Packers 2022 roster preview: Preston Smith a key starter on defense

Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Preston Smith bounced back in a big way for the Green Bay Packers last year.

After a disappointing 2020 season, Smith got back to his best and formed a strong pass-rush partnership with Rashan Gary.

The Smith Bros. were broken up this offseason with Za’Darius Smith joining the Minnesota Vikings, but Preston Smith is set for another big year in Green Bay.

2021 stats

Smith only missed one game, starting the other 16. He finished the year with nine sacks, 17 quarterback hits, 38 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two pass defenses.

2021 season review

The Packers desperately needed a bounce-back year from Smith, especially with Za’Darius Smith missing almost the entire season due to injury.

And that’s exactly what they got.

According to Pro Football Reference, Smith had 28 pressures and 11 hurries, both significant improvements from the year before.

He did all this after taking a pay cut to stay in Green Bay. Smith deservedly landed a new four-year extension this offseason.

Will he make the roster?

Yes. Smith signed a contract extension this offseason and will be an important starter in Joe Barry’s defense.

What to expect in 2022

Entering his eighth season in the NFL, Smith is one of the most experienced players in the Packers’ defense. As a pass rusher and a leader, he will have a significant role to play in 2022.

Smith is a good fit in Joe Barry’s system, and entering year two should only help him improve.

The Packers haven’t (yet) done much to improve their depth at edge rusher, outside of drafting Kingsley Enagbare in the fifth round. They will be relying on Smith and Rashan Gary to generate consistent pressure.

The pair did a good job of this last season. Smith and Gary combined for 18.5 sacks and 45 quarterback hits. The two will again lead the way for the Packers at edge rusher.

Expect another strong season from Preston Smith.