Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gragg, Manuel using extra time to get in sync


While the Buffalo Bills' defense has been plugging along this offseason without its key playmaker Jairus Byrd, the offensive unit has had ample time together to get acclimated.

Except for the crux of the tight end crew, that is.

Despite his remarkably fast recovery, first-string tight end Scott Chandler has still missed a legitimate amount of time with his two new quarterbacks to date. The same goes for Lee Smith and Mickey Shuler, who each missed time this offseason, as well.

The Bills have been fortunate enough to have utility guys like Dorin Dickerson around to help fill in the blanks for drills, but the biggest positive to come out of Buffalo's weak point this offseason may be the increased reps for rookie Chris Gragg.

Gragg, the team's final draft pick this offseason, was a versatile back in the Razorbacks system, first starting off as a receiver before moving inside. That versatility is what drew the Bills to Gragg, and the 245-pound rookie has made sure to take advantage of his extra time with fellow rookie and potential starting QB E.J. Manuel while it's available.

"I think me an E.J. work good together," he told Chris Brown of buffalobills.com Monday. "Ever since rookie training camp we’ve been here doing stuff, and sometimes we stay for extra work to work on some stuff. Once we got our timing down I think everything has been going good."

With the uncertainty that's surrounded the position since the end of last season, having another well-versed body in the lineup certainly couldn't hurt. And the chance of the Bills actually running an effective two-tight-end passing game could put some serious fear into defenses this season. 

Buffalo passed out of a two-tight-end set only 11 percent of the time in 2012, compared to 31 percent with one tight end on the field. The added threat in the middle could open things up for the team's speedy young receivers on the perimeter, as well as its running backs out of the backfield.

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