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Injury analysis: returning Bills RB Taiwan Jones

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Buffalo BillsPhoto by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Will his second stint be better than his first?

Taiwan Jones rejoins the Buffalo Bills for a second go-round in the hopes he can help to improve a special teams unit that finished 12th in 2019. While Jones has had stops with the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, and Houston Texans, his 2020 season will be his first repeat stop with Buffalo. Jones has been known as a special teams ace throughout his career, but he’s also shown abilities to be productive on offense when asked.

Below is Jones’s medical history followed by my assessment of his re-joining the Bills.


Drafted out of East Washington in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by Oakland. Appeared in ten games, seeing minimal time on offense in both the rushing and receiving game. Suffered foot and calf injuries early in the season, did not miss any games. Missed six games due to a hamstring injury against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11 that cost him the rest of the season.

Prior to joining the Raiders, Jones suffered a broken fibula in 2008 during his freshman year and suffered a broken foot during his junior year during the FCS playoffs in 2010. According to this article from fellow SB Nation site Cincy Jungle, his injury report was even longer during his college days. This includes a core-muscle injury, hip flexor, shoulder, and hand injuries.


Appeared in 12 games with the majority of his playing time spent on special teams. Missed two games due to a knee injury midway through the season. He also suffered rib, shoulder, and ankle injuries that he was able to play through.


Appeared in all 16 games with nearly all of his contributions to special teams. For the first time since college, Jones did not have any reported injuries and appeared to be a valuable contributor to the Raiders’ special teams unit.


Unfortunately, Jones’s string of luck ran out the next season when he was only able to appear in one game before a foot injury cost him the remaining 15 games of the season. According to an article via Sports Illustrated, Jones switched from running back to cornerback in order to possibly preserve his spot on the roster. Prior to the foot injury, he was also dealing with a knee strain during the preseason.

Not much can be found for the specifics of his foot injury. It was reported that the team did not think the injury would require a trip to the IR. However, Oakland finished 3-13 that season and likely felt that bringing him back in a lost season would not have made a difference.


Jones returned to the football field, appearing in 12 games that season—and within his primary position role as running back. He missed two games due to a foot injury early in the season and then missed an additional two games later in the season due to a PCL injury. He was eventually able to return and appear in the remaining four games of the season. Jones did see an uptick in his involvement in the offense, receiving five games of 10% or more in snaps, but his main contribution continued to be on special teams.


He appeared in 13 games with most of his snaps remaining on special teams. He suffered a concussion early in the first quarter of the season in which he did not miss any time. Immediately after recovering from the concussion, he sustained a knee injury. During that time, he missed three out of four games before getting healthy enough to return to the field without injury the rest of the season in the march towards the playoffs.


After six productive years in Oakland, Jones signed with Buffalo, appearing in eight games. He suffered a knee injury against the Atlanta Falcons that did not show up on the injury report and did not limit his ability to play.

As a veteran, his role was firmly established as a special teams player with game logs showing only three total plays on offense before a left forearm fracture ended his season. He suffered the injury against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football during Week 9 while attempting to recover an onside kick.


Recovering from his forearm fracture, Jones returned to the Bills in 2018 and was able to appear in six games with all but two plays on special teams. He memorably suffered a gruesome gash during a collision in which he lost his helmet just moments before the play was whistled dead, his head striking a Los Angeles Chargers player’s helmet. Incredibly, he did not miss anytime and only required stitches.

Los Angeles Chargers v Buffalo BillsPhoto by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

As tough as Jones has been throughout his career, his season once again ended early with a trip to IR due to a neck injury against the Houston Texans. If you recall, this was the same game that then-rookie quarterback Josh Allen suffered his elbow injury. On a personal note, I recall scouring the game film for any mechanism of injury and could not find when the injury occurred. It’s possible he was dealing with a whiplash-type injury following the helmetless hit, but even two years after the neck injury, little information is available.


Following two injury-shortened seasons, Jones signed with Houston on a one-year deal. He appeared in 11 games, missing one game due to an elbow injury followed by missing the next game due to a hamstring injury. He was able to return to the field for several games before missing another game midway through with a hip injury that cost him one game.

He eventually recovered and played in six more games before missing the next two games late in the season with a hamstring injury. He was able to get healthy enough to help the Texans win the AFC South and appear in the playoff game against Buffalo.

In that game, he once again spent most of his time on special teams but secured a 34-yard catch in overtime to set the Texans up for a game-winning field goal.

Bills Impact

I’ve been writing about Bills injuries for three years now and I haven’t encountered many players who equal Jones’s injury history. Over his nine-year career, he has missed 53 games due to injury. On one hand, why would general manager Brandon Beane ever sign a player with his history to a contract? I’ve discussed how Beane likes to buy low on injured players but, at some point, when do you walk away?

On the other hand, despite all the injuries, Taiwan Jones still shows up season after season. He still shows he can produce even in limited availability and throws daggers as he did in last season’s Wild Card game against the Bills. In addition, Beane only signed Jones to a one-year deal that limits the risk Buffalo is taking on him. Contract details are not available yet, but I have a hard time believing that it’s for a substantial amount.

Going into his tenth season, I look at this injury history and think there’s absolutely no way he should be playing. But Jones appears to be a grinder, finding ways to get out on the football field and contribute despite his proclivity for injury. I think both Jones and Brandon Beane are seeing what tread is left on the tires with this deal.

This could work out in that he has something left and is an upgrade over running back Senorise Perry on special teams. Or he could finally reach the end of the road and walk away on his own terms. There is little risk to the Bills, but high reward for both parties if this works out. Beane has shown to be a gambler in signing free agents; we already have the flop and the turn, now let’s see the river.

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The Buffalo Bills....










To Fitzpatrick, Levitre, Kelsay, Mcgee, Barnett, Wilson, Jones, Nelson, Rinehart, McIntyre, Merriman, Shepperd, Scott, White, Wanny, and Mr. Chan Gailey...


It was real, it was fun, it just wasn't REAL FUN!






NEWVILLE MUD DAWGS FEVER BABY! We might not be very good right now, but we have infinite heart! Alot like the Bills! ;) HALLA!


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