Tight ends take another hit: Bills' Chandler injured Sunday
by Joe Buscaglia,posted Jul 27 2014 6:58PM
One full week of practice is over and done with at St. John Fisher College, and with all things considered, the Buffalo Bills haven't been hit too hard by the injury bug through the first seven sessions. The tight end room, however, would beg to differ.
The Bills are already without both Tony Moeaki (hamstring) and Chris Gragg (heat cramps) due to injuries, and the team suffered another one on Sunday with starter Scott Chandler. Last year's leading pass catcher for Buffalo, Chandler had to leave practice in the first hour and did not return at any point. The team announced that the tight end had suffered a groin injury, but any timetable for his return is not immediately clear.
With the third injury to the group, the Bills are now down to two healthy tight ends on their roster in Lee Smith and Dominique Jones, who was just signed by the team on Saturday. Marrone hinted that the team may use some players already on the roster to help out at the spot in the interim, rather than going out and signing another free agent.
One player that could fit into the mold is current fullback Evan Rodriguez, who played tight end both during his college career and at the beginning of his professional career. He has been used exclusively in the backfield as a blocker and receiving option for the team, and is in a battle for that starting position with Frank Summers. Rodriguez is listed as 6-foot-2 and 239-pounds on the team's official roster.
The Bills incurred one other injury during their Sunday practice, having lost wide receiver Kevin Elliott to concussion-like symptoms following a snap during team drills. Elliott ran a post route to the end zone and was wide open, but missed the easy catch. He immediately took his helmet off, walked through the back of the end zone and crouched down as trainers ran over to him.
There could have been some residual effects from the play prior to that one, in which safety Jonathan Meeks laid perhaps the biggest hit of the day on Elliott as he was trying to make a play for the offense. The wideout is battling for one of the final spots available to that position along with the likes of T.J. Graham, Marcus Easley and others.
In addition to Chandler, Moeaki, Gragg and Elliott the Bills also practiced without safety Kenny Ladler, who like Moeaki, suffered a hamstring injury two days ago and hasn't practiced since. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin hasn't taken any snaps during team drills for the past three practices, to which Marrone replied that they were being "smart" with him.
McKelvin had offseason hip surgery and was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list ahead of the start of training camp, which is the reason for the team limiting his snap count during camp. He has since been removed from the PUP list and participated in full through the first four practices of training camp.
The Bills did get the return of one key contributor back to practice. Following a lower body injury sustained on Friday night, running back Fred Jackson was able to get back on the field and took normal repetitions with the team.
The team will get back on the practice field on Monday evening at 6 o'clock. Once again, the session is open to the general public but fans do not need a ticket for entry.