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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bills Injury Update: Sammy Watkins avoids potential injury

By on 7/23/2014 11:00:00 AM

The Buffalo Bills opened up their training camp on Sunday, days earlier than the rest of the NFL teams. Due to the fact that Buffalo is playing in five preseason games this summer, including the Hall of Fame game on August 3rd against the New York Giants, they are allowed to open camp earlier than the rest of the league to prepare.  According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins gave coaches and teammates quite a scare on day one, getting caught up in the middle of defenders and emerging needing medical care.  Social media erupted as soon as the medical staff ran to the field, as reporters began posting that Buffalo's first round draft pick from last May's 2014 NFL Draft was not getting up.

Watkins had just caught a pass from second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel in the middle of three defenders when he went down.  As he was receiving medical care on the field, social media took it to themselves to diagnose his injury, ranging from a concussion to a severe neck injury.  The official page of the NFL posted on Twitter:

As fans held their breath and began to spread rumors, Watkins eventually return to practice and looked just as good before the session ended.  As for his injury?  Bills head coach Doug Marrone said that Watkins had been poked in the eye. 

Watkins is already turning heads in training camp, finding his chemistry with Manuel and dominating the second string defense.  With the loss of wide receiver Stevie Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers during free agency, the Bills are undoubtedly excited to have the 21 year-old Clemson University stand out on their squad.  Watkins posted 240 receptions for 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns in three seasons at Clemson before declaring his spot in the 2014 draft.

Watkins at Clemson (#2) photo by Schults via Wikimedia Commons
Coach Marrone expressed his feelings on Watkins this past Monday:
He's a very mature kid. He takes this very seriously.  I think you can see how he handles himself, how he answers questions is the same way he goes about his business. He's in there and wants to make an impact. ... We just need to make sure that we continue developing him. He's going against good players. He's working with the first team, so he's going against our corners and all of our guys. He's a good football player and I think it's one that, you sit there and the guy is making plays. I think a lot of people are excited
Watkins' scare was the highlight of Monday's practice, one that also included linebacker Brandon Spikes leaving for apparent heat-related issues. Spikes removed his gear and was placed in a cooling tent about halfway through practice.  Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Darrin Kitchens was carted off during a special teams drill, while cornerback Brandon Smith limped off the field in a subsequent drill.

The back-to-back injuries are a reminder that the Bills, with the NFL's longest training camp, will have to endure the summer heat with caution.  Buffalo dodged a huge bullet with Watkins' injury and it undoubtedly gave them an unexpected wake-up call.  An NFL player can be injured at any time in their career, a fact that tends to be forgotten until it happens.

Watkins' injury was thankfully minor and for now, Bills fans can relax and breathe again.  A potentially huge crisis was averted, but the harsh reality of the risks that an NFL athlete endures on a daily basis was once again on show for fans and coaches.  A healthy Watkins is crucial for a successful Buffalo team and hopefully he remains injury-free for the entire 2014 NFL season. Reports on Watkins from only a few days in training camp are quite impressive, and many eyes will be eager to see him on the field come this fall.

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