leg in the game, but that the lineman had told him that it was nothing and it wasn’t until he heard from the training staff on Tuesday that he knew the extent of the versatile lineman’s injury. “It was kind of an unreal situation. Just shows you how tough Tommy is. I appreciate it, he played though it.”

When asked what the team will do if Bates and/or Morse aren’t available for Sunday, McDermott said that the team will have to count on the position flexibility of their remaining healthy players.

The Bills’ head coach said that they have some players with experience at more than one position and that they spend time in training camp working on being versatile and flexible along the line.

With so many players still in question as to whether they will be in uniform on Sunday, today’s practice might possibly be one of the most important of the season. Day-to-day is great news—except when there is only one day left until go-time.

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