Bills third round draft selection, T.J. Graham, had some initial struggles earlier this offseason, but has continued to make significant strides ever since. Those improvements have become more and more noticeable throughout training camp and now during the preseason.
During his first live NFL action, Graham led the Bills in both receptions and receiving yards in the team's first preseason game against the Washington Redskins. He had three catches for 37 yards and averaged 12.3 yards per reception.
He followed that impressive performance up with another solid showing against the Minnesota Vikings. Graham finished the game with two receptions for 69 yards, but the majority of those receiving yards were picked up on just one play.
Bills quarterback, Vince Young, hit Graham on a deep pass down the middle of the field for a 64-yard completion to begin the second half. It was the biggest gain offensively that the team has had this preseason and it would later lead to a one yard touchdown run by Tashard Choice.
"It was a great call by Coach obviously and they went cover four and the play we had was a cover four beater and T.J. did a great job getting on the guy with his speed," said Young. "I saw the lead he had and made the throw down there and let T.J. do what he does with the speed that he has."
Graham was thrilled to make a big play during the game, but he was also happy he was able to utilize his greatest asset to catch up to the strong throw by Young.
"It was good, it was far. I love that as a speed guy," said Graham. "Quarterbacks always want to throw it and show their arm. As a speed guy I wanted to go get it. I'm really excited about that. It made my day."
He was drafted by the Bills because of his blazing speed and playmaking potential. He showed that ability when he blew by the Vikings secondary and caught the long toss from Young. Graham was excited to finally see some of his hard work with Young payoff during live game action.
"We make those plays in practice so like it's finally time we made one in the game," Graham said. "It was pretty exciting. I was doing what I was supposed to do, make the plays. I think that's why they brought me here to make plays like that so…"
"The guy has definitely got some great speed so you definitely have to put it out there," said Young. "I always tell him, 'Man just go get it and I'm going to put the ball out there.' I'm just happy for him. It's the second game of the year, he's coming around and he's getting comfortable as well. So it's good for him that he made that big catch."
That kind of elite speed can prove to be a very valuable asset on special teams for the Bills as well. The team has been using him in both the kickoff and punt return game in the first two preseason contests. Graham had a 23-yard kick return and a long punt return of 14 yards Friday night.
"It went well. We got a lot of chances out there," Graham said of his returns. "I wish I could've broke one a little further, but I felt like the times I was able to return I did well. I got a few times that I've got to go out there and work on the blocking. That's part of it too."
While Graham has been impressive through his first two preseason games, he is still trying to mentally adjust to the NFL game.
"He has made some big plays." said Gailey. "He still had some mental errors on the field that aren't visible to everybody, but that are to us."
Mistakes are a part of the learning process for a rookie, but Graham wants to focus on cutting down on them as much as he possibly can.
"I had a couple of mental errors earlier in camp maybe three or four a day. I got it down to two and then now it's about one, but one is too many. I have to clean those up and it's hard to ask for perfection, but you can't make mistakes."