Ryan says Bills need to get receiver Watkins more involved
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Add coach Rex Ryan to the mix of people wondering why receiver Sammy Watkins isn't more involved in the Buffalo Bills' offense.
''I'm not saying there's some concerns on my part, it's more we've got to find ways to get him the football,'' Ryan said Wednesday. ''And that's a challenge to our staff, even our quarterback. Like: `Let's get Sammy Watkins involved more because he is such a talent.'''
Ryan then suggested Watkins' role in Buffalo's passing attack is no different than LeSean McCoy's in the ground game.
''If you don't use LeSean McCoy, that's a mistake,'' Ryan said. ''I mean, we need to use LeSean McCoy. And Sammy falls right into that as well.''
While McCoy had 20 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown in Monday night's 20-13 loss at New England, Watkins was mostly invisible for much of the game against the Patriots.
Watkins didn't have a pass directed his way until Tyrod Taylor threw an incompletion up the left sideline on the first play of Buffalo's opening drive of the second half. The second-year player was targeted six times and finished with three catches for 39 yards. He also drew a pass-interference penalty that resulted in a 31-yard gain.
Though Watkins was hampered by an assortment of injuries during the first seven weeks of the season, the game against the Patriots marked the fourth time in the six full games he has played that Watkins has had four or fewer receptions and held under 50 yards.
Watkins ranks fourth on the team with 25 catches, second with 368 yards and has a team-leading three touchdowns receiving. But he padded his numbers with one big game in a 33-17 win against Miami on Nov. 8, finishing with eight catches for 168 yards and a score.
That's not the type of consistent production or role the Bills envisioned in 2014, when they traded a 2015 first-round pick to Cleveland to move up five spots in the draft and select Watkins fourth overall.
Watkins was diplomatic in assessing his role against the Patriots.
''I don't want to make it about me. It's really about winning. And we didn't win,'' he said. ''Of course everybody's frustrated and we can point fingers: `He didn't get the ball,' or `This person didn't get it.' But at the end of the day, we've got to clean it up, and we've got to get prepared for K.C.''
The Bills travel to play Kansas City on Sunday in an AFC showdown between two 5-5 teams competing to stay in the playoff hunt.
Watkins has dynamic speed and impressive catching ability. He showed that off against New England in making his first catch: A 15-yard, one-handed grab in traffic to convert a third-and-5 with under seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Taylor said he would prefer targeting Watkins more often, but noted that depends on how teams cover him.
''I'm not going into a game trying to force it one guy or another,'' he said.
Ryan, however, doesn't necessarily agree with that approach.
''I think, Sammy is such a talent that you can probably force the issue a little bit there,'' Ryan said during his weekly radio show on Buffalo's WGR-AM on Tuesday. ''So we've got to look at that and, as we're moving forward, start taking advantage of this young man.''
Lack of chemistry has been an issue. Taylor is a first-time starter and Watkins missed much of training camp because of a hamstring injury.
And now Taylor's banged up after hurting his right shoulder against the Patriots.
Taylor is expected to play on Sunday, but did very little throwing in practice on Wednesday. He also missed two games last month because of a sprained left knee.
''At the end of the day, it's trust,'' Watkins said of the bond he needs to build with Taylor. ''We're still young as a whole group. So we've got to keep gaining trust and keep practicing together.''
NOTES: The status of DE Mario Williams (foot) is uncertain after he missed practice on Wednesday. ... DT Marcell Dareus (knee) and S Bacarri Rambo (shoulder) were limited in practice, but Ryan expects both to play.
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