Inside The Bills

Watkins outlook is encouraging

Posted by Chris Brown on October 12, 2015 – 3:22 pm

He put himself through a full workout during pre-game warmups Sunday in Nashville, but the Bills medical staff ultimately determined the best course of action for Sammy Watkins ailing calf was to wait another week. Watkins was inactive against the Titans, but it’s left head coach Rex Ryan optimistic about the receiver’s availability Sunday.

“I was really encouraged with Sammy. How Sammy went through even with his workout before the game,” Ryan said. “We thought it was best to give him a little more time. Sometimes you can go on the practice field and all that, but that game speed is a little different and the intensity is certainly different. We thought it was best to just hold him out of that game and get him really ready for this one. I feel good about Sammy.”

Buffalo plays host on Sunday to the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals, so having a weapon like Watkins for an offense looking for more big plays in the passing game could provide a big boost.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-9

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2015 – 6:45 pm

The Bills have another bounce back game on the road just like two weeks ago in Miami. Here’s hoping it’s a repeat performance. Here’s your latest edition of questions from email at and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.


1 – @ChrisBrownBills Is John Miller practicing, playing?


CB: Miller practiced all week. He was never full go, but head coach Rex Ryan said on Friday he expects Miller to be back in the starting lineup.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills what’s the word on McKelvin?


CB: McKelvin has made some good strides the last couple of weeks. He’s starting to do real football work on the side now with the athletic trainers. He was pulling an athletic trainer while working on his backpedal with straps attached to his body. The athletic trainer was holding the ends of the straps and McKelvin was pulling him down the field.

He’s certainly worked hard to get all the way back and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s practicing again the first week he’s eligible to do so, which is the week leading up to the London game against Jacksonville. Whether he’s activated off the Reserve/NFI list is another story.

3 – Hey Chris,
My question is on Doug Whaley.  How do contracts work for GMs?  Unless Whaley got fired is it his job forever?

I really loved your article about him recently because it shows that he doesn’t want this franchise to be successful for a couple of years he wants to build it into a  franchise that competes year in and year out.  I’ve been listening to him speak about that in the past and I don’t think most fans really pay attention to what he’s been saying.  I really do believe we have a GM  and a front office that can make this franchise respectable again for a long time. So, do you think Doug Whaley is here to stay for a long time?

Thanks as always, Jillian

CB: I think Doug Whaley is fast proving to be an astute GM who knows how to build a roster for the long haul. General manager contracts work a lot like coaching contracts. They’re just not publicized as much. I think provided the talent that he’s assembled can reach its full potential, Whaley should be building rosters here for a long time.

4 – Chris,

You help keep us fans who live far away up to date, so thank you.  My question is about the defense.  What has happened to them?  Rex said he expects them to be #1 with the roster they have.  They stepped up their run defense, but pass has been terrible.  We call the front four the cold front, but I haven’t seen anything from them that I’ve come to expect over the last few years.  We led the lead in sacks the last 2 years and it seems like a rare occurance if we get one now.  Please help me understand what has become of our best asset.


Loyal and true fan in Virginia

CB: First thing to know is the number of sacks a team has doesn’t always indicate a team has a great defense. Perfect example is the 2000 Ravens. They had just 35 sacks, but allowed just 165 points the whole season. That being said, the Bills pass rush has been effectively countered by a quick strike pass game from opponents. Underneath coverage, particularly in the middle of the field has to be better to help the pass rush up front.

That is the only thing that will make opponents pull out of their quick pass game. That or keeping them out of the end zone and putting them behind on the scoreboard. Then the passing game will have to open up and call for longer pass routes to catch up in the game. That leads to the QB holding the ball longer and then the pass rush can have the impact it’s designed to have in this defense.

5 – Chris,

When is Goodwin due back?

Jim M.

