Za'Darius Smith reportedly set to return for playoffs

The second-team All-Pro in 2020 played in just one game during the regular season.

The Packers saw two key members of their offensive line back on the field yesterday in Detroit. 

Now it sounds like they'll be getting a key member of their defensive front back for the playoffs. 

From NFL Network:

The second-team All-Pro in 2020 dealt with a back injury throughout training camp and played sparingly in the team's Week 1 loss to. the Saints, prior to being shut down and having back surgery.

Last season, Smith led the team in sacks (12½), QB hits (23) and tackles for a loss (12).

7 points

Comments (57)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
murf7777's picture

January 10, 2022 at 07:44 am

This is great news. We can now keep our pass rushers fresh without missing a beat. It was nice to see him on the sidelines rooting on his team over the past. With all of our pro bowl players back this is the most talented team we have had in a long time.

15 points
15
0
albert999's picture

January 10, 2022 at 07:57 am

Can’t have enough Defensive great players

9 points
10
1
Norm's picture

January 10, 2022 at 06:01 pm

Apparently somebody disagrees with that comment. I guess you can have enough great defensive players and now we have too many?

Curious to see if Barry comes up with any packages where Z, Preston and Gary are all on the field at the same time.

2 points
3
1
GregC's picture

January 10, 2022 at 06:22 pm

Funny. I've also made posts that seemed completely uncontroversial and got down-votes for them. Zadarius has often been used as an inside rusher in obvious passing situations, so I do expect to see all three of them on the field at the same time. If they have four guys rushing and the other one is Kenny Clark, that would really be nice.

1 points
2
1
Coldworld's picture

January 10, 2022 at 06:54 pm

There appears to be a return of the phantom down voter. Ignore it or take it as a compliment.

0 points
1
1
gkarl's picture

January 10, 2022 at 08:19 am

Not expecting a lot when he returns but if he can play 15-25 snaps and add some juice to our pass rush I'll take it.

15 points
15
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dobber's picture

January 10, 2022 at 08:58 am

Yup. The more he puts a lesser player on the bench, the better this defense gets.

11 points
11
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Gee's picture

January 10, 2022 at 01:04 pm

Agree on the snap count, at least the first game or 2, but if in those snaps he causes disruptions and forces a double team or 2 all the better. It's like the Cards getting J.J. Watt back, will he be defensive player of the year J.J. Watt nope, but I will bet McVay will be planning for his snaps. That's what I hope with Z. Smith, give the coaches on the other side another elite player to plan for.

7 points
7
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PackfanNY's picture

January 10, 2022 at 08:44 am

Even if it’s just a limited pass rush role to start this is huge. Sounds like Jaire and Cobb will be back as well. The bye week is turning out to be key.

All on a day when the Vikings and Bears are “cleaning” house. No playoffs for them! Good times.

18 points
18
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jh9's picture

January 11, 2022 at 12:21 pm

This is the news I’ve been waiting to hear. With Z, Preston, and Gary, the Packers will have the option to play one of those guys next to Clark. It will make Clark, the DL and the entire defense better. The odds of the Packers winning another Lombardi Trophy this year have just improved.

12 points
12
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Cheesey51's picture

January 10, 2022 at 01:54 pm

At the very least we have a great 3rd a long pass rusher. "Z" is back!!!!
Division/Conference/SB. Bringin' home the Lombardi
With David B/Josh Myers/Randall Cobb/(and most likely Billy Turner)/Jaire and NOW "Z".The planets have aligned!!!!
Go Pack Go

6 points
6
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mjbrogno's picture

January 10, 2022 at 09:51 am

Getting Alexander and Smith back will be an awesome sight for our defense. Smith most likely will be on a limited play count, but as we advance that will increase. Remember the Packer medical staff is conservative when dealing with injuries to the players. Obviously, they put the health of the player first an foremost when making a decision on their availability to play. It’s hard not to get to excited about getting our key players back on both sides of the ball. Shout out to the team for sticking together through such adversity during the regular season, bring the Lombardi trophy home, Go Pack Go!!!

7 points
7
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PeteK's picture

January 10, 2022 at 10:24 am

I'm surprised that we haven't heard more news on Turner, who would be a major improvement.

