The Green Bay Packers have spent the first couple weeks of the season trying to get their passing game going. Unfortunately, head coach Matt LaFleur will have to get creative with one of the team’s top targets expected to miss significant time.
One day before their big game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Packers announced a handful of roster moves. The team signed running back Patrick Taylor onto the 53-man roster and elevated Juwann Winfree up from the practice squad.
However, the biggest piece of news was the status of Sammy Watkins. The veteran wide receiver had been ruled out for Week 3 the day before, but the team announced that Watkins would be placed on injured reserve.
That means that Watkins will miss at least four weeks before being able to return to the 53-man roster. The move puts even more pressure on Green Bay’s rookie receivers in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs to step up for the next few games.
Another Tough Moment for Sammy Watkins
Although he’s shown flashes of big-play ability over the years, Watkins has struggled to avoid the injury bug wherever he’s gone.
Coming out of Fort Myers, Florida, Watkins was a 5-star recruit and the top-ranked wide receiver in the entire class of 2011. Elite programs including Alabama, Michigan, and Florida tried to lure Watkins to their schools, but the electric wideout decided to play for the Clemson Tigers.
In just three seasons for the Tigers, Watkins set the school record with 240 receptions. He put up 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns in 36 games, earning All-American honors in 2011 and 2013. That explosive playmaking ability helped Watkins shoot up draft boards before being taken by the Buffalo Bills with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, injuries have kept Watkins off the field far more than he’d like. Besides playing in all 16 games as a rookie, the 29-year-old has never played a full season with a team. However, he’s still had an impact during stints with the Bills, Rams, Chiefs, and Ravens, going for over 5,000 yards and 34 touchdowns over his first eight seasons.
Watkins started to look like a top target in Green Bay’s offense through the first two games this season. He had caught six passes for 111 yards, including a game-sealing deep shot in the win over the Chicago Bears in Week 2.
Being placed on injured reserve doesn’t rule Watkins out for the rest of the year, but his absence will be a big loss for the Packers offense over the next few games.
Can Green Bay’s Young Receivers Step Up?
With Watkins on IR, the Packers will need some big contributions from its two rookie wideouts, or else the offense could struggle to move down the field and put up points.
Watson is still trying to shake off his dropped touchdown opportunity in the season opener, but the Packers have been creative in trying to get him the ball with five catches for 43 yards. His game-breaking speed is evident, and there’s a good chance Aaron Rodgers will try and find him on another deep ball in the coming weeks for a chance at redemption.
Don’t sleep on fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs, either. The former Nevada playmaker already has six catches for 64 yards, and has shown an ability to find blockers and gain extra yards after the catch.
If those two rookies can get more comfortable, then there’s a chance that the Packers could start putting up some strong numbers in the passing game.