The Green Bay Packers canceled their practice on Tuesday after stating earlier in the week that they would have a light day of work. Per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the cancelation is not Covid related, though.
When head coach Matt LaFleur met with the media, he was asked about the health of key players who are recovering from serious injury. When asked about pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith, LaFleur stated, “I would not anticipate him out there on the practice field [this week.]”
Smith has been on the injured reserve since Week 2. Smith originally played in Week 1 for the team after not practicing throughout the summer with a back injury. Since then, he has had a surgery to his injured back. In his absence, Rashan Gary has taken over in a starting role and has produced 6.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and 21 quarterback hits this season.
Unlike Smith, tackle David Bakhtiari and cornerback Jaire Alexander have practiced as of late. Still, LaFleur claimed, “I wouldn’t anticipate those guys to play this week.” Bakhtiari is on the 53-man roster, but had a follow up surgery to his knee after he had already been activated from the injury list. Alexander just recently started practicing, triggering his 21-day window to return to the team, after rehabbing a shoulder injury that occurred against the Cincinnati Bengals earlier in the season.
With Bakhtiari out, Yosh Nijman looks to start another week on quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blindside, while breakout cornerback Rasul Douglas will get another nod as a starting corner opposite of rookie first-round pick Eric Stokes. Until this past weekend, the Packers had used three safeties in their dime defenses, though cornerback Kevin King overtook the second slot role from safety Henry Black against the Baltimore Ravens. If Green Bay wishes to, there’s now a smoother way to get Alexander, Stokes and Douglas on the field together in dime or even nickel looks once Alexander returns to the field.
LaFleur was not asked about right tackle Billy Turner (knee), who has not been placed on the injured reserve after leaving the game two weeks ago against the Chicago Bears. One would assume that if Turner wasn’t placed on injured reserve, which only forces a player off of the 53-man roster for three weeks if they’re designated to return, then Turner’s timetable to return would be sometime over the next two weeks. The status of rookie center Josh Myers (knee), who was placed on injured reserve in Week 6, has not been discussed by the coaching staff as of late.