Packers: 4 players to watch in season opener vs. Saints

Green Bay Packers, Josh Myers (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Josh Myers (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith
Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith – Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Preston Smith

Preston Smith struggled in 2020, failing to replicate his excellent debut season in Green Bay. At the time of writing, Za’Darius Smith’s status for Sunday’s game is uncertain — he was limited at practice on Wednesday. If Z isn’t out there, the Packers will need the best of Preston Smith more than ever.

We’ve seen him produce great numbers in Green Bay.

Only two years ago, Smith had 12 sacks and 23 quarterback hits. But those numbers fell to four sacks and 11 quarterback hits in 2020.

The Packers made a change at defensive coordinator this offseason, bringing in Joe Barry. Barry’s aim will be to get the best out of Smith with the hope his numbers can return closer to his 2019 production.

The Saints’ starting tackles are talented, forming one of the best duos in the league. That’s why being without Za’Darius Smith would be tough for the Packers.

They will need their pass rushers to generate some pressure, particularly with Jameis Winston under center, making his first start since the 2019 season. Winston threw 30 interceptions in his last season as a starter. Under pressure, opportunities could be there for the Packers’ defense.

Generating pressure against a good offensive line won’t be easy. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a bounce-back season for Smith.

Next. 3 matchups Packers must win vs. Saints in Week 1. dark