After dropping sure TD pass, Packers rookie receiver Christian Watson vows 'that is a play I am going to make 99 times out of 100'
MINNEAPOLIS – Before his career is over, Green Bay Packers rookie receiver Christian Watson will have a chance to catch another long touchdown pass.
He just may never have a better one.
Coach Matt LaFleur said he inserted a deep ball to Watson into the game plan two days ago and planned to use it on the very first play from scrimmage.
It couldn’t have gone to plan any better, except for the fact it went right through Watson’s hands, eliciting a collective sigh of relief among 60,000-plus Vikings fans expecting the worst. He was almost five yards past veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson and with his speed would have cruised into the end zone for a 75-yard score had he caught it.
“I just know that is a play I am going to make 99 times out of 100,” Watson said of his first NFL snap. “I would have been 100 out of 100 if it was not for today. It’s just a play that I know I can make and going forward I am going to make that play every single time.
“I just got to understand that I know what I am capable of and I know what the standard is.”
Watson didn’t play in any preseason games because of arthroscopic knee surgery he had after the offseason conditioning program ended. He began practicing on a very limited basis on Aug. 14 and then a week later started in with team drills.
He’s had plenty of practice time with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and so the expectation was the second-round pick would come through. The Packers hadn’t seen a big dose of the drops that many scouts knocked him for during his time at North Dakota State.
“We knew there was going to be growing pains,” Rodgers said. “This is real football. It counts. It's different. There's nerves. I thought Christian ran a great route to start the game. We talked about it during the week, do you really want to start off with a bomb shot?
“I said, ‘What the hell, yeah, why not, this kid can really fly, let's give him a chance.’ I was teasing Patrick (Peterson) after the game that we got him. He said, ‘Yeah, I wasn't quite warmed up yet.' But we've got to make those plays. But those are going to happen.”
Peterson said he was not ready for the Packers to test him deep with a rookie on the first play and from that point on, he got a good feel for how LaFleur was going to use him the rest of the game. Watson played a fair amount of snaps, but he spent more time blocking — which he did very well — than catching passes.
He finished with two catches on four targets for 34 yards.
“I was playing for a shorter route,” Peterson said of the first Watson attempt. “Then as the game started going on, I started seeing correlation. Anytime he started lining up with the tight end’s side, it was typically deeper routes and when two receivers lined up on both sides, it was more of the dagger, slant, laser route coming at you.”
Watson got some tough love after the missed opportunity. In the NFL, those kinds of chances don’t come often and his teammates let him know he needs to make those. He said he also got a lot of support.
“I know those guys have my back 100%,” he said. “I know what I am capable of and they know what I am capable of as well. It is just good to know that they are going to hold me to that standard as well. When I need a kick to get going again, I know they will give it to me. That makes me want to go out and be great for them.”