Packers rookie Christian Watson to miss time during training camp

Green Bay Packers rookie receiver Christian Watson won’t be on the field for the start of training camp while he recovers from an injury situation.

General manager Brian Gutekunst said the Packers decided to get ahead of the undisclosed injury instead of waiting to deal with the issue after Watson’s rookie season, but he also said he isn’t expecting Watson to miss much time during training camp.

“Christian was one of those, we came out of OTAs, there was a thought process, do we want to try and push through the season and finish this after the 2022 season, or should we go ahead and do it now? We just did it now,” Gutekunst said. “He’ll miss a little bit of time here in camp, but nothing long term.”

The Packers used the 34th overall pick in the 2022 draft on Watson, the team’s highest-drafted receiver since Javon Walker in 2002. He will start training camp on the PUP list, and Gutekusnt wasn’t comfortable putting on an exact timeline for his return to the field.

“We’re not going to put any timelines on it,” Gutekunst said. “He’s a young player, when we invest what we invested in Christian, we’re obviously looking out for the long term. We always do. He’s a young player with a big career ahead of him, so we want to make sure we protect that. It’ll be about how he responds through the rehab. As soon as he’s ready, we’ll get him out there.”

The Packers traded a pair of second-round picks to move up to get Watson, one of the best athletes in the entire 2022 draft.

While missing time with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense during training camp isn’t a promising development for a rookie receiver, Watson getting healthy now instead of laboring through his first season with a lingering injury is preferable.

The Packers are hoping Watson, who is 6-4 and runs under 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, can add a dangerous vertical element to the offense while also providing a versatile playmaker with the ball in his hands.

Gutekunst did provide a promising update on veteran receiver Sammy Watkins, who is dealing with a minor injury and should be back on the field soon.

“Very short term thing,” Gutekunst said.

Watkins is currently on the non-football injury list but can come off the list and return to practice at any time.