Bills need LeSean McCoy despite mixed history playing hurt

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- LeSean McCoy winced as he walked slowly across the locker room, then groaned while bending over to change into his street clothes after Sunday's 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

With a tinge of distress in his voice, McCoy said he was unable to be interviewed because it was difficult to talk because of cracked rib cartilage suffered when 320-pound center Ryan Groy fell on him.

McCoy was examined on the sideline after the third-quarter injury, but he attempted another carry on the final play of the third quarter. He gained three yards, was lifted off the ground by fullback Patrick DiMarco and immediately jogged to the sideline. McCoy did not return to the game.

"We'll just take it one day at a time and make sure he's comfortable as we go forward, and we'll go from there," coach Sean McDermott said Monday. "I know he's a guy who has been through some injuries before and played, and played at a high level."

McDermott saw McCoy play through an ankle injury during Buffalo's AFC wild-card playoff loss to Jacksonville in January. However, before McDermott became coach, McCoy has shown only to be sometimes effective when trying to play through injuries since being traded to the Bills in 2015.

Whether McCoy plays Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings remains to be seen. McDermott said Monday that McCoy is considered day-to-day; sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter that McCoy should not miss more than one game, if that.

Former NFL team doctor David Chao wrote this week that McCoy's rib cartilage injury could be more painful and more long-lasting than a rib fracture. Chao added that McCoy's "continued effectiveness is going to be challenging."

McCoy has only 61 yards on 16 carries this season, and the Bills are going to need more out of him as their season risks spiraling into a lost one. Buffalo (0-2) plays four of its next five games on the road. Since 1990, only 8 percent of teams that began the season with an 0-2 record have made the playoffs, and further losses could doom the Bills' season before its halfway mark.

Because of that, the Bills might need McCoy to play at less than 100 percent health instead of waiting, because their postseason hopes could wash away.

Here is a look at some good and bad moments from McCoy's history of playing through injuries in Buffalo:


Jan. 7, 2018 at Jaguars: 19 carries, 75 yards; 6 catches, 44 yards. Despite being carted from the field and not returning to the Bills' season finale against the Miami Dolphins, McCoy played through a right ankle injury and was generally effective in a 10-3 loss to the Jaguars in the AFC wild-card game. The problem for the Bills was their passing game, not McCoy.

Nov. 27, 2016 vs. Jaguars: 19 carries, 103 yards, 2 touchdowns; 2 catches, 31 yards. After dislocating his thumb and leaving a game against the Cincinnati Bengals a week earlier, he underwent surgery on the thumb and was limited in practice all week. He was listed as questionable for the game against the Jaguars, then 2-8, but was active and played well.


Oct. 23, 2016 at Dolphins: 8 carries, 11 yards. After injuring his hamstring in practice the Wednesday before the game, McCoy was listed as questionable but made the trip to Miami and started the game. He left after re-injuring his hamstring while running a pass route in the third quarter, later saying, "The smartest thing to do [was to sit], instead of re-injuring anything or making it worse." He missed the Bills' next game against the New England Patriots.

Sept. 27, 2015 at Dolphins: 11 carries, 16 yards; 1 catch, 10 yards. McCoy suffered a hamstring injury in an Aug. 18 practice that lingered into the first month of the regular season. McCoy had mixed results in the first two regular-season games, averaging 2.4 yards per carry against the Colts before gaining 5.9 yards per rush in Week 2 against the Patriots. In Week 3 against the Dolphins, McCoy had one of the least effective games of his career and acknowledged he might have been better off resting his injury. "Just got to find a medium between being tough -- and laying it on the line for your teammates -- and being smart," he said after the game.

McCoy later said he suffered a setback and had a Grade 2 hamstring pull. He missed the next two games. "I think I just made it worse," McCoy said at the time. "That's the mindset: Whether you're hurt or not, you need to go out there and play. I just feel I won't help my team out being hurt. I'd rather come back 100 percent and be the player that everybody was expecting instead of out there on one leg. So that's the truth."