CB: Marquise is listed as probable for Sunday’s game, so I think there’s a good chance he’s dressed for Sunday’s game, especially if Sammy Watkins is down.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins closer, Karlos unlikely for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 8, 2015 – 4:35 pm

Bills WR Sammy Watkins was trying to participate early in practice, but his work wound up being largely relegated to work on the side, while RB Karlos Williams did not practice for a second straight day. Head coach Rex Ryan admitted it’s looking less and less likely that either will be available Sunday.

At the same time Ryan is encouraged by Watkins’ progress as he tries to return from a calf injury.

“I’ll tell you what he’s getting close,” said Ryan of Watkins. “So we’ll see how he does. But he’s feeling a lot better and it won’t be long. I don’t know if it’ll be Sunday or not, but it’s not gonna be much longer.”

Meanwhile Karlos Williams hasn’t been on the practice field at all this week, which has Ryan pessimistic about Williams chances of playing Sunday at Tennessee.

“Well I mean I guess anything’s possible, you’re in the protocol, but the fact that he never practiced today with a concussion is probably…I don’t know it’s probably a reach,” Ryan said

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Goodwin hoping to return soon

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2015 – 4:35 pm

It’s been a long and arduous rehab back from a pair of cracked ribs for WR Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin has been back practicing the last couple of weeks, but on a limited basis. That was the case again on Wednesday.

“We’ll see. Just got to take it day to day and see how everything feels,” Goodwin said. “Hopefully I’ll be back out there. There’s not much you can do really. You let it heal on its own and let the bones heal back together. Just really resting and working out and trying to stay in shape and just come back ready.”

Goodwin admits with Watkins out of the lineup it has only increased his sense of urgency to be back in the lineup.

“I feel like I need to be out there, but with the circumstances of being hurt, it’s just something I have to get past,” said Goodwin. “I’m just looking forward to being back out there now.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Karlos, McCoy, Watkins head non-practice list

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2015 – 4:32 pm

UBNS image



Buffalo’s running back position was the lead position group on Buffalo’s injury list of non-participants. Both LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Karlos Williams (concussion) did not practice Wednesday. Head coach Rex Ryan hasn’t ruled Watkins out for Sunday’s game yet.

“Sammy didn’t practice today, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be available Sunday,” said Ryan. “We’ll see how it goes, how this week progresses.”

Veterans Kyle Williams and Percy Harvin sat out for what’s believed to be veteran rest days. Harvin has not practiced on a Wednesday all season.

OL John Miller returned to practice for the first time since his groin injury suffered in Miami in Week 3 and he was limited. LT Cordy Glenn was also limited with an ankle injury that forced him out of last week’s game for about a quarter before he returned.

Player Pos Injury Participation Wednesday
MarQueis Gray TE Forearm DNP – I-R
LeSean McCoy RB Hamstring DNP
Sammy Watkins WR Calf DNP
Karlos Williams RB Concussion DNP
Bacarri Rambo S Quad DNP
Kyle Williams DT Calf DNP
Percy Harvin WR Hip DNP
Cordy Glenn T Ankle LP
Marquise Goodwin WR Ribs LP
Aaron Williams S Neck LP
John Miller G Groin LP
Corey Graham S Shoulder LP
Chris Hogan WR Hamstring LP

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Whaley on Watkins outlook with calf injury

Posted by Chris Brown on October 6, 2015 – 10:16 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley did not provide a specific timetable for Sammy Watkins calf injury, but he did express hope that Buffalo’s top wideout could return this week.

In his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Whaley was asked if he thinks Watkins’ injury could be a long term thing. This was his response.

“Everything points to that it’s not that severe,” said Whaley. “We’re hoping to see how he responds this week. We have our fingers crossed that he may be in this week. There’s no indication that it’s going to be something long term. But I never say never with injuries, especially with soft tissue injuries. He could go out there and test it and something could go wrong. Soft tissue injuries are harder to predict.”

