ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Bills receiver Sammy Watkins is looking forward to having the walking boot removed from his surgically repaired left foot as early as Thursday.
As for when he can finally step on the field for practice, Watkins isn't sure.
"No timetable. I leave that up to the doctors," he said Wednesday after watching the Bills go through their second week of voluntary practices. "I can't tell you. This is a process where you might feel good one day or you might feel like you need to sit down."
Watkins said the objective is to be fully healthy for the regular, and indicated the possibility of returning at some point during training camp, which opens July 30.
The two-year starter provided the update in making his first comments to reporters since having two screws inserted into his foot to repair a stress fracture in April.
He isn't sure when the injury occurred, and added it wasn't discovered until he had a physical two months ago.
Watkins said he turned down the option to spend a few months off his feet and rest the injury, and instead chose to have surgery so it won't recur during the season.
Staying healthy has been an issue for Watkins since 2014, when Buffalo gave up a first-round draft pick to trade up five spots and select the Clemson player with the fourth pick.
Though he didn't miss a game, Watkins opened his rookie season with a rib injury, and then required off-season hip surgery. Last year, Watkins missed three games after hurting his right calf in training camp, and then hurt his left ankle later in the season.
Watkins broke into a toothy grin when asked about critics referring to him as being injury prone.
"That's the world we live in. Everybody needs a story to write," Watkins said. "We play one of the physicalist sports ever so injuries happen. Injuries are going to continue to happen whether it's me or anybody. And I can't listen to that."
He's not giving in to any sense of frustration.
"Not at all," Watkins said. "I don't know, why would I have frustration? I'm in the NFL with the team I love, with the guys I love being around. No frustration."
Coach Rex Ryan reiterated Watkins will be "ready to roll" once the season begins, though there's no set date on when he will be cleared for practice.
Ryan is also confident that whatever practice time Watkins misses shouldn't hamper the chemistry he and first-time starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor established last season.
In missing three of Buffalo's first seven games, Watkins had combined for just 11 catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns, including a season-opening 27-14 win over Indianapolis in which he wasn't targeted once.
His numbers jumped over the final nine games in which Watkins had 49 catches for 900 yards and seven touchdowns — including an 8-catch, 168-yard, one-TD outing in a 33-17 win over Miami on Nov. 8.
Watkins isn't concerned about losing practice time with Taylor.
"We've been together for a year now, so we kind of know each other," Watkins said. "I'm just really about getting healthy."
NOTES: Rookie fourth-round pick, Ohio State QB Cardale Jones, was absent to attend the birth of his child. .... Ryan is eager to great RT Seantrel Henderson, who is scheduled to report to camp on Thursday after recovering from two operations on his intestines to ease the effects of Crohn's disease. Ryan, however, said it's premature to say when Henderson can resume practicing. ... Starting LB Preston Brown and RT Jordan Mills exchanged punches and had to be separated by teammates during a team drill.
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