Until we see these Packers receivers in action for several weeks – and that may not be enough time – there are going to be question marks about this unit.
However, Sammy Watkins is going to be entering the regular season on the right foot after finishing out the last few weeks of training camp on a high note.
As quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday, Watkins has been reliable and making plays in bunches as of late:
“I’ll tell you what: Every since the Saints practice, the first one, Sammy has been a different player,” said Rodgers. “He’s been super reliable. Every practice he’s made a bunch of plays. Today, made a bunch of plays again.”
The issue with Watkins throughout his career has been staying on the field. His rookie season in 2014 was the only year that he appeared in every regular season game. Since 2020, he has played in only 23 games out of a possible 33 in the regular season.
Yet when on the field, Watkins has still been relatively productive. Just last season with Baltimore, he averaged nearly 15 yards per catch. In 2019 with Kansas City, Watkins was targeted 105 times in the regular season and the playoffs and totaled 961 yards, including 98 in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win.
During 2018 and 2020, Watkins’ overall numbers weren’t as impressive as the aforementioned seasons, but he was efficient, catching just under 73% of 121 total targets over those two years, according to PFF.
In this Packers’ offense, Watkins will provide an experienced boundary presence for Rodgers to lean on, who can also win downfield. The only other receiver on this Packers roster who has NFL experience and can play outside is Allen Lazard, although he is at his best when playing from the slot.
Over this summer, we’ve seen the emergence of Romeo Doubs, with second-round pick Christian Watson continuing to get acclimated. While both will certainly see playing time and targets, Rodgers made it clear during minicamp that he prefers production over potential.
Although it’s going to be difficult keeping Doubs off the field with how well he has performed in the preseason, at least early on in the year, expect Rodgers to rely on his veteran pass catchers, Watkins, Lazard, and Randall Cobb, because of that trust factor.
As we all know, having Rodgers’ trust is important when it comes to consistently getting the ball. That not only means catching the passes that come your way but also being in the right spot at the right time and making last-second adjustments at the line of scrimmage, whether those cues are signaled verbally or non-verbally.
Watkins came to Green Bay with some clout because of his past success, which includes over 5,000 career receiving yards, but especially over the last few weeks, he has built upon that rapport with Rodgers by making plays when given the chance. This will lead to more opportunities in the regular season.
For this Green Bay Packers offense to be at its best in 2022, they’ll need a healthy and productive Sammy Watkins on the field.