On Wednesday, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told the media that the team would be activating cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) from the injured reserve list. Alexander, a Pro Bowl cornerback, injured his shoulder against the Pittsburgh Steelers, leading to his placement on the injured reserve list and starting some speculation that he may need to have surgery on the shoulder.
Matt LaFleur says #Packers will be "gradual" with Jaire Alexander's return, even as he is activated from IR today: "When he's ready, then he'll be available. I think it's more or less everybody feeling comfortable with where he's at, and making sure he's good for the long haul."— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) December 29, 2021
Alexander never had surgery and, in fact, started practicing with the team on December 8th, triggering the start of the 21-day window NFL teams have to make the decision to activate players off of the injured reserve or not. On the final day of that 21-day window, today, the Packers are finally bringing Alexander back to the 53-man roster.
An activation does not mean that Alexander will play this week, though, as we learned with David Bakhtiari’s activation. Bakhtiari began practicing with the team on October 18th and was activated on November 10th, but has still yet to play in a game for the team following a followup surgery on his knee. The expiring practice window forces teams to make decisions about the remainder of the season, not just the short-term benefit to the team.
The good news, though, is the fact that Green Bay thinks that putting Alexander on the 53-man roster is something worth fighting for, meaning that he could potentially return to the starting lineup in the playoffs. While activations aren’t short-term decisions, it’s not like there’s much of a season left beyond the short-term anyway. Since Alexander’s absence, rookie Eric Stokes and breakout Rasul Douglas have taken over as the team’s starting cornerbacks.