Despite less-than-stellar injury news in Week 7, the Green Bay Packers were able to pull off a 24-10 win against the Washington Football Team, despite being outgained in terms of offensive yardage. One reason for their conservative inactives list could have been their upcoming matchup against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, who they are set to play on Thursday Night Football.
After the game, head coach Matt LaFleur said the outside linebacker Preston Smith (oblique) was “selfless” not to play against Washington. Smith, who played for Washington prior to his time with the Packers, clearly wanted to play based on how LaFleur was speaking on the situation. With that being said, the question of how singularly focused Green Bay was for Week 7 is a fair one after LaFleur stated, “I’d be sitting here lying to you if I said it didn’t play a little bit of a role for that,” in regards to if Smith’s activity was influenced by their quick turnaround for Thursday. I guess that’s just life before a short week.
Smith isn’t the only player who wasn’t rushed to the field, either. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee, physically unable to perform) and starting wide receiver Marques Valdes-Scantling (hamstring, injured reserve) were eligible to return to the team this week based on their injury list desginations, as was tight end Dominique Dafney (hip.) None of them were activated by the Saturday deadline for Week 7’s action, though Bakhtiari did practice with the team last week and Dafney has been practicing for the last two weeks.
Starting cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) also missed the game against Washington after practicing with the team earlier in the week and being listed as questionable on Friday. In his place, Rasul Douglas, who was picked up off of Arizona’s practice squad in Week 4, made his first start as a Packer on Sunday.
If you’re reading between the lines here, it’s fair to think that the Packers felt less threatened by the Football Team than the Cardinals, putting them in a position to prioritize Week 8 (and beyond) rather than just Week 7. If this was the Packers’ plan all along, you would expect to see Smith, Bakhtiari, Valdes-Scantling, King, and Dafney to be closer to playing on Thursday than they were on Sunday. For what it’s worth, the Packers were named as underdogs in their Week 8 matchup for only their second time this season.