On Monday, the day after his team lost to the Seattle Seahawks, coach Sean McVay spent part of the day counseling Watkins about his lack of targets and touches the past two weeks, and the receiver’s comments about it on social media.
“Sammy’s a player that, he wants to be involved,” McVay said, then explained the mentality that the coaching staff challenged Watkins to work on.
“You never know when your opportunity is going to come, but let’s just make sure that snap in and snap out, you continue to compete and contribute to the best of your ability.”
Watkins was targeted four times in Sunday’s 16-10 loss. For only the second time in 42 NFL games, he did not catch a pass.
The week before at Dallas, Watkins was targeted twice and caught one pass.
On Sunday, former Rams receiver Torry Holt tweeted: “Sammy Watkins 0 catches on four targets, Watkins now has 1 catch for 17 yards over his past two games”.
Watkins responded: “Something gotta be going on”, adding an emoji of a zippered mouth.
Watkins, who’s in the final year of his contract, also retweeted messages about the need for him to have a greater role in the offense, and responded to others who debated the subject, mostly with positive words like “I know it will start clicking soon”.
Rams players are not available to the media the day after games. But McVay said he had a productive conversation with Watkins, who has 14 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’ll continue to try and find ways to get the ball in Sammy’s hands,” McVay said, adding, “These last couple weeks I don’t believe are indicative of his production for the rest of the season.”
Two weeks ago against the Cowboys, running back Todd Gurley was targeted a team-high eight times. Against the Seahawks, receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp and tight end Tyler Higbee were targeted eight times.
“Sometimes when you don’t get your number targeted it can be a little bit misleading,” McVay said. “And that’s what I appreciate about Sammy is, I think he took [the conversation] the right way and expect him to respond the right way.”
In the third quarter against the Seahawks, Watkins slowed down on a deep route and then tried to speed up when he saw the pass thrown by Jared Goff.
“He was little bit confused on it,” Goff said after the game. “But we’re good and it’s nothing that can’t be fixed overnight. It’s uncharacteristic; don’t expect that to happen.”
Neither does McVay.
“That’s a learning opportunity for everyone on our offense, including Sammy,” McVay said, “so that if it does come up again, we’re not sitting here in that same situation.”
McVay said it was his responsibility, not Goff’s, to get all of the Rams’ weapons involved.
“That, to me, is on me as a play-caller,” he said, adding, “What you never want to do with the quarterback is make him feel like he’s got to force throws to guys when the coverage doesn’t dictate that’s where the ball should go.”
McVay said Tavon Austin would have “a break” from returning punts after he muffed two punts against the Seahawks. After the first, he was replaced by Kupp. But McVay reinserted Austin, who fumbled the second. Kupp and Pharoh Cooper will compete for the spot, McVay said…. The Rams are off Tuesday. They will resume practice Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein