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Packers' rookie receivers took a lot away from first offseason in Green Bay

Incoming class pushed one another to level up this spring

WR Christian Watson
WR Christian Watson

GREEN BAY – With the first run-through of the playbook complete and initial corrections made, the Packers' rookie receivers have banked their first offseason in Green Bay.

With the nine-week offseason program retaking its traditional course, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure each had their moments on the practice field this spring.

Admittedly, the trio still has a long way to go in the development process. A week ago, quarterback Aaron Rodgers talked about tempering expectations for the incoming rookie class, and the young wideouts concur.

But the pacing of this year's installs and the hands-on training acquired in practice not only increased the receivers' knowledge base but also their confidence heading into the summer break.

"I definitely think I've been stacking days and getting better each and every day," said Watson, the Packers' second-round pick. "Obviously, there's ups and downs but I definitely feel like I've come a long way. Obviously, I still feel like I have a ways to go, but I feel like that'll come with a couple weeks that we have off before training camp and I think I'll be good."

Watson demonstrated the size, speed and athleticism during organized team activities that propelled him to the top of the second round but also had his share of eye-opening moments.

The biggest measuring stick came during minicamp, when the 6-foot-5, 208-pound receiver found out what it's like to line up across from All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander.

After weeks of working against some of the Packers' younger cornerbacks, Watson was matched one-on-one against Alexander during a late team period.

Looking for Watson near the end zone, quarterback Jordan Love lofted a deep ball for the rookie, but Alexander was all over the play. As Davante Adams once did for him during his rookie season in 2018, Alexander shared some of his wisdom with Watson afterward about what he was seeing.

"It only makes me better," Watson said. "He'll tell me straight up exactly why he broke on my route, exactly which indicator I gave on the route, and I know if I get open then I know it was a great route for me.

"It's definitely a great experience to get to go up against him and him obviously coaching me up, even though I'm on the other side of the ball."

While not as highly touted as Watson, Doubs and Toure also made their presence felt during the offseason. Working with the No. 2 offense during minicamp last Wednesday, Toure caught two passes from Love for 47 yards during a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive.

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound receiver was back at it again Tuesday when he brought in a 9-yard touchdown off a slant with only 5 seconds remaining in a two-minute period.

Perhaps nobody has caught more passes during portions of practice open to the media than Doubs, the fourth-round pick out of Nevada. On Tuesday, the 6-foot-2, 204-pound receiver led off a red-zone period with a touchdown off an out route.

Doubs' mindset has been to help "level our game up" as young receivers getting a lot of offseason reps. He doesn't know where that experience will position him on the depth chart when the team retakes the field on July 27 for the first practice of training camp, but Doubs plans to be ready.

"I felt really comfortable in this system," Doubs said. "I'm just willing to do whatever it takes to get wherever there is I need to be, whether it's the best in the game or intermediate, it doesn't matter to me. I just want to make sure I'm doing my part for everyone in this room and those who I'd love to inspire outside this room."

Before class was dismissed for the summer, Head Coach Matt LaFleur's message to the receivers was to fully process nuances of the scheme and the intricacies of the playbook.

Because once the regular season begins, the Packers want their receivers playing fast, free and reacting to what the defense is giving them.

The same principle applies to all the young players on the Packers' roster who benefited from the extra reps this spring.

"It was nice to get back to some normalcy and having these guys around all offseason and implement a few new things really in each area," LaFleur said. "I think the foundation's been laid, so to speak, but it is important over the course of these next however many days, 40 days or whatever it is, that these guys can continue to build upon what they've done and come in to training camp in great shape and ready to go."

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