The Green Bay Packers have been without three star players — left tackle David Bakhtiari, edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, and cornerback Jaire Alexander — for most of the season.
Head coach Matt LaFleur said that all three could ‘potentially’ return to practice this week.
“Potentially,” LaFleur told reporters on Monday. “Certainly we hope so. Those guys are doing everything in their power but we’ll see where we’re at on Wednesday.”
That’s an encouraging sign. While LaFleur didn’t give much away, the fact he said all three could possibly be able to practice this week is good news.
We shouldn’t expect any of them to be back in full-time roles just yet. After all, they’ve all missed a lot of time through injury. But if the Packers can get them back out there on the practice field, it will be a great start and sign that they could possibly return before the end of the regular season.
Bakhtiari hasn’t played in a game since last December. The last time Smith had a significant role was in last year’s playoffs. He was limited in the season opener. Alexander hasn’t played since Week 4.
In the meantime, the Packers have managed and played some great football on both sides of the ball, while arriving at their bye week with a strong 9-3 record.
But there’s no doubt this team will be far stronger should they get this trio back. If you had to name the Packers’ top five or six players who were most important to the team, you would include all three of Bakhtiari, Smith, and Alexander.
As LaFleur said, we’ll have to wait until Wednesday for more information. So we’ll see. But it was encouraging to hear the Packers’ head coach not dismiss any possibility of either player being able to practice. Maybe their returns aren’t so far away.