Sammy Watkins’ latest stop has him in a new location, but among familiar company.
Watkins’ position coach, Jason Vrable, doubles as Green Bay’s pass game coordinator in 2022. He’s bringing with him some familiar terminology from their days spent together in Buffalo, and believes the wide receiver’s move to Green Bay will position him for success — and that’s without even mentioning who will be throwing passes to Watkins.
“I talked to Sammy about it the other day. The way he was running some routes and catching, it reminded me of when he first walked on the field (in Buffalo),” Vrable told reporters Thursday, via the team’s official site. “The biggest thing had been some injuries, if you looked at the thing. But he know he’s going to work as hard as he can. He’s here doing all the workouts right now in conditioning. He feels good where his body is at.
“One thing you’ll see with him is he plucks the ball different. He has hands where you’ll hear the pluck and running through catch, and his play strength. There’s a reason why we drafted him that high and he’s had a lot of successful years in his career.
… “He said to me, ‘Man, it’s different. I’ve been in four systems in the last four years, just getting back to what you coach. You know, Vrabs, it’s been fun hearing you coach the same stuff then as now.’ He knows the details. He’s in a good place right now and I’m really excited about him.”
Familiarity could be very beneficial to Watkins, who joins a Packers team looking for quality replacements for key contributors lost in the offseason. Watkins won’t be expected to suddenly morph into Davante Adams, but if he can produce at even 70 percent of Adams’ rate in the last couple of seasons, Watkins will be flirting with a career-high output.
It would be a welcome development for Watkins, who had to fight through a number of injuries early in his career after being selected with the fourth-overall pick of the 2014 draft, and has since bounced between the Rams, Chiefs and Ravens, filling secondary roles in their respective offenses and falling short of 700 receiving yards in each season from 2016-2021.
If he can emerge as a primary target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Watkins might finally surpass that mark. And even if he doesn’t, Vrable is pleased when seeing the person Watkins has become.
“Just see where he’s been and his maturity has been exceptional,” Vrable said. “He was just a young rookie before and now he’s a grown man with a family and living life the right way, and trying to do as much as he can to get back and get another Lombardi, which he’s one of the few guys who’s held one up that I’ve been around. That’s his goal. Sammy is just smiling and happy to be in a building where he feels a good fit right now. I did not know but I’m fired up he’s here.”
Watkins will have to compete with the likes of Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and second-round pick Christian Watson for targets in 2022. But if his history tells us anything, it’s that Watkins will be right at home on a team intending to contend for a Super Bowl and will find a role that best suits his team’s ambitions.
At 28 years old, Watkins is still in his prime. Perhaps a pairing with a future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback is precisely what he needs.
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