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Can Allen Lazard be ‘that man’ to exchange Davante Adams as WR1 for Inexperienced Bay Packers? – Inexperienced Bay Packers Weblog

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers has been an Allen Lazard fan from the start.

He likes to retell the story from Lazard’s first coaching camp with the Green Bay Packers in 2019. It was Matt LaFleur’s first season as coach, and so as to maximize follow reps, he often cut up the group into two teams: the starters and high backups (referred to as the inexperienced group) at one finish of the sphere, and the bottom-of-the-roster gamers (the gold group) on the different finish.

When Rodgers would look towards the opposite finish of the sphere, he’d see a comparatively unknown receiver make play after play.

“It was day-after-day we had been watching the gold reps, and also you’re saying, ‘Who’s 13?’” Rodgers stated on the time. “I’m like, ‘Get him down on the inexperienced facet, at the least for a pair days. I have to see this man towards some 1s and 2s down right here.’”

Now, No. 13 has the prospect to be No. 1.

Whereas many across the NFL won’t suppose the Packers have a real WR1 after they traded All-Professional Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders in March, it ought to come as no shock that Rodgers doesn’t share that viewpoint.

“I actually suppose Allen is able to make a bounce and be a No. 1 receiver,” Rodgers stated as coaching camp opened final week. “And I’m excited concerning the alternative to work with him.”

Rodgers has by no means entered a season with out a longtime high receiver earlier than this. He has all the time had somebody like Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb or Adams — somebody he described as “that man.”

“If you stroll within the locker room for thus a few years and also you see 87’s locker over there, Jordy Nelson, you see Davante Adams, it provides you a unique really feel,” Rodgers stated. “You simply know you’ve received that man.”

The 6-foot-5, 227-pound Lazard has by no means had WR1-type numbers. His 40-catch, 513-yard, eight-touchdown season in 15 video games final yr was a profession greatest. However those that have been round Lazard since he arrived in Inexperienced Bay late within the 2018 season, when the Packers signed him off Jacksonville’s follow squad, have seen a gradual development from a participant prepared to do no matter it takes to at least one prepared to interrupt out.

He has drawn practically as a lot reward for what he does within the run recreation than as a pass-catcher. Final summer time, LaFleur stated that he calls Lazard the offense’s “goon,” a reference to a hockey participant prepared to get bodily. In Lazard’s case, it was as a result of he was greater than prepared to throw a block downfield to spring an extended achieve.

“He might be all the things for us,” Packers operating again Aaron Jones stated. “He’s already the goon within the run recreation, after which I feel he’s proven when he will get the chance, he could possibly be a dominant receiver. He can go up and get it, he can run throughout the center and get it, he can go deep and get it.

“I’m comfortable that he’s getting the chance to be a No. 1 as a result of he’s earned it. He’s put his physique on the road the final two, three years for us, operating down [and] blocking.”

Is that this heaven? No, it’s Iowa

IN ORDER TO put together for this season, Lazard took a unique method. He stayed away from Inexperienced Bay within the offseason; he didn’t signal his restricted free agent contract (one yr, $3.986 million) till after the necessary minicamp, so technically he wasn’t in violation of the foundations.

As a substitute, he stayed residence in Iowa — his very personal discipline of goals.

To listen to him inform it, his mother “guilted” him into it, saying she by no means will get to spend time with him.

However he had another excuse.

“That’s the place my roots are,” Lazard stated. “Being this fourth-, fifth-year season and all the things, clearly I wished a brand new contract and extension. I’m going into free company subsequent yr. Let me return to the place all the things began. That’s actually the place I discovered myself as a person, a child and my id as a participant and as an individual as nicely.”

As a result of Rodgers additionally skipped many of the offseason program, it wasn’t like Lazard was lacking useful time along with his quarterback. They made up for misplaced time nearly instantly in coaching camp, with Lazard as Rodgers’ first possibility early and infrequently.

Nonetheless, the Packers aren’t simply handing the job to Lazard. Normal supervisor Brian Gutekunst drafted three receivers, together with second-round decide Christian Watson and fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs. He additionally signed veteran Sammy Watkins and retained Cobb. In addition they have second-year professional Amari Rodgers and fourth-year professional Juwann Winfree, who has turned some heads early in camp.

However Watson (knee) and Watkins (hamstring) began coaching camp with accidents. And the extra camp Watson misses — and it seems like he’ll miss a good chunk whereas recovering from June knee surgical procedure — the much less doubtless he can push for the No. 1 spot immediately. Actually, Doubs is likely to be Lazard’s greatest challenger after his sizzling begin to camp.

“I’m excited to see what he might be for us in a unique function,” Gutekunst stated of Lazard initially of camp. “Allen’s a assured man. Each time we’ve given him alternatives, he’s produced. So with these new alternatives, I’m excited to see him develop and develop. However I feel sky’s the restrict for him. I feel he generally is a actually good participant on this league. He has been a extremely good participant for us, and I feel he’s excited for the chance, as nicely.”

‘It’s a unique age now’

DON’T EXPECT LAZARD to all of a sudden get all 169 targets that went to Adams final season. However he believes he’s worthy of his fair proportion.

“Clearly, when Davante was right here, his expertise is excessive,” Lazard stated. “It’s large, undoubtedly, he’s one of the best broad receiver within the league proper now and possibly will probably be for some time. That doesn’t imply I’m far behind him from that standpoint. I realized quite a bit from him. He’s taught me quite a bit, not solely on the sphere but additionally off the sphere and easy methods to carry your self as an expert and as a person as nicely. I’m grateful for my time with him, however issues transfer on and it’s a unique age now.”

It’s a crucial yr for Lazard from a monetary side as nicely. He will probably be an unrestricted free agent subsequent offseason and a giant yr may imply large bucks.

However he’s not big-timing anybody.

Lazard has recurrently stayed on the sphere after the principle portion of follow has concluded to stay round for the developmental interval. That’s when rookies and different younger gamers stick round for further work.

“Clearly, Allen wasn’t right here with us throughout the OTAs, however the second he received right here, he’s been serving to,” Watson stated. “He was on the market throughout the developmental interval when it was simply the younger guys, teaching the fellows up and letting guys know what they need to be doing.”

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