It started out as a quiet morning at St. John Fisher, with the Bills in the early stages of an 8 a.m. practice from the scenic suburban campus of St. John Fisher College.
Sammy Watkins update: just caught a one-handed TD on a stutter-step route in red zone work. Carry on. #BillsCamp— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) July 23, 2014
And here's how it happened:
After sharing the grass field for combined stretching and positional work, Buffalo's offensive skill-position players trotted over to the turf to run routes against air, an everyday drill designed to get quarterbacks and recievers working together on timing, mechanics, and route combinations in a controlled environment. It's like a baseball player taking batting practice or a basketball player shooting a few free throws - find a rhythm, focus on a specific skill, and develop muscle memory.
It's not often in these types of drills that you see something out of the ordinary, let alone spectacular. But Watkins, the crown jewel of the Bills 2014 draft class after a bold draft-day trade, had something else in mind.
Working with QB
This is where things get interesting.
Watkins stutter-steps back to the inside so hard that he falls down himself. With both hands on the turf and the ball already in the air, the play is pretty much over, right? Think again.
Watkins raises up - no small feat in itself, given that he's already run one way, faked another, and fallen down - and is somehow able to locate in midflight a line-drive throw from a stong-armed quarterback standing just a few yards away.
It's at this point where we move from the amazing to the absurd. Maybe this is why he's already the best rookie receiver in Madden.
Rather than reach for the ball with both hands, as he's probably been coached to do since he started playing the game, Watkins instead extends just his right arm in a split-second effort to complete the catch. Presumably to keep his balance, Watkins' left arm shoots out as well, extending the full width of his 76-inch wingspan.
Incredibly, the ball hits Watkins' right hand so squarely that he gathers it in easily, or at least it appears that way. After a light jog to slow himself down, a nonchalant Watkins turns back towards the huddle for the next play. Just like they drew it up.
Sammy. Catches. Everything. pic.twitter.com/YuZ8Hj1MTd— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) May 17, 2014