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Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay Packers lobbied in fourth for Allen Lazard to play



GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers wanted Allen Lazard on the field, and Lazard wanted Rodgers to throw him the ball.

Both moves helped save the Green Bay Packers on Monday night against the Detroit Lions.

Even with Davante Adams already out for a second straight game with turf toe and Geronimo Allison knocked out of the game with a head and chest injury, the Packers still didn’t immediately turn to Lazard.

In fact, it wasn’t until after rookie receiver Darrius Shepherd dropped a pass at the Lions’ 1-yard line — it actually ricocheted off his facemask and was intercepted — that the Packers finally went to the relatively unknown 6-foot-5 receiver.

And not until Rodgers asked for him.

“I may have put in a good word there in the fourth quarter to get him some opportunities,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers said he went to receivers coach Alvis Whitted and asked “if [No. 13] could come in for a little bit.”

Four catches, 65 yards and a touchdown later, the Packers had a new hero. Yes, Mason Crosby officially finished off the 23-22 victory with a 23-yard last-second field goal — with his wife, Molly, in the stands a mere six weeks after she underwent surgery to remove a cancerous spot in her lung.

But if not for Lazard, who before Monday night had never caught a pass in a regular-season game from Rodgers, the Packers might not be 5-1 and atop the NFC North.

Down 22-13, Rodgers first went to Lazard on deep ball that fell incomplete. One play later, Rodgers went back to him, and it turned into a 35-yard touchdown.

It was Lazard’s first catch of the season and just the second of his career.

Last season, the former undrafted free agent from Iowa State who originally signed the Jaguars and then was signed by the Packers off Jacksonville’s practice on Dec. 18 played one snap and caught one pass for 7 yards. It came in the regular-season finale against the Lions after Rodgers had left the game because of a concussion.

Before Sunday, Lazard had played just 21 snaps and his only target wasn’t even an official target because pass interference was called in the Week 4 loss to the Eagles.

Yet there was Lazard after Monday night’s game oozing confidence.

“I’m made for this s—,” Lazard said.

Lazard’s other three catches all came on the game-winning drive. Two went for first downs.

“I actually sit next to him in the team meetings, and we’ve struck up a pretty good friendship,” Rodgers said. “The thing that got me was, which you love as a quarterback, and that’s receivers coming back and telling you he wants the ball and what routes he wants to run. The big first down we had to him on the out route, that was him coming back to the huddle and telling me what play he wanted. For a young guy to do that, how can you not have confidence in that.”

Rodgers said coach Matt LaFleur had two play calls in mind.

“I said go with the first one because I’m going to throw it to Allen and we’re going to move the sticks,” Rodgers said. “And we did.”

All this for a player the Packers cut at the end of training camp in favor of Shepherd.

“I was definitely worried he was going to get picked up because the production was there in preseason,” Rodgers said.

After no one claimed Lazard off waivers, the Packers re-signed him to their practice squad immediately and then promoted him to the active roster the day before the season opener at Chicago.

“I honestly just believed in myself,” Lazard said. “I knew what my capabilities were. I know the talent that I have, I know the production that I produced before. It’s a different stage, but it’s the same to me.”

It’s unclear when Adams will return; he said last week that his toe “doesn’t feel how I want it to feel at the moment.” And Allison’s injury could potentially be serious. But it’s clear Rodgers thinks he has a new reliable weapon in Lazard.

“I think sometimes you have an injury or whatnot or for whatever reason and that’s how some guys become who they are,” LaFleur said. “He was given his opportunity and to his credit, he was ready for that opportunity.”

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Browns’ Myles Garrett suspended indefinitely for role in fight vs. Steelers



The NFL has indefinitely suspended Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett for hitting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his helmet during Thursday night’s game.

In addition, Steelers lineman Maurkice Pouncey has been suspended three games and Browns lineman Larry Ogunjobi for one game.

Rudolph has been banned for the remainder of the regular season and postseason, the NFL said. He also must meet with the commissioner’s office prior to being reinstated next season.

All three players have been fined, and the Steelers and Browns organizations have also been fined $250,000 each.

All suspensions can be appealed.

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Ex-Browns WR Antonio Callaway suspended 10 games



Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway has lost his appeal and will be suspended for his next 10 games, regular season or postseason, for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday.

The Browns waived Callaway on Thursday.

Callaway’s agent, Malki Kawa, had tweeted that Callaway was facing the ban for taking a tainted CBD supplement.

Callaway was a healthy inactive for Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills after showing up late to a game. His replacement in the lineup, wide receiver Rashard Higgins, wound up catching the game-winning touchdown.

A source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that Callaway was late again this week.

Asked why the team waived him, a source said to ESPN’s Josina Anderson: “Too many issues.”

But the receiver’s troubles began far before that.

Callaway was suspended for the first four games of this season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He tested positive for marijuana at the 2018 NFL scouting combine and was cited for possession of marijuana while driving with a suspended license last August. Police also found bullets and a gun part while searching his vehicle. The possession charge was dropped at a hearing on Jan. 25, and Callaway pleaded guilty to operating without a valid license and speeding.

While at Florida, Callaway was suspended for the entire 2017 season for allegedly using stolen credit card information to fund bookstore accounts. He was also cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession and possession of drug equipment during a traffic stop by Gainesville police in May 2017.

The Browns drafted Callaway anyway then backed him after the four-game suspension was announced, with general manager John Dorsey declaring that the franchise would stand by him as long as he was “committed to taking advantage of the resources made available to him by our club and the league to help him become the best version of himself as a person first and foremost.”

Yet earlier this week after Callaway was late, Kitchens admitted he didn’t know if the second-year player “had gotten the message or not.”

Callaway had eight catches for 89 yards this season.

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Mason Rudolph’s agent — No legal options ruled out after Steelers-Browns fight



CLEVELAND — The agent for Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph isn’t ruling out any legal options in the aftermath of a late-game melee Thursday night.

“I am gathering all information and no options have been removed from the table,” Tim Younger said when reached by text message Friday morning.

Rudolph was struck in the head with his own helmet by Cleveland’s Myles Garrett after the Browns defensive end ripped it off in the final seconds of the Steelers’ 21-7 loss.

The fight started when Garrett took Rudolph to the ground following the quarterback’s short pass to Trey Edmunds on third-and-long. Rudolph appeared to attempt to dislodge Garrett’s helmet as the two exchanged words. As Rudolph stood up, Garrett ripped Rudolph’s helmet off and swung it at him as offensive linemen David DeCastro tried to push Garrett away.

“It was pretty cowardly,” Rudolph said. “Pretty bush league.”

The incident evoked memories of Tennessee’s Albert Haynesworth stomping on the head of the Cowboys’ Andre Gurode in a 2006 game. Haynesworth was suspended five games, but Gurode opted against pressing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit.

Younger tweeted about Thursday night’s incident after the game.

“There are many risks an NFL QB assumes every snap taken on the field,” Younger wrote. “Being hit on your uncovered head by a helmet being swung by a 275-pound DE is not one of them. Tonight could have had a catastrophic ending. The matter will be reviewed thoroughly.”

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