Packers Sign Dual-Threat Wide Receiver to Practice Squad

Getty Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a new weapon to throw to.

The Green Bay Packers are dealing with a handful of injuries at an already thin wide receiver position. However, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is hard at work trying to find potential pieces who could fit in Matt LaFleur’s system.

The injuries are piling up heading into Green Bay’s Week 7 matchup against the Washington Commanders. New veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins is on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, while rookie speedster Christian Watson is dealing with a hamstring injury of his own. Even Randall Cobb is expected to miss multiple weeks after suffering an ankle injury against the New York Jets.

In response to those injuries, the Packers announced on Wednesday, October 19 that they had signed second-year receiver Kawaan Baker to their practice squad. It’s unlikely that he gets called up to the active roster this week with only a couple of practices under his belt, but if the injuries at the position persist, he could be thrown into the fire in Week 8 against the Buffalo Bills.

Who is Kawaan Baker?

He may not be the most recognizable name, or even the most interesting receiver out of his college, but Kawaan Baker brings a unique skill set to the Packers.

Baker was a virtually unknown commodity coming out of high school in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite being an unranked recruit in the class of 2016, Baker received a couple of college offers, choosing to play close to home for the South Alabama Jaguars.

As a sophomore in 2018, Baker emerged as a dynamic dual-threat weapon for the Jaguars. Along with 33 receptions for 494 yards and four touchdowns, he also ran the ball 59 times for another 251 yards and nine scores. By the end of his college career, he had racked up 2,205 total yards and 27 total touchdowns from scrimmage on 218 touches, averaging 10.1 yards per play.

Baker was shadowed a bit by his fellow South Alabama receiver Jalen Tolbert, who was the 2021 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year and a two-time first-team All-Sun Belt player. While Tolbert was taken in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, Baker was only a seventh-round pick by the New Orleans Saints back in 2021.

Although he was drafted, Baker was primarily a practice squad player for the Saints. He was suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season back in August before being cut by the Saints almost immediately following the end of his suspension. The Packers didn’t wait long to pick him up, however, and he’ll have an opportunity to show the coaching staff what he can do.

Who Else Can Step Up at WR for the Packers?

With all of the injuries at the position, there are only a handful of names who can try to set up and get the Packers offense going.

Allen Lazard is the obvious choice. As the de facto No. 1 receiver on the offense, Lazard has started to his his stride over the last three games, catching 14 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie Romeo Doubs could play a factor as well, already logging 26 receptions and two scores this season.

Even tight end Robert Tonyan will need to play a bigger role going forward. Coming off of a torn ACL last season, Tonyan had his best game of the year against the Jets, catching ten passes for 90 yards in the loss.

There are others like Amari Rodgers and rookie Samari Toure who could have opportunities to see the field, but Lazard, Tonyan, and Doubs are likely going to be the top weapons for Aaron Rodgers until others can get healthy.

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