The Green Bay Packers have been without some of their best players on offense for most of the season thus far. The list of injured players includes their top two playmakers in Aaron Jones and Christian Watson, the latter of which hasn’t played a single regular season snap in 2023 due to a hamstring injury.
When asked if he would play this Thursday against the Lions, Watson responded by simply stating “That’s the plan.” This seemed like exciting news that fans and media alike were all over for just a few hours until Green Bay Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur brought the expectations back down to Earth. “He’s got to go through the process, I would say, before anything’s for certain,” LaFleur said. “We’d love to have him out there. If he gets cleared, he’ll be able to go.”
Given that LaFleur has previously shut down the idea that Watson had any setbacks, it certainly seems like he should be on track to play. Given the fact that it’s been about four weeks without any setbacks, an IR designation would have been the best bet if Watson was at all likely to miss four or more games.
What a Christian Watson Return Means for Green Bay
Christian Watson has begun to be overshadowed in his absence. Impressive flashes from Romeo Doubs and Jayden Reed have caused some to question if Watson is the clear WR1 for the Packers. Looking back to training camp and preseason, it has been clear for some time that Love has a ton of chemistry with Watson. We’ve seen perfectly timed back shoulder fades and out routes on the sidelines from number 10 to number 9, and those plays have been missed in this offense.
As much as they have developed chemistry in the pass game, Watson has still been absent from practice for a month, meaning that he probably won’t see a ton of work this week even if he does return. In the long term, Watson offers the upside to be the highly atheltic top wide receiver on this offense. In the short term, as in this week against the Lions, he will help stretch the defense thin in the pass game.
The Lions will likely prepare for Watson’s game breaking speed, allowing the run game and short passing game to flourish. In the event that Detroit doesn’t prepare for Watson, he may end up taking the top off of a secondary that is missing its best coverage player in C.J Gardener Johnson.
The hope remains that Watson makes a return against a divisional opponent, but ultimately he is too valuable an asset to this team. Soft tissue injuries such as the one Watson is dealing with can be tricky, and there is always a risk of setting the recovery process back when things are rushed.——————
Zack is a college student and cheesehead from California. When he’s not in class or writing, you can find him talking about the Packers on Twitter at @Zack_Upchurch.