The Buffalo Bills have lost one of their top special teams players and took another hit to an already injury-struck wide receiving corps this week when Jake Kumerow was placed on injured reserve.
The veteran wide receiver, who hurt his ankle in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings, was moved to the IR on November 17 as the team made room for a new acquisition. The injury leaves the Bills without one of their top special teams coverage players and brings them down to just four healthy wide receivers ahead of a key AFC game.
Costly Injury for Bills
Kumerow has been one of the team’s core special teams players, serving as a gunner on the punt unit and blocker on return teams. Though he has traditionally not played a major role in the offense, he stepped up earlier in the season after a spate of injuries. He made four catches for 64 yards across Week 2 and 3, surpassing the 50 total receiving yards he had through his first two seasons in Buffalo.
The Bills had already been shorthanded at wide receiver when veteran Jamison Crowder was placed on injured reserve after suffering an injury in the team’s October 2 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Tests later revealed that he suffered a broken ankle.
With the injury, the Bills are now down to four healthy wide receivers — Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, and rookie Khalil Shakir. The Bills could elect to move second-year speedster Marquez Stevenson to the active roster. He started the season on the injured reserve, but has returned to practice.
Stevenson saw limited action in his rookie season after starting the year on injured reserve, appearing in five games and serving almost exclusively on special teams, returning kickoffs and punts.
The Bills are looking for a win on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns to end their two-game losing streak. Sunday’s loss to the Vikings dropped the Bills out of the top spot in the AFC and down to second place in a competitive AFC East.
Bills Fill Roster Spot With Returning Veteran
The Bills wasted no time in filling the roster spot vacated by Kumerow’s placement, landing linebacker A.J. Klein after he had been waived by the Chicago Bears. Klein had spent two seasons with the Bills as a backup to Tremaine Edmunds, and could fill in as Edmunds has been dealing with a groin injury.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane spoke about Klein’s signing this week, saying he may not be ready to play on Sunday against the Browns but will provide some much-needed depth at linebacker down the stretch.
“You see last night that he’s released. We started discussing it internally,” Beane said Thursday, via the Buffalo News. “Tremaine has missed practice a couple days here with the groin, so (Klein is) a good insurance piece. You know, he’s stepped in for us before. So another guy, another piece. We’ll see what happens from that standpoint. I don’t know that he’ll play this week, but get him back in the mix and see if he can help us out from a depth standpoint.”