Buffalo Bills should shut Sammy Watkins down for the year with one more loss.
Sammy Watkins was shut down after a Week 2 loss to the New York Jets earlier this year. The Bills’ dynamic receiving threat had offseason foot surgery where screws were inserted into his foot and he was experiencing discomfort. He could not perform up to the lofty standards he set for himself in the past. The team smartly shut him down and placed him on injured reserve to prevent further damage.
While on injured reserve, Watkins got some good news in early October when it was reported that Dr. Robert Anderson recommended Watkins rest his foot rather than get another surgery. Another surgery surely would have ended Watkins season while resting the foot left the door open for a potential comeback at some point.
That point is now upon us. Sammy Watkins is eligible to return to practice this week and the first game he is eligible to play in is next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While Watkins is eligible to practice, it doesn’t seem like the healing has happened quite as fast as the organization had hoped. According to NFL.com, during a news conference head coach Rex Ryan said:
"“Sammy feels fantastic but we’re gonna be smart with this and we’ll do what’s best for him, obviously. Until all our medical people are on board with him coming back out there on the field, then we’re not gonna practice him. But when that time occurs and hopefully that will occur soon, then he’ll be back out there.”"
It’s great news that the Bills are being cautious with their best wide receiver. Sacrificing his long-term health to try and push him into practice or the lineup too early is exactly how they got into this situation in the first place. The Bills need to refrain from allowing Watkins to participate in practice until he is 110 percent healthy.
It’s true that no NFL player is ever 100 percent healthy, but in Watkins case, they need to make sure of this. Wide receivers count on their feet to juke and pivot in order to gain separation on cornerbacks. If Watkins’ foot isn’t fully healthy he won’t be able to perform the way fans are used to seeing and he could risk further damage potentially requiring another surgery. Another surgery means this issue could linger into next season which is something that no one in the organization wants to deal with.
The Bills are currently 2.5 games out of a playoff spot. It’s more like three games when you take into account that the second tiebreaker after head to head matchups is conference record. The Bills only have one win in the conference while the top six teams in the AFC have at least four. Buffalo has seven conference games coming up so they can turn that around, but it’s certainly an uphill battle.
Due to their bleak playoff picture, the Bills need to be even more cautious than normal with Watkins. If the team loses to the Cincinnati Bengals this week, they need to shut Sammy Watkins down for the year with no questions asked. With another loss, it’s just not worth having him come back this year. At that point, they should focus on getting Watkins 100 percent healthy for next season which is in the best interests of both the wide receiver as well as the organization.