Optimism looming as fans hope for a Sammy Watkins return before training camp
Buffalo Bills‘ wide-receiver Sammy Watkins is still trying to cement himself as a top wideout in this league. However, his injury-prone nature at the higher level has consistently held him back from achieving that goal.
When the Bills traded their 9th overall pick in 2014 — as well as their first round and fourth round draft picks in 2015 — to the Cleveland Browns for the No. 4th overall pick in 2014, they knew they were going for WR Sammy Watkins. Out of Clemson, Watkins proved his abilities in his three years with the college. Over that span, he recorded 240 receptions, 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns, including 1,200+ yard seasons in his freshman and junior year.
Right away, we knew who our No. 1 wide receiver was going to be: Sammy Watkins. Since then, we’ve seen short flashes of his potential in this league. In his first season, he recorded 65 receptions, although he was targeted 128 times. He added 982 yards and 6 touchdowns, with an 84-yard touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 8 — a game we won 43-23.
In his second season, Watkins caught 60 passes, but increased his yards to 1,047 — his first 1,000 yard season after missing it by 18 yards in 2014 — and his touchdowns (9). His two best games came against the Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins, where he recorded 158 yards and two touchdowns and 111 yards and two touchdowns, respectively. The Bills lost both of those games. He also recorded an 11-reception game in the season finale against the Jets — a game we won.
However, injuries have ailed him from reaching that next level to put him up there with the other top names. Most of the injuries weren’t bad enough to keep him out of play, as he has only missed three games in his two seasons. It has definitely had an effect on his play, though. Seeing what he can do at a limited state makes you wonder what he could possibly achieve playing at 100%.
His latest injury was a broken foot, which he had foot surgery on this offseason. It’s causing him to miss a lot of the OTA’s and minicamps. However, he remains optimistic on returning before the season starts. In an interview with TSN on Friday, Watkins said:
"For training camp, I think I’ll definitely be available. I might sit out two or three days. It’s all about how I feel within those days. The goal is to come back and be prepared for training camp."
The Buffalo Bills start training camp on July 30th. That gives Watkins a little over a month, which seems reasonable. And it’s definitely better than what he said to reporters on June 1st:
"Honestly, I can’t tell you. This is an injury where you got to be very careful, and like I said, the only thing I can do is listen to the staff and take it slow and just really protect myself. They’re going to take the course of the injury. Nobody knows what timetable, or when or what."
Bills’ head coach, Rex Ryan, also weighed in on Watkins’ injury:
"We will definitely be smart with him also, but like I said, I am sure he is going to get some work [in training camp]. It is just we don’t have a definitive date."
Although no timetable is official, this is all good news for the Bills and us, fans. It seems as though we won’t be without our top wide receiver when the season starts — knock on wood.
No reason to worry, Bills’ fans. What’s your favorite Sammy Watkins’ play? Leave your answers below!