Packers Playmaker Dubbed One of NFL’s ‘Best-Kept Secrets’

Lazard Best Kept Secret

Getty Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates his touchdown pass to teammate Allen Lazard in the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 01, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Green Bay Packers have caught some heat from fans and the national media throughout the 2022 offseason for not making deep investments in proven pass-catchers following the departures of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but that negative perception also has people sleeping on a playmaker who could be one of the NFL’s “best-kept secrets.”

Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport recently compiled a list of 32 underrated players — one from each team — whom he believes have the potential to boost their reputation in 2022 and named fifth-year wide receiver Allen Lazard as his choice for the Packers, focusing on his connection with Aaron Rodgers and the void Green Bay has to fill.

“Lazard isn’t just going to duplicate Adams’ production — that’s not a realistic expectation,” Davenport wrote in his July 15 article. “But if Lazard really does become Rodgers’ top passing-game weapon, doubling his receptions and yardage from a year ago is well within reason.”

Lazard is coming off a career-best season for the Packers in 2021 in which he secured 40 receptions for 513 yards and eight receiving touchdowns — second-most behind Adams (11) — and has the stage set for him to become Green Bay’s new top receiver if he can outperform Sammy Watkins and a collection of rookies during training camp. Additionally, the 26-year-old receiver has built a strong rapport with his quarterback over the past three seasons that could enable him to become a star.

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Rodgers Has Been a Big Lazard Supporter

Coming into the 2019 season, nobody really knew much about Lazard. Adams was established as the clear-cut No. 1 while Geronimo Allison and Valdes-Scantling were vying for the other starting roles. In fact, Lazard missed the cut from their initial 53-man roster even though the Packers signed him up from the practice squad four days later.

Rodgers, however, recognized something in Lazard during 2019 camp and even helped set him up to become a game-saver later in the season during Week 6’s prime-time matchup with the Detroit Lions when Adams was sidelined with a turf toe injury.

Needing something to spark a late comeback effort, Rodgers asked then-wideouts coach Alvis Whitted if he would put “13” in the game and immediately locked in on him. His first completion to Lazard was a 35-yard touchdown that pulled the Packers within two points of the Lions. Lazard then caught three more passes on the team’s final drive, finishing with a team-high 65 receiving yards and helping set up Mason Crosby for the game-winning field goal.

“For a young guy to do that, how could you not have confidence in that?” Rodgers said during his postgame press conference after the 23-22 victory.

Fast-forward to the 2022 offseason and Rodgers’ confidence in Lazard hasn’t wavered. Despite being happy with his new collection of receivers of Watkins and rookies Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure, the four-time MVP quarterback believes the time is now for Lazard to stake his claim to the WR1 role.

“Excited about Allen Lazard,” Rodgers said on June 7 during OTAs. “He’s been our dirty work guy for most of his career here. Now he’s getting an opportunity to be a No. 1 receiver. So, I’m not worried at all about him stepping into that role. I talk to him a lot. I know how he takes care of his body. I know he’ll be ready when he’s here.”

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