Skip to main content

Packers 'potentially' getting injured star players back soon

All eyes on whether David Bakhtiari, Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander can return for stretch run

T David Bakhtiari, CB Jaire Alexander and LB Za'Darius Smith
T David Bakhtiari, CB Jaire Alexander and LB Za'Darius Smith

GREEN BAY – Without making any guarantees, Head Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday the Packers could "potentially" get their trio of injured All-Pro players back as soon as this week.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari hasn't played all season, edge rusher Za'Darius Smith only played in Week 1, and cornerback Jaire Alexander has been out since Week 4.

But all three remain on the mend, and possibilities to return from injured reserve, which would provide a boost to the 9-3 Packers heading into the final stretch of the regular season with playoff positioning at stake.

"Certainly we hope so," LaFleur said Monday after the team's closed practice following the bye week. "Those guys again are doing everything in their power, but we'll see where we're at on Wednesday."

That's when the Packers will take the practice field again in preparation for Sunday night's home game against the Bears, the first of the five remaining in the chase for the NFC's top seed.

It's hard to quantify the impact such an influx of front-line talent could make on a Green Bay team that's already closing in on clinching a division title and is seeking the conference's lone playoff bye for the second straight season.

As they've been all year, though, the Packers will remain cautious when it comes to Bakhtiari's knee, Smith's back and Alexander's shoulder, all serious injuries from which it's never easy to return.

"These guys love the game. They love being with their teammates, they love competing," LaFleur said. "So I know that they're itching to get back as soon as possible. We just want to make sure that there's no extra risk for a setback or whatnot, because obviously they're an important part of this team."

Elsewhere on the injury front, LaFleur said he did not believe quarterback Aaron Rodgers would be having surgery on his fractured pinky toe. There's hope Rodgers will be able to practice soon but that remains uncertain.

Inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell is eligible to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. LaFleur suggested signs are pointing toward that as Campbell has been asymptomatic, and the defense's signal caller would be involved in game-planning meetings throughout the week on Zoom.

The return of rookie center Josh Myers, who has been out with a knee injury since Week 6, is not imminent. LaFleur said he needed more time.

The NFC playoff push over this stretch run promises to be highly competitive. The front-running Cardinals are 10-2, followed by the Packers and Buccaneers at 9-3, and then the Cowboys and Rams at 8-4.

Plenty of other games outside Green Bay's own will play into the picture, but LaFleur said those are not the Packers' concern.

"If you start focusing on things outside of your control or outside of your football team, then you're not 100 percent focused on the challenges that lie ahead for your team," he said.

Related Content