Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst did a terrific job this offseason of addressing some major holes on this team. The edge-rushing position was revamped with the additions of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary. Safety was overhauled with Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage. While the offensive line got a boost from Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner.
However, one position that many thought was a need was instead left alone. And that was the wide receiver. With the money spent in free agency and the high draft capital used on other positions, receiver wasn’t a priority and the Packers were going to rely on their young core in 2019.
So the big question among Packer Nation entering the season and even through the first month or so was, who was going to step up as wide receiver two behind Davante Adams?
The initial thought was either Geronimo Allison, who was having a nice season in 2018 before being injured or the deep-threat, Marquez Valdes-Scantling. While both have had their moments, Allison is suffering from the drops and MVS can’t get consistent targets. As a result, it has been Allen Lazard who has capitalized on his opportunities and taken over as WR2 in this Packers’ offense.
Lazard was plucked off of the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad towards the end of last season and while he did see the field a few times as a Packer, he didn’t do much to stand out. But this summer, he began to catch the eye of quarterback Aaron Rodgers:
“Some guys who you didn’t maybe think of before camp who’ve had great camps, and I’m talking about, specifically, Allen Lazard,” Rodgers said after practice Monday. “I think he’s had a really nice camp. He’s made a bunch of plays. He’s always showing up on special teams. He does things the right way at practice. He’s put himself into a position to be playing for all 32 teams.”
Although Lazard didn’t make the initial 53-man roster, he was quickly re-signed to the practice squad and shortly after that, promoted to the active roster. And as most of us will remember, it wasn’t until week six against Detroit that Lazard got his first real opportunity, but he took full advantage of it and hasn’t looked back.
Since the Lions’ game, Lazard has had more receptions, targets, and receiving yards than both Allison and MVS. He’s caught an incredible 75 percent of his passes for 220 yards at 12.2 yards per catch. To put it simply, he’s just been the more reliable option and Rodgers clearly trusts the young receiver, which as we’ve seen in the past is vital.
In fact, it appears that Lazard – with his big body and reliable hands – is turning into the “get out of jail free” card for Rodgers when he is under duress. Which is something that Allison and MVS haven’t been able to provide.
While I can’t imagine that back in August many would have predicted this outcome, Lazard has earned it. Now moving forward the focus needs to be on getting him more targets and more involved in the passing game.