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Tyrod Taylor's reported injury raises questions about Bills' decisions

Tyrod Taylor has a sprained MCL and "might miss multiple games," according to a report. Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a sprained MCL and "might miss multiple games," CBS Sports reported Tuesday.

The report adds further context to the Bills' decision to sign veteran quarterback Josh Johnson on Tuesday, as Johnson likely would be EJ Manuel's backup Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals if Taylor can't start.

Here are five thoughts about Taylor's reported injury:

  1. What were the Bills thinking on Taylor's catch? It was a nice story that Taylor could "do it all" for the Bills in Sunday's comeback win against the Tennessee Titans, but it was strange to see Taylor running a route on a designed wide-receiver pass from Chris Hogan just four plays after injuring his left leg on a horse-collar tackle. Taylor was hit in the legs by a diving Perrish Cox, and if the hit didn't aggravate his injury, it certainly came with a risk of further damage. Why the Bills decided that play call was necessary should be questioned.

  2. How does this affect Taylor when he returns? Assuming Taylor misses one or more games with the injury, I wonder what affect it will have on his decisions to tuck the ball and run, as he did on the play that led to this injury Sunday. Although not as athletic, Manuel was a scrambling quarterback until he suffered an LCL injury in Week 5 of the 2013 season. The Bills wanted him to be a more conservative runner upon his return, and Manuel has been considered more of a pocket passer than a mobile quarterback like Taylor ever since. Whether it's an edict from the coaching staff or some hesitation that creeps into Taylor's mind that leads him to protect his legs, you have to wonder how his injury will affect his playing style when he comes back.

  3. Effect of Matt Cassel trade felt: Hindsight is 20/20, but the Bills' decision to trade Cassel last month to the Dallas Cowboys in a swap of late-round 2017 draft choices isn't looking too wise. The Bills argued that the move, despite the relatively minimal compensation and Cassel's reworked contract that made him more affordable, allowed Manuel to move off the scout team in practice and work with the regular offensive group. However, it leaves them with no option but to start Manuel this weekend if Taylor can't play, and also puts them in a spot where they would need to simplify their offense if Josh Johnson needs to play. Coach Rex Ryan once said that he would need a golf cart to move around offensive coordinator Greg Roman's playbook, so I doubt Johnson will be able to absorb all of that material in the next few days, even with some experience in Roman's system last season with the San Francisco 49ers.

  4. Matt Simms was an option: The Bills reportedly reached out to Atlanta Falcons practice-squad quarterback Matt Simms about joining the Bills' roster, according to The Buffalo News. Simms would've had the upper hand over Johnson after spending the entire summer with the Bills and learning their system. However, Simms turned down the opportunity.

  5. Parallels to 2013 situation: This situation is unfolding similarly to Week 9 of the 2013 season, when Bills rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel started against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. With Manuel already shelved because of a knee injury, backup Thad Lewis started in Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints and suffered a rib injury during the game. Like Taylor on Sunday in Tennessee, Lewis returned to that game but his condition didn't improve by Wednesday and he couldn't play against the Chiefs. Now Taylor is in a similar spot and Manuel could start against the undefeated Bengals. The Bills added Matt Flynn as a fallback option in 2013 and now they'll have Johnson in a similar role.