Packers Hopeful Hamstring Issues Are Behind WR Chrisitan Watson

The Green Bay Packers are hoping that wide receiver Christian Watson can put his hamstring issues behind him. The 2022 second round pick out of North Dakota State struggled last season with hamstring problems and only played in nine games. In some of the games he did play, he was on a play count and wasn’t able to play a full game.

Watson has proven to be a difference maker when he’s on the field. His speed and ability to stretch the field not only allows him to make big plays. He also creates space for teammates when defenses have to respect his speed.

Watson appeared in 14 games as a rookie in 2022 and caught 41 passes for 611 yards and seven touchdowns. He had a slow start after dropping what appeared to be sure touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had difficulty trusting Watson who needed to improve his route running and the consistency of his hands.

In Week 10 against the Cowboys, Watson enjoyed a breakout game. He caught four passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the season strong, going over 100 yards receiving a total of three times and scoring nine total touchdowns.

The hamstring injuries really slowed him down last season. He missed the first three games of the season and missed eight games altogether. Watson’s overall numbers declined to 28 catches for 422 yards and five touchdowns. When he was on the field and healthy, he was just as dangerous as ever, but keeping him healthy and on the field became a challenge.  

On Thanksgiving Day against the Lions, Watson was finally healthy and caught five passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. The following week against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs, Watson caught seven balls for 71 yards and two scores. However, late in the game, he reinjured his hamstring when he stopped short to stay in bounds as the Packers were trying to run out the clock.

Watson was able to return for the two postseason games in January, but he was again limited. He caught two passes total in the two games for a total of 20 yards.

When the season ended, the Packers announced they were sending Watson and cornerback Eric Stokes to see a hamstring specialist in Madison. The hope was this would reduce the chances of another hamstring injury occurring in the future.

Passing game coordinator Jason Vrable addressed the media on Friday and gave an update on Watson.

“He went down and saw all the specialists and did everything the training staff has done, and they’ve done a tremendous job,” Vrable told reporters. “He’s in a great place right now.”

The plan going forward includes increased communication designed to prevent further injuries.

“I just say, ‘Hey, if there’s ever a day you maybe feel fatigued or run down from multiple days in a row, just give me a heads up and let me know so we’re more on the same page.’ Everybody thinks a young player should just be able to run for days. The difference in him is that when he’s running, he’s hitting 21 miles per hour multiple days in a row. For whatever reason, we just had some unfortunate circumstances where he’s had the injuries.”

The Packers know if they can keep Watson on the field, they may have the number one receiver they’ve been lacking since they traded Davante Adams to the Raiders after the 2021 season.  

“I said it last year: we’re a better team when he’s out on the field and I think everybody knows that around this building. He’s had a great offseason. He’s in great spirits,” Vrable added.

If Watson is fully healthy in 2024, the Packers deep receiving corps can take another big step forward.

While there’s still a long way to go before Week 1 in Brazil, head coach Matt LaFleur was also optimistic about Watson at this point in the offseason.

“He looks great,” LaFleur said after the draft. “He’s had a really good start to the offseason. We’ve just got to keep it going that way.”

That will be the key to keeping Watson healthy and productive in 2024 and to unleashing his formidable talent.

 

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9 points
 

Comments (37)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
splitpea1's picture

May 11, 2024 at 12:35 pm

The proof will be in the pudding, not just for this season, but beyond. I'm not saying I'm totally skeptical about all this, but things like "increased communication" seem to be a bit dubious. The player simply has to prove he can stay on the field and be available for the majority of the time...The Packers are fortunate to be in a position where their receiving options are plentiful and can use a "number one by committee" approach.

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Guam's picture

May 12, 2024 at 07:23 am

And not just Watson. Alexander and Stokes have also endured many missed games over the past two seasons and that is three key players for the Packers that have had availability issues. With those three on the field, the Packers will be a dangerous team - without them success is still possible but much harder to achieve.

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Turophile's picture

May 11, 2024 at 01:13 pm

Might work for Watson, might not work and might be somewhere in-between (ie better, but still with some issues). i hope he can overcome those hammy problems and show what he can do consistently - he has a very rare talent to be special.

This is talk to pass time, time. Months and months of speculation, bold statements, reviews of old games and poring over minor happenings. Roll on August, when it begins to get real (not to mention September, when the rubber actually hits the road).

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vin0770's picture

May 11, 2024 at 01:17 pm

Ya so what have they done different? Better communication so? What have they done to strengthen and lessen the likelihood of repeat problems? Article says nothing.

Is he a Ferrari in the frozen tundra and they need a 4WD? I think he’s glass and I hope I’m way wrong! He’s a difference maker and you need those guys desperately.

3 points
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DoubleJ's picture

May 11, 2024 at 08:46 pm

" What have they done to strengthen and lessen the likelihood of repeat problems?"