7 points
7
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Houndog's picture

January 10, 2022 at 11:29 am

I agree,
I'm a little surprised we didn't see Nijman at RT a little bit yesterday as he might wind up at RT next year with Bahktiari back at LT.
If Tuner can't come back this year yesterday would have been a good time to experiment, kinda' like they did with Love.
I wonder what THEY saw?

3 points
3
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packer132's picture

January 10, 2022 at 12:06 pm

I read that Nijman has not played RT and he is a backup LT with Bakhtiari returning. Next year in training camp could see him at RT, or competing with others there. Don't want to experiment in the playoffs, and its a big position switch.

7 points
7
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MarkinMadison's picture

January 10, 2022 at 03:29 pm

Nijman played RT in college. I would think that they would at least put him through some practices at RT and see if he can make the switch. Because if Turner is out I think that there is a good chance that Nijman would be an upgrade over Kelly. Worst that could happen is you prep him at RT and he is your emergency swing tackle if either Kelly or Bakh goes down. Prepping him at RT is a can't lose proposition.

0 points
2
2
dobber's picture

January 10, 2022 at 06:01 pm

He also played some snaps at RT in preseason, but that's a world away at this point.

3 points
3
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Coldworld's picture

January 10, 2022 at 11:48 am

He’s reportedly expected back before the playoffs per comments prior to yesterday’s game.

3 points
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dobber's picture

January 11, 2022 at 07:28 am

Supposedly going to return to practice on Wednesday.

1 points
1
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Eric Zenk's picture

January 10, 2022 at 04:40 pm

- Turner was hurt on Dec. 12, 2021 with a knee injury (reports were it was similar to Aaron Jones injury). He was later placed on the COVID-19 Reserve List on Jan. 4, 2022.
https://packerswire.usatoday.com/2022/01/04/packers-place-rt-billy-turne...

This injury is normally a 3-6 week recovery window depending upon the severity and how fast the player recovers as each player's recovery is different e.g. Bakhtiari's injury was a 10-12 month recovery, and he returned yesterday after missing more than a year.

COVID complicated Turner's recovery because he couldn't rehab at the facility. The Divisional playoffs are Jan. 22 & 23. That would put Turner at the 6 week window. And the Packers medical staff is notoriously conservative with injuries.

I might be way off base, but I expect, (if he clears COVID protocols this week), he'll start practice late this week and may return with Zadarius Smith early next week.

Unless Turner makes significant progress, I think the starters are from left to right, Bakhtiari, Runyon, Myers, Patrick and Kelly who by the way has allowed only 1 pressure since he started in place of Turner according to Pro-Football Focus.

Kelly had 35 starts at right tackle with the Titans so the Packers are in good hands with Kelly there now. Turner can take his time and make sure he's ready to face the Bucs defensive front b/c last year he was banged up and didn't fare so well b/c the Packers couldn't help him with Wagner being a liability at right tackle in that game and needing extra help. No need to rush him back.

This Packers offensive line is deep, talented, (thanks to Gutekunst) and will be well rested when they have to play their absolute best starting in the divisional round.

5 points
5
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 11, 2022 at 03:36 am

I agree with the sentiment. But then, we heard next to nothing about Josh Myers and suddenly he was activated and 5 days later he played.

I've no idea about Turner. I personally think getting Jaire back is the most important thing. Alexander/Douglas/Stokes means the DC can do a lot of things (press, man, zone), and perhaps keep Black off the field to boot.

2 points
2
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murf7777's picture

January 11, 2022 at 08:17 am

I believe Turner just came off of covid and will be active for the next game.

1 points
1
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Bure9620's picture

January 10, 2022 at 10:34 am

This a good, play him on 3rd down and obvious passing situations

9 points
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croatpackfan's picture

January 10, 2022 at 11:00 am

Well Vikings and Bears fired their respective GMs and HCs. Nagy and Zimmer is past in this division.

2 points
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2
MarkinMadison's picture

January 10, 2022 at 03:31 pm

If this had happened last year I'd be yelling for the Packers to hire Zimmer for DC. He is a talented coach. The Vikings suck.

