Watson ‘In Good Spot’ After Healthy Offseason

The final tests will come during training camp and the regular season, but Green Bay Packers receiver Christian Watson is optimistic about his hamstring and the state of a deep receiver corps.
Green Bay Packers receiver Christian Watson goes through a ball-security drill during an offseason practice.
Green Bay Packers receiver Christian Watson goes through a ball-security drill during an offseason practice. / Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – While Christian Watson’s first two seasons in the NFL were filled with frustration, the potential-packed receiver is heading home following Green Bay Packers minicamp filled with optimism. Capped by Wednesday’s final practice of minicamp, Watson got through the offseason without any issues.

“I put a lot of time and effort into trying to get my body right and it’s been going in the right direction, so I can’t complain,” Watson told Packer Central at the end of minicamp.

Watson missed 11 games during his first two seasons because of injuries to his right hamstring that sidelined him on three occasions. Frequent visits with a specialist at the University of Wisconsin found the underlying problems, which Watson has attacked.

Are his troubles behind him?

“It’s an ongoing thing. I don’t think you can ever say that you’ve got something perfectly figured out when it comes to the body,” Watson said. “It’s a violent sport, so stuff happens all the time but, in terms of my mindset, I’m just trying to get myself going in the right direction and I think I did that, so definitely in a good spot with it mentally.”

If Watson is able to get on the field and stay on the field, an explosive offense could be ready to drop a bomb across the entire NFL.

In 2022 and 2023, 83 receivers caught at least 60 passes. Watson ranked 14th in that group with 15.0 yards per reception. With an elite combination of size and speed, he’s a big play waiting to happen. Plus, because of his field-stretching ability and proven blocking, the Packers averaged 0.75 yards more per rushing attempt with Watson on the field than when on the sideline last year. That was No. 1 in that aforementioned group of 14 receivers.

“That guy running at you, that can be scary,” fellow receiver Jayden Reed said.

The problem is Watson’s frequent absences have made it difficult for him to find his groove. It’s always taken him time to deliver one of those breakout games. The hope is Watson can be on the field throughout training camp so he can be an impact player from the jump.

“That’s definitely always the goal,” he said. “My goal is to be out there and be playing. I feel like when I’m out there and I’m playing and I’m able to get that rhythm, then I’m able to make an impact out there. So, yeah, that’s definitely the goal. Obviously, I never want to be out but sometimes that stuff happens. You have to find a way to overcome that and find a way to be out there the whole season.”

This offseason, with one star receiver after another signing monster contracts, one theme has been whether the Packers have a No. 1 receiver. Watson has heard the talk and agreed that it’s mostly fantasy-football banter.

Green Bay’s offense was as good as any in the NFL down the stretch last season without that so-called alpha receiver. All of those receivers are back for 2024.

“I don’t really think into that stuff too much. I don’t really think that needs to be a thing,” Watson said. “In my eyes, and I’m sure in all of our eyes, we’re all a No. 1 receiver in our own eyes. I don’t really think that, in Green Bay especially, I don’t think we ever think of having a No. 1 or No. 2.

“We all just try to be the best versions of ourselves when we’re out there. I think that we put in the work every day for every single one of us to be able to do everything if our number is called. Our No. 1 goal is just to, regardless of who’s out there, we’re going to be able to get the job done and make plays. I think that we’re definitely able to do that and we’ve got some depth. Whoever is out there on the field is going to be able to make plays regardless of who it is.”

The phrase “some depth” is a bit of an understatement. The Packers have an incredible amount of depth. Maybe a healthy Watson will become that No. 1 receiver. Maybe it’ll be Reed. Or Romeo Doubs. Maybe the Packers have a room full of No. 2s.

Whatever, the No. 1 in the receiver corps is the cumulative depth that has the potential to overwhelm most, if not all, secondaries.

“Yeah, exactly,” Watson said. “Whoever is out there, if they decide to make one of us the priority, then someone else is going to get fed. That’s exactly how we like it and that’s exactly how we’re going to be successful is to be able to spread the ball around and everyone’s going to be able to make plays.”

No receiver on the roster is capable of making more big plays than Watson, who has six of the team’s 16 plays of 40-plus yards the last two seasons. When healthy, he is as explosive as any player in the NFL. As for the hamstring asymmetry discovered by the UW specialists, Watson will go to Madison for a checkup but otherwise will attack it on his own.

“It’s something that I kind of understand what the root of the problem – the bigger problem is – and I’ve kind of just been correcting myself and with the training staff and strength staff,” he said.

More Green Bay Packers News

Packers Minicamp: Minicamp ends day early | Preston Smith on scheme, sacks | Four INTs for Sean Clifford | Carrington Valentine adds muscle | MarShawn Lloyd triple threatZayne Anderson stars at minicamp | Injury updates | Jordan Love ready for season | Eric Stokes has a lot to prove

Latest news: Keisean Nixon on Jeff Hafley | Power rankings | Five to watch at training camp | PFF’s reason for optimism | Rich Eisen’s Top 10 | One of worst backup QBs | Breakout starToo many INTs to Christian Watson | X-factor and rookie to watch



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Bill Huber

BILL HUBER

Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: packwriter2002@yahoo.com History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: https://twitter.com/BillHuberNFL Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and PackerReport.com. In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.