Former Bills No. 1 WR Heads to IR With Hamstring Injury

Sammy Watkins

Getty Sammy Watkins runs after making a catch in a Green Bay Packers game.

Sammy Watkins is seeing yet another season shortened by injuries.

The former No. 4 overall pick by the Buffalo Bills has been plagued by injuries over the course of his nine-year career, not playing a full 16-game season since his rookie season. Watkins will now miss nearly a significant chunk of this season, with the Green Bay Packers announcing on Saturday that he’s headed to the injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury.

Watkins Sees Season Come to an End

Watkins had been Green Bay’s leading receiver through two games, making six catches for 111 yards. He will now miss at least four games after being placed on IR, dealing a blow to a Packers receiving corps that has been struggling for consistency.

Days before the Packers announced that Watkins was headed to IR, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers shared some praise for Watkins and the work he had done.

“I knew of Sammy and I watched him a little bit, but I didn’t have a real familiarity with him, so I didn’t have any expectations or projections when he came in,” Rodgers told reporters on September 21. “He’s just come in and been a fantastic teammate and a great guy and a really deep thinker and an interesting guy and interests outside of football and very well-spoken and curious, just a fantastic guy. I’ve loved our conversations together. He loves ball, he cares about it. He realizes how special this opportunity is for him and we want him to have success and for this to be a trampoline to the second half of his career.”

Packers coach Matt LaFleur also praised Watkins, saying he had been showing off some of the big-play ability that marked his early career.

“I definitely don’t see him just as a possession-type receiver. I think that was pretty evident [against the Bears],” LaFleur told reporters. “He still has an unbelievable acceleration. He’s so strong. He can run through a ball. It was great to create some explosive plays with him.”

Watkins Struggled Since Leaving Buffalo

Though he was considered the top wide receiver coming out of college — even ahead of others from his draft class like Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans — Watkins has just one season over the 1,000-yard mark. The Bills traded Watkins in 2017, one of the first moves from head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane as part of a sweeping rebuild.

He didn’t have the cleanest split from the Bills. Watkins later told Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report that he ran into substance abuse problems while in Buffalo, which were exacerbated by his struggles with injuries.

Watkins said he wanted a clean start out of Buffalo.

“Reemerging in July, Watkins felt nothing but bad energy from new Bills head coach Sean McDermott. Like McDermott was testing him, triggering him, waging a ‘mental war’ to make him explode. Watkins never demanded a trade, but he wanted out. Needed out. Literally stared into a mirror in his St. John Fisher College dorm room at Bills training camp and prayed, nightly, Get me out of here. Please, God.”

Watkins played for the Los Angeles Rams and won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs, but wouldn’t come close to another 1,000-yard season. His best season after leaving Buffalo came in 2019, when he made 52 catches for 673 yards and three touchdowns for the Chiefs.