In the NFL, wide receivers are known for a few things — their athleticism, their sure handedness, and, often, their selfish outlook on the game. At most times, it's the big-name wide receivers, not the tight ends, nor the running backs, who prove to be the most outspoken about wanting the ball.
And while it's rare to find a top-flight wideout who doesn't outwardly prioritize his own stats and targets, that's exactly what the Rams have in Sammy Watkins.
"I'm just realistic," he said. "You've got Robert Woods, you've got Cooper Kupp, you've got Pharoh Cooper — we have so many guys where I can be honest and say they can go out there and make any play and run any route. I'm not in a situation where I'm just the one wide receiver."
But he wasn't always singing that tune.
The Clemson product spent his first three pro seasons as the Bills' No. 1 wideout. And when Watkins wasn't getting the targets he wanted in Buffalo, he spoke out loud and clear.
Admittedly, Watkins said he was consumed by his numbers, concerned with just three things: me, myself, and I.
"I was a statistics, an ego guy in Buffalo. I was all about numbers and it wasn't healthy for me, my teammates, or my coaches," Watkins said. "So now I really focus on my teammates being happy and winning. And so far it's been going well."
When Watkins was first traded to the Rams in early August, however, he said "there were definitely some tests." After all, he was brought to L.A. on the premise of providing a dynamic No.1 style receiver with the ability to stretch the field.
But after a couple of games with the club, he quickly realized he wasn't going to be the star of the Rams receiving room — at least not in the traditional sense.
"At first I was definitely like, 'What is going on? I'm not getting the ball,'" he said. "At first I wasn't taking it well mentally. And then I finally started recognizing like, 'Hey this is what's going on, this is all a part of the game.'"
"I really had to evaluate the situation in myself," Watkins continued. "I would rather win than get 180 yards, 15 targets and then be hurt when the focus is all on me. Here the focus is not on me, I have so many guys that can help — help each other and help myself out with the game."
Now, Watkins says he gets to have fun again, playing the game he loves with a smile.This season he has caught
28 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns. But as quarterback Jared Goff said, many of the good things Watkins does on field "go unnoticed, because it doesn't show up on the stat sheet."
"He just plays hard on every snap," Goff said Sunday, after the Rams 26-20 victory over the Saints. "I think that's something you never have to worry about him, is his effort. Every snap whether he's blocking [or] he's running a route, you know he's aggressive and physical. He's fun to watch once he gets the ball in his hands, that's for sure."
"Everything happens for a reason. Now it's starting to play out where I'm playing at a high level, I'm blocking, I'm not being selfish and I'm playing hard," he said. "And now the ball is slowly starting to come my way and we're winning."
And winning, he said with a laugh, is a better feeling than any targets or number of yards could provide.