There’s been one constant for Scott Chandler during his four offseasons with the Buffalo Bills.
“Y’all have been talking about drafting a tight end for four years now,” Chandler said after practice Tuesday. “So I don’t really pay much attention to it. If they draft a guy, I’m going to do my best to help him out and be a mentor, but right now we’ve got the guys we’ve got. I think it’s a good group.”
The Bills apparently think so, too, since they passed up adding to the position in the draft. Instead, they’ll rely on Chandler — who’s coming off a career year of 53 catches for 655 yards — and see what they get from veteran Tony Moeaki and 2013 seventh-round draft pick Chris Gragg.
“I’ve been with a lot of guys in the league, and the guys we’ve got are very capable of making plays and carrying the load,” said Chandler, who re-signed with the Bills for two years and $4.75 million.
That’s actually a slight cut in pay for the Bills’ leading receiver from 2013, after he played out a two-year, $5.45 million contract. Chandler, however, made his intentions clear.
“I didn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said. “I bounced around for four years in this league. … This is where I wanted to be. My wife wanted to be here. I love this team, love the town and the fans. It feels like this is where my career has really been the whole time.”
The Bills know what they’re getting in Chandler. Less certain is what they’ll have behind him.
Gragg played less than 5 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in 2013, finishing with five catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Moeaki, though, is the real wild card at the position. He’s missed two of the last three seasons because of knee and shoulder injuries but is a full participant in spring practices.
“It’s great to be out here,” he said. “I’m just trying to finish OTAs strong, finish minicamp strong, have a good rest of the summer and come back for training camp ready to go.”
Moeaki met up with quarterback EJ Manuel twice this offseason, in California and Miami, to run routes.
“I think it was good for him to kind of get used to me,” Manuel said. “Getting the direction from me, like ‘hey, Tony, this is what we’re doing on this play.’ Shorten it down on this route, things like that. I think all that builds rapport between the receiver and the quarterback.”
The Bills have made a low-risk gamble that Moeaki will be able to regain the form he showed as a rookie in 2010 with the Kansas City Chiefs, when he caught 47 passes for 556 yards and three touchdowns. He’s due $1.35 million in 2014.
“Tony’s doing a great job. He’s an awesome target,” Manuel said. “I think he’s going to be a great addition to our tight end corps. We obviously have Scott back … so the competition level is going to go up at that position.”
Chandler knows Moeaki as well as any player on the Bills’ roster. They both played at the University of Iowa, with their time overlapping by two seasons.
“He looks the same as he always has. He’s an athletic guy,” Chandler said of Moeaki. “He does everything well. … He’s a fun guy to play with. Obviously, he’s had a long road back from a couple of these injuries, but he looks ready to go now.”
Bills running back Fred Jackson will host a youth football camp from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the team’s fieldhouse. The camp will feature USA Football’s FUNdamentals curriculum for children ages 9-11. All drills selected are based on USA Football’s Player Progression Development Model, which ensures players learn in an age-appropriate manner based on their cognitive and physical maturity.
Registration is available at www.usafootball.com/fun. For more information, call Preston Teague at 697-0976.
The Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers will hold two joint practices during training camp, from 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 13 and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 14. The practices will take place at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., leading up to the teams’ preseason game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Aug. 16.