Sammy Watkins making a mark for Rams with blocking ability as well as pass-catching skills

Rams receiver Sammy Watkins picks up big yards against the 49ers defense in the third quarter on Sept. 21.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The splash play against the New York Giants came on long touchdown pass from Jared Goff.

But Rams receiver Sammy Watkins also continues to make an impact on the Rams’ high-scoring offense with an overlooked part of his skill set:


Watkins, the fourth pick in the 2014 draft, blocked one defender and shielded teammate Robert Woods from another on Woods’ 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown against the Giants. In the previous game against the Arizona Cardinals, Watkins made a key block on a third-down pass play to Todd Gurley and on a catch-and-run touchdown by receiver Cooper Kupp.


“It’s just great to just go out there and show that, ‘Hey man, I’m not just this guy that wants the ball 10 times a game. I’m not this first-round, whatever, fourth pick that just can run routes,’’’ Watkins said Friday. “I can also block, knock guys down. And all-around player.”

Watkins, 24, was expected by some to ascend into the No. 1 receiver role after the Rams traded for him during training camp.

But he is fourth on the team with 19 catches for 331 yards and three touchdowns.

“He’s continued to respond exactly the right way that we want,” coach Sean McVay said. “I know he certainly, like any other receiver, wants to get more touches, but couldn’t be more happy and pleased with where he’s at and what he’s done for our football team right now.”

Watkins said he was a good blocker in college at Clemson, and that former Buffalo Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal emphasized the importance of blocking.

That has continued with the Rams under McVay and receivers coach Eric Yarber.

“When we get in the offensive meeting room or with the team and coaches are highlighting guys making blocks, it’s a great feeling because they understand that it’s much bigger than you and you’re not selfish,” Watkins said. “And for me, it’s just helped my game out.

“If I’m knocking a dude into the ground, the next guy who’s watching film is like, ‘Oh!’” Watkins said. “Guys soften up on me and I can have free will to do what I want on game day.”

Watkins has helped the Rams to a 6-2 record and the top spot in the NFC West. The Rams play the Houston Texans on Sunday at the Coliseum.

“The more I can do, the more I can help this team, I’m pretty sure the ball will start finding me a little bit more,” Watkins said. “The coach is watching. They’re watching everything.”

So are former Rams stars.

Torry Holt, a receiver who played for St. Louis Rams Super Bowl teams in 1999 and 2001, said Watkins, Woods and Tavon Austin are part of the best blocking receiver corps in the NFL.

“If they want to continue to have success,” Holt said, “they have to stay unselfish.”