1 points
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Houndog's picture

January 10, 2022 at 11:15 am

Can he play defensive back?

-4 points
1
5
PackerAaron's picture

January 10, 2022 at 02:04 pm

I hear Jaire Alexander can

6 points
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Eric Zenk's picture

January 10, 2022 at 04:45 pm

Alexander will be back. No need to do that.

2 points
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dobber's picture

January 11, 2022 at 07:29 am

For $5M/yr, I sure can!

3 points
3
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Qoojo's picture

January 10, 2022 at 11:18 am

If playing all three, I would keep Gary on the edge, and put one of the Smiths inside. I feel like Gary performs better on the edge, but this is not based on a lot of data though, so I could easily be wrong.

6 points
6
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Minniman's picture

January 10, 2022 at 11:40 am

Lots of options to stunt Z with Gary, Preston, KC and Lowry on the field.

I agree though on keeping Gary and Smith successfully setting the edge when playing mobile QB's and RB threats - this worked well this year.

The Packers didn't blitz or stunt much this year (mainly due to injuries), so he might (should) be the x-factor to make these wrinkle plays work.

As Dobber posted above, if Z and JA keep 2 lesser players off the field circa 50% of the time (initially), then this is a boon for the Packers.

6 points
6
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stockholder's picture

January 10, 2022 at 12:16 pm

Wow , Finally got of his Butt and quit milking the Tit of the trainer. Until I see him play a whole game. I'll believe this is contract motivated. It's very doubtful he can play as good as did when first signed. And between Zadarius and Bahk. That was a lot of money down the drain. So both have a lot of making up to do.

-9 points
7
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Bitternotsour's picture

January 10, 2022 at 03:37 pm

you must be fun to be around.

5 points
7
2
Eric Zenk's picture

January 10, 2022 at 04:49 pm

Stockholder have you had back surgery? I have and it's no fun. I had it in February of 2021, started my recovery and relapsed in July of 2021. Nerve pain is still there. Now I have to go back for second procedure in February of 2022. And keep in mind I'm an average joe not playing professional football so give Z a break. It's amazing he can actually practice and play after what he's been through.

7 points
8
1
MarkinMadison's picture

January 10, 2022 at 08:22 pm

I've got issues with two discs. You'd have to pay me $5M to get me to walk onto an NFL field for one game. And that is my price to be the waterboy.

5 points
5
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dobber's picture

January 11, 2022 at 07:32 am

Not to mention that when your core is messed up, you can't do much of anything--back, obliques, hernia, ribs--any of those just stop you in your tracks. My guess is that Z lost a fair bit of functional strength through this, and is still probably behind, whereas a shoulder (Jaire) primarily limits upper body work, but he can still do a lot of cardio and lower body strength, and a knee (Turner, Myers) doesn't limit a fair bit of upper body strength work.

3 points
3
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Spock's picture

January 11, 2022 at 08:54 am

I had my first back surgery 12 years ago and was scheduled for another in a year. By that time my 5 bad discs had turned into all bad discs (my initial MRI's and X-Rays were like those of a 95 year old, so I guess I'm 107 years old physically now, lol) and the surgery had to be called off. Some days I'll suddenly have some discs go one way and others go another and it takes my legs -literally- out from under me. As a result I've torn up my shoulder trying to catch myself. I start every day with one Oxycodone and one muscle relaxant just to be able to move around. Back problems can be very debilitating. I'm glad for him that he has recovered.

3 points
3
0
flackcatcher's picture

January 10, 2022 at 12:57 pm

Back surgery guys. They No matter how small the cut, cleaning out and then recovering takes time. And from the way the medical staff at 1265 were acting, this was more serious than what was reported. At best Z. Smith is not in football shape, so expect limited snaps period. The defensive staff will have to be very careful with his snap count. At best, he is a situational player. (That said, I totally agree with dobber. Getting one of those two J.A.G. out of the rotation is a win for this team)

6 points
8
2
stockholder's picture

January 10, 2022 at 10:06 pm

The Packers do have a strength and Conditioning coach. If you do as your told. There is No sign of weakness. Bet their rehab chart stayed confidential.

