Bills Notes: Watkins, Barnes, Free Agents

News hasn’t been very positive in Buffalo this offseason, as the injury bug has hit hard. Bills first-round pick Shaq Lawson could miss a third of the regular season after undergoing shoulder surgery, while receiver Sammy Watkins will be out until training camp with a foot fracture. The Bills had been counting on both players for contributions, so the club will need both to approach full health at some point during the season if they have any hope of toppling the Patriots in the AFC East.

Here’s the latest out of Buffalo…

  • Bills general manager Doug Whaley doesn’t anticipate Watkins missing any time in the regular season, Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News tweets. Earlier this month, Watkins suffered a broken small bone in his foot and had a screw inserted to hold things in place. Last season, Watkins was sidelined for three games but hauled in 60 passes for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns. Of course, Whaley also insisted that first round Lawson would not have to undergo shoulder surgery, and the Clemson product went under the knife soon after the draft.
  • Buffalo could conceivably target any number of veteran free agents to replace the production that might be lost due to Lawson and Watkins’ absences, but Whaley said the club hasn’t yet made contact with any street free agents left on the board. “We want to see what we have and the development of the guys on the roster in the OTAs,” said Whaley, according to Chris Brown of “[Veterans] we look at as consummate professionals. They’re always going to be in shape and if the time comes where we think the guys aren’t progressing like we need them to that’s when you look at a guy like Anquan Boldin or a Dwight Freeney, but right now we want to develop some young guys with an eye on the future saying those guys are out there if for needs sake we need to pick them up.” Whaley added that the Bills would “keep [their] options open” and would “never say never.”
  • Nose tackle T.J. Barnes is worked at left tackle today for the Bills, according to Joe Buscaglia of WKBW (Twitter link). Buffalo plucked Barnes — who has no offensive line experience either in the NFL or at Georgia Tech — off of the Jets’ taxi squad in December of 2015.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

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