May 28, 2024

Packers WRs Christian Watson, Dontayvion Wicks, Jayden Reed Out vs. Buccaneers?


The Green Bay Packers’ receiver corps could be extremely shorthanded for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with three of their top four players sidelined.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – It’s early in the week, but the Green Bay Packers might not have three of their top four receivers for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Adding injury to insult, Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks were hurt during Monday night’s loss to the New York Giants.

Paired with receiver Christian Watson being sidelined by a hamstring injury, the Packers’ passing game could be severely underpowered for what might be a must-win game against the Buccaneers.

Wicks suffered an ankle injury during the fourth quarter against the Giants and Reed was being evaluated for a concussion following his failed 2-point run in the final moments of the game. Wicks’ injury could be rather significant, as he said after the game, and concussions are notoriously fickle.

Speaking to reporters at 1 p.m. Tuesday, coach Matt LaFleur said he didn’t have any updates to provide. No doubt their status was on his mind, though, with most of Tuesday dedicated to game-planning for a defense that ranks fifth in opponent passer rating the last three games.

“I think anytime you have more guys that continue to go out, certainly it puts some stress on you,” LaFleur said. “But it’s also an opportunity for other guys. We’ve got other guys in that locker room who would jump at the chance to be out on the field and contribute.”

There are three players who would love more opportunities.

Second-year player Samori Toure, who was inactive for four of the previous five games, was back on the field with Watson inactive and caught 2-of-4 targets for 22 yards. His play merited more snaps, though, as he was in position for two touchdowns.

Early in the fourth quarter, Toure got free in the end zone but Jordan Love was unable to get the ball there in time and led Toure out of bounds. That drive ended in a missed field goal. On the next series, Toure got behind first-round pick Deonte Banks for a potential touchdown on third-and-10 but the pass was underthrown and broken up. The Packers settled for a field goal.

Bo Melton, a seventh-round pick by Seattle last year who has played in one game this season, and Grant Dubose, a seventh-round pick by Green Bay this year who has not played, are on the practice squad. Both players had strong training camps but couldn’t beat out Toure and undrafted free agent Malik Heath for the final roster spots.

Romeo Doubs leads Green Bay with 49 receptions. Then next four players could be out of the lineup: Reed (48 catches), tight end Luke Musgrave (33 catches; injured reserve), Watson (28 catches) and Wicks (25 catches).

Again, it’s early in the week, but who might be Love’s options? Other than Doubs, all the other receivers and tight ends – Tucker Kraft (14 catches) Toure (seven), Heath (seven) and Ben Sims (three) – have combined for 31 catches.

LaFleur has never used injuries as an excuse, but he did say the Packers missed Watson, who had four touchdowns the previous three games. With his elite combination of size and speed, Watson’s ability to create big plays for himself or teammates is hard to replace.

“Anytime you take his speed off the field, I think we all felt that last night,” LaFleur said. “It’ll be great, hopefully sooner than later, to get him back. Musgrave’s another guy. They tilt the field a little bit different. Their vertical speed puts a little added stress on a defense.

“We’ve got other guys in that room that we’re confident with. … You’ve got to run in this game. You can’t have any hesitation in your play. I thought there were times where we were a little hesitant. You can feel that on defense. You can feel when somebody’s not really running. We’ve just got to keep stressing it, and I think our guys will learn from this and be better for it.”

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