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Friday Cheese Curds: The Smith Brothers look to regain their 2019 magic

A lot is riding on Preston Smith for the Packers’ pass rushing duo to be dynamic again

Carolina Panthers v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

When Za’Darius and Preston Smith arrived in Green Bay in 2019, not many saw the huge impact they would have on the team coming.

With a rookie head coach in Matt LaFleur trying to establish a locker room culture, he had to look no further than the team’s two biggest free agent acquisitions that year. The Smith brothers (who are not actually related) brought infectious energy to the Packers both on and off the field and their bond that led them to hold media interviews together won both teammates and fans over.

The Smiths supercharged the defense in 2019, combining for 25 sacks and giving the Packers a pass rushing tandem they haven’t had in a very long time. More than that, both became locker room leaders and provided the strongest voice the defense had since Charles Woodson.

Things changed a bit last season, however. Za’Darius nearly duplicated his 2019 sack total with 12.5 sacks but Preston’s productivity dropped significantly and recorded only four sacks.

This isn’t totally his fault. Former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine often made the puzzling decision to drop Preston into coverage instead of utilizing him as a pass rusher, something his skill set is much more geared towards.

Meanwhile the Packers aren’t paying him a hefty sum of money for four sacks so they restructured his contract instead of releasing him outright which many in the media thought they might do.

As organized team activities got under way, Preston showed up leaner than a year ago when he showed up bigger than he was in 2019. The Packers are hoping that, along with new coordinator Joe Barry, helps recapture the 2019 form.

If they can get that kind of production out of the Smith brothers again, Green Bay should be sitting pretty defensively in 2021.

Za’Darius Smith motivated by slights; Preston Smith showing a leaner look—PackersNews.com

If creating a bunch of fake Instagram accounts to fire up Za’Darius works, I’m fully on board. It’s not like the man needs any motivation but if gets him to achieve even more, go for it.

A look at Vince Lombardi’s GM decisions and messy exit—Packers.com

Legends don’t always get the exit they want or deserve. It even happened with the biggest icon in franchise history and someone the league named its championship trophy after.

Veteran OT Jared Veldheer receives six-game suspension, says he’s retiring from NFL—ESPN

If the Packers once again bring Veldheer back, it’ll be very late in the season as he will have to serve his suspension after being reinstated. That’s assuming he wants to come back at all.

Free-agent RB Todd Gurley visiting Detroit Lions—NFL.com

Todd Gurley would reunite with Jared Goff and it would be interesting to see how he would pair with former Packer Jamaal Williams.

‘Genius’ shares five words you should start every call with so you can hang up faster—Daily Mirror

We all hate talking on the phone in this age of text messaging and no one has any way to verify what your phone’s battery percentage is actually at so this is really brilliant.