Von Miller looks on for the Bills.
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Bills Lose 8-Time Pro Bowler For At Least 4 Games

The Bills will be missing a key piece of their defense for at least the team's first four games because of an injury.

When the Buffalo Bills open their season on Monday Night Football against the division rival New York Jets, they'll be without one of their best players: legendary edge rusher Von Miller.

After tearing his ACL last Thanksgiving, the veteran had high hopes to be ready for opening day. However, he will not be removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list by the Tuesday afternoon deadline, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, and as such will be ineligible to play in the team's first four games.

This is a major loss for the Bills, who have high aspirations after another playoff disappointment and who need all the help they can get with a tough opener on the road. Miller picked up eight sacks last season in 11 games before the injury, and he was their highest-graded defender on Pro Football Focus with an overall grade of 85.8. Almost every metric loved him — he also had the team's best pass rush win rate with a mark of 23.6%, and his 14.5% pressure percentage was also tops on the Bills.

The Bills went 13-3 in the regular season, but Miller was sorely missed when the playoffs rolled around. As a veteran player who has won championships in each of his last two postseason appearances — including a Super Bowl MVP in 2015 — he was brought in to be a leader on a defense looking to make the leap. Without Miller, the Bills allowed 31 points to Skylar Thompson's Dolphins in a shockingly close game, and they only sacked Joe Burrow once in an uncompetitive loss. Greg Rousseau, who graded similarly to Miller in most categories and matched his regular season record with eight sacks, didn't record a sack across those two postseason games.

With Miller out, the Bills will lean on Rousseau, of course, but the opposite edge spot still has to be filled. A.J. Epenesa will look to take another leap in year four, after a career-best 6.5 sacks last year. And Buffalo will hope for some big performances from newcomer Leonard Floyd, who racked up nine sacks for the Rams last year, although advanced metrics were not high on his game.

It's worth noting that this injury involves Miller's right ACL, not the one he tore in Denver, and the recovery horizon isn't too bad. Considering all of the optimism Miller's camp had that he would play on opening day — and the fact that he has been working out alongside team practices during training camp — there's a good chance he gets back on the field pretty quickly after becoming eligible in about a month.

If the 34-year-old Miller isn't able to get back to his best self, his six-year, $120 million deal — signed just before the 2022 season — will look like one of the league's worst, which is an outcome the Bills front office is surely desperate to avoid. Miller could be eligible to play starting with a Week 5 clash with the Jaguars, kicking off a key monthlong stretch that also includes meetings with the Giants, Patriots and Bengals.

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