Packers are 'cautiously optimistic' about Christian Watson's status for Buffalo

Kassidy Hill
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY − The Green Bay Packers are remaining “cautiously optimistic” when it comes to rookie receiver Christian Watson (hamstring) and his ability to play Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.  

"He's gotten through two practices," coach Matt LaFleur said before Friday's practice. "We'll see how he does today. I would say I'm cautiously optimistic."

Watson was participating in stretch again Friday during the portion open to the media and exited to practice with the team. When the Packers injury report came out in the afternoon, Watson was listed as questionable after being limited in practice.

Three others were listed as questionable: left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee), outside linebacker Rashan Gary (concussion) and guard Elgton Jenkins (knee/foot). Bakhtiari and Jenkins were limited Friday and Gary was a full participant, a good indication that he'll be cleared to play Sunday.

Wide receiver Allen Lazard (shoulder) and cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles (ankle) are both out. Jean-Charles said this week that he suffered a low-grade high ankle sprain and was waiting for swelling to go down so he could undergo further tests and get a better idea how long he might be out.

The addition of Watson to the lineup this week could be crucial given the current state of the Packers wide receiver corps. Green Bay is without Randall Cobb (ankle) who is on injured reserve, has only had Sammy Watkins (hamstring) back for one week off of IR and will be without Lazard for at least this week as he told reporters on Thursday. 

“There’s always worry when there’s not a full understanding or sort of diagnostic of what it is,” Lazard said Thursday of his left shoulder, which he injured during the third quarter of the loss to Washington. "But knowing my body and everything, in that moment I wasn’t too stressed out or anything. I mean, I tried to play. So I knew obviously I could bear through the pain and everything. As time kept going, it’s just like, ‘That’s probably not the best thing to do.’”

With Lazard and Cobb out, the Packers need Watson's deep threat and speed, but LaFleur said they won't push the rookie who's dealt with multiple hamstring injuries while adjusting to the speed of the NFL.

"We certainly do need him, but you're not gonna treat it any differently than if those guys were available," LaFleur said Friday. "That's not fair to the player or to our team. And especially with kind of his history so far, we want to make sure he's good to go before we put him out there."

Gary left Sunday's game against Washington with a possible concussion and has remained in concussion protocol this week. However he was able to participate in all three days of practice, including Thursday's workout in pads.

LaFleur met with team athletic trainer Bryan Engel on Friday morning for confirmation that Gary would be cleared.

"I met with Flea (Engel) this morning at 7 a.m. and there was still another box he had to check," LaFleur said. "I have not gotten that update yet but it's trending that way. So we'll see where he's at."

Staff writer Tom Silverstein contributed to this story.

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