Sunday, September 25, 2022

Packers send clear message to Rookie ahead of Bucs matchup

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Romeo Doubs could finally make his moment shine when the Green Bay Packers travel to Tampa Bay in Week 3 to take on the Buccaneers.

The Packers were shorthanded at wide receivers all week with Sammy Watkins (hamstring), Allen Lazard (ankle), Christian Watson (hamstring) and Randall Cobb (illness) missing time in practice for one reason or another. The result has been increased reps for guys like Doubs, Amari Rodgers and Samori Toure.

Now Green Bay might still have some of their top guys available – as Lazard and Watson both returned to practice for Friday’s final session – but head coach Matt LaFleur said they don’t make some of those decisions until about “90 minutes before kick-off.” will. at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 25. And anyway, LaFleur made it clear that the Packers will count on Doubs specifically against the Buccaneers.

“We have great faith in him,” LaFleur told reporters Sept. 23. “He’s a guy who, as you can see in training, can run all day. We have no reservations regarding the conditioning. And I think he’s always busy mentally, he’s locked up. Certainly he will have to carry more of a load this week.”

The Packers might have a more prominent role in mind for Doubs with the expectation that they might drop a few receivers against the Buccaneers, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t get his fair share of passing goals in his rookie’s early games Season. The fourth-round pick-out from Nevada was targeted eight times in the Packers’ first two games — more than any other receiver — and secured six receptions for 64 yards. He also moved and caught a carry for a 12-yard gain.

One reason for Doubs’ early success can be attributed in part to the work he put in during training camp when extra reps got his way. Watson – the Packers’ pick for the second round – was sidelined for minor offseason knee surgery, leaving Doubs plenty of opportunities to make his mark and develop a relationship with veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He’s thrived even without Rodgers, catching eight passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns from Jordan Love in the preseason.

Of course, all that matters is what Doubs can do for the Packers when it matters most, like this Sunday against the Buccaneers. While both LaFleur and Rodgers have advocated patience when it comes to rookie receivers, big moments show up big players, and the Packers could have plenty of those against one of the toughest contenders in the NFC. Certainly the sky won’t fall unless Doubs can capitalize, but a good game would set him up for a key role in the future.

The Packers could offer a little more clarity on their receiver expectations in Week 3 when they issue their final injury report Friday afternoon, but LaFleur’s comments about waiting until just before kickoff to make their final decisions give the impression that At least one of the Packers practice team’s two receivers – Juwann Winfree or Travis Fulgham – will be included in the matchday list before Sunday.

Winfree was called up to bolster the receiving corps in the Week 1 opener against Minnesota while Lazard was sidelined with an ankle injury. He only played on nine snaps, but he grabbed a 17-yard reception and was clearly a more trustworthy option for them than Samori Toure (inactive) and Amari Rodgers (zero offensive snaps). The Packers have just two more assigned raises for Winfree before he needs to be brought back to the active roster to play again, but there’s no better time than now.

As for Fulgham, the 27-year-old receiver is far more successful in the NFL than Winfree, having led the Philadelphia Eagles in receiving yards (539) in 2020. However, the Packers don’t seem to trust him as much as Winfree considering they waived him on Tuesday before deciding to bring him back on Thursday due to their injuries. Fulgham may get a raise so the Packers can save one of their two remaining for Winfree, but it seems unlikely unless they both call for Sunday.

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