July 27, 2012; Pittsford, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler (84) enters the field prior to a training camp practice at St. John Fisher College. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE
Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler has been one of the lesser-discussed bright spots at training camp to date. After another strong outing on Wednesday night, a reporter mentioned to head coach Chan Gailey that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick appears to be in sync with Chandler heading into the duo's second full season together.
"They are," Gailey quickly replied. "He and Scott, he and Stevie, are really the two that are the most in sync. We have to find out who can get there going into game one."
Gailey is referring, of course, to Stevie Johnson along with Chandler as being in regular season form with Fitzpatrick at this point. Fitzpatrick was asked a similar question earlier this week by WGR 550, with the quarterback noting that he feels most comfortable with Johnson, Chandler and David Nelson (who is currently sidelined with a minor knee injury) at this point in time.
Over the past two seasons, Johnson and Nelson - clearly Fitzpatrick's two favorite targets - have combined for 236 receptions in games that they've played with Fitzpatrick, meaning that the duo is responsible for nearly two of every five Fitzpatrick completions in that time frame. We've known all along that the team needs another receiving option to step up; perhaps that player will be Chandler.
This isn't the first time we've heard Fitzpatrick express excitement about working more with Chandler this off-season, either. Back in June, when discussing the wide receiver position, Fitzpatrick specifically mentioned being excited about some three-receiver packages featuring Nelson and Chandler, which came after the typical diplomatic talk about the receiver competition. That was the early signal that Fitzpatrick was growing comfortable with Chandler, and now that's proving to be true early in camp.
Chandler, in his first season with a significant role as an NFL player, finished the 2011 season with 38 receptions, 389 yards and six touchdowns - with the scoring total setting a franchise record among tight ends. If the early buzz about Chandler bears fruit in 2012, the sixth-year tight end may be on the verge of a true break-out season, with Nelson-like numbers not out of the question.