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NFL AM: Bills’ Sammy Watkins Expected To Miss Week 3

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Things keep going from bad to worse for the Buffalo Bills, and there seems to be no end to the misery in sight.

Already 0-2 on the season, Buffalo will host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, a challenging matchup to begin with. The Bills will debut a new offensive coordinator for that game, Anthony Lynn, who replaced Greg Roman after the team’s disappointing Thursday Night Football loss to the New York Jets in Week 2. But Lynn’s attack will likely be without one of its key pieces as wide receiver Sammy Watkins is expected to miss the game with a lingering foot injury. Head coach Rex Ryan left the door open a crack that Watkins might play on Sunday, but that’s likely posturing, as the coach didn’t sound too optimistic.

“Odds probably not real good that he plays,” Ryan said. “If he feels good and up to it he will. Don’t officially count him out.”

Watkins originally broke his foot in April during his individual offseason training program and has surgery to insert a screw into the foot. However, that corrective procedure hasn’t been of much benefit to the third-year wideout this season, as he’s been dealing with lingering pain in the foot since training camp. The injury flared up in Buffalo’s Week 1 loss to Baltimore and it was thought at that time Watkins might miss several weeks to let it heal or even opt for a second surgical procedure that would shelve him for significantly longer. However, four days later, Watkins was on the field for the game against the Jets.

But the injury is something that’s clearly hampering Buffalo’s No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft in what the team was hoping could be a breakout year for their lead wideout. The Clemson product finished his second year in the league so strong that the Bills had raised the bar for him going into this, his third season. In the final six weeks of the 2015 season, Watkins had four 100-yard games, two multiple touchdown games and he ended the year with an 11-catch, 136-yard game against the Jets.

Watkins was finally starting to look like the player Buffalo had invested so much in. But since then it’s been setback after setback and its clearly limiting his ability. In two games so far this season, Watkins has hauled in just 6 of his 11 targets for 63 yards without a touchdown.

It will be interesting to see what approach the Bills take with Watkins going forward, in what is already looking like a lost season at 0-2 with games against Super Bowl contenders Arizona and New England the next two weeks. On one hand, resting Watkins might help him fully recover. On the other hand, the Bills staff will likely be coaching for their jobs over the final stretch of the season and they’d certainly like to have the team’s most skilled offensive player out there during that pursuit.

In the meantime, the offense under Lynn was already expected to be more run-heavy, and with Watkins out, leaving Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin as quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s top two targets, it’s fair to expect even heavier doses of LeSean McCoy this Sunday in Buffalo.

BRANDON MARSHALL A GAME-TIME CALL

Another star wideout who participated in last Thursday night’s game in Buffalo is also a game-time decision for his team’s contest this week.

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall practice on a limited basis on Friday after missing most of the week due to foot and knee injury stemming from last week’s game against the Bills.

Marshall suffered the injury in the second quarter when Buffalo cornerback yanked him to the ground by his facemask, forcing Marshall to pivot awkwardly on his left knee. The injury looked bad at first, but Marshall did return to the contest after a short time in the locker room and played the entire second half. However, once the adrenaline and painkillers wore off, the injury bothered Marshall a little more and kept him from participating in any portion of practice until Friday.

“The problem with injuries is, after a few hours, in the next day or two, there’s a lot of blood flow to that area, so swelling increases. Usually what you’re fighting is getting the inflammation out, get the swelling out, and getting the flexibility back. So that’s the deal. It’s swelling and flexibility in trying to get back to close to 100 percent,” Marshall said. “You just gotta be smart. You gotta think about, you know, this is Week 3. Although every game’s important, and we approach them that way, you never want to hurt the team or hurt yourself worse.”

Marshall added that if it was his call, he’d be out there on Sunday even if he was feeling at 40-50 percent, but the wideout, who has missed just five games over the last seven season, is leaving that decision up to the Jets coaches.

New York would certainly be in better position to top the visiting Chiefs with Marshall out there. In two games so far this season he has nine catches for 133 yards, and his mere presence continues to open things up in a huge way for teammates Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa.

If Marshall is to miss Sunday’s game, Enunwa would likely be the biggest beneficiary. The third-year undrafted free agent wideout has already been on the receiving end of 14 targets this year, of which he’s hauled in 13 for 146 yards and a touchdown. His rise in production has made sure that even if Marshall does miss this week’s game against the Chiefs, the Jets will be in good hands.

STARS FILL OUT INJURY REPORT ACROSS THE LEAGUE

On the other side of that Sunday tilt between New York and Kansas City, it appears the Chiefs will spend another week without running back Jamaal Charles, who is doubtful as he continues to recover from offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls is also listed as doubtful for the team’s games against the 49ers with a shin injury that has completely limited his ability this week.

The Chargers announced that No. 3 overall pick Joey Bosa will have to wait another week to make his NFL debut as he is not ready to return from a hamstring injury. Tight end Antonio Gates is also doubtful for San Diego’s game against the Colts with a hamstring injury of his own. Indianapolis has listed quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (knee) as questionable for that game, but both are expected to play.

The same is true of Atlanta Falcons star wideout Julio Jones, who is listed as questionable for Monday night against the Saints with a calf injury and did not practice Friday, but is still expected to suit up. However, that’s not the case for Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster, who is out for Sunday’s game against the Browns with a groin injury.

Finally, the Sunday Night Football tilt between the Cowboys and Bears is now expected to feature two reserve quarterbacks as Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler is listed as doubtful with a thumb injury. Dallas is already without quarterback Tony Romo due to a back injury, so it will likely be Dak Prescott vs. Brian Hoyer in primetime on Sunday night in Dallas.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys