The first week of the 2022-23 NFL season is finally here. The Green Bay Packers, as we speak, are gearing up to head to Minneapolis, Minnesota to take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The Packers, however, might be without a star playmaker on offense in wide receiver Allen Lazard for their Week 1 match-up.
Lazard has yet to practice this week leading up to the first game of the season due to an ankle injury. No official designation has been made regarding Lazard’s status for Sunday’s game. Head coach Matt Lafleur said on Wednesday that Lazard, “got stepped on last week.” While it’s still not a certain decision, the Packers’ offense will still need to be prepared to go with or without Lazard in the lineup.
“Our confidence is still high,” rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs said. “Allen Lazard, regardless of if he plays or not, he’ll still pushing us the same way as he would if he was playing. We all understand it’s just a next-man-up mentality.”
If Lazard is unable to suit up against the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers will be heavily tested at the wide receiver position. The road going into the post-Davante Adams era in Green Bay looks to be headed for an early speed bump.
Veteran wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb will still be making the start for the Packers’ offense. The third man to take the field in the starting lineup likely will be Doubs. Cobb spoke highly of the young receivers being thrusted into the fire this week and the impact they can have for the offense.
“The things they’ve done to get to this point, they’re prepared and they’re ready,” Cobb said. “Now it’s just about putting on a showcase on Sunday.”
Outside of the three starters, the Packers’ offense will also need some assistance from second-year Amari Rodgers, who will serve in a gadget role for the offense, along with second-round wide receiver Christian Watson. Watson, a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, was said to be “hopeful” to suit up on Sunday. Rodgers discussed the excitement that comes with playing with the rookie last Friday while on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
“This dude’s got incredible stride length,” Rodgers said. “And really, for a man who is 6-foot-5, his speed is legit. It was nice having him. He’s a different type of receiver than we’ve had. A guy that big with that type of stride length with that speed.”
For this Packers’ offense to kick off the season at full potential, they’ll need these new wide receivers to step up in the spotlight immediately. The passing game should see another boost after tight end Robert Tonyan was back at practice on Wednesday. If Tonyan can suit up on Sunday, he’ll be another target worth keeping an eye on.
The final piece of the puzzle toward making sure the Packers’ offense can produce without Lazard this weekend comes up-front on the offensive line. During Wednesday’s practice, offensive tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins both were limited but at least back on the practice field. Getting both starting tackles back on the field would allow Rodgers to have an added amount of time in the pocket to find his new receivers. That’s going to be key while lining up against a stout front-seven from Minnesota. If neither suit up, expect Yosh Nijman and possibly Zach Tom to likely be the next guys up.
With that being said, it’s time for football season Packers fans!——————
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.