Strength isn't the problem. Unless Watson says what the doctors told him we will probably never know what the treatment is.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

May 11, 2024 at 01:23 pm

Perhaps some players are just injury prone while others are not. For example Tyreek Hill, the very speedy and high paid receiver for the Miami Dolphins played in 16 games last year while Christin Watson for the Packers missed around eight games. Both fast players, but unless we can get Watson on the field more, his true value to the team diminishes. I hope the problem is not that he is just one of those players who is injury prone.

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DoubleJ's picture

May 11, 2024 at 08:53 pm

Hill is also 5'8 while Watson is 6'4. The additional height makes a big difference for possible hamstring issues

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

May 11, 2024 at 11:27 pm

I have no idea if height is a factor or not. I know some of us are born with the quick twitch muscles that will make our legs go faster and others, like me, are not so blessed. Both Watson and Hill can run like the wind. I also think that the slower of us are somewhat less likely to have hamstring issues. Take it for what it's worth, which may be nothing.

What is your source for the height difference being a factor?

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Oppy's picture

May 12, 2024 at 11:05 pm

I don't want to put words into anyone's mouth, but I'll go ahead and answer this question: Source:: Physics

Longer limbs = greater distance between force and fulcrum = greater leverage, greater leverage = more stress on joints and ligaments.

It's clearly not the end-all, be-all of "why", but there's little question it can be a contributing factor. There will always be short, compact guys who struggle with soft tissue issues and long, lanky guys who don't- genetics, diet, flexibility, training etc and so forth all contribute, but taller, longer limbed athletes definitely have at least one factor working against them more than their smaller counterparts do.

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Gman1976's picture

May 11, 2024 at 01:41 pm

Someone once said, "The best ability is availability." It couldn't more true in Watson's case.

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HarryHodag's picture

May 12, 2024 at 08:34 am

Truer words were never spoken.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 12, 2024 at 02:17 pm

Meh. I'd rather have a great player for 10 games than a crappy one for 17.

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crayzpackfan's picture

May 13, 2024 at 08:48 am

"Meh. I'd rather have a great player for 10 games than a crappy one for 17."

Especially when that great players hammy decides those 10 games are the first 10 games and not the last 7 or the playoffs. I mean, who needs a dependable great player when it really matters, right?

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TKWorldWide's picture

May 11, 2024 at 01:44 pm

Did they discover some kind of causal factor?

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Wildcomet's picture

May 12, 2024 at 01:59 pm

I feel like I remember a social media comment by Watson's Dad a while back saying something about the specialist finding a muscle imbalance in his lower back that was in turn putting more stress on his hamstrings to compensate or something like that.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 12, 2024 at 02:23 pm

I didn't hear what they found but they sent Watson and Stokes to some specialist at UW Madison and they said there was an issue that they thought could be causing his problems. Never heard anything on Stokes.

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Oppy's picture

May 12, 2024 at 11:12 pm

I thought Stokes ended up with something similar to a LisFranc sprain- or that he actually fractured his foot-in 2022 and upon his return his aggravation of the hammy was directly related to compensating for the foot not quite being right yet.

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canadapacker's picture

May 11, 2024 at 02:02 pm

I just hope that the Packers invest some time and effort in getting their training staff up to speed on all the nuances of offseason and preseason training. And follow that up with close monitoring and testing during training camp. Hamstrings effect not only that season but also the likelihood of a longer career. So all the modern research and technology needs to be utilized to keep these players healthy. The speedier the player the more likely the issue and this must not be overlooked """" Exercise is a key strategy to reduce the hamstring injury incidence, being programs based on eccentric strength mainly by means of Nordic hamstring exercise, and on stability training, those programs which reported greater effectiveness. from NIL Injury prevention of hamstring injuries through exercise interventions""" It appears over the past few seasons that our training staff is somewhat behind the curve and just tells the coaches not to play players and seems to be behind other teams in getting injured players back on the field. My opinion - may be wrong - but one must never leave a stone unturned in looking for the betterment of the team,.

2 points
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PatrickGB's picture

May 11, 2024 at 03:52 pm

I have hamstring issues (but I’m no athlete) and I thought that stretches were the answer. Not so, said my physical therapist. They are only part of the larger issue. I’m glad that we have sent these players to real experts.

7 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

May 11, 2024 at 08:01 pm

For sure. When you look at these guys as not only elite athletes but also as multi-million dollar investments, they’ve got to find a solution. Other teams have fast players too. No stone unturned IN INK..

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Oppy's picture

May 12, 2024 at 11:17 pm

Wait until the Packers finally face the possibility that our seemingly 'bad luck' with soft tissue injuries might be related to the playing surface itself.

DD Grassmaster (or any of its other trade names) was at one time under the microscope in professional football (soccer). There were a number of critical articles about it. I had read them wekk over a decade ago. Those articles are seemingly nowhere to be found anymore (hmmm..) but it has made me wonder if Lambeau Field itself (and Nitschke field) isn't in some way potentially contributing to the issue.

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vin0770's picture

May 11, 2024 at 04:48 pm

I fear that if he get another hamstring this year his chances for a future second contract with the Pack is greatly reduced. If he gets another one what would you do? I can’t see them spending good money on a partial participant.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

May 12, 2024 at 09:42 am

This is reasonable.

Some have said cut him, which is not reasonable on his rookie contract.

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GregC's picture

May 11, 2024 at 04:13 pm

Oops--had to move my comment to the Cory thread.

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HarryHodag's picture

May 12, 2024 at 08:39 am

While the article points out the positives when Watson was on the field, take note that positive things happened when he was OFF the field. The offense continued to move.

I have nothing against Watson personally, but availability is crucial. Injuries will happen. But chronic injuries raise a red flag. If he pulls a hammy this season and is out an extended period the Packers should look at their options. A healthy receiver with less talent is better to have than a talented receiver in rehab.

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Leatherhead's picture

May 12, 2024 at 10:41 am

Harry, I think we have an abundance of healthy receivers with less talent.

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PackerBackerAZ's picture

May 12, 2024 at 11:10 am

I'll take Watson, Doubs, Reed, Wicks, Melton and Heath over any other receiver room in the NFL. The problem with that many good receivers is their lack of individual production due to the snaps being spread around. That does, however, create a problem for defenses since they aren't able to concentrate on only two or three.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 12, 2024 at 03:14 pm

If it makes easier to sign a couple of them to 2nd contracts it's not a problem at all.

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Oppy's picture

May 12, 2024 at 11:20 pm

It could also make it harder to sign a couple of them to 2nd contracts as well.
Sometimes players want to play for a team where they have more opportunity to showcase themselves.

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Leatherhead's picture

May 12, 2024 at 10:39 am

It's been two years, and we have him under contract for two more years. The WR unit is well-stocked this year, and if we want to put three healthy,dangerous WRs in the pattern we can, with or without Watson.

He changes things just by being on the field. Secondaries pay attention him. But he has to stay avail-able, or he isn't much value to us or anybody else. Hamstrings are not insoluble problems. I'm sure that whatever treatment was involved included diet and stretching. Lots of stretching.

Look, I'd like to have him as our #1 this year, but if he's our #3 or #5, I can live with that because we have Doubs and Reed and Wicks and Melton. He catches TDs. He's shown he's good at that. It's a useful skill.

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cdoemel's picture

May 13, 2024 at 08:31 pm

I don’t believe Watson is heads and shoulders more talented than a few other guys. Specifically, Doubs, Reed, Wicks and Melton are every bit as capable imo. Different players for different situations, but every bit as effective. And Melton and Reed have the speed to take defenders upfield every bit as effectively as Watson. 

Melton 40 4.34. Watson 40 4.36. Reed 40 4.37. Doubs 40 4.47. Wicks 40 4.62.

And we’ve seen that Doubs and Reed play fast.

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LambeauPlain's picture

May 12, 2024 at 01:15 pm

Watson was not afflicted with injuries in College and was available. Another 2nd round pick, CB Casey Hayward had some early hamstring problems his sophomore season as a Packer too. But he returned strong the put the hamstring worries in the review mirror.

I still am amazed Ted did not "offer" Hayward after his rookie K. The Chargers were delighted to get their future Pro Bowl CB.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

May 12, 2024 at 03:13 pm

2x Second team, All-Pro. Low Ball was in on the no deal offering. Book it.

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Oppy's picture

May 12, 2024 at 11:29 pm

I'm no fan of Russ Ball, but I believe the Packers had a history of not initially offering to many players- particularly young players after their first contracts expired- and allowing them to 'test the market' to see what their true value was, before then deciding whether they could match or best the going rate.

I believe TT thought it was often the fair and honest approach to contracts- If a young player is looking for big(ger) money, allow them to test the waters and then the player has a real idea what they're worth, and the team can make a fair offer, or decide to let them go on to greener pastures if the Packers couldn't give them an offer in the same ball park.

Unfortunately, I also believe that TT didn't understand / relate well to others' emotions sometimes- and it probably never occurred to him that not making an offer right away and/or never communicating with the player before allowing them to talk to other teams may be perceived as not caring or not wanting to keep the player.

I really believe Hayward was a guy that TT was planning on making a counter-offer to keep on the Packers after he poked around the league and got a sense of what the league was offering, but TT never gave Casey any indication of his motives and Casey took it as a 'diss' and never looked back.

Just my gut feeling on that specific (lack of a) transaction.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 12, 2024 at 03:21 pm

Watson missed FCS playoff games as a Senior with Hamstring problems so it's not new.

1 points
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Starrbrite's picture

May 15, 2024 at 02:17 am

I’m a NDSU Bison fan; I’ve been telling folks his hamstring issues aren’t new.

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Starrbrite's picture

May 12, 2024 at 03:27 pm

I love Watson, although I would have agreed with the trade for the Colts RB Taylor. But I’m happy we still have him, plus we now have acquired Jacobs, who I believe is close to Taylor in ability.
Moreover, if Watson suffer some additional hammy injuries, we’ve proven we’re in good shape at the receiver position.
Go Packers!!!

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