BBD Editor: Dan Hope
The Buffalo Bills had a rough game in many ways in their 27-20 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, including on the injury front. Five Bills starters — cornerback Leodis McKelvin, running back C.J. Spiller and defensive linemen Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and Alex Carrington — all left Sunday’s game early with injuries, while wide receiver Stevie Johnson also appeared to jam his wrist in the first quarter, but played the rest of the game.
Carrington, who had to be carted off the field, took the worst of the injury bug. Carrington suffered a quadriceps tear and was placed on season-ending injured reserve, the team announced Monday.
Carrington is often overshadowed by pass-rushing defensive end Mario Williams and defensive tackles Dareus and Kyle Williams, who are each among the NFL’s best players at their positions and form what may be the strongest unit on the Bills’ roster. The talent around Carrington on the Bills’ defensive line will help soften the blow, but make no mistake: the loss of another starter on the Bills defense, and a very solid one in Carrington, is another significant loss to injury.
Carrington wasn’t named Pro Football Focus‘ “Secret Superstar” for the Bills’ 2012 season for no reason. He is a versatile player who can line up at both defensive tackle and defensive end. He is a skilled interior pass-rusher who does a good job bringing pressure against opposing quarterbacks, while he is also a strong player against the run. Carrington, who was starting opposite Mario Williams at defensive end on the four-man line but was also rotating in at defensive tackle, saw 171 total snaps in the team’s first three games according to PFF.
With Carrington out of the lineup, Alan Branch and Corbin Bryant will be in for increased playing time. Both players are solid interior linemen who can play either defensive tackle spot and also defensive end in a three-man front, so both are logical replacements for Carrington. Neither player has the all-around game of Carrington, but the Bills will likely turn to Branch to fill Carrington’s role against the run and Bryant to play Carrington’s spot on passing downs.
The Bills are bringing back defensive tackle Jay Ross, who made the team’s opening 53-man roster before he was released to open up a roster spot for cornerback Johnny Adams, according to Damond Talbot of NFL Draft Diamonds. This move makes complete sense for the Bills, as Ross provides solid depth on the interior defensive line and was always good enough for a roster spot, but only lost his spot because of a need to add depth at other positions. With a roster spot on the defensive line, Ross’ depth is now needed.
Losing Carrington for the season is another tough blow for a Bills defense that has many significant players currently dealing with injuries, including cornerback Stephon Gilmore, free safety Jairus Byrd and cornerback Ron Brooks. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin’s status for the Bills’ next game Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens also remains uncertain, as Bills coach Doug Marrone said Monday that the team will see how McKelvin’s injury is progressing “when he comes back and starts working on the field.”
On the bright side, the rest of the Bills’ injury news was good Monday. Marrone said he believes Spiller, Dareus, Johnson and Mario Williams will all be “fine.”