Watkins puts best foot forward

Posted Jul 28, 2017

Sammy Watkins is done talking about his surgically repaired foot. He'd rather talk about getting back into top game shape, making plays, winning games and earning a new long term contract from the Bills.

It’s been a lengthy journey for Sammy Watkins and his twice surgically repaired left foot. Rehabilitation at times seemed never ending. Following his first full practice in training camp Thursday, Watkins made it clear that he is done talking about his foot. He’s medically cleared. He’s healthy. The only remaining hurdle he has to clear before the start of the regular season is getting his conditioning back where it needs to be after being limited for much of the offseason.

“I’m just getting in shape,” he said. “I think that’s the (biggest) part. Just getting back out there and playing football with the guys and competing. Other than that, I’m fine.”

That was reinforced after he made a catch in Thursday’s practice and went to the ground with a defender falling on him.

“That was when I was like, ‘Oh, I’m healthy,’” said Watkins. “I can go out here and compete and let things go. I can run routes and just be confident in my routes and just go out there and catch balls.”

Of course right after his second surgery at the close of the 2016 season, Watkins resolved to erase the history of his troublesome left foot from his mind.

“As soon as I came out of surgery. I was just like, ‘I’m going to block it out,’” he said. “Whatever happens, I’m going to listen to the trainers, attack the offseason and just take care of it. I’m just going to go out there with the mindset that if I’m healthy, I can move past it.”

Though Watkins won’t be shy about letting things go, there is a plan in place to keep the receiver from overworking himself to try to make up for lost time. Watkins understands why the team is being so methodical.

“Whatever they do, I’m going with the plan,” he said. “They’ve got the plan. They’re the coaches and the staff. They’ve got a plan for me and I’m just following it.”

If there is any silver lining to all the time that Watkins missed between the 2016 season and this past offseason it’s that the down time gave the receiver time to assess what he could do in addition to his rehab regimen to put his career back on track.

The result is a more dedicated Watkins, and his teammates have noticed.

“It’s just his approach,” said Tyrod Taylor of where he thinks Watkins has matured. “Even his daily approach. His diet; taking things out of his diet and focusing more on his body, doing what it takes, going the extra mile, and doing what it takes to care of his body to get out there on the field. He knows it’s a big season for him and it’s a big season for all of us. He wants to be a part of that in every way shape and form. So, whatever he can do to stay on the field, he’s doing that.”

Watkins has also shown maturity when it has come to the team’s decision not to pick up his fifth-year option. The receiver knows he’s had trouble staying on the field the past two seasons missing a total of 11 games. That’s why his focus is his play rather than his paycheck.

“When you’re looking at contracts, you’re looking at the money. I’m not looking at the money,” said Watkins. “I’m looking at (being a) professional, just going out there and having fun. I’m not worried about the contract extension or anything like that.

“I’ve got to go out there and earn it. I want to earn it – I don’t want anything to be handed to me. I feel better about that – earning it. My job is to go out there and earn it and play and stay healthy and that’s my goal this year. And if I’m healthy on the field and I’m out there playing with the guys, I’m going to be alright.”