Heading into next week's mandatory minicamp, the Buffalo Bills have yet to upgrade the tight end room this offseason. The lack of additions gives Dawson Knox a clear path to a significant role in 2021.
Last season, Knox had an up-and-down campaign, which included testing positive for COVID-19. In 12 games, the Bills' leading tight end compiled 24 catches for 288 yards and three TDs. The inconsistency from the 24-year-old has led to rumors that the Bills could swing a trade for Eagles veteran Zach Ertz, who has been on the trade block for months.
Knox recently told Matt Parrino of Syracuse.com that he's not concerned about the Bills adding another tight end like Ertz.
"No matter who they bring in, whether it's a rookie or All-Pro like Zach, I think it'll be great just to elevate the competition," Knox said. "Iron sharpens iron, and that's a big philosophy that I have."
To improve entering Year 3, Knox worked with a vision specialist, Performance Vision coach Ryan Harrison, to improve his hand-eye coordination and become a better pass-catcher.
"I don't want to be dropping touchdowns, and I know no one wants to see that," Knox said of his reason behind seeing a vision coach.
The training includes using tools, balls and other objects to train a player's eyes and brain to fire more quickly, improving reaction time.
"We improved (Dawson's) depth perception and his tracking ability," Harrison told Syracuse.com. "There is some software that we use and some hands-on, manual things and he'll do a lot of movement with his body while he's identifying and recognizing things while he's processing information. We do it statically and dynamically."
"I want to get to the point where I am that weapon for our team (like Kelce is for Kansas City)," Knox said. "Travis is the best in the league right now at what he does. ... It just comes form watching film and getting on the field and starting to feel out some of the stuff that he can see pretty quickly. It's really not just running your route and being in the right spot. It's how well can you adjust on the fly? How well can you read coverages when the ball is snapped? Because defenses are so good at disguising coverages and safeties are moving around and linebackers are showing blitz and then they're dropping out.
"So it's just being able to catch on to some of those things, which I felt like I was able to do more and more as the year went on last year. And I'm excited to keep building on. I definitely feel confident that I'll be able to do that this year. I know I just want to keep stacking those good days on good days."
While battling injury and a stint with COVID-19 last season, Knox's play improved in the Bills' playoff run, when he compiled 10 catches and two TDs in three postseason tilts, including a 6/42/1 line in the AFC Championship Game loss.
"I felt like I was really able to start putting together some good momentum," Knox said. "I feel like I haven't touched my potential yet, and I'm ready to take that next step."
Unless Bills GM Brandon Beane pulls the trigger on the rumored Ertz trade, Knox should see a hefty amount of playing time this season as Buffalo's top TE in his quest to make that Year 3 leap.