When Sammy Watkins got the news that he'd been claimed by the Ravens off waivers, the first thing that ran though his mind was, "I've got a job."
Watkins was released by the Green Bay Packers Monday, hours before their game, in a surprise move. The Ravens scooped him up on the same day that Devin Duvernay suffered a foot injury in practice and was placed on injured reserve.
Now Watkins enters a situation where he could be called upon to make an immediate impact. And given that he's in his second go-around in Baltimore, he's already hit the ground running.
"It's a blessing," Watkins said. "Being that I already kind of know from being here before, it's definitely a great feeling. A lot of familiar faces. I'm really just happy to get back to playing football and be on a great team.
"They gave me a call and I was like, 'Man, anytime I can play football or get a chance to be on that field, I'm going to come out here and play.' I just thank the organization for giving me that call and giving me an opportunity."
Watkins caught 27 passes for 394 yards and one touchdown in 13 games played last season in Baltimore. While he didn't have a high volume of production, he made some critical plays.
The Ravens' run-heavy offense isn't going to ask Watkins to put up big numbers, but if he can contribute some key plays in critical times, especially for an offense that has struggled in the red zone, that would be a success.
"To get a quality player like him this time of year – it's almost unheard of," Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. "It's not like we're getting somebody that's never been here. That's huge."
Watkins, 29, hasn't had the career many imagined when he was drafted fourth overall in 2014 and burst out of the gates with 2,029 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in his first two seasons. But he earned the nickname "Playoff Sammy" for a reason, as he strung together three big games in the 2019 playoffs to help the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl.
Watkins hoped to rejuvenate his career last year in Baltimore, but he was hardly used down the stretch when Rashod Bateman came back healthy and the Ravens faded out of the playoff chase. He signed with the Packers in the offseason, but that didn't go as planned either. Watkins caught just 13 passes for 206 yards in nine games before his release.
Now back in Baltimore, he has unfinished business.
"The first thing [I thought of] was they have an opportunity to play in the playoffs," Watkins said. "Whatever they ask me to do as far as catching balls, blocking, I'm going to do my job and do my part. Hopefully I can add some good plays and make some big plays while doing that."
For now, Watkins is trying to get up to speed. While there's certainly a base level of familiarity with Roman's offense, Watkins said he has a lot of catching up to do.
"Definitely have to do a lot of catching up on certain situations in the game and certain packages," he said. "I'm a vet. I've been there before to where I had to pick up on stuff pretty quick. I'll get in the film room with coaches and try to catch up as fast as I can. Whatever they ask me to do, whether I'm playing or not, I should be prepared."