GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — This season of transition for Green Bay’s offense gives the Packers plenty of opportunities to figure out which of their young players could emerge as long-term key performers.
It appears they’ve found a couple of keepers in rookie wide receivers Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks.
“They’re playmakers,” quarterback Jordan Love said after the game.
Reed, a second-round pick from Michigan State, has a team-high 463 yards receiving. After catching four touchdown passes in the Packers’ first nine games, Reed showcased his versatility Sunday by scoring his first career rushing touchdown.
Love faked a handoff to Aaron Jones and then flipped the ball backward to Reed, who raced around the right end. Reed also caught four passes for 46 yards.
“He was a little banged up, as well,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “Nothing serious, but battling through. He took a nice hit. He is a dog. He’s a war daddy.”
Before leaving Sunday’s game to get evaluated for a concussion, Wicks set up the Packers’ go-ahead touchdown by catching a short pass, bouncing off cornerback Michael Davis and heading upfield for a 35-yard gain.
“I was telling him early in the game, ‘Stay into it, a play’s going to come to you,’ “ Reed said. “And it did.”
All three of Wicks’ catches Sunday went for at least 25 yards. He’s the first Packers rookie over the past 45 seasons to have at least three receptions of 25-plus yards in a single game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Wicks is a fifth-round pick from Virginia.
The emergence of these two rookies provided a spark Sunday as Love threw for a career-high 322 yards. The Packers (4-6) needed more production than usual from their passing game Sunday when injuries to Aaron Jones and Emanuel Wilson left AJ Dillon as their only available running back.
Green Bay’s issues at running back could persist as the Packers have little time to get ready for their Thanksgiving Day game with the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions (8-2).
“I might have to play running back at some point,” Reed joked after the game. I’m just kidding. No doubt, you’ve definitely got to make adjustments in those situations. And I think we did a good job.”
Green Bay’s defense did a nice job protecting its goal line against a Chargers offense that entered the game ranked second in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage. The Chargers kicked field goals on their first two trips inside the 10 and lost a fumble on second-and-goal from the 3. The defense also stopped the Chargers twice after the Packers pulled ahead in the fourth quarter.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The offense came through in the fourth quarter, but wasted plenty of opportunities earlier in the game. Green Bay had a first down at the Chargers 23 in the second quarter, but went backward and ended up missing a 52-yard field goal. The Packers settled for a field goal after having a first down at the 12 late in the second quarter. They drove to the Chargers 34 on their opening series of the second half, but they punted after losing 15 yards over the next two plays.
Romeo Doubs had the winning score Sunday and has caught a touchdown pass in four of his past five games. His seven touchdown catches this season put him in a tie for third place in the NFL, behind only Miami’s Tyreek Hill and Denver’s Courtland Sutton entering Monday. … Love has had his two highest passing yardage totals in Green Bay’s past two games. He threw for 289 yards at Pittsburgh before his 322-yard performance Sunday. … DT Kenny Clark forced Austin Ekeler’s fumble on second-and-goal from the 2 and clinched Green Bay’s victory by batting down a fourth down pass in the final minute.
K Anders Carlson missed an extra-point attempt Sunday after having a PAT blocked the previous week.
The Packers were hopeful that Jones’ knee injury wouldn’t be a long-term issue. Jones said an initial test showed he hadn’t torn his anterior cruciate ligament. … Wilson hurt his shoulder and had his arm in a sling after the game. … LB De’Vondre Campbell left with a stinger in the second half.
33 — TE Luke Musgrave had four catches Sunday and now has 33 this season, putting the second-round pick from Oregon State one away from the Packers rookie record for a tight end. Bubba Franks caught 34 passes as a rookie in 2000.
The Packers have a Thursday trip to Detroit followed by a Dec. 3 home game with the Kansas City Chiefs. Once the Packers get through this tough two-game stretch, only one of their last five contests will be against a team that currently has a winning record.
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