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5 things to know about new Packers WR Sammy Watkins

Veteran receiver has played for both Matt LaFleur and Jason Vrable

Packers WR Sammy Watkins
Packers WR Sammy Watkins

GREEN BAY – The Packers made their first addition at receiver with the signing of veteran wideout Sammy Watkins on Thursday.

Watkins, 29, has caught 348 passes for 5,059 yards and 34 touchdowns over eight NFL seasons spent with Buffalo (2014-16), the Los Angeles Rams (2017), Kansas City (2018-20) and Baltimore (2021).

Here are five things to know about Green Bay's newest receiver:

1. Watkins was the No. 4 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-1, 211-pound receiver established himself as one of the nation's top players during his true junior year at Clemson. Watkins set school records in both receptions (240) and receiving yards (3,391) in 36 games (29 starts). In his final college game, Watkins was named the Orange Bowl MVP after catching 16 passes for 227 yards in a 40-35 win over Ohio State. He solidified himself as a top five pick after running a 4.43-second time in the 40-yard dash and registering a 10-foot-6 broad jump at the NFL Scouting Combine.

2. He's been an impactful player when healthy.

Watkins has started 91 of his 99 career NFL games, but in only one season has he appeared in every game. He was limited to only eight games in 2016 after breaking a bone in his foot that required surgery during the offseason. Watkins got off to a promising start with Baltimore this past year. He caught 18 passes for 292 yards (16.2 yards per catch) in his first five starts before developing a thigh injury. His position coach for the Ravens was Tee Martin, father of Packers receiver Amari Rodgers.

3. Watkins and Matt LaFleur previously worked together with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017.

LaFleur and Watkins crossed paths for one season with the Rams, who acquired the former first-round pick two weeks into training camp. Watkins started 14 of his 15 games that season, catching 39 passes for 593 yards and a team-high eight receiving touchdowns. LaFleur left his post as offensive coordinator after the season to become the Tennessee Titans' offensive play-caller, while Watkins signed with Kansas City as an unrestricted free agent.

4. He was a force during Kansas City's Super Bowl LIV run.

Watkins advanced to the AFC Championship Game during each of his three seasons with the Chiefs, but his finest hour came during Kansas City's Super Bowl run in 2019. He caught 14 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown in three playoff games, including five receptions for 98 yards in the Chiefs' 31-20 victory over San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV. In the regular-season opener that year, Watkins set single-game career highs in both receiving yards (198) and receiving TDs (three) during a 40-26 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

5. Watkins started his NFL career with current Packers receivers coach Jason Vrable.

Vrable worked extensively with the receiver position during his stint as an offensive quality control coach for the Buffalo Bills from 2013-15. That experience gave Vrable an up-close look at Watkins during his two best (and healthiest) NFL seasons. As a rookie, Watkins caught a career-high 65 passes for 982 yards and six touchdowns in 16 starts. In 2015, he followed it up with 60 catches for 1,047 yards and nine TDs, both career highs.

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