Wide receiver Allen Lazard on Clubhouse Live: Packers have been preparing for NFC title game 'all year'
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard co-hosted Monday's Clubhouse Live, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s live weekly football show.
Among the topics he touched on were preparing for the NFC championship, offensive efficiency, scoring a key playoff touchdown and bouncing back. The show can be seen live on any of our USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Facebook pages or websites, including clubhouselive.com. It can also be seen on our YouTube channel.
Here are select and edited answers from the interview:
Q: This is the second straight season in which the Packers have advanced to the NFC championship. How does having that experience prepare you for what's to come — both on and off the field?
Lazard: Last year, if you look at it, we were the away team going into a very hostile environment (and) going up against a very stout defensive team, as well. This year, we're at home — a way more comfortable environment. I think the weather obviously plays to a huge advantage for us with Tampa Bay coming into town. So a lot of characteristics have changed and I think are going to be way more in our favor than were last year. Having the experience, too, of just playing this long into the season. Last year was my first time really playing into January before for my football career. So just having that condition on my body, of being able to play that many games for that long — six months, seven months — I'm used to it, and I know what to expect and how to prepare for the game physically and mentally, as well. Obviously, that's just me speaking for my experience. But obviously, we're a very veteran-filled team, as well. A lot of other guys are able to reflect on last year, and years prior, to be able to go out there and prepare this week how we need to so we can go out there and do our jobs Sunday.
Q: You rolled up 484 total yards against the NFL's top-ranked defense during Saturday's 32-18 victory over the Rams in an NFC divisional playoff. Can you describe the confidence the offense is playing with right now? And how did you get to this point where you're operating at such a high level?
Lazard: Preparing for the NFC Championship Game is something that we've been doing all year. We've been practicing at a very high level, pushing each other every single day. Having great leaders on our team like Davante (Adams), 12 (Aaron Rodgers), David (Bakhtiari) and countless other veterans on our team to go hard in practice, to push themselves every day to try to be better, to demand that same level, that same standard, out of everyone else is really what's preparing us for these moments — for these games — (and) why we're operating at such a high, efficient level right now and rewriting the history book.
I think it just really goes to show you the commitment that we've had on our team. But I think also, the amount of talent that we have across the board top to bottom. Our O-line - really all five of those guys have played tremendously throughout this year. Obviously, Aaron (Rodgers), MVP without a doubt at this point. Davante, obviously, probably Offensive Player of the Year. The running backs have done their roles and then some, stepping up tremendously — all three of those guys. And then I think me and the rest of the receivers have been able to fill in the void and do whatever we can to contribute, as well. So, we're just very talented top to bottom. And we love and care about each other so much that we don't want to let our teammates down. We want to go out there, and we want to make sure that if we're not catching the ball, if we're not running the ball, that we're blocking and we're making sure that we can do whatever is best for the team to help us win.
Q: Let's talk about your big 58-yard touchdown reception — a catch and score that came with 6:52 remaining in the game and turned a seven-point Packers lead into a 14-point advantage. Aaron Rodgers was seen looking your way and heard calling your name before the ball was snapped. What was going on there?
Lazard: So Aaron, kind of going throughout the game in the huddle, when he's giving his play calls, he'll add in his own little two comments here and there. Kind of putting his own spin on the play. For that play, he had me in the short motion. But rather than just kind of having me come in the short motion, he just has a different way of communicating that and knowing what he meant by that. It all plays in together. But right there, he's just kind of looking at me and kind of giving me that nod, that look — that, "Hey, go score."
Q: You dropped a pass earlier in the game that looked like it could have been a big play. How much did it mean to you for Aaron and coach Matt LaFleur to show the confidence and trust they have in you to look your way again?
Lazard: Yeah, it's very nice knowing that you have the belief from your coaches and from your teammates, especially Aaron, with the trust to be able to go out there and make a crucial play that can change the outcome of the game and to really kind of be able to spring forward and be able to separate us to ride us out for the W.