The Green Bay Packers won over a lot of Iowa State fans Wednesday morning by officially making a move that had been expected since Tuesday afternoon: placing practice squad member Allen Lazard on the active roster.
Lazard — who broke multiple receiving records in his career with the Cyclones — was floating around the 53-man roster for much of summer practices and training camp, earning the praise of All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers along the way.
"He's made a bunch of plays, always showing up on special teams and does the right things in practice. Allen is definitely good enough to be an NFL player," Rodgers told Lily Zhao of WFRV Green Bay in August. "He's had a fantastic training camp."
But Lazard did not survive the Packers' final round of cuts over the weekend, and instead found a way onto the team's practice squad after getting through the waiver process.
Aaron Rodgers singled out Allen Lazard, in the best way possible.— Lily Zhao (@LilySZhao) August 19, 2019
Rodgers: "He's made a bunch of plays, always showing up on special teams & does the right things in practice. Allen is definitely good enough to be an NFL player. He's had a fantastic training camp." #Packers
It wasn't the first time the Urbandale native had been waived in his NFL career, which began acrimoniously by going undrafted in 2018 after many draft gurus had projected him to be a third-day pick.
The Jacksonville Jaguars picked up Lazard in free agency and he spent a portion of the 2018 season on their practice squad before the Packers — facing an injury crisis at wideout and in the midst of a disappointing season — signed Lazard to the active roster and gave him his first game time.
Now, he'll have the opportunity, depending on if he gets in the game, to continue his career.
But he won't be the only former Cyclone skill position player on the field Thursday night at Soldier Field.
David Montgomery will be across the sideline from Lazard, taking his spot on the field as the likely Chicago Bears starter at running back. Montgomery was the Bears' third-round pick (73rd overall), and the first Iowa State running back drafted since Troy Davis 22 years ago.
Montgomery impressed Bears coach Matt Nagy in preseason and in training camp, sitting out the last two preseason games after essentially solidifying his role in the offense early on.
Montgomery, as Cyclone fans will know, isn't particularly fast, but he makes up for his lack of explosive pace with his quick reflexes and ability to cut with ease to avoid tackles.
But what does this have to do with Iowa State football now, you might ask? Well, it means a lot.
Any NFL success from former Iowa State skill position players is important for the growth of the football program. Matt Campbell has made it very clear that player development is a key pillar of his program, and while Lazard was a Paul Rhoads recruit, his development under Campbell is what has allowed him to stick around in the NFL so far.
As for Montgomery, he was a key cog in the Cyclones' rebuild — and success in the NFL could be a boon for Campbell's profile in NFL circles (which could mean losing him to the League in a few years) as well as in recruiting circles.
So, as benign as it may seem, Thursday night's NFL season opener is a great sign for Iowa State and the Cyclones' standing in the football world.