Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur made the bold decision to suspend Jaire Alexander for a must-win divisional game last week. LaFleur put the team's culture and long-term future first, a brave but smart decision.
Alexander returns this week for the Packers' win-and-in game against the Chicago Bears, but we shouldn't assume he will automatically go back into the starting lineup.
During Wednesday's press conference, LaFleur was asked whether Alexander will resume his regular role in Week 18.
"I'm not going to get into too many of the specifics. You guys will find out later in the week," said LaFleur. "It was great to have him back. We had a great conversation on Monday, and I think he's ready to go."
The first part is particularly notable. Even if Alexander does start on Sunday, LaFleur isn't committing to it yet. Not publicly, at least.
It's another good call from LaFleur. Chances are, Alexander will play a significant role in Week 18 if he's healthy, but LaFleur is using this opportunity to send a message. No player is bigger than the team, and Alexander must regain LaFleur's trust.
Jaire Alexander gives a more serious tone in Packers locker room interview
And it sounds like LaFleur's message has gotten through to Alexander. The All-Pro cornerback spoke to the media for the first time since his suspension, and his approach had changed.
The Athletic's Matt Schneidman put it best: "There were no sunglasses, wrestling belts or eccentricities in Jaire Alexander's post-suspension media session."
And Alexander's comments backed it up.
"My interviews might be a little more serious," said Alexander.
Alexander spoke about the need to improve his communication with his coaches and stressed that he is "grateful" to play for the Packers.
Green Bay hopes Alexander can rediscover his All-Pro form this week. He will likely see a lot of Bears receiver DJ Moore. A good performance from Alexander would go a long way to helping the Packers reach the playoffs, where a matchup against CeeDee Lamb, A.J. Brown, or Amon-Ra St. Brown would await in the first round.