Just a week after tearing his ACL last December Bills tight end Scott Chandler had enough of a sense of humor left to joke that he would return from the injury better than Minnesota Vikings All-Pro Adrian Peterson. After watching Chandler spend 20 minutes running routes and making catches after the Bills OTA practice Thursday no one was joking.
Chandler, just four and a half months removed from surgery, and five months to the day from sustaining the injury, wasn't 100 percent, but was effectively dropping his weight and cutting off the surgically repaired knee and pulling in receptions from Bills rookie QB Jeff Tuel.
"The knee feels really good," Chandler said at the conclusion of his solo workout. "I feel great. Running routes you could probably tell it's not 100 percent, but it's better than most so I feel good."
The Bills' tight end praised team orthopedist Dr. Leslie Bisson for his work in surgically repairing his torn ACL suffered in the penultimate game of the 2012 season at Miami, as well as the Bills athletic training staff and the physical training staff back in Iowa where he resides in the offseason.
"It feels normal," said Chandler. "I can't say enough about what those guys have done."
Chandler said he's been running routes for the last three weeks, but began catching passes just this week. Rehabbing from torn ACLs typically takes seven to ninth months, but team physicians say every case is different. Buffalo's top tight end is running routes and catching balls less than five months removed from surgery, but Chandler doesn't see his rehab as accelerated.
"The injury is different than it used to be," he said. "The doctors are better. I have to attribute some of this… I'm a Christian guy, God is the ultimate healer."
As he continues to move through his rehabilitation Chandler's football workload will be based on how he feels. The structural integrity of his knee is sound at this point. A lot of what is left involves strength and flexibility in the knee.
The pass-catching threat admits he's not a great lobbyist so he doubts he'll be able to convince the athletic training staff to let him participate in the mandatory June minicamp next month.
"I'll try my best, but that's not my call," said Chandler. "The ultimate goal is to be ready to go in training camp and be ready for the season. The worst thing would be to have a setback now. I'm going to push as hard as they'll let me and let them pull the reins back."
All along being ready for the start of training camp was the goal for Chandler, and barring a setback he'll be participating in some capacity come late July.
"I feel it's realistic," Chandler said. "It's kind of what I expected. Honestly I just wanted to be ready to go when training camp and the season came around. I'm not a guy who is going to sit there and hope that it gets better. I'm going to be proactive."
That approach has put Chandler in the promising position he finds himself now. Knowing he has a whole new cast of quarterbacks to get used to in the passing game, Chandler understands how valuable his reps will be in training camp.
"The relationship between a quarterback and receiver needs to be there," he said. "I've been with guys like (Antonio) Gates and (Philip) Rivers and obviously (Jason) Witten and (Tony) Romo and you see those kinds of relationships and that's what it takes. So you want to build a relationship with these guys. You want them to know when it's man-to-man you're the guy they want to go to. I want to be there in training camp so they can see and the new coaching staff can see what I can do."