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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Next man up: Allen Lazard.
Lazard caught his first pass from Aaron Rodgers on Monday night. He ended up catching three more, including one for a 35-yard touchdown in the Packers’ win over Detroit. It was the biggest moment of the undrafted second-year receiver’s career.
”Anybody can do it one time, and that’s what we say, but now you gotta do it each and every time,” coach Matt LaFleur said. ”That’s the expectation and that’s the standard. But, again, he puts in the work and he does a great job in practice. So I’m excited to see him put together back-to-back-to-back (productive games) and see where it goes.”
Lazard will try for an encore on Sunday when Green Bay (5-1) hosts the Oakland Raiders (3-2), a team the Packers have defeated seven straight times, going back to 1990.
”Monday was great and all, but our focus is on Miami in February (site of the Super Bowl). So we still gotta get to there,” Lazard said.
Despite being an All-Big 12 performer in three seasons at Iowa State, the 6-foot-5 Lazard went undrafted last year and wound up on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. He used that time to learn from one of the game’s best.
”I was going against Jalen Ramsey every single day,” Lazard said. ”And so just to be able to sit there and go against him, and really, I was studying, watching him, how he reacted against me and how he played me. I sat there and talked to him, asked him questions. What was he doing here? What was he thinking?”
That preparation made Lazard an attractive option for the Packers, who snatched him from the Jaguars toward the end of last season.
Injuries to receivers Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison and a vote of confidence from Rodgers created an opportunity for Lazard to showcase his skills. Now, Lazard is another weapon for Rodgers in an offense that Raiders coach Jon Gruden and his staff have to figure out how to stop.
”They are doing a lot of different things with the structure of their plays, but Rodgers is still working the snap count,” Gruden said.
”You see him beat Denver with the hard count. His magnificent scrambling, creating offense is uncommon, it’s just unbearable to watch. I hate watching this guy, he’s fun to watch but he’s really not fun to watch when you got to play against him. He still has a very quick trigger, deadly accurate, a lot of overall athleticism and a great competitor. You saw it again the other night.”
The Packers announced the signing of receiver Ryan Grant on Wednesday. The 6-foot, 194-pound six-year veteran was with the Raiders from the offseason through the first two games this year. Grant, who worked out with Adams during the offseason, will wear No. 11 for Green Bay.
”I just want to come in and help as much as possible,” Grant said. ”Whether it’s on offense or special teams. Anyway, anywhere I can help.”
FRIEND OR FOE?
No. 11 previously belonged to Trevor Davis, whom the Packers traded to Oakland following their Week 2 win over the Vikings. Davis had four catches for 42 yards and a 52-yard kickoff return in the Raiders’ Week 5 win over Chicago in London.
Oakland also has Rodgers’ former backup, DeShone Kizer. Kizer played in three games for the Packers last season and threw for 273 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for Green Bay during the preseason before not making the team’s 53-man roster.
The Raiders have been searching for a consistent pass rush ever since trading away Khalil Mack before last season. The rush is showing signs of progress. Oakland had four sacks in its last game against Chicago for its most since 2017. Benson Mayowa leads the team with 4 1/2 sacks, second-year defensive tackle Maurice Hurst had two against the Bears, and rookie Maxx Crosby got his first and has been disruptive the past two weeks.
GROUND AND POUND
Rookie Josh Jacobs is showing why the Raiders drafted him in the first round. His 430 yards rushing is the second most for a Raiders rookie through five games to Bo Jackson’s 475 yards in 1987. He had 26 carries for 123 yards and two TDs against the Bears and has been a bigger factor in the passing game of late with five catches his past two games. The running game should get a boost this week with the expected return of right guard Gabe Jackson, who has been out since training camp with a knee injury.
WHERE ARE THE WIDEOUTS?
Oakland will be without its projected top four wide receivers heading into the season this week. Antonio Brown was expected to be the focal point of the offense before getting released two days before the opener.
Tyrell Williams got off to a strong start this year but is expected to miss his second straight game with a foot injury. Grant and J.J. Nelson have both been released in recent weeks. That leaves Davis, fifth-round rookie Hunter Renfrow and recently acquired Zay Jones as the top options for quarterback Derek Carr.
”We’ve had a lot of things happen to our wide receiver corps, so we’ve been on the lookout to acquire some good, young players,” Gruden said. ”To get Zay for what we feel like we gave up is a risk worth taking and we’ll see if it pays any dividends, but he’s a good young player. He’s got some size and speed and was a very, very productive receiver, so we’re happy to have him.”
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference (NFC) North division. It is the third-oldest franchise in the NFL, dating back to 1919, and is the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team based in the United States.[a] Home games have been played at Lambeau Field since 1957.
The Packers are the last of the “small town teams” which were common in the NFL during the league’s early days of the 1920s and ’30s. Founded in 1919 by Earl “Curly” Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun, the franchise traces its lineage to other semi-professional teams in Green Bay dating back to 1896. Between 1919 and 1920, the Packers competed against other semi-pro clubs from around Wisconsin and the Midwest, before joining the American Professional Football Association (APFA), the forerunner of today’s NFL, in 1921. Although Green Bay is by far the smallest major league professional sports market in North America, Forbes ranked the Packers as the world’s 26th most valuable sports franchise in 2016, with a value of $2.35 billion.
The Packers have won 13 league championships, the most in NFL history, with nine pre–Super Bowl NFL titles and four Super Bowl victories. The Packers won the first two Super Bowls in 1967 and 1968 and were the only NFL team to defeat the American Football League (AFL) prior to the AFL–NFL merger. The Vince Lombardi Trophy is named after the Packers’ coach of the same name, who guided them to their first two Super Bowls. Their two subsequent Super Bowl wins came in 1996 and 2010.
The Packers are long-standing adversaries of the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and Detroit Lions, who today comprise the NFL’s NFC North division, and were formerly members of the NFC Central Division. They have played over 100 games against each of those teams through history, and have a winning overall record against all of them, a distinction only shared with the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys. The Bears–Packers rivalry is one of the oldest in NFL history, dating back to 1921.