When David Nelson went down with a season-ending ACL injury Sunday, the question was asked who would fill the void in Buffalo's important slot receiver position? Nelson and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a special chemistry in working the middle of the field, but the Bills have another wideout on the roster with just as much experience as Nelson in the offensive system. He also knows the slot position.
Donald Jones is expected to be the primary slot receiver for the Bills moving forward in their three-wide and four-wide looks on offense. After getting a heavy dose of reps in the spring and summer out of the slot position Jones feels more than comfortable lining up there.
"I'm not a stranger to this at all," said Jones. "I did it all preseason getting me ready in case something like this was to happen. Now it's time for me to step in and do it in a game."
"I feel good about that," said Ryan Fitzpatrick. "The one thing we like about Donald is he's so versatile in terms of being able to play inside and outside. We worked him a lot this offseason inside. He was primarily an outside guy in the preseason with what we've done so far. He's going to do a lot of the same on the outside and we've got the flexibility to kind of put him where we want him, which is nice."
Bills head coach Chan Gailey admits that his passing game will change a bit with the absence of Nelson the rest of the way, but has full confidence that Jones can pick of the slack when it comes to working between the numbers.
"He can go inside and play inside," said Gailey. "I don't have any problems with that. I think he proved to us in the offseason and preseason that he can go do that if need be."
"Definitely getting those reps on the inside in the spring and summer will definitely help out with what I have to do now," Jones said. "Nothing will change. I'm used to it. I've been doing it."
Most might not remember that during Jones rookie season he worked almost exclusively out of the slot. Come midseason of 2010 Jones was on the field in Buffalo's four-wide sets in the slot opposite Nelson. In his second game in that role, Jones had five catches for 70 yards including a 28-yard touchdown reception in a 49-31 victory at Cincinnati.
"I can do everything that they ask of a slot receiver," said Jones. "Whether that's blocking down on an end, blocking a linebacker. Anything they want, screens to any type of routes I can do it all. Whatever they ask me to do I'll do it and I'll be good at it."