Now that Dawson Knox is injured, it clears the way for a potential story of redemption for another Buffalo Bills tight end.
Tommy Sweeney's journey to this point has been run on an obstacle course in which more that just his career was considered to be in jeopardy. At one point, it was his life.
Sweeney played sparingly as a rookie seventh-round draft pick out of Boston College in 2019. A foot injury landed him on the PUP list to start last season, but that would prove to be the least of his troubles.
While recovering, Sweeney was infected with COVID-19. Slightly more serious.
It became deadly serious when he developed myocarditis, a swelling of the heart that can be fatal, as a complication from the infection. Sweeney would be shut down for the season, not knowing if he would survive, much less play again.
Sweeney would depend on the team's medical staff to guide him through.
"Obviously, it wasn't a good thing," he told the team's website in August, "but they were pretty confident we'd be able to get back after we got through that three-month period. So it was alarming at first, but we were optimistic throughout, which I think helped once I got back."
Even when Sweeney was able to get back on the field, his job with the Bills was far from guaranteed. Knox was ahead of him on the depth chart along with newly signed free agent Jacob Hollister, and the Bills likely would be keeping only two tight ends on the active roster.
But Sweeney just kept persevering, and when the final cuts were made, it was Hollister who was out. Sweeney had survived in more ways than one.
Flash forward to Monday night in Nashville. Sweeney was inserted for his one and only snap of the game on a play run at the Tennessee Titans' 1-yard line. He ran across the front of the end zone and caught the first touchdown pass of his career. It was just his fourth target of the season. He's 4-for-4.
"It's been been, you know, an up-and-down journey, if you will," coach Sean McDermott said Tuesday. "He's done a tremendous job of being resilient and sticking to it and he got the payoff last night. He's going to have an opportunity here as well."
Sweeney came out of college with a reputation for having good hands and being a solid blocker. He may not have the upside as Knox, who was taken four rounds ahead of him in the same draft, but he complements him well.
As the lead tight end, Sweeney might get to show the Bills all that he can do before Knox returns. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Knox will be out "a few weeks."
How many games that means is unclear, because the Bills are off this week. They don't play again until hosting the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 31.