Bills: Lawson, Matthews to IR; Reilly, Capi promoted from PS
The Buffalo Bills (6-6) announced on Tuesday afternoon that Lawson, a day after being listed as week-to-week by head coach Sean McDermott, and Jordan Matthews, who has battled through injury the past several weeks, were placed on injured reserved.
Lawson was caught in a pile up on the goal line during Sunday’s 23-3 loss to the New England Patriots and exited the game on a stretcher. He did not return, suffering a sprained ankle.
Matthews, who caught one pass for 14 yards on three targets against the Patriots, has played despite a knee injury. Matthews also had a drop in the game.
McDermott did not mentioned Matthews in the injury report on Monday, however, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison was asked about Matthews’ low total of targets. In his response, Dennison mentioned injury concerns.
“Well, he was inactive, was it two weeks ago, San Diego? He was inactive because he was a little nicked up. Yesterday, he had his chances, and the ball didn’t come that way. It’s all progression, it’s all based on coverage. I couldn’t really speak to that other than he’s a part of the game plan, just like any other ‘X’ or ‘Z’. We’re trying to get whoever is open the ball, and see what kind of coverage we have,” Dennison said.
Matthews is currently tied with rookie Zay Jones for the team lead in receptions among wide receiver with 25. Jones does have the advantage in terms of yards, 291 to 282.
Acquired in a trade with Philadelphia with a third-round pick which sent corner Ron Darby to the Eagles, Matthews is in the final year of his rookie contract and his time as a Bill could be over after an underwhelming season.
Lawson, selected in the first-round of the 2016 NFL Draft (19th) by the Bills, had a sack of Tom Brady last week before exiting the game. Prior to facing the Kansas City Chiefs, Lawson was not listed as a starter. Eddie Yarbrough started the contest but Lawson had a higher snap count in the game.
McDermott was asked if the move was disciplinary related, but would not comment. That appeared to be the case though. Since his arrival, McDermott has had a knack for removing players drafted by former general manager Doug Whaley.
Lawson was a Whaley pick, but with term remaining on his contract for at least two more years, Lawson has a greater chance to return to the Bills in 2018.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was asked on Monday how big of a loss Lawson would be.
“He’s our starting left defensive end, so it’s a loss for us for sure,” Frazier said. “You hate to lose Shaq Lawson. He’s done a really good job for us. He’s improving and he needs those snaps. In a lot of ways, this is new territory in some ways in our defense, so you want him to get as many snaps as he can get.”
Lawson finishes the season with four sacks, six QB hits, two passes defended, a forced fumble and 17 total tackles.
To fill those shoes, wide receiver Brandon Reilly and defensive end Cap Capi were brought up from the practice squad.
Capi has played in four games in his career, all with the New York Giants, all earlier this season. The defensive end originally signed as an undrafted rookie with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015.
Reilly has spent the entire season on the Bills practice squad after impressing during the preseason. In four preseason games, Reilly had 11 grabs for 139 yards with a touchdown.
Reilly was originally a walk-on at the University of Nebraska prior to signing with the Bills this offseason as an undrafted free agent.
Reilly will make his NFL debut when the Bills host the Colts on Sunday at 1 p.m. at New Era Field.