On Wednesday evening, the Green Bay Packers made it official: the team placed D.J. Smith on injured reserve, ending his season. Smith suffered a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament during last Sunday's game in Houston, and will likely be replaced by Brad Jones or Robert Francois in the starting lineup. Regardless of which player replaces him, that person will likely be asked to contribute substantially in pass coverage because of fellow ILB A.J. Hawk's struggles in that area.
The decision on which player will replace Smith on the active roster will prove to be an interesting one. Both tight end Andrew Quarless and outside linebacker Frank Zombo began practicing on Wednesday, after spending the first six weeks of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. If their rehabs have progressed sufficiently, it's possible that one of them may be placed on the active roster this week, which would make them eligible to play against the Rams this Sunday. However, the Packers have a three-week grace period before they are required to place those players on the active roster or release them.
Ultimately, Smith's injury deprives the Packers of another young, talented player in the middle of the defense, and brings them down to their third-string choice at that inside linebacker position. Hopefully Smith makes a full recovery and will be at full strength by the start of the 2013 season.