Whaley was also asked about LeSean McCoy’s hamstring injury and the Bills front office executive would not put a defined timetable on McCoy either, saying that soft tissue injuries are difficult to gauge and predict.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins status uncertain for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 5, 2015 – 1:27 pm

Sammy Watkins missed Sunday’s game against the Giants with a calf injury. When asked about the receiver’s outlook for this week’s game against Tennessee, head coach Rex Ryan there are no new updates on Watkins.

“I have no idea,” said Ryan of Watkins status. “Hopefully we’ll know more about it (Tuesday). He looked good and he’s moving around decent. So hopefully that’s a good sign, but I’m certainly not the guy who will decide that.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex not getting down over Watkins’ status

Posted by Chris Brown on October 3, 2015 – 10:20 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan is just as frustrated as Sammy Watkins is that he won’t be able to suit up this week. After an offseason of rehab from hip surgery and now a calf injury it’s been tough not having Watkins being a difference maker on the field. But Ryan knows when Watkins is fully healthy he’s going to be a major headache for Buffalo opponents.

“Sammy is a great player. There’s a reason why Sammy Watkins was drafted where he was drafted. He’s an unbelievable talent. Unfortunately this year he hasn’t been healthy. We saw glimpses of it, and then he gets hurt again. It’s just an unfortunate thing, but when this kid is healthy nobody is going to question why he was taken where he was taken,” said Ryan.

Ryan believes in Watkins so much that he even admitted it was one of the attractive qualities about the team that made him want to coach the Bills.

“I know he’s a super talent. It’s just a matter of getting him healthy and getting him out there. Part of when he had the surgery it takes away a little bit of your conditioning and all those things. He has the pull in camp and misses time and now he’s got something else. It’s just one of those things. I know when this guy is healthy he is a bona fide, legit number one receiver in this league.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-2

Posted by Chris Brown on October 2, 2015 – 11:23 am

The Bills look to stack two wins in a row Sunday against the Giants. Here’s your latest edition of questions from email at and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

With guys like (Alshon) Jeffery and (Victor) Cruz missing multiple games with calf injuries, is there any concern Watkins might also?


CB: First, I’m not a doctor, but I have learned through our athletic training staff that not every calf injury is the same, and every player heals differently. Some heal faster than others, some have a higher pain tolerance than others. All that being said a calf injury is a critical problem for a wide receiver. They need it to drive off the line, accelerate, cut, etc.

Cruz’s calf injury from most reports is from overcompensating coming off a knee injury that kept him out most of last year and required surgery. I don’t know that Watkins’ injury is related in any way to overcompensating for his hip that required surgery in the offseason. I think we just all hope that Watkins is back in the lineup sooner rather than later.


2 – Chris,

First off, I’d like to give a shout out to Buffalo Bros. on University Ave in Fort Worth, TX.  It’s great to watch Bills games on Sundays surrounded by other Buffalo fans.

Here’s my question: With LeSean McCoy unlikely to suit up against the NY Giants this week, is it likely that Buffalo considers resigning Bryce Brown?  I believe that we have an available roster spot after the Cassel trade.  He would be a good compliment to Karlos Williams, whereas Boobie Dixon seems like he’s more of a goal line back and special teams contributor.

-Brendan in Fort Worth, TX

CB: The roster spot was actually filled by promoting Jonathan Meeks from the practice squad last week, not that it would keep them from making another move to address their running back position should LeSean McCoy be unable to play Sunday.

The most logical move however, would be calling Cierre Wood up from the practice squad. He’s been with the team since the last half of training camp and showed some flashes in the preseason. Wood has more of a shifty skill set and good hands for catching out of the backfield.


3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Will this be the week that the #ColdFront starts racking up some sacks?


CB: The pass rush always has an edge when playing at home knowing the opposing offense has the added challenge of crowd noise. Manning however, has not been sacked much so far this season, just three times in three games. Ben McAdoo’s offense is designed to get the ball out fast to protect Manning.

A heavy dose of press coverage could aid in forcing Manning to pump and double clutch the ball to buy the pass rush an extra half second to get home. Some exotic looks could also cross up Manning’s diagnosis of the defensive coverage and delay his delivery of the ball.


