ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills starting linebacker Matt Milano will miss the final three weeks of the season with a broken left leg, while the status of running backs LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory are considered more promising.
Milano had surgery for a broken fibula on Monday, a day after being hurt in a 27-23 loss to the New York Jets.
Coach Sean McDermott said the initial prognosis for Milano’s recovery was positive, though he didn’t provide any timetable of when the second-year player might be cleared for practice in the offseason.
Milano was hurt when his leg became twisted in a pile after he stopped quarterback Sam Darnold from scoring at the Buffalo 1 on third-and-goal from the 4 with 1:22 remaining.
Milano has been a valuable every-down player on one of the NFL’s top-ranked defenses. He entered the game Sunday tied for second in the league with six takeaways, and was second on the team in being credited with 72 tackles.
As for McCoy and Ivory, McDermott listed them day to day with Buffalo (4-9) preparing to host the Detroit Lions (5-8) on Sunday.
McCoy did not return after hurting his hamstring when he was stopped for no gain on first-and-goal from the 6 during Buffalo’s opening drive. Ivory did not return after hurting his left shoulder following an 8-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
McDermott said he’ll have a better idea regarding their availability to play once the team returns to practice Wednesday.
With both out against the Jets, Buffalo finished the game with just one healthy running back, Marcus Murphy. Receiver Isaiah McKenzie has been used in running situations, and scored on a 15-yard sweep against the Jets. Buffalo also has rookie running back Keith Ford on its practice squad.
The injuries to McCoy and Ivory place more of a strain on a sputtering running attack getting most of its production from scrambling quarterback Josh Allen.
The rookie has combined for 335 yards rushing in the past three games, and now leads Buffalo in yards rushing, 490, and has five touchdowns rushing. Allen has moved past McCoy, who’s managed just 479 yards rushing and two touchdowns in essentially 10 games. He missed one with a rib injury and has now twice been injured on the Bills’ first possession.
McCoy’s drop in production comes a year after the 30-year-old topped 1,100 yards rushing for the fifth time in his first nine NFL seasons.
The blame falls on a combination of factors.
The Bills feature a patchwork offensive line after losing starting center Eric Wood and starting left guard Richie Incognito this past offseason. Another issue is McCoy being tentative and failing to find openings.
“We’re trying,” offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. “It starts with me. We just need to do a better job of blocking it, whether it be with the up-front guys or receivers.”
As much as the offense is enjoying a boost with Allen running, concerns are arising that the rookie is exposing himself to too many hits, especially after recently missing four games with a sprained right throwing elbow.
“We’ve got to take a hard look at that,” McDermott said. “I know that when the quarterback is your leading rusher, it’s not a healthy thing week in and week out.”
With 101 yards rushing against the Jets, Allen became just the second quarterback in NFL history to top 90 yards in three consecutive games, joining Tobin Rote, who did that with Green Bay in 1951.
He also joins elite Bills company in becoming Buffalo’s first player to top 95 yards rushing in three straight games since Fred Jackson in 2011. Allen also became Buffalo’s fourth player to enjoy such a streak along with Jackson and Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson.
“It’s probably going to be an ongoing conversation,” McDermott said, referring to how often Allen should run. “Mobile quarterbacks, there’s a conversation about them every week: Are they running too much? Are they not running enough? At the end of the day, we’ve got to keep Josh upright.”
McDermott was unhappy with Jets defensive lineman Henry Anderson’s blindside hit on kicker Stephen Hauschka on the final play of the first half. After Anderson blocked Hauschka’s 49-yard attempt, the Jets player then bowled over the kicker from behind.
Hauschka continued playing despite sustaining a hip injury.
“There’s no place in football for it,” McDermott said. “I thought that should’ve been called. But (the officials) didn’t see it, obviously.”
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