Jerry Hughes revealed Tuesday that he played for the Buffalo Bills during the 2019 season with torn ligaments in his wrist.
That could present a problem for the team.
The NFL informed the Buffalo chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association on Thursday morning that the league is looking into whether the Bills violated the rules on reporting injuries.
Hughes, in a Twitter post Tuesday, said he “wasn’t going to let these torn ligaments in my wrist slow me down as the team was so close to achieving our goal of an AFC East banner and playoff games.”
We will be back 2020 season!!🙌🙌 pic.twitter.com/TClGV47QoQ
— Jerry hughes Jr (@Iam_jerryhughes) January 7, 2020
Hughes, who had his wrist wrapped at times during the season, never officially appeared on the league’s injury report because of his wrist. He was on the injury report in November because of a groin injury. Any other appearances were listed as “rest,” and Hughes was not given a final injury designation, meaning there was no doubt he would be available to play.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier hinted last week that Hughes had been playing through a wrist injury, but did not mention the severity.
“I told Jerry a couple weeks ago that maybe the numbers aren't there, but his impact and his influence on our defense, it hasn't waned in the least bit,” Frazier said. “Teams are always trying to account for Jerry, and the fact that he's played a little bit banged up this year with his wrist and he's come out there every Sunday and given us everything he has."
Coach Sean McDermott said Tuesday during the Bills’ season-ending press conference that it was yet to be determined whether Hughes would need surgery.
“We’re still working through the final medical report on that,” McDermott said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
As for why Hughes was not listed as having a wrist injury, the coach said "He was on the injury report. It was not in relation to his wrist. He was on the injury report, I believe at one point for his groin, and then another time just overall for veteran rest."
The NFL’s official policy on reporting injuries says that “the credibility of the NFL, teams, owners and team personnel requires full compliance with and uniform enforcement of the policy. The intent is to provide full and complete information on player availability.
“It is NFL policy that information for dissemination to the public on all injured players be reported in a satisfactory manner by clubs to the league office, the opposing team, local and national media, and broadcast partners each game week of the regular season and postseason. … The information must be credible, accurate, timely, and specific within the guidelines of the policy, which is of paramount importance in maintaining the integrity of the game.”
Teams found to be in violation of the policy can face discipline, which may include a fine for the team, fines or suspensions of involved players, as well as the possible forfeiture of draft choices by the involved club.
Hughes played through a wrist injury during the 2015 season and did not miss a game. He then had surgery in March 2016. It’s unclear if this year’s injury is to the same wrist.
Hughes started all 17 games this season, including the playoff loss to Houston on Saturday, but recorded one of the worst statistical campaigns of his career.
He was credited with 23 tackles, six of them for loss, and nine quarterback hits, all marking his lowest totals since his second season in the league. He had 4.5 sacks, his second-lowest total since being traded to the Bills, and no forced fumbles for the first time in his Bills career.
In the playoff game against Houston, however, he recorded three sacks.
“Not the outcome we work so hard for,” he wrote in his Twitter post, “just know I left everything I had on the field.”