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Zay Jones returns looking to prove himself, build connection with Nathan Peterman

In a season featuring a litany of drops and close calls, Zay Jones was taken out of his rhythm just when things were starting to click.

In the first half against the Jets two weeks ago, the rookie wide receiver looked like the player who set the NCAA's single-season catch record last year. He set a new career high for yardage in a game, totaling 40 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone.

His big day was disrupted when his legs intertwined with Buster Skrine, causing his right knee to hyperextend. He returned to the game in the third quarter and made two catches for 13 yards, but was taken out once again when the injury flared in the fourth. Just when he started making a consistent impact, he couldn't even get on the field.

Until Wednesday, Jones hadn't played or practiced since. He's tried to avoid getting frustrated, but said it was difficult when he saw his teammates struggling against the New Orleans Saints and couldn't do anything to help.

He's stayed positive by focusing on the fact he avoided serious damage.

"There have been far worse injuries," Jones said. "I'm glad it wasn't as worse as it looked. ... It's football. Everyone's banged up this time of the year."

After nearly two weeks on the sidelines, Jones was upgraded from day-to-day to a full participant in practice Wednesday. He now has two practices under his belt, and both he and coach Sean McDermott are optimistic about his availability for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

"I'm out here running around full speed," Jones said. "Things are looking very positive right now."

"He's done a good job getting back to where he is," McDermott said. "Just getting back out here has been good for him, getting a good sweat going and getting back into the offense. Right now the arrow is pointing in a good direction."

For Jones, returning to play offers him another opportunity to prove he can produce in an offense needing improvement in the passing game. After catching only seven passes in his first six games, he's snagged nine in his last two.

"I've always been confident," Jones said. "I know I can play this game. I've had my ups and downs. I'm just trying to stay very poised and perform well on a day-to-day basis consistently at practice. My practice habits will carry over to Sunday."

As Jones works on his own rhythm, he also has to get up to speed with the Bills' new quarterback, Nathan Peterman. Jones said he doesn't see that as a complicating factor, but an opportunity. The pair experienced playing together at January's Senior Bowl.

"I know what he's capable of," Jones said. "I know that he's very poised in the pocket. He's mobile as well as a pocket passer. He's a great leader. The leadership qualities are through the roof. He's a student of the game and has a very high character. I'm excited to see how he excels in this league."

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