Packers Shut Down Receiver at Practice as Another Returns

Lazard Out Watson Back

Getty Christian Watson returned to practice for the Packers on October 25.

The Green Bay Packers did not have top wide receiver Allen Lazard practicing October 26 ahead of their Week 8 road trip to the Buffalo Bills, but they did get some encouraging news for their battered receiving corps.

Head coach Matt LaFleur didn’t have much reassurance to offer about Lazard’s status for Week 8 when he spoke with reporters on October 26. The 26-year-old receiver was spotted in a sling earlier this week after bowing out of Week 7’s loss in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury, and LaFleur confirmed it would at least mean he would not practice in the team’s first prep for the Bills.

As for whether Lazard will miss any games, LaFleur only said: “We’ll see, I don’t know.”

LaFleur also said that second-round rookie Christian Watson would be practicing (in a limited capacity) for the first time since the end of Week 5. The young speedster has been dealing with recurring hamstring injuries that have caused him to miss three games for the Packers this season, including each of their last two. Even in a limited role, Watson would offer Green Bay’s receiving corps a nice boost if was cleared to play against the Bills before their Sunday Night Football showdown.

Rashan Gary Also Misses Practices With Concussion

Another notable absence from the Packers’ first practice of Week 8 was star pass rusher Rashan Gary. The 2019 first-round pick sustained a concussion in Week 7’s loss to the Commanders and was forced to leave the game in the third quarter, so it is not too surprising to see him start the week on the sideline. Whether he will clear concussion protocol in time to play Sunday night, though, will be a big storyline moving forward.

Gary has led the Packers with six sacks through the first seven games and has been one of the bright spots of their defense despite some issues against the run game. The Packers have rookie Kingsley Enagbare — who has recorded a sack in each of the last two games — ready to step up if Gary cannot play, but he would still be a valuable weapon to have going against Josh Allen and the Bills’ formidable offense.

The Packers were also missing quarterback Aaron Rodgers (thumb), left guard Elgton Jenkins (knee) and cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles from Wednesday’s practice. In Rodgers’ case, the absence is no surprise as the Packers have been holding him out of the first practice every week since he injured his thumb in Week 5’s trip to London. Jenkins’ absence could be a precautionary thing, too, as the team has been careful with him since he returned from last season’s ACL tear, but Jean-Charles’ injury is a new one.

Packers Will Manage Practice Reps to Avoid Fatigue

With Lazard and Randall Cobb (injured reserve) out and Sammy Watkins and Watson both easing back from a hamstring injury, the Packers will be forced to divvy up the majority of their receiving reps in practice among Amari Rodgers, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure as they build up their showdown with the Bills. It will be valuable work for a group of youngsters who have been inconsistent (or nonexistent) through the first seven games of the season, but the Packers will also try to make sure they don’t overwork any of them at the risk of making their injury problem even worse.

“At the end of the day, you don’t want to wear these guys out, either,” LaFleur told reporters on October 25. “So I think again, [it’s a] fine line on how we manage it, but the bottom line is we have to go out there. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of things to clean up and the best way to do it is full speed on the practice field. We have to manage it within each individual room and make sure that these guys are getting the recovery they need but also the work they need.”

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