In his pre-practice presser on Wednesday, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur stated that receiver Sammy Watkins will be at practice “in a limited capacity” today. Watkins was placed on the injured reserve list in Week 3 with a hamstring injury, meaning his return to practice will open up a three-week window in which he can practice with the team before being activated to the 53-man roster.
On the topic of Watkins playing against the Washington Commanders, LaFleur said, “I don’t think anybody’s ready to say that he’ll be playing this week.” Watkins recorded 93 receiving yards against the Chicago Bears the last time we saw him on the field and played 67 percent and 65 percent of offensive snaps for the Packers in Week 1 and Week 2, respectively.
The receiver position has taken some hits in Green Bay since Watkins was placed on IR. Rookie second-round pick Christian Watson missed Week 6 action with his second hamstring issue of 2022. Randall Cobb was carted to the locker room against the New York Jets with a high ankle sprain. Neither Watson nor Cobb have been placed on IR, but both LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers mentioned that short-term IR was a possibility for both receivers.
Currently, the healthy receivers on the roster are Allen Lazard, rookie fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs, returner Amari Rodgers and rookie seventh-round pick Samori Toure. Lazard and Doubs played virtually every offensive snap last week while Rodgers played the second-most snaps of offense in his NFL career. Toure has yet to play in a regular season game.
With a stretched-thin receiver unit, Watkins’ potential return couldn’t have been more well-timed. Currently, the Packers’ 53-man roster is full, meaning that Watkins’ activation would have to come with a corresponding roster move, but the team does have an open spot on their practice squad if they need to drop a player down. Lingering is the possibility that Juwann Winfree, a practice squad receiver, gets activated to the 53-man roster for a short-term stint due to the injuries at the position. Winfree has been elevated to the gameday roster three times this year, the maximum allotment for the practice squad call-up mechanic, which means that the team must have him on their 53-man roster if they plan to play him in a game for the remainder of the 2022 season.