Allen Lazard answers the call to help replace injured Randall Cobb in the slot
GREEN BAY - When Randall Cobb was brought home to Green Bay, it was as a comfort blanket for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A veteran presence downfield who had an established chemistry with Rodgers to help Matt LaFleur’s offense hum. He was doing just that before being placed on injured reserve Saturday with a core muscle injury.
The Packers had a number of receivers who could have stepped up to take extra snaps in Sunday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears, ranging from Equanimeous St. Brown to the player drafted for the slot role, rookie Amari Rodgers.
Davante Adams motioned inside at times, typically on third down, as the Packers defeated the Bears 45-30. Yet in the end, it was Allen Lazard who saw the biggest increase in production.
Lazard finished the night with six receptions on seven targets for 75 yards and a touchdown, trailing only Adams in total yardage. All three categories were season highs for Lazard. While his numbers increased in Cobb’s absence, Lazard said he wasn’t asked to change his approach to match that of his teammate.
“I feel like I did a lot of the same stuff I usually do," Lazard said. "Maybe I got some more snaps. But I’m so locked into the game, I don’t really think about my role changing in that sense. I prepare for any role to present itself at any given time of the game. Whether I’m playing Z, F, Y, X, whatever it may be.
“We’re pretty interchangeable in our receiver room, just really in a skill position. We run different formations, plays. I don’t think my role changed too much but it was great to contribute and help the team win.”
From the opening drive, it was clear he would become a focus, with the Packers' first offensive snap going to Lazard on a 6-yard pass. His impact didn’t stop there. Lazard flashed his vertical leap on the following drive and snagged a 32-yard pass off a defensive back’s hands.
“Randall (Cobb) being out put (Lazard) in the slot a little more," Rodgers said. Quez (Marquez Valdes-Scantling) is very comfortable outside and although we moved Davante in the slot a little bit, after we weren’t able to get him going early in the game, Allen’s gonna start in the slot for us. Definitely there were some opportunities for him and he made the most of them, beginning with the first big catch of the game on a third-and-long.”
But it was Lazard’s third catch of the night that stood out. On fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, LaFleur elected to go for the touchdown. After a fake handoff, Rodgers hit Lazard on a short slant for the score.
Another big gain from Lazard set up an Adams touchdown just before halftime, and the third-year receiver was helping the Packers chip in to what had become a surprising Bears lead. After regaining the lead in the third, Rodgers and the Packers were looking to put the game away. Once again, the offense turned to Lazard.
A sly handoff to Lazard employed him on a jet sweep. After Lazard hit the edge for a 14-yard gain, a late hit on the receiver moved the Packers even further into the red zone. They were able to come away with three points to make it a two-possession game and the Bears wouldn’t recover.
Said Rodgers of his receiver’s big night: “Last time out (against the Los Angeles Rams), he had a couple opportunities that I know he wish he’d came up with and the Allen I know usually makes those plays. So it was fun to see him come out tonight, have a really solid game, make some really important plays in important game situations.”