Every year, there’s a player or two whose health hovers over the launch of the regular-season schedule. This year, one such player will be Bills receiver Sammy Watkins, the player who triggered an all-in move by G.M. Doug Whaley and coach Doug Marrone in the hopes that the team will be sufficiently competitive to persuade the new owner to refrain from cleaning house.
Watkins suffered bruised ribs in the Bills third preseason game (Week Two of the preseason), and he re-injured the ribs on a fairly innocuous hit in the preseason finale. Now, the question becomes whether he’ll recover in time to play on Sunday at Chicago, and to prepare for the game via a full week of practice.
“Re-injuring his ribs will make it difficult for Watkins to get his usual practice reps, conditioning and strengthening work for the next few weeks,” former NFL athletic trainer Mike Ryan said. Ryan, a contributor to NBC’s NFL coverage this season and NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, spent more than 20 years helping NFL players get and stay healthy.
When it comes to the ribcage, a complex stew of bone and muscle and cartilage protecting fairly important organs, it could be a few weeks until Watkins returns to 100 percent. Especially if he once again comes back too soon and aggravates the condition.
If the Bills decide to use Watkins before he’s fully healed, Watkins will have to play through significant discomfort.
“Bruising his ribs twice within 12 days will make twisting and reaching for a ball two painful tasks for Sammy Watkins,” Ryan said.
So even if Watkins plays in Week One, it will be hard for him to do much to help the team win.