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Sammy Watkins: My career hasn’t been what I projected, and my back is against the wall

The Packers tendered Allen Lazard as a restricted free agent this offseason, and he's not at mandatory minicamp because he hasn't signed his tender, but the Packers have him in a position where he has no alternatives.

Sammy Watkins was the fourth overall choice in 2014. He is with his fifth team, has never made the Pro Bowl, has missed 30 games because of injuries and has had only one 1,000-yard season, and that was 1,047 yards.

Watkins, now with the Packers, understands why his career might be viewed as a disappointment.

“I think I told the coaches, ‘My back is against the wall,’” Watkins said Wednesday, via Matt Schneidman of “My career hasn’t been what I projected it to be, and it’s a great opportunity for me to come here, play hard, catch a ton of balls, compete at the highest level and win games and fight to stay healthy. That’s been the knock on my career — to stay on the field.”

Watkins, who turns 29 next week, was signed by the Packers to help replace Davante Adams, the ninth receiver off the board in the 2014 draft, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Packers traded Adams to the Raiders and Valdes-Scantling left for the Chiefs in free agency after the two players combined for 149 receptions for 1,983 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2021.

Watkins admits he was “worried” after hamstring and knee injuries last season and career-lows with 27 receptions for 394 yards and a touchdown whether he would get another opportunity to continue his career.

“I think this is probably one of the best situations I’ve probably ever been in in my career, to play with one of the best quarterbacks in the league, one of the best coaches, one of the best organizations,” Watkins said. “To get this opportunity is really a blessing because I did nothing last year.”

Watkins is not guaranteed a spot on the 53-player roster, but the Packers are hoping he can stay healthy and contribute.

“I’m not done yet,” Watkins said. “I feel like I’ve got a lot more in my tank, a lot more football to be played at the highest level, and hopefully I can be consistent and stay on the field. . . . When I’m on the field, I can ball; I can catch balls; I can score; and I’m a dominant player. But the key is staying on the field.”