If the Buffalo Bills can advance past the Miami Dolphins in the Super Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs, they could have a big boost waiting for them.
The team announced on January 11 that veteran wide receiver Jamison Crowder would return to practice for the first time since suffering a broken ankle in October. Crowder played an important role as a return specialist slot receiver as well as a veteran presence in the locker room.
While Bills head coach Sean McDermott said Crowder would not be ready for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, he could potentially return for later rounds if the Bills should advance.
Jamison Crowder Could Give the Bills a Boost in the Slot
The Bills signed Crowder in March, a potential slot replacement for Cole Beasley who first asked for a trade and later was released when the Bills could not find a trade partner. Crowder had spent the previous three seasons with the New York Jets, amassing 1,979 yards and 14 touchdowns.
While veteran Isaiah McKenzie was expected to take over the role as the lead slot receiver, Crowder saw his share of time as well, making six catches for 60 yards through four games before breaking his ankle in a win over the Baltimore Ravens.
McKenzie finished the season with 42 catches for 423 yards and four touchdowns, but the Bills didn’t seem to show full confidence in him as a slot receiver. They later brought Beasley back out of retirement, signing him to the practice squad and using all three of his allotted elevations.
Crowder was seen practicing with teammates on Wednesday, showing little effects from the ankle injury that had kept him out for the previous three months.
Bills Face Battered Dolphins Team
For their third meeting of the season, the Bills will face off against a Dolphins team hit hard by injuries. Head coach Mike McDaniel announced on Wednesday that starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was ruled out. He was placed into concussion protocol on December 26 and missed the team’s final two games of the season.
“As of today, Tua has not been cleared by doctors to resume football activities on the field with his teammates, so because of that and because of the time that he’s missed, I can rule him out for Sunday,” McDaniel said, via NFL.com.
Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is working through a finger injury that kept him out of the season finale, and McDaniel said he was a long way from being ready.
“That’s not an easy thing to do, and as it stands right now, he’s working to prepare himself to be capable on Sunday,” McDaniel said. “But as a result of that, he can’t afford any setbacks or really anything that’s conflicting against the healing process in the week.”
The Dolphins are preparing to start rookie signal caller Skylar Thompson, who led the Dolphins to a win over the New York Jets in the season finale. With the Bills taking down the New England Patriots, the victory helped the Dolphins take the final playoff spot.