The Green Bay Packers are almost entering must-win territory. They host the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8, aiming to snap a three-game losing streak.
Minnesota has won three of its past four games, including an impressive victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
The Packers will need Christian Watson available against their division rivals, but he suffered another injury in last week's defeat to the Denver Broncos. What is the latest on Watson's status for Week 8?
Christian Watson injury status for Week 8 game against Vikings
Christian Watson will play against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8. He practiced in full all week and doesn't carry an injury designation ahead of the game.
This is somewhat surprising after Watson suffered a knee injury in last week's loss to the Broncos. He appeared to be in a lot of pain, which raised concerns about the severity of the injury.
ESPN's Rob Demovsky reported early in the week that tests on Watson's knee came back clean and he had a chance to play in Week 8 against the Vikings.
"I'm just trying to get the initial pain and stuff out of there, and I think I'll be good to go," said Watson, according to Demovsky.
Having Watson out there is great news for the Packers.
Christian Watson injury history
Watson just can't catch a break with injuries.
The second-year receiver missed the opening three games of the regular season due to a hamstring injury. He returned in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions in a limited role before playing a significant number of snaps in the past two games.
However, Watson had to leave last week's loss to the Broncos after awkwardly twisting his knee. Fortunately, he appears to have avoided a significant injury.
Hamstring injuries were an issue for Watson in his rookie season, too. He missed three games in 2022 due to ongoing hamstring issues. In his first game back, in Week 8 against the Buffalo Bills, Watson suffered a concussion after a big hit. The good news was that he returned the following week and played the rest of the season.
Who would replace Christian Watson in the lineup?
We have a good indication of who will replace Watson if he is unable to go in Week 8, as he missed the opening three games of the season.
Rookie Dontayvion Wicks saw the biggest increase in snaps when Watson was unavailable. He played at least 25 snaps in the opening four games of the season, including over 33 snaps in three of those matchups. With Watson back to a full-time role in the previous two games, Wicks played no more than 14 snaps in either contest.
Wicks has made a strong case for more playing time, irrespective of Watson's injury. Jordan Love has targeted him at key moments, with Wicks catching eight passes for 112 yards and a touchdown this season.
But beyond the low number of receptions, Wicks has shown tremendous separation ability and is a willing blocker. Head coach Matt LaFleur admitted they need to find more ways to get the rookie involved.
Wicks has quietly been arguably Green Bay's most impressive receiver this season. He looks set to earn more snaps regardless, but his opportunities will increase if Watson misses time.
When is Christian Watson coming back?
Watson avoided a serious injury. He practiced in full all week, a great sign that he won't miss any time.
Hopefully, it's a little different to the hamstring injury he dealt with early in the season. Hamstring issues require extra caution. Returning too soon increases the risk of re-injury, potentially resulting in an even longer recovery time. But if Watson's knee issue is more about pain management, he could play this week.
Packers next 5 opponents
- Week 9: Los Angeles Rams, November 5, 12 noon
- Week 10: @ Pittsburgh Steelers, November 12, 12 noon
- Week 11: Los Angeles Chargers, November 19, 12 noon
- Week 12: @ Detroit Lions, November 23, 11:30 a.m.
- Week 13: Kansas City Chiefs, December 3, 7:20 p.m.
Note: All times are CT.
A challenging five-game stretch awaits the Packers after they host the Vikings. Their next five opponents have a combined record of 20-13. The combined record of Green Bay's opening eight opponents was 19-23.
We saw how badly the Packers struggled against the Lions at Lambeau. Their second meeting will be even tougher, playing at Ford Field on a short week. Can Green Bay's offense move the ball enough to keep up with the Chargers and Chiefs' offenses? Joe Barry's defense will need two dominant performances.
The Packers need to make significant improvements to have a shot at winning these upcoming games.
Packers injury report
- CB Jaire Alexander (Back) - Questionable
- S Zayne Anderson (Hamstring)
- LB De'Vondre Campbell (Ankle) - Questionable
- G Elgton Jenkins (Knee)
- RB Aaron Jones (Hamstring)
- TE Luke Musgrave (Ankle) - Questionable
- C Josh Myers (Ankle) - Questionable
- T Yosh Nijman (Knee)
- WR Christian Watson (Knee)
- DL Devonte Wyatt (Knee)
Several starters are dealing with injuries. On offense, Luke Musgrave is a doubt to play against the Vikings due to an ankle injury. Aaron Jones has a better chance to play, with head coach Matt LaFleur saying he was "sore" after Week 7, which is why he didn't practice on Wednesday. Musgrave, Jones, and Josh Myers were the only Packers not practicing.
The Packers hope to get defensive starters Jaire Alexander and De'Vondre Campbell back this week. They were both limited during Wednesday's practice.
Vikings injury report
- LB Brian Asamoah II (Ankle) - Out
- G Ezra Cleveland (Foot) - Questionable
- TE T.J. Hockenson (Foot)
- WR Jalen Nailor (Hamstring) - Questionable
- RB Kene Nwangwu (Illness) - Questionable