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Cheese Curds, 8/23: Za’Darius Smith in question for Week 1, Kylin Hill keeps impressing

While Z might still be out for a while, the Packers are getting a great look at their rookie running back, who is outplaying his 7th-round draft value.

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Divisional Round - Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers fans have been expecting left tackle David Bakhtiari to be out for the first handful of weeks of the 2021 regular season. The NFL’s best left tackle tore his ACL on New Year’s Eve last December, and it will come as no surprise if he starts the regular season on the PUP list.

Za’Darius Smith, on the other hand? His status is also in question for opening week, and his would be an absence that the Packers and their fans did not expect.

Smith started training camp on the Non-Football Injury list, as a back issue kept him off the field for the first three weeks of practice. He returned to participate in practice one week ago, but was shut down again after just one session. Now, according to the team’s top brass, Smith might be unable to suit up by week one thanks to this day-to-day issue.

If he cannot, the Packers will turn to Rashan Gary and Preston Smith on the edge, where their three-man rotation from last year would be down to two. This also would impact the team’s pass-rushing sub package, in which Z would often put his hand on the ground and rush from a 3-technique alignment.

But while Za’Darius status on the opening-week roster is far from guaranteed, a few young players are making statements that they absolutely deserve to be on the team. Perhaps nobody in the rookie class has shined more brightly so far than seventh-round pick Kylin Hill, who has a touchdown in each of the Packers’ two preseason games so far and is doing everything one could ask of a rookie running back fighting for a roster spot.

Hill and others impressed in Saturday’s game, and we’ll look at those players as well as Smith in today’s Cheese Curds.

8 takeaways from Packers’ 23-14 preseason loss to New York Jets | Packers Wire
From Kylin Hill to Kurt Benkert to Malik Taylor, get a quick rundown here of which Packers players impressed on Saturday.

Seventh-round snub continues to fuel Kylin Hill |
Hill now has two touchdowns in two NFL preseason games and there's no question that he will be the team's third running back, barring injury.

Green Bay Packers OLB Za'Darius Smith 'could potentially' miss Week 1 with back injury | ESPN
While young players impressed over the weekend, concern is building over Z's back injury. He practiced briefly early last week but went back in with the rehab group when joint practices began on Wednesday. If his injury continues to linger, that could force the Packers to keep an extra edge rusher on the final 53.

Noise complaint: Packers urge fans to save the wave, chants for when they're on defense – The Athletic (subscription)
Keep it down when the Packers have the football, would you?

NFL Quarterback Council 2021 - Ranking the top 10 QBs in arm strength, accuracy, decision-making, rushing ability, more | ESPN
Aaron Rodgers leads the way in accuracy, pocket presence, and decision-making, and is a top-three player in several other categories.

Nagy reiterates Andy Dalton will start Week 1 for Bears: 'We need to see him in the regular season' |
Hey Matt Nagy: we at APC really think that Dalton should keep starting until at least week six, and probably through week 14 as well.

Domino's customer horrified to find nuts and bolts baked into pizza toppings - LancsLive
I suspect that's not the worst thing people have found on a pizza from that particular chain.