Green Bay, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers wide receiver Alan Lazard enters the final year of his contract, knowing he will probably have more goals than ever now that former teammate Davante Adams is with the Las Vegas Raiders.
This should encourage Lazard more than ever. Again, he already needed a tremendous drive to survive in the NFL as an unfinished free agent from Iowa State.
Lazard was hacked by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie. He did not initially make the Packers’ 53-man roster the following year. 1 receiver for Super Bowl contenders as the Packers adapt to life without Adams.
Lazard said of Adams’ departure, “I think there’s probably a little bit of fuel to be added to that fire, so to speak.” “But it was not like it ignited the flame.”
Green Bay should have found some extra firepower in their passing attack after losing Adams, who was traded with the Las Vegas Raiders for a first-round pick and a second-round pick.
Adams’s 432 catches, 5,310 receiving yards and 47 TD receptions over the past four seasons led the NFL in all three categories. The Packers also lost deep-threat Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Packers increased their depth by signing veteran free agent Sammy Watkins and drafting Christian Watson of North Dakota State in the second round, Romeo Dobbs of Nevada in the fourth and Samori Toure of Nebraska in the seventh. Dobbs has so far stood out in training camp while Watson recovers from an offseason knee procedure.
But the most obvious candidate to land a special role is 26-year-old Lazard, who last season set a career-high with 40 catches for 513 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I really think Allen is ready to take the leap and become the No. 1 receiver,” said quarterback and current MVP Aaron Rodgers.
Lazard has waited a decade for this moment.
“Ever since I was 16, when I committed to Iowa State, that’s the vision I’ve had, that’s the vision I’ve had,” Lazard said. “I never knew how I’d get here. I didn’t know I’d have to go through Jacksonville and fight my way up the roster to get to this point. But I finally knew I’d be here.
Lazard spent this offseason working at his alma mater in his home state.
He wanted to adopt the same mindset in college, when his Iowa State teams scored 8-28 in his first three seasons before going 8-5 and winning the Liberty Bowl his senior year.
“The first three years we were terrible and I didn’t feel like I had the respect I deserved and wanted,” Lazard said. “Coming back out there, in that weight room, in that area, in that same environment grinding again, put me back in that mind frame of how I want to approach that year. I want to go out there and prove it to everyone.” That what should be my value and what should be my value.”
He means that by all means.
Lazard was a banned free agent this off-season and did not get a long-term deal. He could become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this upcoming season.
“He has a lot to prove, I think, to himself and to other people and maybe even to the team,” Rodgers said. “So I like a hungry Alan Lazard.”
This situation may sound familiar to Packers fans.
Last year, Adams was in the final season of his contract when he produced a second straight All-Pro appearance for the Packers and earned a five-year contract worth nearly $140 million from the Raiders. Lazard was asked how it feels to be in the same boat with the opportunity to play his part in a big contract.
“A little boat of sorts,” said Lazard. “He was probably on a yacht. I’m probably on a flat bottom.”
Not so long ago, Lazard was just trying to stay afloat.
Despite setting career records in catches and receiving yards at Iowa State, Lazard remained unfinished. He signed with Jacksonville, was cut in the preseason and spent most of his rookie years in Green Bay’s practice squad.
Lazard eventually worked his way into an opening role and earned praise for his downfield blocking. Using all he learned from Adams, he wants to take another leap this year.
“It was his mindset of trying to prove to everyone how good he was,” Lazard said. “He didn’t take a rep. I think it’s something I struggled with in college and as a young boy, just trying to save my energy, my time and not understand that your career and What is the importance of every play for the team.”
Now he understands. It’s time to show how far he has come.
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