Sunday’s matchup against the Atlanta Falcons didn’t turn out the way that the Green Bay Packers were hoping it would. The Packers fell 25-24, dropping them to 1-1 on the season. While the outcome wasn’t what the Packers wanted, there were a couple of bright spots to come out of the game. One of them is the play of their rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed.
Jayden Reed Already Contributing to the Green Bay Packers Offense
It’s no secret that expectations for the Packers younger players this season are high. With having the youngest roster in the NFL, head coach Matt LaFleur is going to need these young players to contribute and contribute a lot.
This will especially be the case for the Green Bay Packers offense. The Packers top two wide receivers, Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson, are just in their second seasons. At tight end, their best receiving tight end is a rookie, Luke Musgrave. Holding down the Packers starting slot receiver position is rookie Jayden Reed. All of them will be key to first-year starting quarterback Jordan Love’s success.
But so far it appears that Reed has the potential to be a standout for Love and LaFleur. He has shown a burst and has gotten the attention of Love. Unlike Doubs and Watson, Reed is built differently: something that LaFleur could use to the Packers advantage.
Reed Stepping Up for Injured Players
Injuries are already becoming an issue for the Packers, especially on offense. Christian Watson has yet to play a snap this season because of a hamstring injury. This week, not only were they missing their starting left tackle (David Bakhtiari, knee) but they were also missing their starting running back Aaron Jones. Jones isn’t just the Packers best running back, but it can be argued he is their biggest weapon, in the air and on the ground.
Since taking over as the Packers head coach/offensive play-caller, LaFleur hasn’t gotten much out of the slot receiver position. But you can’t blame LaFleur for that. He was given Randall Cobb, who was in the twilight of his career, and Amari Rodgers, a third-round pick who was a massive bust. Jayden Reed offers much more than either and LaFleur, with so many weapons out, has utilized Reed’s capabilities in the first two weeks.
In the first two weeks, Reed has caught six passes for 85 yards with two receiving touchdowns. He has become a favorite of Love’s, and Love has shown he isn’t afraid to go to his young slot receiver at crucial times. What makes Reed’s strong early start is that he is still learning to play in the slot. At Michigan State, Reed spent a lot of time on the outside. So he is still learning to play in the slot. But if the first two weeks are any indication, the best is yet to come.
Comfortable Returning Punts
Nothing against 2022 Pro Bowl kick and punt returner Keisean Nixon, but he never looked comfortable returning punts. He did it because the team needed him to do so after Amari Rodgers failed so badly. Nixon should be commended for putting the team first and honestly, the results were better than expected.
But the Packers have found their punt returner in Jayden Reed. He looks comfortable back there but has also been productive. While the Packers didn’t return a punt on Sunday, in week one against the Chicago Bears, he returned three punts for 54 yards, finishing the game with an 18-yards per return average.
It has been a long time since the Packers have had capable kickoff and punt returners. But now that Nixon and Reed are holding the positions, they should be set for a long time.
Role Continuing to Expand
The Packers are hoping to have Christian Watson back next week for their matchup against the New Orleans Saints. But even if Watson does return, don’t expect Jayden Reed’s Role to diminish.
Unlike Watson, Reed, and even fellow rookie wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks, Reed has the ability to play multiple spots in LaFleur’s offense. With his history in college of lining up outside, already displaying that he can handle the slot, and the potential to hand him the ball, Reed brings something else to this offense. The Packers might have lost on Sunday, but it gave the Packers a glimpse into what Jayden Reed can do for their offense.
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