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Examining Sammy Watkins’ lengthy injury history

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Newest Ravens’ addition Sammy Watkins figures to step into a starting role at wide receiver next season. The veteran wideout could have a big impact on Baltimore’s offense as a reliable pass-catcher alongside the likes of Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews.

In order for this to happen, though, Watkins will of course need to be on the field and in the lineup. This is a good segway into an important factor to consider when gauging Watkins’ outlook in Baltimore next season: his injury history.

Watkins has been labeled an injury-prone player by many. During his seven-year career, he’s only played 16 games in a season once — which happened to be his rookie season in 2014. Since then, his games played in order are as follows: 13, 8, 15, 10, 14, and 10.

What’s caused him to miss this much action over the years, you may ask? Well, it’s really due to frequent minor and nagging injuries as opposed to major setbacks, like a torn ACL for example. Still, they say the best ability is availability, and some may argue Watkins inability to stay healthy have held him back from true stardom in the NFL.

Below is a complete timeline of all Watkins’ documented injuries. Take a gander and make your own judgements about what it all means as it pertains to Watkins and the Ravens heading into the 2021 season.

First, let’s take a look at Watkins’ injury history during his collegiate career at Clemson:

2011 —

November 12, 2011: Watkins suffered a shoulder sprain in a matchup against Wake Forest, which sidelined him for one game.

2012 —

December 31, 2012: In Clemson’s Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup versus LSU, Watkins sprained his right ankle on just the second play of the game. He did not return.

Now, a look at his injury history since joining the professional ranks:

2014 —

August 16, 2014: In the Bills’ third preseason game, a rookie Watkins suffered a rib bruise and missed the remainder of the matchup.

August 28, 2014: Watkins re-aggravated the rib injury suffered previously and was knocked out of Buffalo’s fourth and final preseason game against the Steelers.

November 5, 2014: Coming out of the Bills Week 9 bye, Watkins had a minor groin pull (Grade 1) but did not miss any game time because of it.

November 30, 2014: After the conclusion of the 2014 season, Watkins had minor surgery to address a torn labrum in his right hip. Fortunately, it again did not cost him any game time.

2015 —

August 27, 2015: Watkins suffered a glute strain and missed the Bills’ final three preseason games of the year.

September 27, 2015: After suffering a reportedly “mild” calf strain against the Dolphins in Week 3 of the 2015 season, Watkins missed two games.

October 18, 2015: Not long after returning from the previous calf strain, Watkins sprained his left ankle in Week 6. Coincidentally, it occurred on the same play he caught a touchdown pass. He wound up sitting out the following two games.

2016 —

April 13, 2016: Watkins suffered a fractured left foot during an offseason workout, which required surgery to insert a screw.

September 20, 2016: In a walkthrough practice between Week 2 and Week 3 of the 2016 season, Watkins suffered a setback when a teammate stepped on his surgically-repaired foot. He was placed on injured reserve and missed the next eight games before returning in Week 12.

2017 —

January 1, 2017: After finishing out the 2016 season, Watkins had two more screws surgically-placed into the same injured left foot following the setback.

September 21, 2017: Watkins suffered a minor concussion in Week 3 of the 2017 season but returned the following game.

2018 —

November 4, 2018: On the receiving end of an unspecified right foot injury, Watkins was forced out of the Chiefs’ matchup against Cleveland and missed the following game, too.

November 19, 2018: In his return to the field two weeks later, Watkins played only five snaps before re-aggravating his right foot injury. Following Kansas City’s Week 12 bye, Watkins was on the sidelines for the final five games of the regular season. He returned for the playoffs.

2019 —

October 4, 2019: Watkins sustained a shoulder injury in Week 4 of the 2019 season. The following Friday, he also injured his hamstring during practice and ultimately missed the Chiefs’ upcoming contest against the Colts.

2020 —

August 16, 2020: Watkins suffered a groin injury and was absent from a portion of practices during training camp.

September 20, 2020: After taking a blow to the head in a Week 2 matchup against the Chargers, Watkins exited the game early. He did suit up the following week, however.

October 11, 2020: Watkins’ most recent injury occurred in Week 5 of the 2020 season, when he sustained a hamstring strain against the Raiders. The setback sidelined him for five straight games during the middle half of the season.