Sammy Watkins put a scare into the hearts and minds of Buffalo Bills fans on Thursday when he left the team’s preseason finale and re-injured a previous rib injury that had kept the team’s first round pick from practicing fully earlier this month.
The team had to be second-guessing playing their first round pick and No. 4 overall selection in the meaningless preseason game when they saw him exit early, but according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, Watkins avoided serious injury and he is expected to be fine for the regular season opener against the Chicago Bears next Sunday.
Watkins took a forearm to the ribs while trying to corral a long pass from E.J. Manuel and left for the locker room during the Bills’ second series.
The Bills have not had a great offseason or preseason as they saw stud linebacker Kiko Alonso tear his ACL, Marcell Dareus have run-ins with the law and Manuel has struggled to take the leap the team had hoped for.
An injured Watkins for any stretch of time would have severely handicapped Manuel’s ability to make a sizable step in his progression as a quarterback, but thankfully for him and the Bills they will have the former All-American at Clemson in the lineup.
If the Bills are to snap their postseason drought and get to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, the longest stretch in the NFL, they will need Manuel to find Watkins early and often this season.