Oct 14, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (13) catches a touchdown pass against Detroit Lions cornerback Justin Coleman (27) in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
GREEN BAY, Wis. — From the outhouse to the penthouse would likely fall into the category of hyperbole. But Allen Lazard’s escape from football’s death row to a near-starring role on one of the NFL’s best teams is surely a story worth telling.
When Lazard was cut following the Green Bay Packers’ final preseason game, it briefly appeared as though his burgeoning NFL career would be put on hold.
Emphasis on briefly. Lazard was quickly added to the practice squad and by the time the season’s s first game rolled around, he was named to the Packers’ active roster.
After receiving virtually no playing time from scrimmage in the first five games, injuries to three Packers receivers ahead of him in the pecking order, along with a strong recommendation from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, put Lazard in the limelight last Monday against the Detroit Lions.
Lazard responded emphatically, despite seeing just 17 snaps. The former Cyclone caught four passes for 65 yards, including a highlight reel-worthy 35-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Packers came back to beat Detroit in unlikely fashion.
On Sunday, Lazard didn’t quite make another big splash. But, playing 85 percent of the snaps despite the return of two of those banged-up receivers, Lazard caught three pass for 42 yards, including a spectacular 26-yard reception along the sidelines as the Packers defeated the Raiders 42-24 at Lambeau Field.
Lazard said he’s keeping his success in perspective.
“I’m just taking it in stride,” Lazard said. “I’m trying not to get to high with the highs and too low with the lows. I just come in and work to get better every single day, and then go perform on Sundays.”
Still, the reception he received following his breakout game against the Lions was not one he’ll soon forget.
“It was crazy,” Lazard said. “For damn near the whole week, my phone wouldn’t stop. It just calmed down on Friday. After the Lions game, I came back to 100-plus texts. Today, I’ve got like seven. Back to reality, I guess.”
Regarding his performance Sunday, which included a dropped pass on a potentially big play in the second quarter, Lazard said he still has room to improve.
“I missed a couple of opportunities,” Lazard said. “I definitely wish I could have some plays back. But just to be able to come back and help the team win, that’s the most important thing. We’re taking steps each week to get to Miami, that’s the biggest goal.”
Much has been made of the improved chemistry in the Packers locker room. Lazard said that has been a true team effort.
“I give a lot of credit to the support staff here,” Lazard said. “Trainers, weight room coaches, front office people and also the veterans we have. It’s a great group of vets to be around. If you turn your head left or right in the locker room, you’re seeing a professional every day. There’s a contagious energy and work habit here. We all know that if we continue to push each other every day, the sky is the limit.”
The next question hangs out there for guys like Lazard and Jake Kumerow, who have received extensive playing time in the absence of Adams, who Lazard called the best receiver in the NFL.
What happens when Davante comes back?
“It’s going to be scary for sure,” Adams said. “We obviously all want Davante back and healthy. It brings more threats to the defense. Not knowing who’s going to be out there is going to be tough for defenses. We all do things a little different and bring different things to the table. At the end of the day, whoever is out there, we are going to trust each other and go out there and ball out.”
Lazard has also kept close tabs on his alma mater as well.
“You saw with that performance they put on Saturday against Texas Tech,” Lazard said. “There’s so much talent there. For the coaches to bring Iowa State, a bottom of the totem pole program, and get them to go out there and compete every single week, as a fan, growing up it’s something I never thought could happen. Even as a player, it seemed so far-fetched. I got a taste of that my senior year, and obviously seeing now what they did last year and so far this year. It’s just crazy to see the change in the program.”