Star Buffalo Bills receiver Sammy Watkins had surgery to repair a broken foot in the offseason, but was supposed to be fully healthy and ready to play by the time the season started. Watkins started the first two games, but missed last week’s game after his foot got stepped on during practice. He’s just been ruled out of this Sunday’s game, too, and now it’s probably time to panic.

The lack of structural damage seems like it should be encouraging, but that’s not always the case in situations like these. Writing off the problem as a matter of pain tolerance only works if you have a good idea of exactly how long it will take for the pain to subside, and the lack of structural damage means there’s nothing to fix. All Watkins can really do now, it seems, is wait.

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Head coach Rex Ryan seems to sense the gravity of the situation, telling reporters today that Watkins’s foot is a “major concern” going forward. 

Watkins may very well be fit enough to play, but it was pretty clear during his first two games--in which he caught six total passes for 63 yards--that the pain in his foot was hindering his performance on the field. The New York Daily News reported that Watkins was in “severe discomfort” after the Week 1 game, and had x-rays to see if more damage had been done.

The worst-case scenario going forward would be for Watkins and the Bills to fall into “there’s a difference between hurt and injured” trap. If he spends the next 14 weeks of the season flitting in and out of the lineup while never being healthy enough to produce or hurt enough to justify a full shut down, nobody’s interests are going to be served.