Neither Christian Watson nor Romeo Doubs was able to participate in September 6’s first practice of the week as both starting wideouts are dealing with new hamstring injuries that could threaten their playing status in the season opener in Chicago.
Watson and Doubs were both listed as DNPs (did not participate) for Wednesday in the first release of the Packers’ Week 1 injury report. All-Pro left tackle David Bakthari also did not practice, but he was listed with both a veteran rest day and a knee injury. Every other player on the active roster practiced on Wednesday, at least in a limited capacity.
The Packers will release their final injury report for Week 1 on Friday, September 8, where it is expected more light will be shed on the availability of Watson and Doubs.
Packers Could Be Forced to Lean on Rookies WRs in Week 1
The Packers will be looking at a much shakier group of receivers against the Bears if either Watson or Doubs is unable to play in Week 1. They are two of the only three wideouts on the 53-man roster with at least one year of playing experience under their belts with the other “veteran” being 2022 seventh-round pick Samori Toure.
Otherwise, the Packers have three rookie options between second-rounder Jayden Reed, fifth-rounder Dontayvion Wicks and the undrafted Malik Heath. They also have second-year Bo Melton and seventh-round rookie Grant DuBose to consider elevating to their game-day roster from the practice squad, if depth becomes a concern.
In some ways, it could be a good thing for the Packers to throw their rookies into the fire and accelerate their development with early playing time. Reed figures to play an important role regardless of Watson’s and Doubs’ health as their primary slot receiver, but Love could be forced to lean on him as his top pass-catching target if either of the other starters is unavailable against the Bears.
Heath is the other receiver of the bunch who could see a major uptick in Week 1 targets. The undrafted rookie out of Ole Miss was a preseason star for the Packers, catching 12 passes (tied for fourth-most in the NFL) for 146 yards on 16 targets and defying the odds to make the Packers’ initial 53-man roster over a drafted competitor (DuBose). While Wicks would normally cut into his workload, he was limited with a hamstring injury of his own in Wednesday’s practice and could need to be held to a pitch count.
Should Packers Consider Signing A Free Agent WR?
The question of whether the Packers should browse the free agent market for more receiving talent is not a new one. The abundance of youth in their receiving corps — and roster as a whole — could have some incredible long-term gains for them, but Watson, Doubs and Toure being the most experienced pass-catchers at their disposal has always come with risks, especially if one of them ends up sidelined with an injury.
Should the Packers consider making a signing before Week 1 against the Bears, though?
There are a few veterans on the market who could give the Packers more experience at the position. Jarvis Landry is likely the most experienced with 713 career receptions and 38 receiving touchdowns over his nine seasons in the league, but the price tag might be too much for the cap-strapped Packers, who have about $5.8 million left in space. Kenny Golladay is also available and has the desired receiving production, but the same pricing issue could obstruct the Packers from genuinely pursuing him.
Realistically, if the Packers are going to make a veteran addition at the receiver spot, it will likely wait until after they have played their first game and have more clarity on the injuries plaguing Watson and Doubs. After all, there’s not much sense in adding a new and unfamiliar receiver to the picture with just two practices to go until the opener.