Sammy Watkins’ Green Bay Goal: A Career Change That Wasn’t What I Expected It To Be – Green Bay Packers Blog

Green Bay, Wes. Green Bay Packers wide receiver Sammy Watkins is nothing if not honest about the first eight years of his NFL career.

The previous first-round pick spawned a 1,000-yard receiving season, coming in year 2 with the Buffalo Bills. He’s played with the Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens ever since before signing a proof-of-concept deal with The Packers in April.

“My career hasn’t been what I expected,” Watkins said Wednesday during Packers’ mini camp mandatory.

Self-awareness goes a long way with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who loves the story of reclamation as much as anyone.

“You have players who have a lot to play for and I think Sami has an opportunity to follow up and take a new path in his career that we can help here,” Rodgers said.

Watkins was the only veteran addition in the receiver after the Packers exchanged All-Pro Davante Adams for the Las Vegas Raiders in March. Other veterans of the group are Randall Cope and Allen Lazard. General Manager Brian Gutkunst complemented it with three selection picks for renewal: Christian Watson (second round), Romeo Dobbs (fourth) and Samori Toure (seventh).

On his first day on the job with Rodgers at the start of the small camp, Watkins caught a peek at what made him the fourth overall pick for the 2014 draft. He made a sharp pass with a pair of back defenses above him. It’s the kind of contested hunting in the middle that commands Rodgers’ respect.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to come here, play hard, shoot a lot of balls, compete at the highest levels, win matches and fight to stay healthy,” Watkins said. “This was the fatal blow to my career – to stay on the field.”

It’s been an injury-ridden season for Watkins, who has dealt with a variety of minor – but troubling – setbacks. He missed eight games with a broken foot in 2016, which turned out to be his last year at Buffalo. He never made more than 14 games in any of his seasons with the Bills, Rams (2017), Chiefs (2018-20) or Ravens (2021), due to a myriad of injuries, including to the ankle, foot, hamstring, calf and thigh.

He said after last season, when he didn’t make a pass after Week 12, he legitimately thought it might be done in the NFL.

“Last year I hurt again, [and] I’m sitting on the couch like, ‘I’m going to be out of work,’ said Watkins. “After injury after injury, you are kind of worried. What is my fate? What team is going to take me?”

The Packers guaranteed him $350,000 — the entire signing bonus — as part of a one-year contract worth $1.85 million. He would cost the Packers a signing bonus if they prevented him from getting out of training camp.

But hearing from coach Matt Lafleur this week, it doesn’t seem like something they’re worried about.

“I don’t think his game has dropped at all since we were together in 2017,” said LaFleur, who was the Rams’ offensive coordinator when Watkins was in Los Angeles. “Maybe there was a bit of a lack of opportunity, but I think he’s a hard-working guy out there, and he’s going to be a huge part of our attack.”

Watkins said he was more aware of injury prevention techniques — stretching tubs and cold tubs — and needed to play between 210 and 215 pounds. He said that this season he allowed himself to gain what he called “chubby” at 220 pounds while he was drowning in the prospect of his career ending, but he said he’s back to 215 pounds.

Cobb didn’t know Watkins before signing with The Packers, but he’s happy to have another veteran in the reception room. And Cope knows there will be plenty of opportunities ahead of them all, ones that previously went to Adams.

“It’s a similar offense to what he ran when he was in L.A., so I think he knows there’s a special opportunity here,” Cobb said.

“clearly [Adams] He’s a great player, and he deserves everything that comes his way, but there will be goals out there. If you watch the movie, walk around and ask the league, there are a lot of other players that were open at the time [Adams] He was getting the ball.”

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