Here's the Bills news of note for Nov. 9th.
1 - Holding out hope for Watkins returnLate last week head coach Rex Ryan said the team was holding out hope that Sammy Watkins would be the player they could designate to return off injured reserve. During the bye week that remains his hope.
"We'll make sure when we get back and the trainers, we'll check in with everybody," said Ryan. "We're excited and hopeful that Sammy is going to be able to play for us this year, but again we're not going to put him out there if he's not ready to go. We'll have to evaluate that later because quite honestly I can't answer it. I have no idea whether he'll be ready to play or not, but I know we're all hopeful he will."
Watkins is eligible to begin practicing as early as this Friday during Buffalo's bye week. That won't happen with the players and coaches away, but the following week he'd be eligible to practice if medically cleared to do so.
The Bills top receiver made an appearance on the show, a local cable access program in Buffalo, on Halloween. When asked about a possible return, Watkins said the following.
"I'm feeling great," said Watkins. "Just working out, going through rehab right now. I'm just ready to get back on the field. I'm staying prepared in case that does happen. Right now I think I'm on the right schedule. I've just got to keep working and hopefully I'm back November 27th with the guys."
November 27th would be the first game in which Watkins would be eligible to return, eight weeks after he was placed on injured reserve.
Watkins has been attending team meetings to stay up to date on the changes made in the offense under new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. The last time Watkins was on the field Greg Roman was still the coordinator.
"He's running the right plays and it's simple and everyone is playing fast," Watkins said of Lynn's offensive scheme. "That's why I can't wait to get out there. Seeing how Robert is getting the ball, Shady and the way he's running and Charles Clay is getting the ball. I can't wait to add myself to the mix and help those guys."
2 - Alexander back on top in sacksLorenzo Alexander made a successful return from a strained hamstring in Week 8 to play 98 percent of the defensive snaps on Monday night. In 46 snaps the veteran pass rusher recorded three tackles, three quarterback hits and a sack, for his 10th of the season.
Alexander's 10th sack puts him back in front of Denver's Von Miller as the league leader in that statistical category. For Alexander he never needed the additional recognition as long as he had the respect of his teammates. But he admits the opportunity he's had with Buffalo this year has allowed him to showcase his abilities beyond the special teams exploits that have largely defined his career.
"It is cool in the sense that everybody else knows with what I knew and what guys on this team knew as far as the production," said Alexander. "So now nationally people are saying, 'Wow Lorenzo Alexander is a good player and is more than just a special teams guy.' Guys on the team and my coaches already knew that, so it's kind of cool to get some recognition and respect outside of just the league knowing I'm a good player and can make plays.
"Often times you get put in a box, he's undrafted, he's just a special teams guy. Well not really, I can do more than that, I just haven't had the opportunity. And that's fine. Now that I'm getting the opportunity I'm just trying to make the best of it."
With 10 sacks this season Alexander has eclipsed his career sack total of nine sacks in nine games. It took the pass rusher nine seasons to accumulate the first nine sacks of his career due mainly to a lack of opportunity.
**3 - Woods gets nod as best slot receiver in Week 9
**It was a career day for Robert Woods on Monday night, and despite the loss it didn't go unrecognized in league circles. The receiver's 10-catch, 162-yard performance was tabbed by Pro Football Focus as the best at the slot receiver position in the league for Week 9. Here was their assessment.
Tyrod Taylor had a pretty good day himself, and his receiver Robert Woods was a big reason for it. Woods caught 10 passes for 162 yards on 13 targets and beat five different Seattle defenders for receptions. He showed a great feel for adjusting to his QB when the play broke down, and the ability to find open areas and make tough sideline grabs when Taylor eventually got the ball out.
Three of Woods' 10 catches came on third down conversions including the improbable toe tapping 22-yard catch on the team's final offensive drive to convert a 3rd-and-21.
Woods has been playing through a foot injury, but head coach Rex Ryan confirmed that Woods foot has improved of late.
"He's feeling better with that foot injury. That's what bothered him the last couple of weeks," Ryan said. But he's feeling better and we all know he's an excellent player when he's healthy."
With the bye week, Woods is likely to be at or close to 100 percent when the team resumes play in Week 11 at Cincinnati.