Packers star edge rusher Za’Darius Smith will be placed on injured reserve, says head coach Matt LaFleur.
The Green Bay Packers won’t have their top pass rusher available for the coming weeks.
Head coach Matt LaFleur confirmed that Za’Darius Smith, who has been dealing with an ongoing back injury over the summer, will be placed on injured reserve.
This means he’ll miss at least three games, although based on LaFleur’s comments, it could be longer than that.
“Z’s not going to be out there, unfortunately. We’re gonna have to shut him down for a while,” LaFleur told reporters on Friday.
“It’s a matter of do you keep him in a limited role, or do you shut him down for a while, try to get him healthy?”
Smith was clearly limited in the regular-season opener. When healthy, he’s a player who rarely leaves the field and regularly gets pressure on opposing quarterbacks. According to Pro Football Reference, Smith only played 18 defensive snaps against the New Orleans Saints and he was unable to impact the game much.
This is, of course, bad news for the Packers.
Smith has been one of the most important players on defense over the past two seasons, making a team-best 26 sacks and 60 quarterback hits since 2019.
Until now, he also hadn’t missed a game since signing with Green Bay two years ago.
As LaFleur noted, the Packers’ priority is the long term. Rather than have Smith battle through injury and remain limited each week, they want to give the Pro Bowler additional time to recover with the hope he can get back to 100 percent later in the season.
Not much has been revealed about what exact injury Smith is dealing with, other than it’s a back issue.
It kept him out for much of the summer, and he will now miss at least three regular-season games.