Sammy Watkins has made what appears to be his first significant strides in recovering from foot surgery.
Coach Sean McDermott said Thursday that, since Tuesday, the wide receiver has participated in individual drills during the Bills' OTA practices this week.
"He's doing a nice job," McDermott said. "Credit to Sammy, credit to our training staff and the way he's attacked the rehab with them. And that has to continue, though. This is one step in that process of getting Sammy back to where he needs to be and where we need him to be."
McDermott said Watkins' status was "one day at a time at this point."
"It's one rep at a time, one day at a time, and we'll just take it like that," the coach said. "And we're going to get him into the summer and then ... we'll have a plan in place in terms of what'll take place between now and the start of training camp, just like we'll do with all the players."
The Bills' receiver situation received an additional boost with rookie wide receiver Zay Jones, who suffered a knee injury in practice earlier in the offseason, practicing fully Thursday.
But neither development has stopped the team from looking for additional help at the position.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, 29-year-old, free-agent receiver Jeremy Maclin visited One Bills Drive. He also made a visit to the Baltimore Ravens Thursday. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Maclin, who spent the past two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs after playing six years with the Philadelphia Eagles, left Baltimore without a deal and "will take some time to decide his future."
"We had a nice visit," McDermott said. "Jeremy and I, as well as some other members of our staff, overlapped in Philadelphia for a couple of years there. Jeremy's a very good person and a good football player."
The coach wouldn't go into any details about his interaction with Maclin, but did address the team's overall approach to pursuing players in the open market while giving consideration to short- and long-term goals.
"We've given great consideration like we do," McDermott said. "You've heard me use the term multiple times, methodical, and thorough, and no different in this case. There's no knee-jerk reactions. Those are, over time, not helpful and usually put you in a bad position as an organization. So, in this case, it's very, very methodical. It's not emotional. It's driven by, again, the short- and long-term goals and vision of this organization.
"... we’re always going to look to add to this football team. Guys that have the character we’re looking for, the types of skill we’re looking for, the D.N.A. – call it what you want to call it – we’re always looking to add competition at every part of this roster. This is no different ..."
The coach said he had no problem with the strong campaigning running back LeSean McCoy, Maclin's close friend and former teammate with the Eagles, did to encourage the receiver to sign with the Bills.
McCoy posted two Instagram videos Wednesday showing Maclin at the Bills' training facility and touting McCoy's recruiting skills.
"... that’s a healthy dynamic that we have with a lot of our players," McDermott said. "They’ve got to know that they have a voice, too, and there’s ownership. I respect that and that’s healthy. That said, we’ve got to do what we feel is in the best interest of this team.
"We’re always going to listen. I would like to believe the good Lord gave me two ears and one mouth, so I would like to think I’m a good listener. That said, like I said before, we’re going to do what’s in the best interest of this football team. Sometimes those decisions are going to be agreed with and sometimes they’re not. Leadership at times is lonely and I’m OK with that."
Would he prefer that McCoy not potentially hurt the Bills' bargaining position by boasting about Maclin's impact with references to the receiver having 1,300-1,400 yards in receptions and 90-100 catches?
"Yeah, you know, the times have changed – 20 years in the league and times have changed," McDermott said. "My job has changed," the media’s "job has changed. We do what we can to bring good players on board so we will see where this goes."