Hamstring injury makes WR Christian Watson unavailable for Packers' season opener with Bears

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (9) celebrates after catching a 6-yard touchdown pass in the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson won’t play in Sunday’s season opener at Chicago while he deals with a hamstring injury.

The Packers’ injury report Friday ruled Watson out for the Bears game and listed wide receiver Romeo Doubs as questionable.

Watson’s absence means Green Bay won’t have its top returning receiver when Jordan Love begins his first season as the Packers’ starting quarterback.

“We still had a whole week to kind of prepare for this, so I wouldn’t say that would alter the plan too drastically,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think any time you’re missing one of your better players, I mean that certainly throws a little curveball to it. But I mean, that happens all the time. Shoot, the Chiefs had to deal with that last night.”

The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs were playing without four-time All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce in their season-opening 21-20 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thursday night.

LaFleur said Friday that Watson’s injury is “hopefully just a week-to-week” issue.

Love will be making just his second career start after spending the last three seasons backing up four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers, who was traded to the New York Jets in April.

The only other wide receivers on Green Bay’s 53-man roster are 2022 seventh-round pick Samori Toure and rookies Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks and Malik Heath. The Packers lost two veteran receivers in the offseason when Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb joined the Jets, where they’re still catching passes from Rodgers.

Green Bay’s starting tight end is rookie Luke Musgrave. The two tight ends who played the most snaps for Green Bay last season were Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis, who have since signed with the Bears.

Watson also had a hamstring injury last year that caused him to miss three games, though he still caught 41 passes for 611 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for two more scores. Doubs, another second-year pro, had 42 catches for 425 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season despite missing four games with an ankle injury.

Doubs didn't practice Wednesday but worked out on a limited basis Thursday and Friday.

“He looked really good,” LaFleur said.

LaFleur said offensive tackle David Bakhtiari will be available Sunday, even though the 31-year-old hasn’t practiced all week. The Packers have been monitoring Bakhtiari’s workload throughout the preseason because of a previous knee injury.


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