Packers feel fortunate to have 'selfless' Allen Lazard

Third-year receiver continues to do it all for his team

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WR Allen Lazard

GREEN BAY – Allen Lazard already was doing what was asked of him and more midway through Sunday's matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.

The Packers' third-year receiver had caught the game's first explosive play, a 42-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers on third-and-3 that sparked Green Bay's first scoring drive.

Then, near the end of the half, Lazard applied the key chip block on Nick Bosa that cleared the edge for Aaron Jones' 3-yard touchdown run to put the Packers ahead 17-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, however, Lazard was watching from the sideline when Trenton Cannon returned the ball 68 yards to the Green Bay 32. The 49ers parlayed that big play into their first points of the game, with rookie quarterback Trey Lance running a bootleg for a 1-yard touchdown as time expired in the half.

Lazard could have easily gone into the locker room focused on what he needed to do to keep the offense rolling in the second half. Instead, he sought out special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton and asked to help on the coverage unit.

"He does a lot of the dirty work and then he shows up on special teams," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "He's running down there on kickoff. He was on a punt cover. He's just a selfless guy that when called upon, you know you can always count on him, whether it's in the run game or the pass game or on special teams. We're lucky to have a guy like that."

If there's a moment that encapsulates the essence of Lazard, it's that series of events from the Packers' 30-28 win on Sunday. Because while he's graduated off special teams, Lazard hasn't forgotten how he carved out his spot in the NFL.

Just two years earlier, Lazard made an unexpected bid at a roster spot as an undrafted free agent who signed to the Packers' practice squad during the final week of the 2018 season.

Since then, Lazard has had several marquee performances as a pass-catcher, including last year's six-catch, 146-yard showing in New Orleans, but it's his willingness to do anything that has been particularly valuable in LaFleur's multifaceted offense.

In turn, the Packers have tapped into the biggest strength most teams missed on with Lazard: his versatility. When Lazard came out of Iowa State, NFL scouts tried to label him this or that, wanting to draw a definitive line between receiver or tight end.

Once he got to Green Bay, the Packers just let the kid be, developing Lazard as is and letting him grow from there. Over time, Lazard's provided the best of both worlds – a strong-minded playmaker who's fast enough to beat NFL corners but also sturdy enough to body a defender at every level.

"Allen, he's an elite-level blocker when it comes to that," receiver Davante Adams said. "He's a guy who's really, really selfless and allows his team to do what we do just by being out there – mismatches, you put him in '11' (personnel), you can use him as a tight end almost. I know he doesn't like to hear it like that, but whatever gets it done for the team is kind of his mindset."

A 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, Lazard has all the tools to excel from a physicality standpoint. What makes Lazard unique, though, is his intelligence and how he processes the game. If you throw him in the trenches with 300-pound linemen, the guy understands how to win his assignment.

As Adams points out, the beauty of Lazard's block of Bosa on Jones' second-quarter TD is how aware he was of his body positioning. If Lazard dives down too far, Bosa can just hop over the backside, dodge him and make the play. If Lazard squares up too much, Bosa could bull him over.

A week earlier, while lined up wide, Lazard got his hands on two Detroit defensive backs to clear a path to the end zone on Jones' 4-yard touchdown off a push-pass from Rodgers.

Speaking with the media earlier this month, Lazard smiled when recalling a few of his best blocks, including one at Iowa State where he pushed a defensive back all the way through the end zone. In his humble opinion, Lazard feels he's the best blocking receiver in the game and aims to prove it every week.

He also admits to enjoying blocking on a touchdown as much as scoring one himself. True to his word, Lazard is often the player celebrating the most when a teammate scores.

"It creates a standard for the other players watching, that this is what it's supposed to look like and this is what owning your role looks like," Rodgers said.

"Allen didn't have a lot of targets the first couple of weeks. I hit him on the first third down of the game, and he basically blocked his (butt) off the rest of the game. There's a lot of lessons to be learned from the way he plays."

Lazard's three catches for 58 yards this season might not jump off the page but he's been an integral part of what the Packers have been building on offense under LaFleur.

Case in point, both the Packers' head coach and MVP quarterback have remarked in the past on the sizeable void Lazard left last year after he underwent surgery to repair a core-muscle injury, sidelining him for six games.

While the Packers have had many receivers who relished the less glamorous aspects of their position over the years, Lazard's combination of selflessness and versatility makes him one of the unsung heroes on Green Bay's roster.

So, when the Packers' special teams needed a little extra jolt on Sunday, it should come as no surprise Lazard was the first player tapping Drayton on the shoulder asking what he could do to help.

"His value to this team is in a lot of folds," Drayton said. "So for him to understand the gravity of the situation and want to come back to his roots, it's always a welcome. … I can't say enough good words about him."

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