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Dependability now Defines Bills TE Dawson Knox

He is playing like the Bills envisioned in this third season, which is likely his last chance in Buffalo.

Zach Ertz is available. Since this time last season, the Philadelphia Eagles' Pro Bowl tight has been available.

And for the longest time he was coming to the Buffalo Bills in a trade, nearly everyone believed and some even reported in writing.

Until he wasn't.

He wasn't because the Bills believed they already had their tight end in third-year player Dawson Knox, whose 14 drops over his first two seasons made him a secondary option at best in their prolific attack.

Knox's target and catch totals actually decreased last season, when everyone else's increased, some exponentially, during quarterback Josh Allen's coming-out party.

But the Bills didn't draft a tight end and made only a lateral move in free agency to add Jacob Hollister, who didn't make the team anyway.

He didn't make it because of Knox. And now everyone is beginning to see why.

Knox is a bigger part of the Bills' offense now. One year after catching 24 passes for 288 yards, he already has 10 receptions for 107 yards, putting him on pace for 56 and 606, with 11 TDs. Considering his career catch total was just 52 over his first two seasons, the coaching staff's faith in him looks like it will be rewarded tenfold.

In Sunday's 43-21 win over the Washington Football team, Knox caught four passes for 49 yards, including an acrobatic 14-yard TD reception. His 83.3 catch percentage leads everyone on the team with more than five targets. He has no drops.

By showing his worth, he also saved general manager Brandon Beane some precious draft capital that he will need every bit of for the next five years or so after rewarding Allen with a monster contract extension in August.

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For Knox, the transformation happened with the help of his enrollment in the offseason at Tight End University, the brainchild of two current players at that position (San Francisco's George Kittle and Kansas City's Travis Kelce) and a former one (Greg Olsen).

The three-day event held in Nashville brought together more than 40 tight ends in an effort to hone their craft and make their position more viable across the NFL.

Perhaps nobody gained as much from the experience as Knox.

"Tight End University was awesome," Knox said, "not just because of the camaraderie of the position but also just learning a lot of things from guys like Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce and George Kittle, even guys like Darren Waller [of the Las Vegas Raiders], just kind of taking little pieces of their game and what they do so well and they were able to do some great drills with us when it comes to, like, releases — if there's a man pressed on you, some different techniques, just to add to the toolbox.

"I mean, there wasn't ... any one specific thing. It was just kind of like a wealth of knowledge in that room and we were watching two, three hours of film every day and just bringing out little things in the run game too, like how to step on certain techniques for D-ends and even how to release off the line against a corner."

With the options Allen has at receiver and running back, it's doubtful Knox will ever be targeted as much as the league's elite tight ends. But the Bills don't necessarily need a Kelce or a Kittle or an Ertz. They just need a No. 1 tight end who's reliable when his number is called.

Through three games, Knox is proving to be just what they want.

"He's got a great mindset," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "I think he's got a lot of confidence. ... I know we certainly have confidence in him, the quarterback does and, you know, he's made a lot of plays for us here throughout training camp and leading into the regular season here.

"Again, it's not about how many catches and all those things. He's just doing the right things, and when you do the right things on a consistent basis, you earn the confidence of, I'd say, the coaching staff and of the quarterback."

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.