4 – Chris,

In the long run, the Bills afford to play Thigpen. I believe they are other returners the Bills have on the roster. The Bills have specialists already in Gay/Sanborn who play minimal. Thigpen has yet to take an offesnive snap. I’d rather see Goodwin active than Thigpen. I would exepct Goodwin to get looks on offense and can return kicks.

Josh P.

CB: Once Marquise Goodwin is healthy I do anticipate he’ll be active. He’s still recovering from a rib injury. Goodwin however, is a kick returner, while Thipen is primarily a punt returner. The kick return job is Percy Harvin’s as of right now. I do believe if Sammy Watkins is unable to play that Goodwin would fill his spot among the receiving corps provided he himself is healthy enough to play.

As for Thigpen I think he was fortunate to make the roster as the team’s seventh WR. I believe the main reason he did is because primary punt returner Leodis McKelvin is on Reserve/NFI until Week 7 when he would be able to practice again if medically cleared. When McKelvin returns there will need to be a roster move.


5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Who would you have cover Odell B, Darby or Gilmore? Or should they stay on separate sides of the field?


CB: I think Darby has shown well for the most part this season. To this point the Bills have played most passing attacks straight up leaving Gilmore and Darby on their respective sides. Beckham is a unique talent. If the defensive staff decides to have one cornerback follow him the whole game Gilmore is your guy. Beckham’s hands are so strong that you want a corner that can be physical with him not only on routes, but through to the attempt to catch. Darby can do that too, but Gilmore would be the better play if they decide to go that way.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

McCoy, Miller, Watkins all sidelined Thursday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 1, 2015 – 3:34 pm

UBNS imageBills head coach Rex Ryan said it wasn’t looking promising for three of his offensive starters to be ready to return to the lineup Sunday against the Giants. All three were unable to practice for a second straight day on Thursday.

LeSean McCoy, John Miller and Sammy Watkins all sat out practice putting their availability for Sunday in further doubt. Ryan was asked if he doesn’t think McCoy or Watkins will play.

“We don’t want to say out,” said Ryan. “But yeah, I mean you guys can figure it out. They haven’t practiced the whole week and all that stuff. But there is that chance (they play).”

Player Pos Injury Participation Wednesday Participation Thursday
LeSean McCoy RB Hamstring DNP DNP
John Miller G Groin DNP DNP
Sammy Watkins WR Calf DNP DNP
Marquise Goodwin WR Ribs LP LP
Dan Carpenter K Left Knee LP LP
Aaron Williams S Neck LP LP
Percy Harvin WR Hip DNP FP
Tyrod Taylor QB Ankle FP FP
Preston Brown LB Hamstring FP FP

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins update

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2015 – 11:55 pm

Bills WR Sammy Watkins suffered a calf injury in the first half of Sunday’s win over Miami. For Watkins there have been a few frustrating injuries stretching back to his rookie season when broken ribs in the preseason were followed by a hip problem that required his surgery in the offseason. Now three weeks into the 2015 season his time on the field was cut short by an injury that kept him from driving off his right leg.

“Well, it’s a calf, and obviously he couldn’t press off it at the end to where he could go out and play,” said Rex Ryan after the game Sunday. “I loved coming here (to coach Buffalo) because I knew he was on the team, but it’s like, golly let’s get him healthy and get him to where he can be Sammy Watkins. That would be awesome.”

Watkins will be re-evaluated on Monday. In Watkins’ absence the Bills went primarily with Percy Harvin, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan at receiver.

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Watkins: offense has to grow together

Posted by Chris Brown on September 22, 2015 – 2:21 pm

The Bills offense has a lot of new pieces in their starting 11 this season, including their quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Fitting all of those pieces together to become a consistent scoring unit is something Buffalo’s players are working on. Sammy Watkins says they’re working hard, but that it will take a little time.

