No timeline for Packers' rookie receiver Christian Watson's return from knee surgery

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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GREEN BAY – There’s no specific timetable for Green Bay Packers second-round pick Christian Watson to return to the practice field and so the clock is ticking on when he can start preparing for the Green Bay Packers' regular season.

Watson said Thursday he decided it was best to have his right knee scoped after organized team activities ended in June because he had been dealing with some nagging soreness during those practices and it wasn’t going away.

“I couldn’t exactly tell you what was wrong,” said Watson, the No. 2 pick in the second round whom the Packers traded up to get. “Something wasn’t right. I talked to my agent, talked to the training staff here and it was just best for me to kind of go in there and clean it out.

“Obviously, nothing serious. It’s something that would just benefit me in the long term and the short term in terms of (it) being something I could easily get taken care of and still be able to come back.”

The question is when.

Watson did get in a lot of work during the offseason but very little of it was with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose only appearance was in the June minicamp. The early days of training camp are a recap of everything the team worked on during the offseason but there’s still a matter of developing timing with his quarterback.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (9) signs his autograph for fans before practice during Packers training camp on Thursday, July 28, 2022, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin.

“There’s not really a timeline for me right now,” he said. “I’m not really worried about it either. I’m kind of just attacking my rehab, staying really day by day. I’m trying to get incremental gains every day in terms of how it’s feeling, how I’m feeling about progressing in my rehab and everything.

“I’m just hoping to be back as soon as I can.”

Watson said it’s tough for him to watch from the sidelines when he’s done rehabbing because he knows how important it is for him to be on the field. But he said if he’s making progress in recovery, the prospect of returning doesn’t seem so far away.

He is still attending all the meetings and taking mental reps while watching practice, so he’s hopeful he’ll be able to pick up where he left off in OTAs once he returns.

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“If I was out there, obviously, I’d be getting the physical reps, but being off the field I’m getting even more mental reps and seeing exactly what I would do, see the defense, see what my plan of action would be on that play.”

Offensive line changes continue

The shuffle on the offensive line continued with Yosh Nijman moving from left tackle to right tackle and rookie Zach Tom moving into the starting lineup at left tackle.

Coach Matt LaFleur doesn’t know when starting left tackle David Bakhtiari will be back from a new knee surgery, and he’s making sure that the rookie Tom is getting plenty of work at the position. Nijman started out at left tackle, but he’s also expected to compete at right tackle, so where players line up is a day-to-day thing.

With Nijman moving to right tackle, Royce Newman, who played right tackle Wednesday, moved to right guard, the position he played last season.

Jake Hanson, who started at right guard on the first day of practice, was playing center with the second team.

Aaron Jones lends rookie Quay Walker a hand

Running back Aaron Jones followed rookie linebacker Quay Walker all the way to the defense’s side of the field after a play just to tell him how well he played his coverage.

Jones ran a “rub” route out of the backfield where Walker had to decide whether to come up aggressively to cover Jones or wait patiently to see what he did. Earlier in the offseason, the first-round pick made the wrong decision and Jones felt he should know he played it perfectly.

“That's the way you want to play that,” Jones said. “And I told him what we're kind of trying to do. We're expecting them to kind of undercut that route so we can get the throw over the top and to expect that.”

Jones said the discussion led to a further breakdown of how the play might turn out based on Walker’s reaction. It was a veteran taking extra time to help a rookie on the other side of the ball.

“Just giving back to the game,” Jones said. “He’s a young guy. So, just helping him. I’m an open book and I want to help everybody here and I want them to help me as well. That’s how you get better.”

Lafleur unsure if Aaron Rodgers will play in the preseason

There are 15 days between when the Packers play their last preseason game against Kansas City on Aug. 26 and the season opener at Minnesota on Sept. 11, so LaFleur may want to give his starters a little tune-up before preparations for the Vikings go into full gear. That could include Rodgers, who hasn't played in an exhibition game since 2018.

"I think that's up for discussion,” LaFleur said. “So that's not something that he and I have talked about at this point, but certainly, again, everything's fluid right now."

Packers sign receiver Ishmael Hyman

The Packers have signed Ishmael Hyman (6-0, 196), who began his professional career with the Orlando Apollos of the AAF in 2019. Following the conclusion of that spring season, Hyman signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spent the majority of his rookie season on the Bucs' practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster for two games late in the 2019 season. He went on to spend the 2020 season with the Carolina Panthers on their practice squad. He was waived after the 2021 training camp and spent the past year with the Michigan Panthers of the USFL. During his time with Michigan, Hyman had15 receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Packers are down several receivers in training camp due to injuries. NFL clubs must be down to 85 players by Aug. 16, then 80 players on Aug. 23 and finally, the 53-man roster by Aug. 30. 

Ryan Wood and Kassidy Hill contributed to this report.

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