Packers’ Key Contributor Doubtful Against Vikings With Injury

Josh Myers IR Move

Getty Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers watches play from the sideline in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

The Green Bay Packers will likely be without one of their top offensive weapons when they kickoff the regular season against the NFC North Division rival Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Ryan Wood of USA Today reported on Friday that the Packers had designated wide receiver Allen Lazard as doubtful after suffering an ankle injury last week in practice.


“Allen Lazard being unlikely to play Sunday isn’t ideal. He’s the clear WR1,” Wood tweeted. “If you were told Friday before opener [left tackle] David Bakhtiari, [right tackle] Elgton Jenkins and [tight end] Robert Tonyan were all more likely to play than Lazard, think every single #Packers fan would take that.”

Bakhtiari and Jenkins are each listed as questionable heading into the weekend, per the Packers’ official website, while Tonyan carries no injury designation. The tight end was a limited participant in all team practices over the course of the last week.

Lazard Elevated to Packers’ Top Spot Following Davante Adams Trade

Lazard RFA Tender

GettyWide receiver Allen Lazard of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the second quarter of a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 9, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.

Lazard is entering his fifth NFL season, but had never been considered a top receiving option before now. The change was facilitated over the offseason, when the Packers decided to trade All Pro Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders for a couple of high-value 2022 draft selections.

Some of that draft capital was converted into rookie wide receiver Christian Watson, picked at the top of the second round. However, Watson missed much of the preseason following a minor knee surgery and is behind other Packers’ pass catchers when it comes to developing chemistry with two-time reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Wideout Romeo Doubs, on the other hand, has drawn effusive praise from the QB throughout much of the preseason to the point that Rodgers has said publicly he will hold Doubs to a higher standard than other rookie receivers past. Even still, the fourth-round pick is bound to have some growing pains. So while Doubs might elevate to the No. 1 role at some point this season, he does not appear to be the Packers’ plan at that spot to kickoff the year.

Veteran Randall Cobb is the only receiver on the roster who has more experience catching passes from Rodgers than does Lazard, but at 32 years old and entering his 12th NFL season, Cobb’s role is as much a mentor and locker room leader as it is an on-field contributor.

As such, Lazard became the de facto No. 1 wide receiver following a career year in 2021, during which he caught 40 passes for 513 yards and eight touchdowns.

Packers’ Free Agent Signing Sammy Watkins Ready to Fill in For Lazard

Sammy Watkins

GettyWR Sammy Watkins, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, reacts during training camp at M&T Bank Stadium on July 31, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Aside from the four aforementioned pass catchers, the only other competition for the top spot in the receiver room this preseason came from former Baltimore Ravens wideout Sammy Watkins.

Watkins has underperformed his draft position since the Buffalo Bills selected him with the fourth overall pick in 2014. Even still, Watkins has experience playing with high-octane offenses led by MVP-caliber QBs, including winning a Super Bowl ring alongside Patrick Mahomes as members of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019.

Exactly how effective the eight-year NFL veteran would be transitioning into the Packers’ offense remained a legitimate question up until about three weeks ago, when Rodgers said that Watkins’ performance transformed — and the QB’s confidence in his new receiver transformed along with it.

Rodgers spoke to the media following a joint practice against the New Orleans Saints on August 16, after which he referred to Watkins as “a gamer” and credited him with his best practice of the season. Then, 15 days later, the quarterback doubled-down on the progress he’d seen from Watkins in the interim.

“I’ll tell you what, ever since the Saints practice, the first one, Sammy has been a different player,” Rodgers told reporters on August 31. “He’s been super reliable. Every practice he’s made a bunch of plays.”

Green Bay is going to need Watkins’ playmaking abilities to transfer to the game field on Sunday afternoon, when they head to Minneapolis to take on the Vikings at 4:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

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