The Buffalo Bills are two practices into the week, which means they're closing in on a decision on their star wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Officially cleared by the medical staff to practice for the first time this week, Watkins still has yet to be added to the active roster despite going through the last two days of practice with the Bills.
Barring any setbacks, it seems like the Bills will rectify the situation ahead of this weekend's game against Jacksonville.
"I think there's a possibility of [Watkins playing], I do," Rex Ryan said Thursday. "I feel pretty good about him playing."
Watkins was placed on Injured Reserve in the week leading up to the Week Four matchup against New England, due to lingering soreness in his surgically repaired foot. The wide receiver has now missed the last eight games for the Bills, but has been given the 'designated to return' tag from the Bills.
The team may now activate him to the 53-man roster at any point, but they must do so by the end of December 14, 2016. If they fail to do so, he will go on Injured Reserve for the remainder of the season.
To have him play on Sunday against Jacksonville, the Bills would need to announce the move by Saturday. The Bills and Jaguars are scheduled to kick off at New Era Field on Sunday at 1:00 pm.
Joe B's Take
Unlike the last time Sammy Watkins was eligible to play in a game (see: Week Two vs. the New York Jets), the Bills and the wide receiver are both taking the cautious approach -- and for good reason. When Watkins played in that Thursday night matchup, he was clearly not the same player that we all saw in the second half of the 2015 season.
You can tell just by watching practice that the Bills are clearly trying to prevent any further harm in a practice setting. At one point on Thursday during positional drills, receivers lined up and performed double moves that puts a lot of pressure on footwork and requires a quick change in direction. Watkins lined up to do the drill, and was then signaled to not perform that drill.
When it's a straight line or the normal routes that a receiver has to run, Watkins seems to be doing so quite fluently -- they just aren't testing him to a full degree yet in practice, which is smart.
If he does play Sunday, which it looks like that he will now, I wouldn't expect him to get anywhere close to the same workload that he would get as a starter during the game.
However much they can get out of him, though, will be a welcomed sight now with Robert Woods doubtful to play against Jacksonville. He is a game breaking receiver, and even if he can't do the full route tree just yet, his presence on the field can help them significantly.
Now with the proper amount of rest for his foot, Watkins claims that he's healthy and is just waiting on the medical staff. All signs are certainly pointing in that direction, just in the nick of time for the race toward the postseason.
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