No one is sleeping on Packers star outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, but a looming return was not something we expected just yet.
On the Packers’ bye week, fans might’ve received a helpful hint in terms of Smith’s health heading into the latter end of the season. The former Pro Bowl outside linebacker has been out since the first game of the season.
Along with Smith, Jaire Alexander could also be set to return. Even without their two playmakers, the Packers’ defense has been formidable, ranking top-10 in several key categories. However, the injury bug may finally be catching up to them, as the last two weeks, Green Bay gave up 28 points to the Los Angeles Rams in an eventual win and 34 points in a loss to the division-rival Vikings.
Packers: When will Za’Darius Smith return?
Smith has an opt out after this season, but it’s unlikely he’ll exercise that coming off injury. The Packers will then owe Smith $14.5 million, with an enormous cap hit to boot. Expect Brian Gutekunst to try and push that cap hit down the road a bit so they can work on more important matters, including Aaron Rodgers’ deal and a new contract for Davante Adams.
On Instagram, Smith hinted at a return in the near future.
Smith battled a back injury this offseason, and that’s the same ailment that’s hurt him since the season opener. Without much of definitive timetable to work with, however, this is the first real positive update we’ve gotten on him of late. And, if you haven’t noticed, it’s far from concrete.
Neither Smith nor Alexander have been placed on injured reserve as of yet, so a 21-day window for return hasn’t been initiated.