On Monday, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur spoke on the status of pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith, following the late-Friday news that Smith had back surgery earlier in the previous week. When LaFleur was asked if Smith, who has been on injured reserve since Week 2 of the season, will be back in 2021, LaFleur stated, “Well, I hope so, but I don’t really know with a lot of it. It just depends on how you heel. Certainly, we’re hopeful, but that’s a ways away.”
The other big question for the Packers is the health of another Pro Bowl defender: cornerback Jaire Alexander. Alexander went down with a shoulder injury yesterday against the Steelers, which has apparently put him in an arm sling per a screenshot from his sister Nadia’s social media account.
LaFleur made it clear that the team wasn’t necessarily sure of the extent of Alexander’s shoulder injury, as the staff is still seeking opinions on the injury. LaFleur did say, though, that the team would have an update on Alexander’s status by Wednesday. Because of the uncertainty of the injury, like with Smith, LaFleur was unable to commit to saying that Alexander wasn’t going to be out for the remainder of the season.
If you’re into reading between the lines, it would seem like the best-case scenario at this point for the Packers would be that Alexander would only have to go on short-term injured reserve, with the hope that he comes back later in the season. Depending on how Kevin King progresses through the concussion protocol, Green Bay may have to start Eric Stokes and Isaac Yiadom at cornerback against the Cincinnati Bengals this week.