The Baltimore Ravens have been among the league’s best at finding value and squeezing out meaningful production from veteran wide receivers through the years. While they have come up short on developing young talent at the position, signing seasoned vets that can still produce has been their forte — from Derrick Mason to Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith.
While he isn’t quite as long in the tooth as any of the aforementioned former Ravens listed above at just 28 years old, Sammy Watkins is by far the oldest receiver currently on the roster and appears poised to carry on the rich tradition. In the first week of training camp, the former Top-5 pick has continued to display the same playmaking ability that made him one of if not the brightest star in OTAs and Minicamp.
On Friday, after Watkins was one of the brightest standouts in practice yet again, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman stepped to the podium to address the media and gave him some very high praise. He complimented his ability and commended him for the impact he’s already having on the team (especially the young receivers) on the field as well as in the locker room with his performance and guidance.
Even though he has yet to even take a snap for the Ravens in an actual game, it’s abundantly clear that Watkins has established himself as one of the Ravens’ unquestioned veteran leaders on offense.
Veteran defensive end Calais Campbell had a similar effect shortly after he was acquired via trade last off-season. Despite the presence of other veteran defensive linemen like Derek Wolfe and Brandon Williams — the most tenured with the Ravens of the group — it was often the six-time Pro Bowler who was the galvanizing leader who led with both his words and high level of play on the field.
If Watkins can stay on the field more consistently during the regular season than he has in recent years, he could be in store for perhaps his best season to date. Watkins eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards for the first and only time in his career when Roman was calling plays for the Buffalo Bills offense in 2015.
“I’m just trying my best to stay healthy and do whatever I can to stay healthy,” Watkins said in a post-practice press conference this week. “Sometimes things happen, but I can say this year, I’m doing everything in my might to stay on that field and be healthy and try to go out there and help my team each and every day, and I think that’s the goal.”