The Los Angeles Rams knew exactly what they were getting when they made the deal last Friday to acquire wide receiver Sammy Watkins from the Buffalo Bills.
Yes, he had dynamic playmaking skills, but he also had something else: a history of foot problems. In January, Watkins underwent a second surgery to deal with a fracture in his left foot that caused him to miss most of last season.
‘In this league, the shoe thing is a very big deal’
To help protect their investment (a second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines) in the player they hope will make a major impact on their offense, the Rams are making sure that Watkins is wearing the best shoes possible to prevent re-injury.
“In this league, the shoe thing is a very big deal,” Rams General Manager Les Snead told Alex Marvez and Brady Quinn on the SiriusXM Blitz. “And I think getting him in the proper shoes and there’s a lot of technology, a lot of smart engineers going into developing shoes for these athletes … the type of torques and pressures they’re putting on their bones when you get out of a break.
‘What’s the best shoe for him?’
“I can’t say that (his shoes) will be special or different from Buffalo, but it is one where you do sit down with him, sit down, in our case, with Nike and try to figure out, based on the medical research, based on all the data that we have, what’s the best shoe for him?”
Snead said the Rams’ interest in Watkins began in the spring, after the Bills decided not to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
‘We felt like (acquiring Watkins) was a piece of the puzzle, a nice complement to the things we had done this offseason’
“I used the term, hey, I was going to start flirting with the Bills to see if they’d be willing to part ways with Sammy,” Snead said. “So it was definitely started in the spring, went through the summer and then to August. But it ended up working out for us and then we felt like that was a piece of the puzzle, a nice complement to the things we had done this offseason to try to get this offense to the next level.”
However, the GM did acknowledge that it was “probably the worst time” for Watkins to be joining a new team, with an offense that is “new to everyone and has now been installed twice: OTAs and training camp.”
‘These two weeks are probably the hardest on any of the players’
“So these two weeks are probably the hardest on any of the players because every play in the playbook is open game, fair game to call,” Snead said. “So I know what (coach) Sean (McVay) wants to do is get a feel for Sammy, how he’s learning. He’s been doing great so far, but I do think what they will do as we get into game plan for games is, ‘Where’s Sammy at? How comfortable is he? How many plays can we actually give him?
“If you have a 100-play playbook right now, let’s say game-planning, it’s down to 30. We know those numbers are a lot smaller, but maybe Sammy only gets 15 the first week and then works his way up.”
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