Allen Lazard returns to practice for Packers, ready to ‘get back on the tracks’

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As rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs made their NFL debuts last week, and veteran Sammy Watkins made his Packers debut, it was only a partial transition to the new era without Lazard as the leading man.

“It’s always good to have him out there, the talent,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of Lazard’s return to practice. “But it’s the leadership part that you miss when he’s not out there.”

Lazard did what he could from the sideline in Minneapolis, coaching up the rookies to play fast and not be hesitant with their routes. Because from his experience, that can make Rodgers indecisive, throwing off the timing of plays and turning his eyes elsewhere just before someone might break open.

He also tried to keep Watson’s spirits up after he dropped a would-be 75-yard TD pass on the Packers’ first offensive play. Lazard tried to keep it light, but also real, for the second-round speedster in the immediate aftermath.

“I was like, ‘It’s a drop. Who cares? Stereotypical first play of your NFL career – a go ball that you let go through your hands,'” Lazard said, repeating the tongue-in-cheekiness before turning to the more serious. message. “‘Yeah, it sucks right now, but you’re going to get a thousand more opportunities to be able to capitalize so don’t dwell on the moment and stay positive and know that 12’s going to come back to you.'”

As a receiver who’s always been further down the depth chart prior to this year, Lazard knows of what he speaks regarding readiness for whenever Rodgers might come one’s way.

It’s how he got where he is, from one game and one reception in 2018 to an expected go-to target now, so there’s no need to change his approach as his new year begins. He’s also been a No. 1 receiver before, in high school and college, even when question marks came along with the label then, so that’s nothing new, either.

Consider him as ready as he’ll ever be, as long as his ankle cooperates.

“I think (it’s) just confidence, never doubting yourself, never taking a play off,” he said. “Never being content with, ‘Oh, I’m back side on this play,’ or, ‘Oh, he’ll just never throw it to me on this play.’ Just always expecting it, always wanting the ball, always wanting to have that moment in the play that determines whether it’s a positive or negative, or goes from a 15-yard gain to a touchdown or whatever.

“I’ve always taken pride in my work, like I’ve always said, and to do the best that I can to help the team win.”

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