Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley had a career season that many slot receivers would be proud to have. The second-year Bills player caught a career-high 82 passes for a career-high 967 receiving yards. He scored four touchdowns and averaged a career-best 11.8 yards per catch.
Beasley concluded his historic season in a heroic way. The wide receiver announced in his final media session of the season that he broke his fibula during Buffalo's Week 16 game against the Patriots.
"It's not a full break," Beasley explained. "It was bad the first game I played, but after that you take a few meds and suck it up."
After breaking his fibula, Beasley had a week of rehab and missed the Week 17 game against the Dolphins. He returned for the next game, which was the Wild Card game against the Colts.
"I knew the next game was probably out of the question," Beasley said about his absence in Week 17. "They kind of told me it was, so that one hurt a little bit. But there was no way that I was going to miss the playoff game, especially after watching in Week 17. So I was going to figure it out, one way or the other."
The second-team All-Pro said he never thought about taking the rest of the season off after he got injured. All he could think about was wanting to play for his teammates when the games mattered most.
"I just realized that there's not many opportunities that you get on a team like this that's special like this and has this chance," Beasley shared. "You just try to find a way to push through it and be the best you can for your teammates. But, you have to be careful because you have to do it to a point where you don't hurt the team as well.
"I kind of knew what I could do within myself. I believe that I can still play through whatever, and then everybody else is going through something at this point in time too. Everybody's playing injured, so you just have to push through it."
Beasley pushed through and had 14 catches for 157 yards in the playoffs. He set career postseason highs in receptions in a game (7 at Kansas City) and receiving yards in a game (88 at Kansas City) on Sunday. When he looks back on his season full of career highs, he's not satisfied by the numbers and wants to learn from a year of increased playing time.
"I've never had a season where I've had that much of a load," Beasley said. "So just knowing that I can handle that and then it teaches me about myself the things that maybe I need to do to be able to handle that maybe a little better. Other than that, it's never something that's just satisfying to where you're like, 'Okay, I did something good or whatever.' To me it's a step in the right direction of getting to where I want to be in improving. I think I'm going to get better from the stuff that I've learned this season."
The nine-year vet doesn't see his career nearing a close. Instead, he feels he can physically be in a better place next season than many of his younger years in the NFL.
"This is only my second year with Josh, so it's only expected to get better and better," Beasley explained. "I don't feel like I'm slowing down at all, so I feel like I'll be a better player physically next year than I was this year. Last year was my first full offseason that I've gotten in, I don't know, four or five years. Now I'll get a second full offseason in a row, I'm excited for that."
Beasley is also excited for what's to come. He understands he's a part of a talented group of young players who are just tapping into their full potential. A 13-3 season, an AFC East title and a trip to the AFC Championship game is just the beginning for this group.
"We have a lot of the right guys in the locker room to do what we need to do," Beasley said. "We came up short but, other than myself, for the most part, it's a very young group. So, we're building and learning with each other. We took a step last season and then we took another step this year, so there's only one more place to go. That's the goal."
The wide receiver was a big part of the step the Bills took this season totaling five games of at least 100 receiving yards and six games of at least six catches during the regular season. Beasley and Stefon Diggs became the second wide receiver tandem in team history to each tally at least 70 catches. Expect more production from Beasley in the seasons to come.