Packers open practice window for Za’Darius Smith as he returns from surgery, eyes return for playoffs

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 1 seeded Green Bay Packers are healthier for the playoffs. Head coach Matt LaFleur announced on Wednesday that passing thrower Za’Darius Smith has opened his practice window and is considering a playoff return.

“We’re just trying to get him to a position where we feel comfortable where, not only can he go out there and compete at a high level, but also he hasn’t really been in that system other than “A game. We need to make sure he understands his professional responsibility, first and foremost,” LaFleur said ahead of Wednesday’s practice, via the official Packers website.

“We just want to re-acclimatize him in training and see how it goes and see how it all comes together before we solidify our plan. Luckily, we have not only this week but next week to keep upgrading him. “

Smith, who has logged a total of 26 sacks in the past two years for the Packers, suffered from a back injury and only played in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reported that Smith had back surgery in late September and was expected to miss “a long period of time.” He missed the last 16 games of the regular season.

Smith quickly proved to be a huge free agent for the Packers after spending his first four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He was named Pro Bowler in his first two seasons with Green Bay and was a second All Pro team in 2020. Preston Smith and Rashan Gary have so far held edges for the Packers, but Smith’s expected return is a more than welcome.

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