BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Bills coach Sean McDermott announced Wednesday that star pass rusher Von Miller will miss the rest of the season after having surgery to repair the ACL in his right knee.
Miller sustained the injury in the Thanksgiving game against the Lions. Miller previously said he had a lateral meniscus tear and believed he had a chance to return this season. McDermott said the ACL injury was discovered during an exploratory surgery Tuesday in Texas.
“Very unfortunate situation for Von, and obviously our team,” McDermott said before Wednesday’s practice. “You care about every player, and it affects you when guys go down. We care for Von in this case, and we’ll miss him.”
General manager Brandon Beane said the Bills determined last week that Miller would need to have surgery on his meniscus. The team held out hope that Miller would return in time for the playoffs, but recognized that doctors could find further damage in Miller’s knee.
“I was aware that it was a possibility,” Beane said. “All crossing our fingers, but you see more when you go in there and you’re hoping it’s just a clean out of a scope and we get him back. That’s my comments from last week where we were hopeful, that’s why we went ahead and put him on IR to start the clock in hopes that he could be back. But once Dr. Cooper got in there, he felt it wasn’t gonna hold and he needed to repair it.”
The Bills (9-3) have won three straight to reclaim the top spot in the AFC, and prepare to host the New York Jets (7-5) on Sunday. Miller leads the team with 8.0 sacks this season.
The Bills placed Miller on injured reserve before the Patriots game, requiring him to miss at least four games. “Hopefully we can get him back for the stretch run,” Beane said at the time.
“We know how much this means to him, in terms of playing,” McDermott said. “We look forward to getting him back, obviously off the field for the rest of the season, and his leadership, and we are certainly thinking about him as he recovers.”
Even though Miller won’t play again this season, he can stay play an off-the-field role for the Bills, quarterback Josh Allen said.
“I don’t know when he’s coming back, but he’s coming back,” Allen said. “Just to have his presence in the locker room and teaching guys still, I think that’s going to be a big help for us. Obviously, we wish he was out there with us and we’re praying for him. We’re keeping him in our hearts, but the only way is forward. Guys are going to step up and collective leaders come together and try to … diminish his absence as much as possible.”
Shaq Lawson started in Miller’s place for last Thursday’s win at New England. A.J. Epenesa also received snaps at edge rusher in returning from an ankle injury, and Epenesa had the Bills only sack.
“It’s time to step up,” McDermott said. “Our guys are resilient. I’ll give them that. They’ve shown that the better part of this season. We’ve faced adversity and this is no different. Just a different type of adversity.”
Buffalo’s defense has been weakened by injuries throughout the season, and is still not at full strength.
Linebacker Matt Milano missed Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury, and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips was held out with an ankle injury.
All-Pro safety Micah Hyde is out for the season with a neck injury sustained in the second game. He has returned to the team in a mentorship role. All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer has missed four games with various ailments. Star cornerback Tre’Davious White did not play in the first 10 games while recovering from his ACL injury sustained a year ago on Thanksgiving. Defensive end Greg Rousseau, defensive tackle Ed Oliver and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds have each missed three games.
Miller’s “don’t blink” mantra has resonated in the Bills’ locker room, Beane said.
“We’ve had some bumps and not everything’s been pretty,” Beane said. “But it’s part of the deal and we’re confident that with Von out, these young guys will step up.”
Miller is the NFL’s active leader in sacks with 123 1/2, and he ranks 19th on the career list. He leads Buffalo with eight sacks, which was tied for 10th in the NFL entering this weekend. The Bills signed Miller to a six-year contract in free agency.
“He’s a future Hall of Famer for a reason,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said when asked how big of an impact Miller’s absence presents. “That said, we’ve got to move forward this week. And the person or the people responsible to step in and step up have got to do the job, and that’s the way it goes.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.