ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Four days removed from his return to the football field off the IR, Sammy Watkins returned to the practice field on Thursday in a limited capacity, after sitting out Wednesday’s session due to foot soreness.
While Rex Ryan expressed optimism that the Bills star wideout will play for a second-consecutive week, in Oakland, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn revealed that Watkins is still dealing with a broken bone in his surgically repaired left foot, making his usage from week to week a mystery.
“The guy has a broken bone in his foot, I don’t know if he’s going to play one play or 20 plays,” Lynn explained. “So we’ll just see how big his role is. I’d like to keep him in the whole time. I can’t say. He’s tough. He’s very determined to stay on the football field and help us win games, but, he has a broken bone in his foot at the end of the day.”
Considering that Watkins had surgery on the foot this past off-season to repair a break commonly known as a Jones Fracture, makes the situation all the more unclear. The 23-year-old rehabbed the injury in time for the start of the regular season – or so he thought – then after playing in two games and dealing with soreness was placed on injured reserve. Last week the Bills designated him their one IR return player of the season.
Watkins spent eight weeks resting and rehabbing the foot further, but according to Lynn a second surgery may be imminent.
“I’m not certain,” he said when asked if the 2014 first-round pick would be able to finish the season without needing another procedure. “Like I said, last I heard the guy has a broken bone in his foot and I’m just thankful to have him for any time he can give us.
Lynn also confirmed that that the team knew there was a break when they activated him to the 53-man roster ahead of Week 12.
The Bills are back on the practice field tomorrow morning at 10:40 a.m. and Rex Ryan will speak with the media afterwards.
This is a mess. While we don’t have a ton of clarity on the extent of this broken bone – if it’s the same one he had surgery on or something new – it’s pretty concerning nonetheless. History shows that athletes who have had the same Jones Fracture procedure – which is essentially inserting a screw into your foot to hold your fifth metatarsal together – often require a second procedure because the fracture becomes nonunion.
I’m not going to sit here and assume that’s what happened with Sammy, but that very well could be the case. We’ll get more information – or try to at least – tomorrow. How transparent Rex Ryan or even Watkins himself will be is anyone’s guess.
Regardless it’s hard not to feel that the Bills have botched this. Not necessarily from the start, because it was evident at training camp they were being cautious with his usage, but at least in his activation off the IR when they apparently knew there was still a fracture. It goes against everything Rex has said about “not putting him out there if he’s not 100%,” so on and so forth. And the fact that they opted to put him back out on the field when he may need a second surgery is a very short-sighted approach. When Shaq Lawson had his shoulder procedure this past off-season, which the Bills knew would keep him out for a good portion of the regular season, Doug Whaley said it was done with the team’s long-term goals in mind and they they want him making plays for the Bills for years to come. Watkins is still in the early stages of his career, so you’d think the same thought process would be taken.
To knowingly bring him back with this injury, is laughable. In my eyes it serves the Bills best to cut their losses and shutdown Sammy. And if he truly needs a second procedure done, have it done now, so that he’s ready for 2017.
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