GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 03: Jaire Alexander #23 of the Green Bay Packers leaves the field during the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field on October 03, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
When will Cam Newton make his second debut with Panthers?
Green Bay Packers fans got a huge update on status two key pieces of defense on Thursday.
As the race for the top seed in the NFC narrows, the Green Bay Packers are hoping to enter the homestretch of the season healthier than they are now.
Two key pieces of the defense remain out, although there is hope that they’ll both be healthy enough to contribute once the playoffs arrive — if not sooner.
Green Bay has been without cornerback Jaire Alexander since he sprained his AC joint back at the beginning of October in a win over the Steelers. Pass rusher Za’Darius Smith has been out since Week 1, when it was discovered he needed back surgery.
On Thursday, Matt LaFleur gave an update on where Alexander and Smith were in their progression to being healthy enough to play.
Matt LaFleur with updates on Jaire Alexander on Za’Darius Smith.
Alexander is continuing to strengthen his shoulder and “it’s going good but he’s still a long way out.”
Sounds like Smith might be closer: “We’ll see where he’s at in few weeks.
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) November 11, 2021
That’s not exactly what anyone in Green Bay wants to hear.
It’s not all gloom-and-doom, however.
Even without two key pieces of its defense, Green Bay sits at 7-2 and atop the NFC North. Had Aaron Rodgers not tested positive for COVID-19 or had he been vaccinated, there’s a pretty decent chance the Packers don’t lose in Week 9 to the Chiefs and remain in full control of the NFC’s top playoff seed.
Since the Week 1 loss to New Orleans, the Packers have allowed an average of only 17 points per game. Keep in mind that was entirely without Smith and mostly without Alexander in the lineup.
Not having two key pieces of the defense should be a near-fatal blow to any other team in the NFL, but the Packers have done more than simply tread water without them. There’s absolutely zero rush to get either back in the lineup before their ready, and Packers fans can fall asleep dreaming about how much better the defense is going to get once January arrives and the true journey to the Super Bowl begins.