Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins continues to make progress following his second foot surgery, and made it onto the field Tuesday to participate in some team drills.
The Bills former first-round pick is working his way back to full participation after doing some individual work last week, but Buffalo’s coaching staff is making sure not to push their top receiver too much in mandatory minicamp.
“It was just really, Sammy was in a position, going into practice, where he felt in a good place,” Bills first-year head coach Sean McDermott said, via The Buffalo News. “Last week it was individual, and he built a nice foundation last week. And the pitch count” Tuesday “was right around four or five reps of team drills, and he did a nice job.”
Watkins looked to be the franchise’s No. 1 receiver for the next decade through his first two seasons in the league, but a lingering foot injury cost him eight games this past season. Watkins recorded career-lows in receptions (28), receiving yards (430), and touchdowns (2) in 2016, but could set himself up for a major payday with a bounce back year.
The Bills elected not to pick up the fifth-year option on Watkins’ rookie contract, which could potentially allow him to sign with another team in 2018. Buffalo’s front office will have the opportunity to use the franchise tag on the wide receiver should he produce and stay healthy this season.
“He’s worked extremely hard in the training room, attacking the rehab process, and now, these last couple weeks, we’ve been able to get him back on the field,” McDermott said.
While the goal for Watkins is to be ready for the start of training camp in late July, Bills rookie wide receiver Zay Jones is back to being a full participant. Buffalo’s second-round pick out of East Carolina suffered a knee injury during an OTA practice in May, and is trying to build chemistry with the franchise’s four quarterbacks, Tyrod Taylor, Nathan Peterman, Cardale Jones, and T.J. Yates.
“Obviously it’s going to take time, and we have time before our first game,” Jones said, via the Bills’ team website. “So there is minicamp, which is the next step, and then training camp. So there will be plenty of opportunities to go with Tyrod, T.J., Nate or Cardale… whoever it is out there throwing me the football.”
“Ultimately for me my job is to catch the football. It may spin a little bit differently being a different quarterback or come at me at a different velocity, but for me my fundamentals don’t change, eye on the point, catch the fat, do my job and the rest will take care of itself.”