2020 AFC Championship Bills Injury Review- Chiefs

How did Beasley partially fracture his fibula?

Yet again, the Buffalo Bills are not ending the season the way we wish, hoisting the Lombardi trophy. Instead, the Bills lost 38-24 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday evening. To get to championship weekend with a legitimate chance to go play in the Super Bowl is something a large portion of the fan base hasn’t experienced in their lifetime or they are a generation removed. Looking back on this season which includes a 13-3 record, AFC East title, multiple All-Pro/Pro Bowl selections, franchise records, lots of young talent; there’s a lot to look forward to at this stage. 

Despite the loss, there didn’t appear to be any notable injuries that would have affected Buffalo in two weeks had they won. Below are the injury observations and early thoughts on the offseason.

In-game injuries:

WR Cole Beasley (Right calf)

Beasley went down following a catch to move the chains with 6 minutes left, limping off on his right toe to the sidelines. He immediately went to his back and the team began stretching out his calf which kept him out of several plays, most likely dealing with cramping. He returned later in the game, likely sore but finishing the game.

There aren’t any concerns regarding the cramping but noted the only “injury” observed in the game.

Other injury observations:

WR Gabriel Davis (ankle)

Davis was up and down all day prior as to whether he would play. After much consideration, I believed he would not play. The team had activated Kenny Stills from the practice squad for this exact reason yet Davis was a surprise active and Stills sat on the sidelines. 

He ended up playing in only 16 plays or 22% of the offensive snaps. He saw only 3 targets without any catches and saw most of his playing time in the 4th quarter. After the game, Sean McDermott defended playing Davis stating the medical staff felt that Davis could play and contribute. He then added in that he wanted to let guys who helped get them to that point play. 

Based on the video, it appeared he suffered a right low inversion ankle sprain. However, looking at the replay again, Ravens Marlon Humphrey did land on the other ankle as he fell down, and while it isn’t clear if he injured that ankle, it’s possible that could have been hampering him.

Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s fair to wonder if a healthy Stills possibly didn’t know the playbook as well as Davis did. It’s unfortunate that Davis couldn’t contribute at that point but he was a key member in getting the Bills to the AFC Championship.

WR Cole Beasley (Left fibula fracture) 

During locker clean-out day, several members of the Bills were interviewed including Cole Beasley who revealed he suffered a partial fracture of his fibula in Week 16 against the Patriots. 

This was certainly a surprising development as everyone knew he was battling through a knee injury, but not to that magnitude. Frankly, if anyone said that they thought that he did that, then either they are Nostradamus or they are lying through their teeth. 

I had thought that he was dealing with a meniscal injury based on the mechanism shown on film and the trainer pointing to the lateral knee on the sidelines indicating joint line tenderness. It also initially supported the timeline he went through to get back on the field. 

Understanding how he suffered the injury is difficult. He stutter-stepped and then fell down before coming up limping. There was a possibility that he was hit by the Patriots defender going down which could explain the hit to the knee leading to the fracture, but it’s not clear on film. This wasn’t an injury considered as a possibility at the time.

He most likely suffered a partial fibular head fracture as that portion lies right on the outside portion of the knee, hence why the team got away with saying knee on the injury report. They were right, but it was a loose use of the term. This would also support the use of the bracing on the knee during the Colts game to provide support to the area. It is important to note that Beasley was not wearing the brace during the Chiefs game.

Credit: Missoula Bone & Joint

According to the literature, these usually occur as the result of a direct blow to the area. An isolated fibular fracture is quite rare and the literature linked indicates there isn’t a lot of research on frequency. There are other ways to break the fibula but those involve more of the distal fibula down towards the ankle and are typically more severe in nature.

Credit: Sportsspecialists.ca

Either way, it explains why he slowly got better as he went in the playoffs due to the bone healing. As the fibula is a non-weight-bearing bone, it didn’t necessarily impact function, but more pain and tenderness due to the location. Thankfully, he does not require surgery and should have a full recovery without any possibility of long term issues.

Beasley clearly wanted to win and it showed playing through this injury. It’s something that’s respected but it shouldn’t be an expectation to play through this. He will take a much-deserved break to let all his injuries heal and then get back to training.

QB Josh Allen (General injury overview)

Allen also spoke to the media today more so about the AFC Championship loss, but he did reveal that he doesn’t have any crazy injuries and that he’s feeling pretty good. 

He did suffer a left shoulder injury along with injuring his right knee twice along with his ankle during the season. I had thought the shoulder injury was a subluxation which could have led to a labral tear. So based on what we saw back in Week 4, he suffered an AC joint sprain that took roughly 6 weeks to recover from with the bracing and tape. 

I’m glad I’m wrong because like Beasley, he doesn’t have to work through rehabilitation in the offseason and can work on his skillset even further. Things could change as exit physicals occur, but this is what is known at the time of publication.

Other thoughts:

Beasley’s fibular fracture is only the first layer of the onion that will reveal all the injuries various players played through this season. I would expect we see an onslaught of surgeries following the exit physicals this week. 

Already noted, Zach Moss has already gone through his Tightrope procedure on his left ankle and should be rehabbing in the coming weeks. 

As for the offseason for Banged Up Bills, make sure to check back periodically for injury updates. If the Bills report an injury, update, or surgery, it will be found here. Make sure to check out any podcast appearances, my draft prospect work over at Cover 1, draft selection updates/news over at Buffalo Rumblings, and weekly content over at The Game Day NFL.

Thank you to every single person that read the articles along with interacting on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram. It is impossible to be right all the time and while I would like to be, I still strive to give the most complete answers based on the information currently available. This was the most successful year of Banged Up Bills and I truly appreciate all the interactions and support. This is a ton of fun and I want to continue to provide the best content possible to the best fan base. Thank you and Go Bills!

Top Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports

Author: Dr. Trimble

My name is Dr. Kyle Trimble and I am, first and foremost, a Buffalo Bills fan!! When I am not cheering on the Buffalo Bills, I am a Physical Therapist. To give a background on myself; I was born and raised in Erie, PA, moved to Buffalo in 2006 to begin my studies at D'Youville College towards becoming a Physical Therapist at which time I became a devoted Buffalo Bills fan.  I graduated in 2013 with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy and moved home for several years. Moving back to the Buffalo area in 2016, I have gained extensive experience in outpatient orthopedics, skilled nursing, acute care hospital, and home care. Having obtained a significant wealth of knowledge that continues to grow, along with a undying fandom of the Bills, puts me in the unique position to educate my fellow fans about our great team. 
I am currently an injury spotter working with Dr. David Chao, Orthopedic Surgeon @ProFootballDoc based out of San Diego. In this role, I provide real time updates regarding injuries during the game. I hope you enjoy what I publish and I welcome any comments or questions you may have.
Disclaimer: My opinions are my own.  Any thoughts I have on the injuries is based on media reports, my knowledge of the injury, and speculation based on the information currently available.


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