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Which Packers receiver will have big game next? They 'don't know' and 'don't care'

Young WRs celebrate each other, and collectively, with unselfish mindset

WRs Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks and Bo Melton
WRs Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks and Bo Melton

GREEN BAY – For the first 15 games of the regular season, the Packers didn't have a single 100-yard receiving performance.

Since then, they've had one in each of the last three games, and a different guy each time – first Bo Melton in Minnesota, then Jayden Reed vs. Chicago, and last week Romeo Doubs in the playoff opener in Dallas.

The capability of any receiver to have a big game certainly has its advantages, as defenses might not gain much of an edge by focusing their attention on one particular target.

"You don't know who's going to be that guy," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said.

But the best part?

"I don't think they care who's that guy," LaFleur said. "I really don't."

Welcome to what's made the Packers' receivers – a collection of first- and second- year players who are still learning the game at this level and are nowhere near their professional peaks – really click as they prepare for the NFC Divisional playoff at San Francisco on Saturday night.

They enjoy a togetherness that prompts them to celebrate their teammates' successes as much as their own, and it's produced, well, plenty to celebrate.

There's Reed breaking the franchise's rookie record for receptions with 64, a mark Sterling Sharpe had owned for 35 years …

Reed and Doubs forming one of just four tandems in the NFL this season with eight-plus receiving TDs …

Dontayvion Wicks posting 18 explosive receptions (defined as 16-plus yards), one more than Reed to rank fourth in the league among rookies this season and tops among all Packers rookies since 2000. His 14.9 yards per catch also ranked second among rookies across the NFL this year …

Including Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft, that pair both ranked in the top five among rookie tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, and yards per catch …

Then collectively, the rookie group posted the most receptions (191) and receiving yards (2,250) by any team in the NFL since the 1970 league merger. And the list goes on.

"Unselfish" is used often to describe them, a mindset and approach that's been passed down from previous generations of Green Bay receivers.

With this latest generation in particular, it's led to not only the ball being spread around without any personal focus on statistics or glory, but each guy devoting effort and attention to all the little things that help one another out.

"It's the character of everybody in that room," QB Jordan Love said. "Our receiver coach (Jason Vrable) says it a lot, go out there and play for your brother.

"The routes they run, a lot of them, they might know they're not getting the ball, but they're clearing guys out, opening voids up for their brothers. They do that in the run game as well, going out there and blocking for their brothers."

Melton called it "the G way," which he learned upon arriving from Seattle's practice squad last year.

"The unselfishness of the unit comes from us believing in each other," he said. "I feel like anybody out there, no matter who it is, will ball out. We need to spring them open, and if they start having a really good game, we get them the ball.

"Anybody can do that in our unit, so as we know that, we're unselfish for each other. We hang out together, we bond with each other, so that helps us out as well."

The shared excitement is genuine, too. LaFleur said after the Dallas playoff win, when Doubs had the first 100-yard game of his career while Reed and Christian Watson combined for just one catch, he was speaking with the latter two afterward "and you've have thought they had 100 yards. They were so excited."

Love also commented that Watson's return to the field following a five-game absence drew a lot of attention from the Cowboys' defense downfield due to his speed, which created openings for Doubs to have his career day (six catches, 151 yards, TD).

The key is every guy running his route as though he's the primary target on the play, and the desire to be the guy to make the play. So they're ready for their moment while at the same time just letting everything play out and seeing where the ball goes. And being fine with whatever transpires.

"You never really know who's going to have the big game for us in the receiver room," Love said. "You have plays dialed up for some guys, and other times it's just kind of the looks we get defensively, who might be catching the ball.

"But I think the mindset, they all want the ball, they all expect the ball on every play, that's what's helping them be successful."

As the head coach and play caller, LaFleur couldn't ask for a better collective mentality. He's spoken often of how much he appreciates that winning is their priority, and how much fun they are to coach as a result.

So who's next with the monster game? Maybe it's Watson's turn in San Francisco, as he continues to get healthier. Or Wicks, whose 20-yard TD vs. the Cowboys might be the start of another big-play binge.

Or one of the tight ends. Or perhaps Reed goes from 100 yards to no receptions to 100 yards again.

Nobody can be ruled out. Anything is on the table. And that's the way they like it.

"We all understand we all have an opportunity to have our number called and to have our day," Watson said. "We've been at the lowest of the low this season and now we're at our high, so we just want to win football games. We want to continue to play. We see the success of someone else as our own success."

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