Mike Rodak of ESPN.com is reporting today that Reggie Ragland will have ACL surgery this week and is expected to miss the 2016 season.
Bills fans biggest fears were confirmed by this scoop. Originally it was reported that Reggie Ragland suffered a non-contact knee issue on Friday, August 5th. The next day Rex Ryan stated “there is a lot of concern” regarding the injury. They still had to wait for the swelling to go down to confirm the extent of the damage.
You started to suspect the worst when the Bills signed two linebackers on August 7th. The swelling has now gone down enough and it’s official that Ragland is likely to miss the year. It stings for Bills fans who might not see first-round pick Shaq Lawson for a considerable amount of time either.
This is a huge blow to the Buffalo Bills defense this year. Inside linebacker was arguably their biggest area of need in the offseason and drafting Ragland in the second round was supposed to be the solution to that problem.
The Bills also added Zach Brown in the offseason but he is nowhere near the talent of Ragland who would give them a potential three-down player and a thumper up the middle.
The Bills were quick to go out and add more depth signing both Brandon Spikes and David Hawthorne. Spikes was a player that many Bills fans wanted back last season after his first year in Buffalo. Before that, Spikes spent four seasons in New England.
The reason why he wasn’t brought back by the Bills is because he is only a two-down player. He is not good in coverage and will be used mostly in running situations. While Ragland can be just as good against the run, he is superior to Spikes in pass protection.
David Hawthorne has spent eight seasons in the NFL. The first four with Seattle and the second four with New Orleans. Rob Ryan is familiar with him and you can bet that is part of the reason why he was brought in.
Both of those players will now be fighting it out with Zach Brown for the starting inside linebacker role next to Preston Brown. Zach Brown is probably the favorite to win with Spikes getting snaps on many obvious rushing downs.
Despite their experience, neither Zach Brown, David Hawthorne or Brandon Spikes possess the skills that Reggie Ragland brought to the table in Buffalo. No matter who wins out the role, the Bills as a team and as a fanbase lose because they will have to wait another year to see second round draft pick Reggie Ragland on the field.