Packers: Christian Watson, Aaron Jones could return Thursday vs Lions

Green Bay could have two of its most explosive players on offense back on the field Thursday night when Detroit comes to town.

The Packers didn’t practice Tuesday, instead holding a walk-through. However, if they had, running back Christian Watson and running back Aaron Jones would have been limited participants. Watson has missed the first three games due to a hamstring injury, while Jones didn’t play in the last two games because of the same injury. But there was optimism in the locker room with quarterback Jordan Love talking as if Jones would play and wide receiver Romeo Doubs coming straight out saying he would.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” coach Matt LaFleur said when asked if Jones was making progress. “I would say cautiously optimistic (he plays).

Watson, meanwhile, was asked if he intended to go Thursday and said “That’s the plan.”

“I love his mindset for it but until we get cleared medically,” LaFleur said, “it’s got to go through the process I would say before anything is for certain but yeah, we’d love to have him out there. If he gets cleared, he’ll be able to go.”

Jones nearly played last Sunday, going through a pretty intense workout before the decision to make him inactive was decided on.

“I don’t want to sacrifice one game for a longer period of time. I don’t think anybody does,” LaFleur said. “Certainly we all want him out there. We know how valuable he is to our football team in so many aspects, whether he’s got the ball or not. But we want to make sure he’s able to protect himself and not be at further risk for injury.”

Jones was electric in just three quarters against Chicago in the opener, piling up 127 total yards and two touchdowns. He’s is a threat to take it the distance whenever he touches the ball, and the same could be said for Watson. The second-year wide out had 41 catches, 611 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022. He was the clear deep threat for Aaron Rodgers, though LaFleur believes he’s got more to his game than just speed.

“He’s a guy that brings a sense of calm out there as well,” LaFleur said. “You can put him in any spot. If somebody needs a breather, you can throw him at any spot and he can go in there and execute.

“He helps everybody else out there as well. He’s so smart, he knows what to do if there is any indecision, whether it’s another receiver, a tight end or whoever. He can help Jordan out in that process in making sure that we get our guys on the same page and the communication is really strong, which gives us an opportunity to go out there and execute.”

There was also good injury news with Jaire Alexander (back), Zach Tom (knee) and cornerback Carrington Valentine (bicep), as all three would have been limited participants after being listed as out on Monday.

Several other key pieces, including David Bakhtiari (knee), Elgton Jenkins (knee) and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (ankle) would not have practiced.