The Buffalo Bills not only took their first loss of the season during their grueling 21-19 defeat against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 25, but they also lost several players to injuries while playing in the sweltering heat.
The Bills’ defense was already heavily depleted heading into Week 3, and on Monday, September 26, head coach Sean McDermott revealed that rookie cornerback Christian Benford will undergo surgery for a fractured hand, receiver Jake Kumerow has a high ankle sprain, offensive lineman Ryan Bates was placed in concussion protocol, and offensive tackle Tommy Doyle, who stepped in for Bates, suffered an ACL tear, is done for the season.
Buffalo wasted no time in replacing Doyle as they switch their focus to Week 4, when they travel to Maryland to face the Baltimore Ravens. On Tuesday, September 27, the Bills announced they were signing former Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Justin Murray on a one-year deal to replace Doyle.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound guard initially signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Murray subsequently bounced around the league quite a bit, spending time on the practice squad with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Oakland Raiders.
In 2019, the Cardinals claimed the University of Cincinnati alum off waivers, and Murray appeared in 14 games and made 12 starts at right tackle. Arizona finished the 2019 season with the 10th-ranked rushing offense in the NFL (1,990 yards), and Murray helped the team hit a new franchise record of averaging 5.03 yards per carry, as reported by Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams.
In October 2020, Arizona signed him to a two-year extension despite only appearing on 22 offensive plays and 16 snaps on specials teams. A year later, Murray suffered a back injury in Week 3 and was placed on injured reserve. After teaching an injury settlement with the Cardinals in August 2022, he was waived from the team, per Arizona Sports.
Murray Can Play Both Tackle & Guard
Bills general manager Brandon Beane is always on the lookout for versatile players and Murray first the bills as an offensive lineman that can play both guard and tackle. The ability to play both roles may come in handy considering how banged up Buffalo’s offensive line is heading into Week 4.
Starting center Mitch More was inactive against the Dolphins due to an elbow injury suffered in Week 2 against the Tennesee Titans. Against Miami, backup center/guard Greg Van Roten left with an injury and was replaced with Greg Mancz, while offensive tackle Spencer Brown was forced to permanently exit the game due to a heat-related illness.
Leslie Frazier Admitted It’s Difficult Having So Many Players Go Down at Once
The Bills’ defense will likely need several reserve players to once again step up and start when they face quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens on Sunday, October 2. While All-Pro safety Micah Hyde will be on IR for the rest of the season, defensive starters that were out against the Dolphins included Dane Jackson, Jordan Poyer, Ed Oliver, and Jordan Phillips.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said during his press conference on Monday, September 26 that he was discussing with general manager Brandon Beane on Saturday night if they could remember a time when so many players went down at once. “It’s part of our game — injuries are — it happens and you just have to keep moving forward. Hopefully, we’ll get some of those guys back soon.”
As for Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White, who was placed on the PUP list prior to the start of the season, Frazier said we’re “on the verge” of getting him back, “which would lift the spirits” of the whole team. “We have our fingers crossed he’ll be back soon… In the meantime, we get the guys that can play ready to play.”