Packers need to give Samori Toure more snaps over final 6 games

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 06: Samori Toure #83 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 06, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 06: Samori Toure #83 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 06, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Although not mathematically eliminated – yet – the Green Bay Packers playoff hopes are effectively gone, barring some sort of miraculous turnaround. However, there is still value that can be derived from the Packers’ final six games in the form of experience, specifically for their young players.

Samori Toure, in particular, is one player who should see more snaps moving forward, and in Friday’s press conference, Matt LaFleur echoed similar sentiments.

"“Every week, we have a plan, and he’s (Samori Toure) definitely a guy we need to rotate into the mix a little bit more,” said LaFleur via"

Prior to his first NFL snaps, Toure was trying to shake the nickname “Captain Casual” that Aaron Rodgers had given him for the casual nature at which he went through practice. That change in mindset and hard work has since paid off for Toure, with Rodgers even saying recently that he was too good of a player to be inactive each week.

Toure’s first NFL action would eventually come in Week 7 against Washington, where he had one reception for four yards, according to PFF ($$). Then things began to take off from there over the next two games.

The following week against Buffalo, Toure hauled in a 37-yard touchdown, where he made a wonderful mid-route adjustment based on how the defense was aligned. This instinctual adjustment is a terrific way to earn Rodgers’ trust and something that he has been wanting to see more of from his young receivers. His last two receptions came in Week 9 against Detroit, where Toure totaled 34 yards, including one that set up what could have been a game-winning touchdown.

In the previous two games, however, Toure’s role has decreased. This is in part to the receiver position getting healthy, with Christian Watson playing two full games and Randall Cobb returning from IR. After playing 12 snaps versus Dallas, Toure saw just four against Tennessee.

The Packers have utilized Toure from both the slot and out wide, and he brings some needed big-play ability to this offense. While a small sample size, Toure’s 34.8 yards per target on passes of 20-plus yards is the 12th most in the NFL this season. That added downfield presence next to Christian Watson will help create better spacing, giving the Packers run game and underneath routes more big play opportunities.

Through his newfound practice habits and play on the field when called upon, Toure is beginning to build a strong foundation of trust between himself and Rodgers.

If Toure is going to actually see more snaps moving forward, that means someone’s playing time is going to be reduced. The obvious answer for this is Sammy Watkins, who has largely underwhelmed since returning from injury.

LaFleur recently said that Watkins is playing through some bumps and bruises, but ultimately is a player is on the field on Sundays, they’re expected to perform. Since returning from his IR stint, Watkins has caught seven passes over four games for 95 yards. This includes two games where he had a total of two catches for 12 yards.

Watkins hasn’t been able to consistently create separation or get open, nor has he provided that steady veteran presence at a position that has been in flux for the Packers. Even as recently as Week 9 against Detroit, there were multiple plays where Watkins ran the wrong route and wasn’t where Rodgers expected him to be.

Perhaps if the Packers were still in the thick of the playoff chase, you could make an argument for having Watkins’ experience on the field — I’m sure Rodgers and LaFleur would feel that way — but on the brink of elimination, that ship has sailed.

Unfortunately, 2022 has become a lost season for the Packers, but they can begin building towards 2023 by getting their young players some valuable experience over these final six games. There will be growing pains, but this will hopefully shorten any learning curve and lead to a greater impact next season, where Toure is presumably going to have a much larger role as he, Watson, and Romeo Doubs are the only receivers currently under contract.