Rams WR Watkins eager for fresh start, grass field in LA
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sammy Watkins was thrilled when the Buffalo Bills threw to him repeatedly in the opening minutes of their exhibition opener earlier this week.
Only later did the Los Angeles Rams’ top new receiver realize what else might have been going on.
“I just thought I was catching it hot,” Watkins said with a grin Saturday. “I mean, they were targeting me pretty quick, and after the game, I was (thinking), ‘Oh, I probably was out there auditioning.’”
If his last game for Buffalo was indeed a tryout for potential employers, the Rams clearly thought he passed.
Los Angeles traded a second-round draft pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines to the Bills for a sixth-rounder and Watkins, who immediately becomes the top target for Jared Goff on the Rams’ long-struggling offense.
Watkins, the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft, had only been to Los Angeles a couple of times before getting traded. He traveled from western New York to California on Saturday, landing on a gorgeous 85-degree day to check out the Coliseum before the Rams’ preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
“Just being in LA can help me out,” Watkins said. “Nice city. Nice weather. And just to be in this city with the players, just trying to chase a goal and win a championship and go to the playoffs. It’s a blessing to be here, to be on real grass eight or nine games out of the year.”
Watkins’ occasionally injured legs will benefit from the Coliseum grass, and the Rams intend to benefit greatly from Watkins’ speed and skill. He is expected to provide the deep threat that was among many things lacking for Los Angeles last season, when the Rams had the NFL’s worst offense for the second straight year.
Watkins praised Rams receivers Robert Woods, who left Buffalo as a free agent to join Los Angeles earlier this year, and Tavon Austin.
“I’m just here to add to that, and I’m just coming here to have fun and win some games,” Watkins said.
The Rams’ offense was in desperate need of playmakers last season, and Woods was the biggest skill-position addition in the offseason around Goff, who went winless as a starter in his rookie season. Watkins seems likely to be a more consistent threat than the smaller Austin on a roster that lost three of last season’s top four pass-catchers.
Watkins is too busy with his present changes to think too much about the future. The Bills declined his fifth-year option, which means he could be a free agent next year.
“I’ve got to handle my business, and that’s my play on the field,” Watkins said. “If I go out there and have the year that I’m expecting to have, then we can talk contract. But I’ve still got to go out there and do my job and let those guys handle the paperwork, the contract, the numbers.”