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Sammy Watkins says he's 'right where I need to be' as training camp approaches

Sammy Watkins spent Tuesday morning on the football field, but instead of going through drills, he was overseeing them.

The Buffalo Bills' receiver led the instruction of more than 200 youth football players during his third-annual camp, which is taking place Tuesday and Wednesday at Erie Community College's Jim Ball Stadium.

"It's a great day to be out here for this event," Watkins said. "I see a lot of three-year guys out here. ... It's great to be out here giving back."

In 10 more days, Watkins will revert to his role as a player, when the Bills open training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. After missing spring practices following surgery to repair a broken left foot, Watkins said he's "feeling great," but isn't sure when he will be cleared to practice fully.

"I don't know how much I'm going to be doing, or when I'm going to be active and engaged," he said. "I don't know what the schedule is like with me being on the field, competing wise, but I know I'm right where I need to be at.

"Feeling good, healthy, nothing's bothering me. Just really prepared for whatever they do. I don't know what the situation is, but if they throw me out there, I just want to be prepared if they do. That's all I can do is prepare for it."

Watkins made a change to his offseason schedule this year, electing to stay in Buffalo to work with the team's training staff.

"It's been great, actually. I might look into doing it every year, honestly," he said. "Getting the right nutrition, the right coaching, the right treatment. It's not with another company, I'm doing it right here with the Bills, our organization. They're doing a great job paying attention to all the details, fixing my body. It's great being here."

Watkins had exactly 900 yards over his final nine games of 2015 – a total that ranked behind only Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown (1,116) and Atlanta's Julio Jones (979) for most in the NFL over that time. He ranked second in yards per catch at 18.4 yards over that time, and tied Jones and Jacksonville's Allen Robinson with 12 plays of 25 yards or more.

Missing some or all of training camp means there will be less time for Watkins and quarterback Tyrod Taylor to pick up where they left off.

"Honestly we have something planned. We're not going to go the whole time ... without doing anything," Watkins said. "We're going to get on the right page and make sure we stay there. It's really good that he's progressing, now I've got to progress with him."

Watkins said missing all of the spring means that he'll have to earn Taylor's trust again.

"We've just got to get the chemistry back down, route running, stuff like that I've got to clean up," he said. "He's got to be comfortable with throwing the ball to me. I feel like we did at the end of the year. That's really what it is. I've got to get his trust. He doesn't have to get mine -- I have to get his trust, to where he knows where I'm at, he knows I'm open.

"Him and the other wideouts, they had a great OTA. Dez Lewis, Robert Woods, all our other receivers had a great camp."

Entering his third season, Watkins said his goals for 2016 have little to do with individual statistics. Instead, for a player who has dealt with rib, calf, ankle, hip and foot injuries in his brief professional career, "it's really just staying healthy."

"That's one thing that I really want to work on, not so much of the numbers and touchdowns and scoring. It's being available for my teammates," he said. "That's one thing I take heart to, is not being available to make plays and help my teammates. If I'm not on out on the field, I feel like I'm letting them down, letting everybody down. So it's really being available, staying healthy. That's something that I'm working on right now with the training staff to try to find so many ways I can keep my body up, stay healthy and stay fit for the whole season."

If Watkins can do that, there's a good bet the numbers will follow. If that happens, the Bills' continuing quest for a playoff berth may finally reach its end.

"It's really up to us," Watkins said. "We can't put anything on the coaches. The coaches do their job. They call the plays to put us in the best situation. Now it's time for the team and the leaders to take leadership. Practice hard, get off the field, take care of each other. Nutrition, sleep, film, all that stuff starts with the players. If we do the right thing, handle our business like we should, we should be in a great" place.

If it doesn't, there will be speculation about coach Rex Ryan's job status. Watkins made it clear Tuesday he hopes it doesn't get to that.

"Honestly, I love Rex," he said. "I love our whole coaching staff and organization. If anything would change, I would definitely be sad, because I know what type of guys they are. They're for the players, they're for the team, they're for winning.

"We've got to change it as a whole, as a group, as an organization. It would be sad if somebody got fired off of losses. I know it's a business, but that's how things work"

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