T.J. Graham received the perfect birthday present from Ryan Fitzpatrick Friday afternoon.
Two plays into Buffalo's 7-on-7 work, the Bills rookie wide receiver -- who turned 23 on Friday -- was streaking down the right sideline when Fitzpatrick launched a pretty deep ball in Graham's direction. Even with tight coverage from cornerback Aaron Williams, Graham found a way come down with the football to the delight of the fans in attendance.
“The only reason I threw it to him today is because it's his birthday and he didn't tell any of us that,” Fitzpatrick deadpanned. “Somebody told me walking out to practice, so I figured I'd give him one little softball that he could catch out there and get the fans cheering.”
All kidding aside, Graham's performance early on has been one of the stories to watch at training camp thus far. He is unpolished as a receiver and struggled at times at spring practices, but the former track star has exactly what the Bills need at wide receiver -- deep speed.
“That's my thing,” Graham said.
“He's obviously a speedster,” Fitzpatrick said. “He's really improved from the first day he stepped on the field in OTAs ‘til now.”
That's been evident thus far at St. John Fisher. Graham's highlight-reel catch on Friday was his second in as many days. He had the play of the day to kick off camp on Thursday, reeling in a difficult pass down the left sideline that had been tipped by both Graham and defensive back Justin Rogers. Graham eventually came up with the football after falling to the ground.
Graham isn't expected to be a major player in the competition for the No. 2 receiver job as he adjusts to life in the NFL. He dropped an easy pass late in Friday's session and must develop more consistent hands. But the Bills need him to contribute in some fashion to help keep opposing defenses honest.
So far, the results have been encouraging.
“He's getting better as a receiver,” coach Chan Gailey said. “I think he's still got a long way to go, but he's getting better every day he walks out there and that's what he's got to do. As a pro, if you don't look at it that way, you're going to get left behind.”
Hard as it may be to believe, Graham's speed should only improve in the coming days. After Friday's practice, he revealed that he's been dealing with blisters on his feet to start camp.
“They hurt really bad, I've been kind of tip-toeing around,” Graham said. “So wait ‘til those blisters heal.”
For more updates, follow Bills correspondent Mark Ludwiczak on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLBUF and @MarkLud12.