By the time 2:30 pm rolled around at One Bills Drive Monday afternoon all of the receivers were headed to the parking lot to call it a day after reviewing game film from Sunday’s humbling Week 1 loss. The only receiver that stayed behind to do some early film preparation for Kansas City was rookie T.J. Graham. With David Nelson now out for the season with a knee injury Graham will have a role after being inactive Week 1.
“He wasn’t ready,” said head coach Chan Gailey of Graham. “He’s very similar to where C.J. (Spiller) was two years ago as a rookie. Very talented, but not quite ready to play. Now he’s going to be thrust in there and we were fortunate that we didn’t have to thrust C.J. in there too much as a rookie, but this will be T.J.’s chance.”
Graham is determined to prove he can contribute to Buffalo’s offense, and believes he took some steps even this past week preparing for the Jets.
“Coach says I was kind of slow to learning things, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot of things in the last week or so,” he said. “Trying to figure out how to practice for a game week and even prepare for a real NFL game. Coming into Week 2 I feel like I’m more prepared for it I guess.”
“I was really impressed with T.J. during the preseason games,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “You never really know about a guy until you get him in there in the live action. He’s obviously a speedster and everybody knows that, but he showed some toughness in the preseason. And he showed that the game wasn’t too big for him. Those are two very important things.”
Gailey feels the work for Graham lies in the nuances of the offense, but he said Monday he does not yet know if the rookie wideout will see 10 plays or 50 plays.
“We’ve got to work through some issues with T.J. to make sure he’s on the same page because he’s been here the shortest amount of time,” he said. “But I think we’ll be able to work through things.”
“Like Chan said we’ve just got to get him up to speed,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s tough for a young guy to come in and play right away. He needs to be consistent and we need to be able to count on him in terms of running the right routes and making the right reads. He’s got no more time to sit back and try to learn. He’s got to get out there and make some plays for us.”
Fitzpatrick said the tough part for rookie receivers is they often have to execute some of the intricacies of their offense on the field before it’s really comfortable for them and those opportunities don’t always come up in the practice setting. So for Graham it will have to be a bit of baptism by fire.
“He has the knowledge,” said Fitzpatrick. “He’s studied and done all that stuff. There are just so many intricacies in NFL offenses especially for a wide receiver. They’ve got to be able to see it and know it and I’ve got to trust them.”
“I’m a quick learner, but I’ve still got to ask more questions and figure things out,” said Graham. “My time will come and I will make plays, but if they don’t trust me out there I’ve got to study a little more.”