Two of the Green Bay Packers’ top playmakers are trending toward returning to the offensive lineup this week.
Dynamic running back Aaron Jones and big-play wideout Christian Watson — both hamstrung by hamstring injuries — were limited participants in Tuesday’s walkthrough. Jones has missed each of the Packers’ last two games while Watson has yet to make his regular-season debut in 2023.
There’s still some uncertainty around their availability for Thursday’s divisional bout with the Detroit Lions and it’s to be assumed that head coach Matt LaFleur wouldn’t want any information leaking out of the building, either, even if their statuses were cemented.
He should probably cover his ears.
“We’ll have 3-3 back,” matter-of-factly said wide receiver Romeo Doubs at his locker after Tuesday’s practice.
The Packers haven’t seen Jones since he injured his hamstring early in the third quarter of the September 10 season opener versus the Chicago Bears. He was on the receiving end of a 35-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown before reaching back for his hamstring as he crossed the goal line. They’ve been naturally cautious with his usage through the years, and if he’s on the field against the Lions this week, expect that to continue; he isn’t going to receive a full complement of snaps.
Watson, meanwhile, told The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman — and the cluster of reporters surrounding his locker — that the plan is for him to play. He went as far as to say that he’s ready to play today.
“I feel like it’ll still be a day-to-day thing in terms of still trying to get to a point where I feel as good as I can going into it,” he said.
Like Jones, it’s fair to expect Watson to play on a pitch count. That’s especially true for the team’s second-year wideout considering his past disputes with his hamstring. He’s already missed six games in his blossoming career — three as a rookie and all three of the Packers’ games this season — as a result.
A Lot to Love
If Jones and Watson are in the mix, it’ll be the first time as the Packers’ starting quarterback that Jordan Love will have a full arsenal of weaponry at his disposal. Even with a myriad of star-studded absences plaguing the injury report through the past month, the Packers have rocketed to an impressive start.
They sport a 2-1 record after an inspiring win in their home opener this past weekend. After falling behind 17-0 to the Saints, Love engineered a fourth-quarter surge, completing seven of his 17 pass attempts for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns — one through the air and one on the ground. The fourth-year signal-caller orchestrated a pair of 80-yard scoring drives to catapult the Packers ahead with an 18-17 lead.
“It was just the poise, across the board,” said Watson, who watched the entire scene unfold from the sideline. “Just having that fight, having that mentality regardless of what the scoreboard was saying, that we’re just going to go out there and fight, claw — do whatever we can to get back into the game.
“It was super exciting watching those guys go out there and get it done like that.”
Carrying a Bruised and Battered Platoon into Week 4
Given the short turnaround between games, the Packers didn’t actually practice on Monday, but there were estimations on the injury report. Cornerback Jaire Alexander, safety Zayne Anderson, tackle David Bakhtiari, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, guards Elgton Jenkins and Zach Tom, cornerback Carrington Valentine and Watson were all listed as non-participants.
The Packers received better news on Tuesday. Of that bunch, Alexander, Tom, Valentine and Watson were upgraded to limited participants.
Alexander popped up on Friday’s injury report with a back issue and was held out of Sunday’s game, likely out of precaution. Tom sustained a knee injury in the game, but the fact that he was able to practice — albeit in a limited capacity — is an encouraging sign. Valentine, who got the start in place of Alexander at cornerback, was forced to exit the game after 32 defensive snaps with a biceps injury.