BBD Editor: Dan Hope
Getting hit by injuries and losing were two things the Buffalo Bills certainly wanted to see change in Week 1 of the regular season from the last two weeks of the preseason, but that didn’t happen. The Bills fell to the New England Patriots, 23-21, on Sunday, and lost two promising, fast young players in the process.
Bills coach Doug Marrone announced Monday that wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and cornerback Ron Brooks are both out indefinitely following surgeries. Goodwin will be “out for a time” with a fractured hand, while Brooks is having foot surgery.
Neither injury is considered season-ending, according to the team’s official Twitter account, but the loss of each player will have a significant short-term impact on the Bills.
Goodwin, a rookie speedster who ran the fastest 40-yard dash time at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, was slated to handle kickoff return duties this season. He made an immediate name for himself in the Bills’ preseason opener, when he returned a kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown. He did not return any kickoffs on Sunday, however, and his only catch ended in a fumble forced by Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington (which may have also been the play on which he suffered his injury).
With Goodwin out of the lineup, T.J. Graham is likely to take his role as kickoff returner. Graham only took one kickoff out of the end zone Sunday, returning it for 19 yards. Goodwin’s injury could also result in more opportunity for Marcus Easley, both as a kickoff returner and to get on the field as a wide receiver, as he will likely take Goodwin’s place as the No. 4 wideout and a situational speed threat.
Brooks’ injury hits the Bills where they are already hurt. With No. 1 cornerback Stephon Gilmore already out with a fractured wrist, the Bills could ill afford another injury at the position.
Brooks was slated to the Bills’ slot cornerback, with or without Gilmore in the lineup, but according to Pro Football Focus, he only played 10 snaps on Sunday, likely due to the injury. With Brooks sidelined, undrafted rookie Nickell Robey takes over as the Bills’ slot cornerback, with Leodis McKelvin and Justin Rogers continuing as the starters outside. Brooks’ injury leaves the Bills with just four healthy cornerbacks on their roster, the other being Brandon Burton, who only played on special teams Sunday.
The Bills could consider adding another cornerback, potentially by elevating Johnny Adams from the practice squad, given their lack of depth at the position.