Packers pull the plug on Za'Darius Smith's sack celebrations
GREEN BAY - The next time outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith gets a sack, his celebration won’t involve taking a nap on the field.
A higher power has intervened.
“I had one for this week,” Smith said Thursday. “It was going to be nice. Coach (Matt LaFleur), he felt situations during that time (might affect the) punt team or (if) they want to go for fourth down, I’m taking up too much time.
“If you guys get a chance to interview him …”
Smith came up with the sleepy-time celebration that he unveiled Monday against Detroit after missing a meeting last week. He was fined for it and decided to let everyone know he got caught napping with a little on-field theater. He’s hoping to get approval from an even higher power to resume his creative sack dances.
“Hit up (Commissioner) Roger Goodell, see if we can get some celebration time,” Smith said.
On his sack, Smith not only beat a guard, but he received a chip from a Lions running back. He barreled through both of them and wrestled quarterback Matthew Stafford to the ground for his sixth sack of the season.
Smith said he was not expecting to take on both a guard and a running back rushing from a defensive tackle position in the team’s sub package.
“When we watched the film together as a defense, coach (Mike Pettine) was saying, ‘Man, Z, they’re trying to put two guys on you at the 3-technique’ and that’s something he never saw before and I never saw before,” Smith said. “But I guess from the teams we’re facing from beyond here, it’s going to be the same thing.
“I’m just going to continue to play my game, man. I’m a guy that loves to play inside and outside, basically anywhere. I’m just going to keep doing my assignment and doing my job and get after that quarterback.”
Adams won’t rule himself out
Davante Adams remained out of practice Thursday, headlining a group of three starting wide receivers that missed the padded session. Joining him on the sideline were Geronimo Allison (concussion/chest) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (knee/ankle).
That left the Packers with just Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard, Darrius Shepherd and the newly acquired Ryan Grant to man the position among players on the 53-man roster. Malik Hooker and Keon Hatcher are the practice squad receivers.
“We got everything that we needed to get done, but certainly when you’re missing a couple guys it makes it a little more difficult,” LaFleur said of the practice. “We used part of the practice, the last period, more as a walk-through just so we don’t wear our guys out.”
Adams has missed the last two games with a turf toe injury he suffered against Philadelphia. He said Thursday his rehab is progressing and his toe feels a “million times better,” but he still won’t peg a return date.
“I don't know, man,” he said. “Honestly, I can't tell you. This week is not out of the question. Next week's not out of the question. The week after that. It's gonna be day-to-day.”
Also missing practice for the Packers were tight ends Jimmy Graham (ankle) and Robert Tonyan (hip), along with safety Darnell Savage (ankle), defensive tackle Kenny Clark (calf/back) and defensive back Tramon Williams (knee). Cornerback Kevin King (groin/knee) was limited.
Cornerback Tony Brown returned to practice. He had been out after suffering a hamstring injury against Philadelphia.
Sternberger in tight ends mix
The Packers designated rookie tight end Jace Sternberger to return off injured reserve Wednesday and Thursday it was clear he was needed for the team to get through a practice as he was one of just three tight ends healthy enough to participate in the preparation for Oakland.
“I’ve been in rehab for awhile so it’s good to be back,” the rookie out of Texas A&M said. “The rehab has been a really good process. The ankle feels good. Just taking it one day at a time.”
With Graham and Tonyan out, it left Marcedes Lewis and Evan Baylis as the only game-eligible tight ends on the field.
“The coaches have been really hard on me mentally to try to stay up with the game because whenever your number is called you need to be ready and not let the team down,” Sternberger said. “So I’ve been trying to take advantage of these past couple of weeks and just really key in on the little details, asking the older guys for help a lot so I appreciate them for that.”
Sternberger, who got in only 13 training-camp practices before suffering a concussion and injuring his ankle, is not eligible to move to the 53-man roster until after the Packers play at Kansas City on Oct. 27.
When asked Wednesday if Sternberger might be able to contribute in the near term, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he wasn’t sure.
“He was a part of the gold (practice) group a lot just cause we’re so veteran laden in that group, I have Marcedes and Jimmy mostly and Bobby as well, so I didn’t throw a lot of balls to him,” Rodgers said. “I know he’s here for a reason. Obviously, he put some good film on tape in college and he has some abilities to get down the seam, but we’re not expecting him in the short term.”
No second chances
When the Packers lined up for their game-winning field goal Monday against the Lions, LaFleur left no room for error.
With a short field goal in hand and trailing 22-20, the Packers ran the game clock all the way down to 2 seconds. It was not enough time to account for a mistake in the field-goal operation, such as a bad snap or a bobbled hold. Some teams ensure there is enough time to run a second attempt, in case there’s an error on the first, even if it leaves a couple seconds for the opponent on a kickoff.
LaFleur didn’t want there to be any chance of that.
“I just think you have to trust your players,” he said. “I definitely did not want to kick a field goal with any time left on that clock to give Detroit any glimmer of hope.”
Carson joins division rival
When the Packers signed running back Damarea Crockett to their practice squad Wednesday, they seemed to be bracing against the possibility that tailback Tra Carson would not return.
If so, they were right. The Lions claimed Carson on waivers Thursday, according to the NFL’s transaction wire.
Carson spent the offseason in Green Bay. Though he was released after camp and placed on the practice squad, the Packers elevated him to the active roster two weeks ago before traveling to Dallas. Carson spent the past two games on the 46-man game-day roster, surpassing rookie Dexter Williams on the depth chart because of his reliability.
The Packers like Williams’ talent long term, but they could be in trouble without Carson if one of their top two backs, Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams, are injured.