The top three playmakers for Thursday’s joint practice session were all on the offensive side of the ball.
There has been steady improvement with each passing day for the Bills tight end since he returned from a groin injury a week ago. On Thursday Chandler was working the middle of the field effectively getting separation and
Chandler pulled in three passes in the practice session during team work. His best came on an early crossing route. Manuel led him with the throw and Chandler rolled up another 15 yards after the catch for a 25-30 yard pass play.
He also caught two more passes in the span of three plays as he was frustrating Pittsburgh’s safeties with his size and strength.
Watkins was not a popular target Wednesday, but that changed on Thursday. The Bills top draft choice caught a half dozen passes during the team segments of practice. EJ Manuel got him involved right off the bat on the second play of 11-on-11. He hit Watkins on a crossing route as the receiver streaked from the left to the right side of the field.
Pittsburgh’s defensive backs were playing him with a good deal of cushion so as not to get beat over the top so Watkins worked underneath and along the sidelines catching passes short and getting yards after the catch or making plays just past the first down marker. Manuel and Watkins were very much in sync as they failed to connect on just one of Watkins’ targets, a deep ball down the left sideline.
Buffalo’s other starting receiver took a little longer to get warmed up, but once he did it was tough for the Steelers’ defensive backs to come up with a way to stop him. Whether he was shielding the DB from the ball, out jumping a DB for a ball or getting separation, Williams was making plays for Manuel.
He caught four passes during the team portions of practice, which mainly worked against the edges of the Pittsburgh defense.