Every player goes into an offseason wanting to get better, but for Green Bay Packers receiver Christian Watson, the path to improving is centered on figuring out how to avoid soft-tissue injuries — especially in his hamstring — and stay on the field in 2024.
Watson missed three games to start the season with a hamstring injury suffered before Week 1 and then five more games to end the regular season after re-injuring the same hamstring on a play against the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 3. As a rookie, a hamstring injury plagued him for over a month and caused him to miss three games.
“I gotta find out what the root of it is. That’s the start and then I’ll be able to formulate a plan around that,” Watson said during Monday’s final locker room availability. “But if I can find out what kind of things can possibly be leading to it, make sure I’m doing the right things in the offseason, doing the right things during OTAs, into training camp, just find ways to make sure I’m doing everything I can to be conscious of it. That’s my number one plan.”
Coach Matt LaFleur said Watson has been working with head athletic trainer Bryan “Flea” Engel to create a plan and execute it this offseason. The goal is for Watson to remain explosive but be more available for the Packers in 2024 and beyond.
“We have a plan, we have a plan in place,” LaFleur said Monday. “I know Flea has been diligent working on that, in terms of going to different places to do all the scans and whatever we need to do. Certainly, Christian is going to be a big part of that process. That’s something we need to figure out. He is an impact player. You see his value when he’s going at full strength, his ability to make plays, explosive plays. We’re better when he’s on the grass.”
Watson scored nine total touchdowns and was a dominant player down the stretch as a rookie. He found the end zone five more times across nine games in 2023, including a three-game stretch before his second injury in which he scored four times.
Getting over the hamstring injuries could allow Watson to become a consistently dominant player for the Packers in 2024. His size and speed help make him a force, both down the field and on manufactured touches. With a full season of availability, Watson could transform into a legitimate No. 1 receiver next season.
“It’s huge. I’m trying to stay in the right spot mentally,” Watson said. “I don’t want to let it consume my life, but everyone says your availability is your best ability, so I’ve got to find a way to stay out there. I think I’m my best when I’m able to find my rhythm, find my groove and continue to build on it. So being out, being back, being out, being back, I don’t think it’s right for anybody, but I definitely know it’s not right for me to play my best ball. I just gotta find a way to be out there and stay out there.”
Watson isn’t yet sure if it’s a strength or flexibility issue. As a lean, explosive, long-striding athlete, he’s hoping to discover the right ways to lessen the stress on the hamstring.
“I don’t necessarily know if it’s a strength thing anywhere. I could be flexibility. I know for a fact that my hamstrings are strong. I know I’m a strong guy, I’m a lean guy. I’ve just got to find ways to take pressure off one spot and let it all work together. That’s what I’m going to figure out.”
Quotes obtained by Packers Wire contributor Paul Bretl were used in this post.