Green Bay Packers give left tackle David Bakhtiari a day off; outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith returns to practice

View Comments

GREEN BAY - After playing 27 snaps in his 2021 debut, Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari did not practice Wednesday because of what the team described as "load management" on its bye week.

Bakhtiari left the Packers' finale at the Detroit Lions after playing three snaps in their fourth drive, but coach Matt LaFleur said his left tackle was pulled only for fatigue reasons. The Packers entered last week with a range in mind for how many snaps Bakhtiari would play, and the veteran who hadn’t been active all season as he returns from a torn ACL indicated he had reached the upper limits.

A week ago, Bakhtiari did not participate in the team’s Thursday practice for similar reasons.

Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith returned to practice Wednesday for the first time in four months. Smith had not practiced since Week 1 as he recovers from back surgery. He played 18 snaps in the Packers' opener against the New Orleans Saints in Jacksonville.

LaFleur, noting Smith has played only one game in defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s scheme, said the next two weeks will be as much about the mental part of the game as getting Smith’s back in game shape.

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55) against the Chicago Bears during their football game on Sunday, December 15, 2019, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

“We’re just trying to get him to a position where we feel comfortable that not only can he go out there and compete at a high level,” LaFleur said, “but also he hasn’t really been in this system other than one game. So we’ve got to make sure he understands his job responsibility first and foremost because as we’ve seen so many times throughout the course of the season, when we have all 11 guys on the same page doing their responsibility and owning their roles, I think our defense can be pretty good. If you have some undisciplined play, you get beat.

“So I think we want to reacclimate him into practice and see how that goes and see how it all meshes before we solidify our plan. Luckily, we not only have this week, but we have next week to get him up to speed so to speak.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers participated in a Wednesday practice for the first time in more than two months. Rodgers has not practiced on a Wednesday since breaking the pinky toe on his left foot sometime during his COVID-19 hiatus at the end of October. He practiced on a Thursday last week for the first time, stringing consecutive practices together.

Rodgers said he has not received a pain-reducing injection in his toe “for a number of weeks now,” able to play without it being numbed.

“That’s been the most encouraging thing,” Rodgers said. “Got through last week without doing one. It was just a pretty standard shot in the toe, very painful by numbing agent. That helped me get through the games. The whole goal was to not have to do that, and it’s been a few games now without doing that.

“So I’m feeling good. Practiced today close to 100 percent, but think I should be 100 percent probably by next week.”

Other than Bakhtiari’s absence, the Packers' offensive line was in much better shape Wednesday than it has been in weeks. Right tackle Billy Turner, recently activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list, practiced for the first time since leaving a game against Chicago with a knee injury one month ago. Center Josh Myers (knee) practiced after playing 32 snaps in Detroit.

DOUGHERTY:Packers have to feel better about health for playoff push

SILVERSTEIN:Matt LaFleur left with plenty to ponder after Packers' loss to lowly Detroit Lions

MORE:Backup QB Jordan Love draws praise from Aaron Rodgers despite up-and-down day in Detroit

Running back Aaron Jones (knee) and inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (elbow) practiced Wednesday. Both starters were held out against the Lions, but they practiced at a limited capacity throughout last week.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander practiced after being held out against the Lions. Alexander, who has not played since Week 4 because of a shoulder injury, practiced late last week also after being activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Cornerback Chandon Sullivan (knee) practiced. Receiver Marquez-Valdes Scantling (back) were held out. Both left last week’s game with injuries.

View Comments