Packers Activate Playmaker as All-Pro Gets Downgraded

Watkins Activated IR

Getty Sammy Watkins was activated off injured reserve on October 22.

The Green Bay Packers will have another receiving weapon back in their arsenal for Week 7’s road game against the Washington Commanders, but they might now also have to play without their All-Pro left tackle.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst announced on Saturday, October 22 that veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins was activated from injured reserve after he returned to practice for the first time in a month earlier in Week 7. The Packers also elevated outside linebacker La’Darius Hamilton to the game-day roster and placed both wide receiver Randall Cobb (ankle) and right guard Jake Hanson (biceps) on IR.

While there is a good chance Watkins will be held to a pitch count coming off a hamstring injury that shut him down for four games, his experience will be useful in any capacity given the Packers will be paying without Cobb and second-round rookie Christian Watson due to injuries. Watkins is officially listed as questionable.

Additionally, the Packers made a few modifications to their injury report for Sunday’s road game against the Commanders. First-round rookie defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt was added to the report with an illness and is now listed as questionable, while All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari was downgraded to questionable after previously finishing the week without an injury designation for his recovering knee.

Bakhtiari’s Status May Impact Possible O-Line Changes

The Packers have been contemplating a change to improve the effectiveness of their offensive line after struggles on the right side, but any plans to do so could be put on hold if Bakhtiari is unable to play or held to a pitch count in Washington on Sunday.

Royce Newman, the Packers’ right guard, has been the biggest piece of controversy in the offensive line. The team tried to bench him in Week 6’s loss to the New York Jets in favor of Hanson, but Hanson suffered a biceps injury on his first series in the game and is now going to spend at least the next four games on injured reserve. The most logical alternative would be moving Elgton Jenkins back inside where he started and allowing Yosh Nijman to take over at right tackle for him, but Nijman is the best backup option they have for left tackle — which is why Bakhtiari’s status could be so problematic.

If the Packers are deadset on benching Newman, though, perhaps fourth-round rookie Zach Tom could offer another solution. He looked solid for the team in the preseason and has displayed enough versatility to slot in at either guard or tackle. With Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is always talking about getting the “best five” on the field, it might be time to truly test whether Tom can be better than Newman.

Packers Could Keep Toure Active for First Time

Despite missing some key pieces, the Packers decided against adding another wide receiver to their roster prior to Week 7’s matchup with the Commanders. They could have elevated either Travis Fulgham or Kawaan Baker from the practice squad temporarily or signed up Juwann Winfree (who has used all three of his allotted game-day elevation) to the active roster. Instead, they will trust the guys they have, and that could mean rookie Samori Toure finally getting his shot.

Toure, a 2022 seventh-rounder, has been a healthy scratch in each of the Packers’ first six games. Some of that is likely rooted in them having better options available, but it could also have to do with their level of confidence in him being able to execute their offense. Unfortunately, with just three other healthy receivers on the roster right now — and an up-in-the-air Watkins — it might be time to throw the rookie into the fire.

Toure averaged 19.5 yards per reception in his final year at Nebraska in 2021, catching a total of 46 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns. He doesn’t have blazing-fast speed (4.48 seconds in his pre-draft 40-yard dash time), but he is someone who Aaron Rodgers called “very, very talented” prior to the start of the 2022 season, even though he mentioned Toure needs to get a little more focused.

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