FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Allen Lazard conceded he was surprised that he was inactive when the Jets played the Dolphins on Friday. Robert Saleh told him two days earlier.
“I was a little caught off guard,” Lazard said. “After talking to him, I see his reasoning for it and everything. It is what it is. We got to continue just working and get better and keep improving.”
Saleh said that Lazard would be active Sunday when the Jets face the Falcons. Saleh made the move to “challenge” Lazard, who has been a disappointment after signing a four-year, $44 million contract.
The veteran receiver has just 20 catches for 290 yards with one touchdown and at least five drops. Lazard said there’s “numerous reasons” why he hasn’t been productive as he or anyone expected.
“I think everyone would agree we haven’t reached our expectations or our goals as far as individuals and collectively as a group,” Lazard said. “There’s always room for improvement.”
Losing Aaron Rodgers four offensive snaps into the season has had a major impact on the Jets’ passing game. Zach Wilson ran the offense before getting benched in favor of Tim Boyle. The Jets are next-to-last in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
“There’s a lot of things that me as an individual can improve on and collectively as a group can improve on as well,” Lazard said.
Not being able to play with Boyle bothered Lazard. The two became good friends when they played together in Green Bay.
“I have a deep strong relationship with Tim and a lot of love for him,” Lazard said. “That’s why it hurt me even more not being able to be out there last week knowing that he’s been waiting for his opportunity. Not being out there to help him succeed and stuff like that kind of hurt me a little bit. Sounds like I’ll be out there a little bit more this week.”
On Rodgers’ return
Lazard is not surprised Rodgers is back at practice, eyeing a return from a torn Achilles tendon.
“Knowing his mindset, more so his stubbornness to kind of prove everyone wrong, it’s very on brand,” Lazard said.
Boyle said Rodgers’ “presence was missed” and that he “brings a lot of energy and wisdom to this offense and this team. We’re grateful to have him back for sure.”
Running back Breece Hall showed up on the injury report as limited because of a hamstring issue.
Cornerback Michael Carter II (hamstring) was limited also. He’s missed the past two games.
Running back Izzy Abanikanda (illness) was not at practice. Saleh expects him back Thursday.
Saleh expressed confidence that left tackle Mekhi Becton would play Sunday. He didn’t play Friday with an ankle injury. Becton was limited in practice.
If Becton returns, rookie Carter Warren could move to right tackle. Saleh said he likes what Warren has done the last two games. That could mean Max Mitchell sliding inside to right guard. If all that happens, the Jets would start their eighth different offensive line combination in eight games.
Saleh wouldn’t commit to Duane Brown (hip) returning this week.
Practice windows open
The Jets opened the 21-day practice window for Pro Bowl gunner Justin Hardee (hamstring) and offensive lineman Wes Schweitzer (calf). Hardee was injured in Week 5 and Schweitzer in Week 8.