Losing ascending WR Allen Lazard is a tough blow for Packers

The Green Bay Packers are suddenly razor-thin at the wide receiver position.

While Davante Adams is close to a return from a hamstring injury, the Packers are losing ascending young receiver Allen Lazard, who – according to Adam Schefter of ESPN – had surgery on a core muscle injury and is out indefinitely.

Lazard has been terrific as a secondary weapon to start 2020, catching 13 passes for a team-high 254 yards through the first three games. Aaron Rodgers has a perfect passer rating when targeting him (158.3) this season,. He’s the No. 1 receiver in the NFL by Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Coach Matt LaFleur has called Lazard the “enforcer” in the run game.

On the field for almost 90 percent of the offense’s snaps the first three weeks, Lazard had clearly ascended to the No. 2 receiver role for the NFL’s highest-scoring offense. In New Orleans on Sunday night, he put on his best Adams impersonation, catching six passes for 146 yards and a score in primetime.

Losing Lazard at this point is a tough blow. The Packers didn’t upgrade the talent at the receiver position this past offseason, but the receivers have been significantly better to start 2020. LaFleur’s scheme is getting them open consistently and on time, and Rodgers has trusted they’ll always be where they need to be within the framework of plays, creating an efficient passing game that has created a bunch of chunk plays to start 2020. Lazard is clearly a player LaFleur and Rodgers trust, and his production early on this season speaks for itself. Taking Lazard out of the equation could really mess with what the Packers have going.

The Packers are just running out of proven receivers.

Adams has an uncertain status for Monday night, Lazard could miss several weeks if not months, and Equanimeous St. Brown is already on injured reserve with a knee injury. Devin Funchess opted out, and Jake Kumerow is playing in Buffalo.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling is healthy, but the rest of the depth chart is nothing if not unproven. Darrius Shepherd (one career catch) and Malik Taylor (zero catches) are on the active roster, and the Packers have four receivers – Robert Foster, Reggie Begelton and newcomers Caleb Scott and Juwann Winfree – on the practice squad.

Tyler Ervin is a wildcard. He’s been a gadget weapon for the Packers offense, playing some receiver and running back. Matt LaFleur and his staff cross-trained him at receiver this summer, so he’ll likely get chances to do more things from the slot moving forward.

Shepherd and Taylor were both in Green Bay last season, giving them both some experience in the offense, and Begelton has been around since January. Foster was added in early September, while Scott and Winfree will be learning on the fly this week.

Shepherd likely has the best chance to play early with Lazard out of the picture, and the Packers like Taylor’s athleticism.

Foster played in 26 games with the Buffalo Bills and has attractive speed. He could be an option to bring up from the practice squad this week if he’s comfortable in the offense.

Begelton didn’t do much during the summer but the Packers clearly wanted to give him more chances to learn the offense and become a contributor. It’s unclear what Scott or Winfree could bring to the table at this point.

The Packers are going to get Adams back at some point soon, either this week against the Atlanta Falcons or after the bye. St. Brown’s injury wasn’t considered serious, so he’ll likely be back in the fold at some point in the near future. It’s possible Adams, Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown, with some Ervin sprinkled in, will be good enough.

The debate over whether the Packers should have done more at receiver this offseason is one for the past. They should have, regardless of this injury. Losing Lazard is still a crushing blow. His ascension as a player and early production in 2020 provided a perfect reflection of his individual growth and the collective progression of the Packers offense. Football is a cruel game. Just like that, the Packers are robbed of a crucial player at a position where they just couldn’t afford injuries.

Related

Packers WR Allen Lazard 'out indefinitely' after surgery on core muscle

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source https://sports.yahoo.com/losing-ascending-wr-allen-lazard-014307926.html?src=rss

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