NFL

NFL AM: Bills’ Watkins And Lawson Already Hurt

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Bills’ Watkins and Lawson already dealing with injuries:

NFL teams are still a couple of months from training camp getting underway, but the Buffalo Bills are already dealing with key injuries.

For everything teams liked about Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, there was some talk about a shoulder may have scared some teams away from taking him in the first round. When it came time for the Bills at selection number 19, they didn’t hesitate to turn in a card with Lawson’s name.

Now, less than three weeks after drafting Lawson, the team is preparing for him to have shoulder surgery that will put him on the Physically Unable to Perform list into training camp, and possibly into the regular season after what the team called, “an occurrence of the condition.”

“I want to take this opportunity to commend Shaq Lawson and his representatives for putting the team first by having this surgery on his shoulder done now,” Bills general manager Doug Whaley said in a statement. “By doing so, he’s forsaking personal goals to be 100 percent healthy when we will need him most during the regular season. Fans constantly hear us say that we want players with tremendous character who keep team goals ahead of personal ones and Shaq is a great example of this.”

That’ a pretty positive spin on what Buffalo fans will absolutely view as, “Yea, so our first round pick is hurt even though he hasn’t actually done anything for us yet.”

While Lawson’s injury could cut into his rookie season, the news is a little more optimistic for wide out Sammy Watkins, who NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported had surgery to repair a small broken bone in his foot about three weeks ago.

The Bills expect Watkins to be ready to go by training camp in August, although it wouldn’t be a surprise, and should even be expected that the team will proceed with great caution with their leading pass catcher.

While neither injury is season ending, this certainly isn’t a great start to the offseason for the Bills, as they hope to build on an 8-8 first season under Rex Ryan. There was talk that Buffalo expected to have three day-one starters come out of the draft. Looks like that number is two now, and the team will just hope to have Lawson back and making an impact at some point of his rookie season.

Titans waive Zach Mettenberger:

There was some talk heading into the 2015 NFL Draft that the Tennessee Titans might be comfortable enough with Zach Mettenberger that the team would consider moving out of the 2nd-overall pick it eventually used to draft Marcus Mariota, but a little over a year later, we get evidence that the suggestion the team may have felt comfortable moving forward with Mettenberger under center was clearly nothing more than a smoke screen.

Not only is the Titans brass not feel comfortable with the idea of the former LSU quarterback starting for them under center, they’re not even comfortable with the idea of him backing up Mariota.

When you consider that the Titans waived Mettenberger for Matt Cassel who looked poor when starting for the Dallas Cowboys a year ago, it’s pretty obvious that the team had little faith in their former 6th-round pick.

Mettenberger started four games in place of an injured Mariota last season and was able to muster just four touchdowns to go along with seven interceptions in performances that could only be called mediocre, at best.

Despite the fact that Mettenberger hasn’t been very good, we’re still talking about a young man who was a 6th-round pick and started 10 games for a putrid football team. While I wouldn’t expect another team to jump in and sign Mettenberger to a $72 million deal, I can’t help but have this feeling he might have as much upside as Brock Osweiler who just got that exact deal in Houston.

Osweiler himself had a pretty mediocre season with just 10 touchdowns and six interceptions over seven starts for the Denver Broncos before eventually losing the job back to an aging and ineffective Peyton Manning. So, before you write this off as foolish, ask yourself if you’re really sure Mettenberger couldn’t have matched those numbers or that performance on a Super Bowl winning football team, or if you’re sure that Osweiler would have really been that much better on a bad Titans team; I’m not.

So, while most teams would probably prefer the upside of Osweiler, someone should still take a shot on Mettenberger, because he sure as hell isn’t going to cost $72 million!

Panthers release Brandon Boykin:

The Carolina Panthers signed cornerback Brandon Boykin to a one-year $840,000 deal in March, and before the former Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back had a real opportunity to show the Panthers what he could bring to the table, he’s already been released.

This move is nothing short of mind boggling, and leaves you wondering if there’s something there that we don’t know. Speculating about Boykin just isn’t fair, but it’s hard to understand why a team that just let Josh Norman walk and could seemingly still use help at cornerback would let an inexpensive veteran wwalk.

While he started just one game for the Steelers a year ago, and just six games over three years for the Eagles, Boykin has been a solid pro, even pulling in six interceptions in 2013.

In a league, and at a position where the war of attrition has destroyed teams, you’d think a veteran corner with decent coverage skills who’s never missed a game in his four-year NFL career would be quite the commodity. Somehow, in Carolina where the position is very much in flux, Boykin who was expected to battle for the nickel cornerback spot, he’s not.

Boykin’s experience, ability and durability is certain to get him another shot somewhere, but unless or until we hear a good reason why that shot is not in Carolina, this one will leave us scratching our heads.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.