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Bills Capable of Covering Dawson Knox's Absence Many Ways

They still have a capable tight end in Tommy Sweeney and proven receivers who have been less involved because of the new presence of Emmanuel Sanders.

As we pointed out earlier this week, trading for another tight end is just one of many ways the Buffalo Bills may choose to address the loss of Dawson Knox for what is believed to be at least two games. And that tactic really would almost have to coincide with a shift of their offense to more two-tight end sets by the time Knox returns from his hand injury to make a trade worth it.

But the Bills are so loaded with playmakers across their roster that they also don't necessarily need to change anything about the way they prepare for particular opponents without Knox, who already has 21 catches for 286 yards and five TDs through six games.

Those numbers put him on pace for 60, 810 and 14 — arguably Pro Bowl credentials — if he doesn't miss any time, which of course he will. 

The Bills use two tight ends on the field less frequently than any team in the NFL, and the closer they get to next Tuesday's trade deadline without making a deal, the less likely they are to severely alter what they do.

In fact, the first and perhaps most sensible option for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is to operate as if Knox is not missing at all by just plugging backup Tommy Sweeney in and carrying on as before.

Sweeney doesn't have the pure skill of Knox, but it doesn't mean he can't play Knox's role for a couple or three weeks without the Bills suffering a significant drop in offensive production.

There are other short-passing options too.

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Running back Zack Moss already has 10 catches (on just 14 targets) for 109 yards. He's a proven reliable receiver and getting better in the passing game in his second season.

There's always slot receiver Cole Beasley too. Though strangely written out of a few game plans, barely being targeted in wins over Houston and Kansas City, he showed he was as dependable as ever in their last game, catching seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown in the 34-31 loss at Tennessee.

Could fellow slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie, limited almost exclusively to punt- and kick-return work to this point, also see more of a role? After all, when he was used more in the offense last season, he delivered, catching 30 passes on 34 targets for 282 yards and five TDs.

The only thing that's been keeping him off the field this year is newcomer Emmanuel Sanders (24 catches, 413 yards, four TDs), who's made it impossible to involve him any less.

Similarly affected by Sanders is second-year receiver Gabriel Davis, who averaged 17.1 yards on 35 receptions last year. seven of them were touchdowns. This year, he's averaging 17.3 yards per catch but has only been targeted 10 times for six receptions.

Regardless of how many games Knox misses, the Bills should have no excuses for any kind of drop in point production. There is no shortage of proven weapons for quarterback Josh Allen, who should be just fine for as long as Knox is out.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to