Allen Lazard, coming off the Miami game when he was deactivated for the first time as a Jets wideout, was a strong interview subject after Wednesday's practice on a couple of tracks.
One line of questioning was his deactivation, which head coach Robert Saleh explained but which Lazard hadn't commented on.
"I was a little caught off guard," he said of hearing the plan to have him sit out the Black Friday game a week ago. "But after talking to [Saleh], I could see his reasoning for it and everything. It is what it is. I've got to continue just working to get better and keep improving."
"There are things we all need to get better at, including him," Saleh said after the 34-13 loss to the Dolphins. "He is going to be here for the next year and a half, he's going to be a part of this. I just wanted to make sure that, one, I wanted to get some of the young guys an opportunity to play, and two, it's kind of a challenge to see if he can recapture the edge and who he is and the person that we have a lot of faith in. He's a good football player. I do believe that. For Allen, he will be back sooner rather than later."
Lazard had a good track record as a reliable big-catch-radius WR with the Packers (and Aaron Rodgers, of course) from his second season as a pro in 2019 through '22 before coming east to join the Jets as a free agent. For his Green Bay stay he had 258 targets, 168 catches, 2,229 yards and 20 touchdowns. With the Jets, Lazard seemed to suffer from the malaise that hit any number of offensive players recently. His numbers for the Green & White are 41 targets, 20 catches, 290 yards and one TD. The past two games, he had one reception for 17 yards at Las Vegas and no catches on one target at Buffalo.
But Lazard is a level-headed, thoughtful guy. He answered questions about last week's status honestly but evenly. And when the subject of Rodgers returning to practice on a limited basis Wednesday a mere 11 weeks and one day after having his Achilles tendon, torn in the season opener, surgically repaired, Lazard also didn't bat an eye.
"Nah," he said when asked if he was surprised by No. 8's presence on the fields at 1 Jets Drive. "Having been around him for the time I've been around him, I know his mindset and more so his stubbornness," Lazard said if he was surprised at seeing No. 8 back on the fields at 1 Jets Drive.
"Never say never, especially with him," the wideout added about if he thinks Rodgers will play again this season. "To see him walking right now, how comfortable he is, walking, hopping around and skipping and stuff, it's quite impressive."
The Rodgers storylines include the speculation of whether he'd attempt to play if the Jets were out of playoff contention by the time he could be cleared to return. The almost-28-years-old Lazard wasn't putting any restrictions on Rodgers, who will turn 40 on Saturday.
"I want him to be as happy and healthy as possible, not only today, tomorrow and the rest of the season but long-term down the road, when he's actually retired, hanging the cleats up and everything," he said. "So whatever he decides to do I'm going to be fully supportive of. And it's hard to say that we're not better with him out there on the field."
Lazard has one more sidebar for the game ahead against Atlanta, which Saleh said the wideout would be active for. This story has to do with both deactivation and Green Bay, since Lazard didn't get to participate vs. the 'Fins with QB Tim Boyle, who made his first start as a Jet and who was also his Packers teammate in 2019-20.
"Tim is actually a big reason why I'm here today. I balled out with him in the 2019 preseason, he threw me my first touchdown, we had some days on practice squad and scout team just doing our thing," Lazard said. "I have a deep, strong relationship with Tim and a lot of love for him. That's why it kind of hurt me even more, not being able to be out there last week, knowing that he waited for his opportunity to be presented to him and not being out there to help him succeed.
"It just kind of hurt me a little bit," he said, again with the voice of reason and, perhaps, determination and edge. "But it sounds like I'll be out there a little bit more this week."
See the Jets back on the practice field on Wednesday to kick off Week 13 practices.