5 key takeaways from Packers’ cuts and initial 2021 roster

Green Bay Packers, Kylin Hill (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Kylin Hill (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith
Green Bay Packers, Za’Darius SmithCent02 7g63sjz56cxdnajn71c Original /

A sign about Za’Darius Smith’s status for Week 1?

The Packers’ decision to keep five outside linebackers could just show they liked both Jonathan Garvin and Chauncey Rivers and wanted to find a spot on the 53-man roster for both players. However, it could also be a sign that Pro Bowler Za’Darius Smith won’t be ready for the season opener next week.

“He’s up in the air,” said head coach Matt LaFleur on Wednesday. “But he is getting better on a daily basis. He’s really putting the time in.”

LaFleur added that he is “optimistic” that Smith can “be back out there sooner than later”.

Rivers did enough during the preseason to deserve a spot on the 53-man roster, so it’s possible the Packers would’ve kept five edge rushers regardless of Smith’s status for the start of the season. In the final preseason contest against the Buffalo Bills, Rivers had one tackle, one sack, one tackle for loss, and two QB hits.

Tipa Galeai, a candidate to make the 53-man roster, was cut but has since been re-signed to the practice squad, so the Packers have some depth at the position.

The big question between now and the season opener will be Smith’s status. The two-time Pro Bowler is yet to miss a game for the Packers and he has 26 sacks in two seasons. They can’t afford to be without their leader for too long.