Even before this whole media policy fiasco, it was a rough month for the Buffalo Bills. From Shaq Lawson needing shoulder surgery to Sammy Watkins' broken foot to Dri Archer not returning Ryan's calls, they've seen better days.
So on Tuesday, Rex Ryan stepped up to the podium and told everybody that everything will be juuuust fine.
The Bills head coach stood by the Lawson pick, citing the long-term benefits of the linebacker being 100-percent healthy. And the coach has no doubt at all Watkins will be ready Week 1 at Baltimore.
"I get it," Ryan said. "It looks like it hit people across the face that, hey, here's an injury to Sammy Watkins. But we knew about it. He's not going to miss any time. By the time the regular season comes around, Sammy Watkins is not going to miss any time. Now, do we have a timetable on when he comes back specifically? No, we're not going to give you that. But I'll tell you this, he'll be ready to go in the regular season."
Watkins, who had surgery to repair a small broken bone in his left foot about a month ago, was at Tuesday's OTA practice on crutches with the foot in a boot. Wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Greg Salas also weren't in attendance, meaning Jarrett Boykin and Greg Little got plenty of time with the first-team offense in addition to Robert Woods.
Ryan might've been beaming with optimism but he also wouldn't say Watkins is a go for the start of training camp in two months.
"We're not going to put out a blanket statement that he's going to be ready August 1 or whatever the date is," Ryan said. "I don't want to do that because things happen. But I will say this: We're confident that he's doing a great job and he's going to be back healthy. We know by the time the season rolls around, he's going to be completely healthy."
The key with this injury, likely a Jones fracture, is for Watkins to rest. Wide receivers past have rushed back to the field and needed a second surgery. Thus, don't expect Watkins to do anything through OTA's and minicamp. And judging by Ryan's tone, it sounds like the Bills will at least proceed with caution through training camp.
It just could prove difficult for Watkins to get necessary reps with quarterback Tyrod Taylor in time for the season.
As for Archer? The former Kent State burner who Buffalo claimed off waivers still isn't returning Ryan's phone calls.
"I can't tell you anything about him because I haven't talked to him," Ryan said. "We're better off talking about Jim Braxton or somebody like that who was a great fullback here many years ago. He has chosen, I guess, not to be on this team. I don't know. I haven't talked to him. I don't think he has talked to his agent or anything else. That's probably all we need to say about him."
As reported on Sunday night, cornerback Stephon Gilmore isn't in town for OTA's. While he wouldn't be able to practice yet while recovering from his torn labrum, it's also true that Gilmore's reps would like to reach a long-term deal with the team. The 2012 10th overall pick is entering the final year of his rookie contract at a position where 10 players make at least $10 million per year and three make $14 million.
Ryan said he wishes Gilmore was here but that attendance is voluntary.
"I'm sure we're not the only one with somebody choosing not to be here," Ryan said. "The guys that are here are working. Do I wish everybody was here? Absolutely."
So in Gilmore's place at cornerback was rookie Kevon Seymour, who we profiled on Sunday. The sixth-round pick from the "Snake Pits" worked with Buffalo's first-team defense opposite Ronald Darby. Ryan didn't even watch any of Seymour's USC tape before the draft but said he already sees the early signs he did in Darby a year ago.
"We knew Darby really had a chance to be special," Ryan said. "I'm not going to put him in that class yet but we're close. So we pumped him up to the first team today and he's done a great job. Size/speed guy.
"This kid, he looks like the real deal. We'll see. We threw him out there already with the 1's and when Steph comes back he'll obviously be behind him. But he certainly looks the part right now."