The Packers’ receiving group features several new players this season, and a stalwart from recent campaigns may be out for the season opener. Allen Lazard did not participate in the club’s Wednesday practice, and he was still absent when the squad returned to the office on Monday. The nature of the injury that has kept Lazard off the field is unknown, but head coach Matt LaFleur has said only that Lazard’s status would be monitored throughout the week.
LaFleur seemed more positive about Christian Watson, a second-round pick who has missed time this summer due to knee surgery, but he did not rule out Watson’s participation in Sunday’s game against the Vikings. Wide receivers Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Romeo Doubs, Amari Rodgers, and Samori Toure round out the team’s 53-man roster.
Christian Watson, another rookie, is in limbo as a receiver. The April second-round NFL draft pick sat out the whole preseason while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. LaFleur is hesitating to say whether or not he will play on Sunday.
Again, we’ll see where he’s at by the end of the week, but that’s the hope, he said. Even though Watson was a rookie and didn’t attend training camp, LaFleur is confident in his ability to contribute right away.
Allen Lazard was working off to the side with rehab coordinator Nate Weir. Seemed to be moving fine doing footwork/catching drills.
David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins were doing individual drills. pic.twitter.com/VAtatwJEwi
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) August 31, 2022
The physical abilities are obvious, he told them. The quickness and strength he possesses. We’re trying to help him adjust as quickly as possible, but I think he still has a lot to learn. But we’ll have a more detailed strategy for him, and we’ll have a plan, and we’ll see how it goes.
Watson acknowledged the importance of mental reps to the sideline in his preparation for his first NFL game, despite the fact that the speed and defenses of the NFL can be intimidating.
“I got to take more mental reps than I would have gotten physically, and I just made sure I was locked in the whole time,” he said. “Even though I wasn’t out there, I took it one day at a time, kept studying the playbook and doing mental reps, and I felt prepared when I returned; the physical familiarity followed, of course.
As promised by LaFleur, OL Elgton Jenkins back at #Packers practice after sitting out Sunday.
New to not practicing list: WR Allen Lazard, WR Ishmael Hyman, S Shawn Davis, WR Travis Fulgham, TE Marcedes Lewis. pic.twitter.com/MDllHpPMLG
— Mike Spofford (@mikespofford) August 29, 2022
“There will be some nervousness there just it being my first one, but I’m confident in myself, confident in the playbook and everything, and if I do get the chance, I feel like I’ll be ready to go,” the player said.
One of the best seasons ever for the Cyclones was 2016 when Lazard had his breakout year. After leading the team in catches (69), receiving yards (1,018), and touchdown catches (seven), he became only the fourth player in school history to accomplish a 1,000-yard season.
He was seventh in the Big 12 and 29th in the nation in receiving yards per game (10.3) and sixth in the Big 12 in receptions per game (5.8) (84.8). Lazard started the year off strong with two games of 100 yards or more, one against in-state foe UNI (129) and another against Iowa (111).
He has eight catches for 134 yards in the game against Kansas State. Against Kansas, he had a career-best performance, with 10 receptions for 120 yards and a score, a new personal best.
The final three games of the season for Lazard had totals of 100 yards or more: against Kansas (120), Texas Tech (137), and West Virginia (100). (103). All-Big 12 first-team selections came from the coaches and ESPN, and Lazard also won the Pete Taylor MVP award for the second year in a row.
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