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Bills Keys To 2011: Diversifying At Tight End

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During an improved - and at times, bafflingly efficient - 2010 campaign, the Buffalo Bills' offensive unit was able to milk production out of just about every position, including their much-maligned offensive line. The lone exception to that rule is at tight end, where Bills players combined for just 23 catches, 187 yards and one touchdown.

We've spent some time discussing the team's depth and breadth in talent at receiver, the versatility of its running backs, and the unique combination of player types they employ in slot receivers. The one element missing from the skill position repertoire is a receiving tight end.

That may be by design. Despite reports last summer that Chan Gailey had big plans for Shawn Nelson, migraines, surgeries and a suspension derailed those plans. Gailey reverted to his usual form: employ blocking tight ends and emphasize skill talent at other positions. Gailey has only ever really had one productive tight end throughout his glorified coaching career, and that player was Tony Gonzalez.

There has been some clamoring from the fan base to sign one of a few prominent impending free agent tight ends, but most don't expect those players to change teams, barring something unforeseen. If the tight end position is going to return to Gailey's offense next season in a meaningful fashion, it'll be because a player like Nelson finally emerges.

Previous keys to 2011: Fitzpatrick to Evans, Spiller's ball security