Green Bay’s wide receiver room was expected to struggle, as Allen Lazard transitioned to the No. 1 option, the offense attempted to integrate free agent addition Sammy Watkins into the regular game plan, and rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs acclimated to the NFL style of football. But three games into the campaign, one mainstay the Packers were counting on to produce has yet to bust out a big performance.
Tight end Robert Tonyan tore his ACL last season during a win over the Arizona Cardinals in late October, which sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Tonyan has been back on the field for Green Bay since Week 1, but has amassed only 84 yards on 11 catches and has yet to find the end zone.
Tonyan’s lack of production has subtracted a meaningful piece from the Packers’ passing game, after he scored 11 touchdowns in 2020 and added another two last season prior to his injury, per Pro Football Reference.
But while the tight end has been relatively quiet throughout his team’s 2-1 start, Kris Burke of SB Nation predicted Friday that Tonyan’s breakout performance is just around the corner.
Tonyan had to wait until Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay to truly test his rebuilt knee when it was hit on a simple three-yard reception. Tonyan hopped right up and cleared a psychological hurdle every player has to clear in return from a major injury.
Now it’s time for him to get back in rhythm with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and become the key cog to the offensive machine that he was in 2020. His workload has slowly been increasing and Tonyan is confident it will “click” again.
If the Packers want to re-establish the deep passing game, Tonyan needs to be a big reason why. He excelled there two years ago and can again.
Packers Look to Doubs as Top-2 Target, as WR Assumes Starting Role
In the meantime, Rodgers is going to have to lean on his rookies to keep a sputtering offense moving against the visiting New England Patriots on Sunday, who boast one of the top passing defenses in the NFL.
The Packers elevated Doubs to a starting role in last week’s victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after designating Watkins to the injured reserve (IR) list for at least four games with a hamstring injury. Doubs answered the bell, pulling in eight catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in his professional coming out party.
Rodgers spoke to Doubs’ performance following the 14-12 road victory.
“The thing about Romeo that gives you confidence is the majority of the time he catches the ball with his hands,” Rodgers said. “He just has such great hands. A couple balls were off the frame today that he caught very nicely. He’s learning. I feel like his route running seemed like it was pretty solid today, but we’ll go back and look at the tape and see if there were some more opportunities I could have given him.”
Christian Watson to Return For Packers Sunday Against Patriots
Also in the rotation for the Packers Sunday will be Watson, Doubs’ rookie counterpart, who has struggled to get healthy and on the same page with Rodgers early in the year.
Watson sat out much of the preseason following a minor knee surgery over the summer. He then strained a hamstring and was forced to sit out the team’s win in Tampa Bay.
When Watson has played, the results have been meager. He has made just five catches for 43 yards in two game appearances and, thus far, is best known for dropping a pass that would have almost certainly led to a 75-yard touchdown on the first offensive play from scrimmage of the Packers’ season against the Minnesota Vikings.
Watson will look to redeem himself, and have a breakout performance of his own, against the Patriots at Lambeau Field Sunday, as he should see plenty of action coming his way.