The Green Bay Packers have to be glad they decided to keep seven wide receivers on their initial 53-man roster this season.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers are unlikely to have second-round rookie wideout Christian Watson available in Week 3’s road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The 23-year-old was added to the injury report with a hamstring injury to start the week but did not participate in their final two practices.
Watson has received the second-most passing targets (seven) among Packers receivers through the first two games, trailing only fellow rookie Romeo Doubs (eight). He could have been in line for increased opportunities in Week 3 with the Packers placing veteran Sammy Watkins on injured reserve on September 24, but the additional reps will now most likely fall to Doubs along with Juwann Winfree (practice-squad elevation) and Samori Toure.
On the bright side, Schefter also said that veteran slot receiver Randall Cobb — who was listed as questionable to play with an illness that sidelined him all week in practice — is expected to play for the Packers on Sunday afternoon. He has started the 2022 season somewhat slowly (five catches for 51 yards), but he is one of Aaron Rodgers’ most trusted receivers and could be asked to play a bigger role depending on his health.
The Packers also have All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) looking to play his first game since Week 17 of the 2021 season on Sunday against the Buccaneers. Schefter had previously reported he is expected to play, but the Packers have been cautious with his return and haven’t committed just yet to any specific status for him.
Romeo Doubs Could Have Leading Role vs. Bucs
While the Packers are likely to be without one of their most impressive rookies against the Buccaneers, they might end up heavily featuring another — fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs — with the depth chart getting narrowed down due to injuries.
Doubs has caught a team-high six passes for 64 yards through the first two games and has received more targets (eight) than everyone else aside from running backs AJ Dillon (nine) and Aaron Jones (eight). He has also been knocking on the door of a greater opportunity for the offense since training camp when he turned heads in practice and regularly became the subject of Aaron Rodgers’ praise.
In fairness, Packers top veteran receiver Allen Lazard didn’t play in the first week due to an ankle injury and should take on a more prominent role as he starts feeling healthier on his routes and cuts, but there is still plenty of room for Doubs to seize the WR2 role with Watkins shut down for at least the next month … if the rookie can limit his drops.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” LaFleur told reporters on September 23. “He’s a guy that, you see it out at practice, he can run all day. In terms of a conditioning standpoint, we have no reservations whatsoever. And I think he’s mentally always engaged, he’s locked in. Certainly, he’s probably going to have to take more of a load this week.”