Did Fitzpatrick play with broken ribs?

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick walks to the bench during a game against the Patriots at...

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick walks to the bench during a game against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 1, 2012. (JESSICA RINALDI/Reuters)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:49 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS, QMI AGENCY - If Ryan Fitzpatrick played with cracked ribs over the last half of the 2011 season, it's news to Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey.

Buffalo wideout David Nelson claimed Fitzpatrick "cracked a few ribs" in a vicious hit during a game against the Redskins at Toronto's Rogers Centre in October. Neither Fitzpatrick nor the Bills offence was ever the same after that game.

"I knew heíd taken a shot," Gailey told reporters Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "It was more in the chest, I thought, than it was in the ribs.

"He didnít miss practice. He was nursing it but he really didnít miss practice. I donít know if it was that but we started getting receivers hurt, and we started getting linemen hurt. I think that had something to do with it. Scott Chandler got hurt late in the year. I think that had as much to do with it as anything. I knew he had taken that shot. I didnít know anything about the broken (ribs) part."

Gailey addressed other Bills off-season matters on Thursday.

Asked whether running back C.J. Spiller ó who ably filled in when Fred Jackson went down with a season-ending injury ó is an every-down back, Gailey didn't hesitate to heap praise on him.

"He could be an every-down back," Gailey said. "I donít see any reason that he couldnít carry it 20 or 25 (times per game) if he needed to. But heís a valuable, versatile player; he can play wideout."

Jackson is fully healed from the broken bone he suffered in his lower right leg in November. Both running backs will see the field at the same time in 2012, Gailey said.

"Weíre fortunate enough to have two very good backs, so Iím going to try to make sure we keep them fresh and wear them out at the same time ó does that make sense?" Gailey said. "But you want them to be on the field doing something ó running routes, creating threats for the defence ó but not each one of them taking a pounding and both of them carrying it a lot of times every game.

"Am I saying theyíre going to be in the game at the same time? Iím sure they will be. Now donít hold me to what percentage, but they will be."

Asked how important it is to re-sign free agent Stevie Johnson, Gailey showed no signs of the frustration he obviously felt with the team's No. 1 wide receiver late in the year. Gailey benched Johnson in the season finale when he took a penalty for showboating after a score.

"Heís very important to us and weíd love to have him," Gailey said. "The thing you learn to say in this business, you donít ever want to say you canít live without somebody. As soon as you say that you learn to live without him. We would like to have him. Heís very important to our football team. He made a bunch of big plays for us and hopefully it works out ó but itís a business."


Videos

Photos