“We’re new guys, we haven’t made plays with him,” said Watkins of the skill position players and Taylor. “The more we make plays the more comfortable we’ll get with him.  The more the line blocks, the more he’ll get more comfortable with staying in the pocket. That’s the thing—playing these games, you realize how much of a difference it is when you haven’t played with a game for long. You can’t point fingers at him and say he missed these throws—some guys messed up on routes with depth.   You can’t really point fingers, we just have to all get on the same page.”

Buffalo’s players on offense felt the three consecutive touchdown drives in the fourth quarter last Sunday was a step in the right direction.

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Will Sammy have a follower again?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 20, 2015 – 9:55 am

Last week Sammy Watkins had Colts top cornerback Vontae Davis follow him all over the field. The result was just three targets and no receptions. Now facing New England today there’s a good chance Watkins could have another follower on each and every one of his routes.

In Week 1 New England had top corner Malcolm Butler follow Pittsburgh top wideout Antonio Brown all over the field. The results weren’t exactly great for the Patriots corner. Brown had nine catches for 133 yards and a touchdown. So employing that strategy may not be the best approach as New England sees it. That being said the Patriots typically try to take the best weapon of an opponent out of the game.

“One of the things that’s interesting is when you go back and look at New England over the years each one of their teams takes on a certain personality year to year and you’re never quite sure what that’s going to be week to week within that season,” said offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “So really I think you get a really good picture of the personnel and the possibilities that can take place, but you’ve got to go out and play what’s out there. You just don’t know, so if you don’t know, why guess?”

Butler could follow Watkins and they could roll safety help over the top, but many expect New England to try to shut down the run game first and force Tyrod Taylor to make plays.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex not worried about Sammy

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2015 – 4:06 pm

The Bills beat a team that was 11-5 last season without making use of their top receiver Sammy Watkins. Buffalo’s No. 1 wideout wasn’t targeted until the third quarter as the Colts made a concerted effort to roll coverage to Watkins’ side of the field and have their top corner follow him everywhere the entire game. It was the first game of Watkins’ career that he did not post a reception, but head coach Rex Ryan is anything but concerned.

“I think sometimes it is going to be like that,” said Ryan. “Whatever the plan is…and you know quite honestly we were trying to play keep away a little bit from Indianapolis and you know had some more underneath throws and things like that. I will say this he was open a couple times, but it’s just like gosh the protection broke down once or we would have had a 60 or 70 yard touchdown.

“A guy whiffs on protection and we can’t make the throw down the field. Is it rare that Sammy [Watkins] is going to go without a catch? Yeah, that will probably happen once this season. Our thing is our focus is trying to win the game, whatever the means, however we can do that, to give ourselves the best chance that is what we are going to do.”

Watkins had no problem that his personal stats weren’t all that impressive. He was more satisfied with the victory.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Harvin, McCoy, Watkins all probable

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2015 – 3:59 pm

UBNS imageThe Bills were chock full of injuries during the preseason, especially at running back and wide receiver, but now that the regular season is just two days away, Buffalo’s roster looks pretty healthy heading into the opener.

While WR Marquise Goodwin and LB Tony Steward are out everyone else who was coming back from injuries are listed as probable for the opener against the Colts.

Player Pos Injury Game Status
Marquise Goodwin WR Ribs OUT
Tony Steward LB Knee OUT
Percy Harvin WR Hip PROBABLE
Charles Clay TE Knee PROBABLE
LeSean McCoy RB Hamstring PROBABLE
Sammy Watkins WR Hamstring PROBABLE
Robert Woods WR Hip PROBABLE
Mario Williams DE Calf PROBABLE
Chris Hogan WR Knee PROBABLE

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Wide receivers refining timing in offense

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2015 – 1:20 pm

All five of Buffalo’s top receivers missed valuable playing time in the preseason due to injury. Now that they’re back practicing they’re trying to make up for lost time so their execution on Sunday will be air tight.

