Christian Watson and Keisean Nixon don't practice, but work with Packers trainers as they recover from injuries; Aaron Rodgers returns

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur thought he was going to have receiver Christian Watson (hip) and kick returner/cornerback Keisean Nixon (groin) for practice Thursday, but it turned out they spent another day working on the side with the training staff.

Neither of the two practiced Wednesday, but LaFleur said in his news conference before practice that he expected them to practice on a limited basis Thursday.

Instead, Watson took part in team stretch while Nixon loosened up off to the side and when the team exited the Don Hutson Center after the stretch, Watson stayed inside and Nixon went out and worked on agility drills with a trainer. Reporters aren't able to see what players are doing inside the Don Hutson Center once practice starts so it's not clear how much Watson did.

However, he said after practice that he was feeling better every day and that he'd still like to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings if he's not 100%.

"I would obviously like to be at 100%," he said. "Obviously, me you know, utilizing my speed is a big part of my game. But you know, I'm sure 80% is still still pretty good."

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who sat out practice Wednesday to nurse thumb and knee injuries, returned to practice. Tight end Marcedes Lewis took his normal vet rest day off.

Normally, the Packers practice in pads on Thursdays, but due to the collective bargaining agreement, they’re limited to 14, and LaFleur has used them all up. Regardless, it would have been a good opportunity to get both players some active work on the game plan had they practiced.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson fends off a tackle attempt from Miami Dolphins safety Jevon Holland.

Both Watson and Nixon bowed out in the first half of the 26-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Watson remained on the sideline in pads and appeared like he was ready to go back into the game. But he was held out and spent the past three days doing rehab.

"I was I was hoping that that it would calm down a little bit," said Watson, who has become a vital part of the offense the second half of the season. "I definitely got to the point where I knew it kind of wasn't going to (go back in). It wasn't like serious enough for me to look into it too much. It's really just something I've tried to get to calm down a little bit."

Nixon said Wednesday that he felt tightness as the first half wore on and the medical staff immediately sidelined him for the game. He said he hoped the fact the injury was not allowed to get worse by continuing playing may help him this week.

He said there was no timeline on his return and would see how he felt.

The Packers have a full practice Friday and a walk-through Saturday and given they are playing against the Minnesota Vikings in what is essentially a must-win, both players will be given every chance to show they’re ready.

LaFleur will also be looking closely at left tackle David Bakhtiari, who returned to practice Wednesday following an appendectomy Dec. 4.

He said the decision on whether Bakhtiari will play will depend on how the veteran says he feels and what his practice tape looks like. Because right tackle Yosh Nijman (stinger) returned to practice Wednesday, the Packers aren’t in as dire straits and could go with rookie Zach Tom for a fourth straight week if Bakhtiari isn’t ready.

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