GREEN BAY, Wis. — Jordan Love’s first foray as the Green Bay Packers’ full-time starting quarterback will take place without at least one of his top-two receivers.
Speedster Christian Watson was ruled out for Sunday’s regular-season opener at the Chicago Bears due to a hamstring injury, coach Matt LaFleur announced on Friday.
Fellow receiver Romeo Doubs, also dealing with a hamstring, was listed as questionable, but LaFleur indicated it was trending toward Doubs being available on Sunday.
Watson popped up on the injury report this week after making it through training camp without missing a single practice. He even took part in both sessions last week following the preseason opener, so it’s unclear when he sustained the injury.
“Well, we still had a whole week to kind of prepare for this,” LaFleur said Friday. “So I wouldn’t say that would alter the plan too drastically. I think any time you’re missing one of your better players, certainly throws a little curveball to it. But I mean, that happens all the time. Shoot, Chiefs had to deal with that last night.”
LaFleur categorized Watson’s injury as “hopefully just week to week,” meaning injured reserve might not be necessary. Watson would have to miss at least four games if he went on IR.
Last season, Watson missed three games (Weeks 3, 6 and 7) because of a hamstring injury. It’s not known whether this injury is to the same leg as last year. He also missed most of his rookie training camp because of a knee injury.
In 14 games last season, Watson caught 41 passes for 611 yards and seven touchdowns. Two of those were 50-plus yard scores. He also had a pair of rushing touchdowns. Most of that came in the second half of the season. He had seven catches for 52 yards in the first seven games of the season.
The Packers already had one of the youngest receiver groups in the league, with Doubs and Watson as the most experienced despite being in only their second NFL seasons. Now, the receivers will be Doubs (if available), second-year pro Samori Toure (who had just five catches last season), rookie second-round pick Jayden Reed, rookie fifth-round pick Dontayvion Wicks and undrafted rookie Malik Heath and a possibly elevation from the practice squad in Bo Melton and/or Grant DuBose.
“It was another good day,” Doubs said being limited in practice on Friday. “Again, 48 hours away. Just got to keep building up and see where we’re at. So far, so good.”