2 points
4
2
cheesehead1's picture

January 10, 2022 at 01:05 pm

Great news, now it’s time for our D to step up and play like they were earlier this year. Z and Jaire will be great additions. Hopefully they sit King or limit his playing time. I cringe when he’s out there. GPG all the way!

5 points
5
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croatpackfan's picture

January 11, 2022 at 05:05 am

I believe King would be substantial improvment over Black, if he can support S position on obvious passing downs.

0 points
1
1
Gee's picture

January 11, 2022 at 09:22 am

Me 2 for all of King many issues, he has shown he can be effective, Black not so much. With King less is more for me, make his assignments specific, no improve. Besides he has to know this run, is basically an audition for every other team, so he has to be motivated to secure another contract else where.

1 points
1
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Hematite's picture

January 10, 2022 at 02:45 pm

I sincerely hope that Z is able to contribute in the run up to the Super Bowl.
I expect that he will be on a snap count due to his missing most of the season, but hopefully he will still be effective in those limited snaps.
The only problem for me, is that I have a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that before our next game Z will relapse and be relegated to the sidelines once again.

0 points
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Straya's picture

January 10, 2022 at 03:09 pm

As long as he's there for the Super Bowl

0 points
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4thand1's picture

January 10, 2022 at 02:52 pm

WERE GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!

4 points
4
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Straya's picture

January 10, 2022 at 03:08 pm

How many other playoff teams are getting healthier over these next couple weeks?

4 points
4
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Gee's picture

January 11, 2022 at 09:24 am

I would say Tampa, I think David and Evans are back for their first game. Not sure about Fournette, maybe if they advance to the second round.

0 points
0
0
Dragon5's picture

January 10, 2022 at 05:00 pm

Kid gloves with...

Bahk as he finishes up his enemy year (OX) thru Jan 31st

'Tae & Smith Bros as they're about to enter their enemy year (TIGER) Feb 1st

-2 points
1
3
AnotherLombardiPlease's picture

January 10, 2022 at 06:03 pm

Getting Bahktiari and Myers in time to get some meaningful snaps was great. We expected Alexander and Cobb to be ready for the playoffs too. Now Za'Darius too? This is fantastic news!

Having our shut down corner and best pass rusher back could change this defense from respectable to downright intimidating. It's imperative now more than ever that we shut down the run because if we do, this unit could wreak havoc!

2 points
3.5
1.5
Christian Roussel's picture

January 10, 2022 at 07:13 pm

Great news! Getting back Jaire, Z, Back and Myers. Plus Cobb! i really thing Cobb will be a difference maker in the playoffs. True slot guy, ton of experience, well rested and 12 absolutely trust him wich is critical in tightly contested games.

4 points
4
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PhantomII's picture

January 10, 2022 at 08:38 pm

Gary-Z-SLaton-Clark-P.Smith............Yep. That oughta get it done.

0 points
0
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Starrbrite's picture

January 10, 2022 at 09:00 pm

I get the excitement for the return of Bahk and Alexander, but “Z” was number one on my list for the returning blue chippers. I’m ecstatic!
Z saved several games last year with big plays at crucial times. He’s a game-wrecker and has a penchant for making big plays when it counts. Z added with Rashan, Preston, and Clark are going to be an awesome group. I don’t know how many downs he’ll play, but whatever it is, it adds another headache for the opposing OC.
Douglas also makes big plays and I see him making a few more.

2 points
2
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Redraider's picture

January 10, 2022 at 09:42 pm

Don’t sleep on Savage and Stokes

1 points
1
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ReaganRulz's picture

January 11, 2022 at 07:18 am

After an 18 game season, getting a fresh talent back “should” be huge!! But we’ll need to see if his back surgery has any negative effect on his skills as well.

1 points
1
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dobber's picture

January 11, 2022 at 07:36 am

I'm guessing there are going to be some checks his mind will write that his body can't cash right now--and for awhile--but that will come with time.

3 points
3
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Coldworld's picture

January 11, 2022 at 03:53 pm

I would think it will take good part of a game to get comfortable, given he’s likely limited. Getting those real time hits and receiving them and feeling ok is a process he won’t experience in practice these days, but an essential part of getting back in one’s stride.

0 points
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0