QB Tyrod Taylor said they’ve been putting in extra time this week to get things ironed out and ready for Sunday’s opener.

“They handled themselves like professionals throughout the time they were down, fighting each and every day,” said Taylor of the wideouts. “Working hard to get back on the field.  They’ve been out there this week and they’ve practiced hard. They look sharp.  It’s just about going out there and getting the job done on Sunday.  They’re working hard and it looks like they’re back up to speed now.”

Sammy Watkins agreed with Taylor’s assessment.

“We kind of got in a rhythm (this week) and he knows what I like and I know what he wants for the ball placement,” said Watkins of Taylor. “We worked every scenario on how a DB can play me so I definitely think we’re on the same page. (Tuesday) I ran a great route. He couldn’t even see me, but he believed in me and trusted me to be in that spot and he let the ball go.”

“It was definitely important for him to trust that the ball was going to be where it’s supposed to be,” said Taylor. “For me to trust that he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be as far as depth-wise on different routes. I know if I can get the ball around him he has a great catch radius.  But the job is to be accurate the get the ball right in his face.  We were able to connect and we’ve been connecting through the week. But it’s just trying to carry that over to the game.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins: I’m ready to play

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2015 – 3:59 pm

Sammy Watkins was among a handful of Bills receivers who were back practicing Tuesday. Watkins along with his fellow receivers were nicked up with various injuries through the course of the preseason, but Watkins insists he’s ready to go Sunday against Indianapolis.

“I think I’m ready to play,” said Watkins. “For the most part it’s just about getting mentally and physically prepared for this game and enduring some physical battles. So I think I’m in shape. I’m ready to go.”

Watkins maintains that he’s cleared the mental hurdle of his offseason hip surgery and doesn’t think about it when he’s out on the field.

“I cleared that hurdle,” he said. “I think for the most part I had to get in shape and I had to do it quick in like two weeks. The coaches and staff have done a good job of just getting me in shape and now it’s just about really grinding and having fun playing through the whole game.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills WRs back participating

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2015 – 2:39 pm

A bunch of Buffalo’s top wideouts did not play in Thursday’s preseason finale, but they are participating in Friday’s practice. 

Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, Chris Hogan and Percy Harvin are all participating in practice. 

The only non-participant is Marquise Goodwin, who is watching from the side. He has a rib injury.  

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins: Vanilla or not we’ve got to win

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2015 – 10:32 am

The Bills coaching staff and the players have all said that fans should expect to see some basic play calling on offense and defense in the team’s first preseason game Friday against Carolina. But Sammy Watkins believes vanilla offense or not the team still needs to win their matchups.

“It means a lot to this organization just to see what kind of team and coaches we got,” Watkins said. “Pretty sure we won’t be showing everything and I’m pretty sure the team won’t be showing everything, so it’s gonna be kind of vanilla and basic. But that’s when it shows up, you’ve got to beat the guys in front of you.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

The overlooked asset of Watkins’ game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2015 – 12:32 pm

Whether you ask a scout, a coach, a teammate or a fan about the strengths of Sammy Watkins’ skill set you’re bound to get a different answer from each of them. That’s because Watkins’ talents are so diverse. There is one particular part of Watkins’ game however that is rarely mentioned.

Most of the time you hear about Watkins’ route running, his speed, his hands, his leaping ability, his strength, his competitive nature or his work ethic. But QB Matt Cassel mentioned one trait in Watkins’ game that sometimes is overlooked.

“I think it’s his acceleration,” said Cassel when asked what stands out about Watkins’ game. “It is quite impressive to be honest with you. The stop and start is quite explosive and probably one of the best I have been around in terms of when he puts his foot in the ground he explodes off that ball there is instant acceleration and that is really impressive.”

Rest assured cornerbacks are aware of Watkins ability to not only get to top speed quickly, but to get in and out of a break and be at top speed in a matter of two steps. Suffice to say it’s a rare quality for even the top NFL receivers.

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Posted in Inside the Bills