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Sammy Watkins proving to be right fit for Packers' offense, locker room

Veteran receiver brings calm demeanor with big-play potential

WR Sammy Watkins
WR Sammy Watkins

GREEN BAY – Sammy Watkins' reputation as a steady, consummate professional preceded itself when the veteran receiver signed with the Packers back in April.

While only a few in Green Bay's locker room knew Watkins personally, veterans such as Aaron Rodgers and Allen Lazard heard enough good things about the former first-round pick that led them to believe he'd be a good fit in both Green Bay's offense and locker room.

In short time, that's already proving to be the case.

Watkins made his presence felt during Sunday's 27-10 win over Chicago, catching three passes for a game-high 93 yards. That included a 55-yard reception off a deep play-action pass from Rodgers in the fourth quarter.

But more than just production, what's impressed teammates the most is the vibe Watkins carries with him and the consistent approach he takes to the day-to-day aspects of the job.

"He brings a very calm demeanor," Lazard said. "To have his presence in the room, you see him being able to make crazy plays all the time and kind of flash back to his younger self.

"Having that leadership and seeing him go about his business and making big plays, even if it's a catch or a block, it helps bring up the energy, not only in our room but the entire offense."

A five-star recruit who shattered school records at Clemson, Watkins was catapulted into the football limelight when Buffalo drafted him No. 4 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.

By most metrics, Watkins has enjoyed a fruitful pro career, especially considering the injuries he's overcome. The 6-foot-1, 211-pound receiver has registered more than 5,000 career receiving yards and captured a Super Bowl ring with the Kansas City Chiefs less than three years ago.

Yet, the ninth-year veteran spoke candidly over the summer about what this season means for his career. That brand of honesty and authenticity have endeared him to his teammates.

"I really enjoy Sammy," Rodgers said. "We had a real nice text conversation this (past) week about a number of different topics I'm not really going to get into, but the feeling I got afterwards was, man, we really got a special person who understands his role and is going to help us at some point."

The Packers have seen several veteran additions become influential locker-room leaders over the years, including Marcedes Lewis, Julius Peppers and Charles Woodson.

Watkins possesses a lowkey personality but he's also accepting of whatever role awaits him at this point of his journey.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur grew accustomed to it during his one-year stint as the offensive coordinator for the Rams, which intersected with Watkins' lone season in LA.

"He's a pretty reserved guy," LaFleur said. "Very, very mild mannered, very quiet, but he's got that infectious smile.

"He's just a positive guy that enjoys life and he busts his (butt) every day when we're on the practice field and does a great job in the meetings and he's a great guy to have in our building to add to our locker room."

The buy-in has been there since Watkins signed his contract with the Packers. If that means blocking downfield for Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, the veteran receiver is here for it, because Watkins knows the butterfly effect a successful run game can have on the offense as a whole. Coincidentally, all three of his catches against the Bears came off play-action and contributed to Packers scoring drives.

"I love the run game," Watkins said. "I've never been part of an offense that you had to block. In this offense, you have go down there and crack the safety. You have to get your blocks and honestly, I think that's fun. It keeps me going, keeps me in the game and then the next play they might do a play-action and you're wide open."

Having Watkins in the receiver room has been a treat for the Packers' young receivers. Lazard says with a smile that you would've had to be "living underneath a rock" if you don't know who Sammy Watkins was coming into the NFL.

As he gains more comfort in the offense, the 29-year-old Watkins feels he has plenty of big plays left in him – just like the 55-yarder against Chicago that helped seal the Packers' first win of the 2022 season.

"That's the Sammy that we've been seeing all training camp. We know what he's capable of," receiver Randall Cobb said.

"To get behind the defense and get that much separation, that was huge. To make those plays in critical moments like that, that's going to be a big piece of our offense, and we're going to need him."