ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Bills are giving fans one more thing be thankful for, officially designating star wideout Sammy Watkins as their one player to return from the injured reserve list. He can practice immediately.
The decision was announced by Bills general manager Doug Whaley, in an interview with WGR 550 earlier this morning. “He got a CT scan a couple of days ago and right now we’re in full anticipation that he’ll be limited in practice today,” Whaley said.
Watkins hasn’t appeared in a game since Week 2, dealing with lingering pain in his surgically repaired left foot. After being placed on the IR on Sept. 30, the Bills top receiver met with renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson and learned that he wouldn’t need a second surgery on the foot. Instead Dr. Anderson prescribed rest and rehab.
Nearly eight weeks later it appears Watkins recovery has gone well enough that he’ll begin practicing again and could have a chance to play in the Bills final six games.
Buffalo, however, will monitor his progress each week and won’t rush him back onto the field if they don’t feel he’s ready. “We have to make sure the medical guys say he’s okay, but if Sammy says he’s okay and he goes out there and doesn’t perform the way we think he should perform then we’re going to have some questions,” Whaley explained.
“A lot of times these guys are competitors and they want to get out there no matter what, and we’ve got to save players from themselves. We don’t just want Sammy for this game. We want Sammy for a long time.”
Watkins’ return today, means Buffalo has until December 14 (21 days) to activate him to the 53-man roster. If they fail to promote him within that window, the 23-year-old will go back on the IR and the Bills will lose their ability to return a player off the list this season.
First off, I don’t know when Preston Brown got his medical degree, but he called his shot on Sunday, saying they’re “probably get Sammy back this week.” It was a subtle hint at what was to come.
Anyway, there’s not much to dislike about this move, as long as the Bills really do proceed with caution. There’s an argument to be made that the only reason he wound up on the IR in the first place was because Buffalo was too eager to get him ready for the start of the season. Foot injuries are never as clear cut as they may seem, especially ones that require surgery.
The worst thing they can do is put him back out there for the sake of chasing their slim playoff odds, risk re-injuring the foot and lose him for another season. Based on Whaley’s comments it sounds like they’re taking a better approach to his return this time around.
If they do deem him ready to play, whether that be this week or somewhere down the line, the impact could be huge. The knee sprain Robert Woods suffered this past weekend could keep him out several weeks, which leaves the previously retired Percy Harvin as the top receiving option. His impact has been pretty minimal in two games.
The Bills are desperate for weapons in the passing game, so adding a playmaker like Watkins could pay huge dividends. Managing the foot comes first, but if he proves ready and capable, by all means they should pull the trigger. That is, unless they lose this weekend. Bringing Watkins back for 5 meaningless games would be useless.
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