Last season, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a completion percentage of 66.3% with 20% of his completions to slot receiver David Nelson through six weeks. With Nelson sidelined for the season this year, receiver Donald Jones has filled the void in the slot for the past five weeks, but Fitzpatrick's number aren't nearly where they were a year ago.
Through five games without Nelson in the slot, Fitzpatrick has a 57.6 completion percentage, eight interceptions and only 11 completions to Jones.
Jones said the chemistry hasn't been there between him and the quarterback.
"Honestly, it has been kind of off for the past few games," Jones said. "Hopefully we can get it down every week and get better and better."
A three-year pro, Jones finished last season with 23 receptions for 231 yards and one touchdown through eight games before being placed on injured reserve due to an ankle injury.
Jones said as the team plays more games Fitzpatrick and his chemistry should improve.
"People always say practice makes it better, but the more and more you play games is when you get better," Jones said. "You don't really get that much better in practice because the game speed is so much different."
Fitzpatrick said although he hasn't had the same production with Jones that he had with Nelson, he's looking to find a way to get Jones the ball.
"David (Nelson) and Donald are very different players," Fitzpatrick said. "They bring different things to the table. When you look at the type of player Donald is playing against the Patriots, he caught a quick slant in the slot and took it 68 yards for a touchdown. That's everything that we see in Donald. He's very physical, he's explosive and he can run after the catch. We have to get him more opportunities in there. We have to get him the ball more in space because of the things that we think he can do."
The former Youngstown State Penguin is third on the team in both receptions and receiving yards with 16 and 194, respectively, falling just behind tight end Scott Chandler who has 17 catches for 219 yards.
Jones said the two of them embrace the number two-receiver role on the inside.
"We've definitely been splitting the role working the middle," Jones said. "Scott's a big guy and he makes plays and when they can get the ball to me I can make plays too."
Fitzpatrick also noted Jones has been a key player in their running game.
"I think he's done a good job this year," Fitzpatrick said. "He adds an element to our run blocking as well with just how physical he is. That's something that doesn't show up on the stat sheet. Nobody really notices it, but when C.J. or Fred are breaking those long runs he's involved a lot of the time whether it's blocking a safety or the man over him. So it gives us some flexibility there because he can also block in the run game."
The Bills currently rank fifth in the league in rushing yards per game averaging 147.7 yards. Fitzpatrick said the passing game needs a spark and he thinks Jones can make some plays out of the slot if given the chance.
"I think he enjoys playing inside," Fitzpatrick said. "The biggest thing though is we have to get him more opportunities. He's a guy that's going to be patient and he's always going to work at it and not going to get discouraged, but we've got to get him some more opportunities because he's done a real nice job for us this year."