GREEN BAY – Jaire Alexander was back on the practice field Wednesday, as the Packers began preparations for a pivotal regular-season finale this Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
The two-time All-Pro missed last week's 33-10 win over Minnesota while serving a team-issued suspension but confirmed he's had productive meetings with both Head Coach Matt LaFleur and General Manager Brian Gutekunst since the punishment was levied on Dec. 27.
Alexander believes the suspension and the conversations that followed will help improve communication between himself and the organization in the long term. The 26-year-old cornerback added that he's "very grateful to be here" and hopes to remain with the team next season.
"I think it was definitely something to learn from," said Alexander after practice. "There's definitely things that I could have improved upon during that (Carolina) week to help with communication. Moving forward, that won't happen again."
While Alexander was not able to be with the team last week, he continued to train and prepare on his own. He also agreed that this is the best he's felt in a while after missing 10 total games due to back and shoulder injuries.
That was further evidenced by the fact Green Bay listed Alexander as a full participant for the first time in a practice since he first injured his back in practice during the final week of September.
Before the suspension, the 5-foot-10, 196-pound cornerback returned from a six-game lay off for the Packers' Week 16 matchup with Carolina, playing all 66 defensive snaps in a 33-30 victory.
Alexander said he "pretty much" got through his return game against Carolina without any setbacks with the shoulder and expects "it should be good" enough to play in Sunday's win-and-get-in matchup with the Bears.
The Packers are excited to have the sixth-year veteran back. Even in the release announcing the suspension, Gutekunst reiterated that Alexander "is a valued member of this team and will continue to be in the future."
"It was great to have him back," said LaFleur after Wednesday's practice. "We had a great conversation on Monday, and I think he's ready to go."
Alexander admits it was difficult to watch from afar last week but sent encouraging text messages to his fellow corners. He also was proud of how Carrington Valentine and Corey Ballentine stepped up in a stingy defensive performance against All-Pro receiver Justin Jefferson and Co.
Alexander now looks forward to a challenging encounter with a surging Bears offense led by third-year quarterback Justin Fields and dynamic receiver D.J. Moore, who leads Chicago with 92 catches for 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
A win over the Bears would catapult the Packers back into the postseason for the fourth time during Alexander's tenure in Green Bay. It also would be the perfect ending for a maturing football team.
"It'd be pretty cool, very, very deserving of this season that we've had," Alexander said. "This would put the candle on the cake."
Back inside the locker room, Alexander doesn't believe his role changes that much. As one of the most veteran players on the entire roster, Alexander still expects to "be the leader that I have been and making plays that come to me."
Alexander was surprised by the suspension but doesn't believe it will adversely affect his relationship with LaFleur, Gutekunst or the Packers organization. In the end, he feels like it was good for "both parties to hear both sides" after getting down "to the nitty-gritty" in those honest, straightforward conversations.
"We all just agreed to be on the same page with communication moving forward," Alexander said. "It doesn't affect my relationship with anybody. I think if anything, it improved it."