Packers optimistic Aaron Jones, Christian Watson will play Thursday

Rob Demowskiespn staff writerSep 26, 2023, 06:26 pm ETread 4 minutes

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Andrew Hawkins has been selected for the Lions’ matchup with the Packers on Thursday night.

Green Bay, Wis. –Aaron Jones and Christian Watson, welcome back?

There was no banner hanging in the Green Bay Packers locker room Tuesday announcing his return from a hamstring injury, but given the optimism coming from within, there might have been.

Watson, who missed the first three games of the season, said he expected to make his season debut Thursday night against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.

“That’s the plan,” Watson said.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur, whose daily news conference came several hours after player availability, stressed that both players still needed to be cleared before Thursday. He said he is “cautiously optimistic” about Jones, and “I like his mentality” when asked to comment about Watson’s playing plan.

Jones, who pulled a hamstring in the season opener, was not present to speak for himself, but quarterback Jordan Love and receiver Romeo Dobbs did.

“It’s going to be huge,” Dobbs said of his return. “I know Christian is a guy that can go out there and make plays. We can all make plays but I know Christian can go out there and make plays because he’s really into this offense as well. Is experienced.”

“We’ll be back 3-3,” Dobbs said, referring to Jones’ uniform number 33. “So, Aaron’s Aaron. He’s making games, so it’ll be exciting.”

Love said: “It’s going to be great for our offense. He’s a huge playmaker. You saw Week 1, just getting him the ball makes good plays most of the time, so it’s going to be huge for everybody, Just help. He’s going to be a big playmaker for us and maybe the offense will be a little more explosive when he’s in there.”

Love and the Packers are off to a 2-1 start despite playing most of the time without their top running back and their most explosive receiver. Jones totaled 127 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in the first three quarters of the Week 1 game against the Chicago Bears before being sidelined with an injury.

Without Watson, Love hasn’t played many deep balls. According to ESPN Statistics & Information research, while he leads the league in air yards per attempt at 10.1, he ranks 15th in actual yards gained per attempt at 6.8. Watson was injured during practice on August 31.

Watson practiced Wednesday and Friday last week, taking Thursday off to aid his recovery. When he returned on Friday, it looked like he had a good chance to play on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He said Tuesday that he was “pretty close” to playing against New Orleans.

“Some things aren’t up to me,” Watson said. “At the same time, I want to put my team in the best position to win. I’m leaving someone else off the roster for that game because I’m only going to play 10 games there, that doesn’t really help us.” “Going to meet.” Such a great team.”

Even if Jones and Watson return, the Packers will not be at full strength on offense. In fact, they may be without 60% of their starting offensive line. Left guard Elgton Jenkins (knee) is expected to miss a game or two. Left tackle David Bakhtiari missed Weeks 2 and 3 due to recurring knee problems, and right tackle Zack Tom (knee) was ruled out for Sunday’s game.

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