Standing at 6-7 and weighing in at 260 pounds, Bills' tight end Scott Chandler is a tough guy to miss, but for opposing defenders this season, he's been an even tougher player to cover.
Through 10 games this year, Chandler is on pace to shatter his career-high marks he set last season in almost every statistical category. Chandler broke out last year hauling in 38 catches for 389 yards and six touchdowns, even though he played in just 14 games due to a high ankle sprain. The sixth-year man out of Iowa leads the team right now in touchdown receptions with five and is a few more catches away from having his best season thus far.
Chandler admitted that he and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick are much more in tune this season.
"We're way more (comfortable) even than we were last year," Chandler said. "Having an offseason together and a training camp together really helped. I know what he's thinking and he knows what I'm thinking as far as running routes."
Four of Chandler's five touchdowns this season have come within the red zone, making him a prime target inside the 20. Fitzpatrick said no matter where Chandler lines up on the field, he's a mismatch to just about anyone.
"Nobody on defense is going to match up with him in terms of his height," Fitzpatrick said. "I think we know that. He's a guy that's gotten so much better in the last few years in route running ability and using his body, shielding off defenders. He's a guy that does a great job going up for catches and so it is a mismatch.
"We feel like even if David Nelson was healthy this year, I think more of the getting away from the four wide receiver stuff and getting him on the field more was something that was going to happen. But with David going down that's happened a ton this year and given him more of an opportunity to show what he has. We've been very satisfied with the way that he's performed this year and hopefully we can have a strong finish."
Chandler also commented on how the loss of Nelson impacted his role in the offense.
"David was obviously a big part of what we did and was a tough guy to lose, but that's part of football," Chandler said. "You have to step up and make the plays, so it's not really any more pressure than I put on myself (to produce)."
Out of Chandler's 29 grabs this season, 24 of them have gone for first downs including all nine receptions against New England resulting in a new set of downs or a touchdown. Head Coach Chan Gailey admitted how dangerous a weapon Chandler is near not only the end zone, but in match-ups just about anywhere.
"I think he's learned to become a lot better route runner than when he first got here," Gailey said. "And maybe a part of that was us not recognizing what he could do. You have to let a guy get here and play and learn what his strengths are and then try to use those strengths to your advantage. He's exceptional in the red zone so we have to try to keep using him in the red zone. But he's a good one-on-one player so we have to try to find spots to get him involved."
Although Chandler leads the team in touchdown catches, he admitted the Bills' offense has numerous weapons and different defensive schemes will always leave one of them with an opportunity.
"You'll get different looks here and there and some different coverages to take stuff away, but we've got Stevie (Johnson) and Donald (Jones) who have four (touchdowns) apiece, so you pick your poison down there," Chandler said.