Von Miller Will Stick on PUP List: How His Absence Affects Buffalo Bills Defense

The Bills will keep Von Miller on the PUP list, meaning he'll miss at least four games to begin the 2023 season. Who will step up for Buffalo's defensive line?

The defending AFC East champions will be without one of their best defensive players for at least the first four games of the year. On Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills announced edge rusher Von Miller will stick on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list into the regular season as he recovers from his torn ACL, as NFL Network first reported.

The Bills Won’t Have Von Miller for at Least Four Games

Technically, Miller is being moved from the active/PUP list — where players are stashed when they can’t participate during training camp — to the reserve/PUP list, which will knock him out for the first month of the season.

Miller will be absent for Buffalo’s games against the New York Jets, Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders, and Miami Dolphins.

Once Miller misses four games, the Bills will receive a five-week window to allow him to begin practicing. Once he returns to practice, Buffalo would then have a three-week window to decide whether to activate him to its 53-man roster.

If Miller never returns to practice or returns to practice but isn’t healthy enough to return to the active roster by the time those deadlines pass, he would have to stay on the PUP list for the remainder of the season.

But that seems like a wholly unlikely scenario for Miller, who has spoken positively about the ACL injury he suffered on Thanksgiving. In June, Miller said he was “all healed up,” but said he would remain cautious and allow the Bills’ medical staff to determine his return timeline.

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Meanwhile, Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane appeared on WIVB this week and said Miller was “trending up” in his recovery.

But the Bills have decided to play it safe with their future Hall of Famer, which probably makes the most sense. Miller is 34 years old — there’s no sense in rushing his return, especially when Buffalo’s most critical games will come at the end of the year and into the playoffs.

The Bills’ Defensive End Depth Chart

Miller won’t be the only regular Bills defensive lineman missing when Buffalo begins the 2023 season.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Bills traded former second-round defensive Boogie Basham to the New York Giants in a deal that will see the two clubs exchanging late-round picks in 2025. Basham has been underwhelming since entering the NFL in 2021, managing just 4.5 total sacks, and had been mentioned as a trade candidate this summer.

A.J. Epenesa, whom Buffalo drafted in the second round the year before they selected Basham, also drew trade interest, as ESPN reported today. Epenesa has also struggled to produce since joining the Bills, posting only nine sacks and 23 quarterback hits over three seasons.

Epenesa, Greg Rousseau, and free agent addition Leonard Floyd are now locks on Buffalo’s defensive end depth chart. Miller won’t count against the Bills’ 53-man roster while on PUP, so Buffalo could keep somewhere between one to three more edge rushers for Week 1.

Veteran Shaq Lawson or Kingsley Jonathan, both of whom spent last season with the Bills, could now make the club’s roster. But summer waiver claim Kameron Cline could also be a contender thanks to his special teams abilities, per Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic.

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