The Green Bay Packers will head into 2022 training camp next week with at least nine of their players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, including second-round rookie wide receiver Christian Watson.
According to the NFL’s transaction wire for July 22, the Packers placed Watson on their PUP list when rookies reported for the camp on Friday in a move that was unexpected considering there have been no reports of him battling an injury this offseason. The 23-year-old receiver out of North Dakota State was a full participant during OTAs earlier this year.
The Packers traded both of their 2022 second-round picks to move up and get Watson at No. 34 overall during this past spring’s draft, using some of the assets they acquired in the Davante Adams deal to add a young and talented new pass-catcher for their offense this season. It is the highest Green Bay had reached for a receiver in two decades, which led many to start considering his potential for eventually becoming the new No. 1 for the Packers.
Now, Watson will have to wait until he is medically cleared to start building an on-field connection with four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Fortunately, according to Ross Uglem of Packer Report, the injury that landed Watson on the PUP list is “not considered to be serious/long term and he is expected to be available sooner than later.” There are still no details on what type of injury Watson has, though.
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Crosby, Lowry Also Land on PUP List
Eight other Packers also joined Watson on the camp-opening PUP list, including veteran placekicker Mason Crosby, defensive end Dean Lowry, rookie defensive tackle Hauati Pututau, outside linebacker Randy Ramsey, running backs Patrick Taylor and Kylin Hill, tight end Robert Tonyan and Pro Bowl offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins.
Tonyan, Jenkins and Hill are all recovering from torn ACLs that they sustained midway through the 2022 season and, at the very least, were expected to be limited for the beginning of camp. Ramsey is also coming off a season-ending injury he sustained last preseason and could still be in recovery, but Crosby, Lowry and Taylor are all a little unexpected.
Additionally, the Packers declared three rookies — linebacker Caliph Brice and offensive tackles Caleb Jones and Rasheed Walker — for the non-football injury lists. Brice and Jones are both part of the Packers’ UDFA group, while Walker was their third of four seventh-round picks in the 2022 draft at No. 249 overall.
Bakhtiari Avoids PUP List (For Now)
One good thing about the list of Packers on the PUP list is that All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari — who missed the majority of the 2021 season with a torn ACL — was not among them. The Packers have been trying to get Bakhtiari back to full health since he first sustained his injury in practice on December 31, 2020, but they were only able to get him on the field for 27 offensive snaps last season, all of which came in their final game of the regular season against the Detroit Lions.
While the Packers have been cautiously vague about Bakhtiari’s status throughout the offseason, the expectation has been that he would be ready to practice when training camp began despite having a longer-than-usual recovery time from the injury. So far, Bakhtiari seems to be checking the right boxes, but it is important to note that veterans are not required to report until next Tuesday, July 26, and that it is possible for him — or other veterans — to still be added to the list.
According to the NFL rulebook, players on the PUP list need to be medically cleared before returning to practice, but players who remain on the PUP list for the entire preseason are eligible to go on the regular season PUP list, which requires them to miss a minimum of six games before being allowed to return. If a player on the PUP list returns to practice, he is no longer eligible to return to the PUP list and would need to either be cut or placed on injured reserve if the injury issue persisted.