GREEN BAY, Wis. – Two-time Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith is active for Sunday’s season-opening game against the New Orleans Saints in Jacksonville, Fla.
Smith, who missed all but one practice of training camp, practiced on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday this week but didn’t practice on Friday. Afterward, coach Matt LaFleur listed him as questionable.
“We’ll give him all the way up to game time. And if he’s able to go, we’ll let him go,” LaFleur said.
Smith had one of the huge plays of last season’s victory at New Orleans when he jarred the ball loose from quarterback Taysom Hill and recovered the fumble. It was a dramatic fourth-quarter flip. The Saints were almost in position for the go-ahead points; instead, the Packers kicked the go-ahead field goal.
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Tight end Josiah Deguara was back after missing last week with a concussion.
Having practically missed all of training camp – he didn’t take any 11-on-11 reps – Smith figures to be on a snap count. That means the team will lean on Rashan Gary and Preston Smith.
“There’s a difference with football shape and getting out there and doing that,” Mike Smith said. “He’ll have a little ways to go to get him where I need to get him but he’s not far off. Yeah, you’re right, he’s got to get some reps with the new defense. He needs to be out there and get reps and run around and all that type stuff. He’s seven years in the league so it’s not like you’re starting with a younger guy that hasn’t practiced. He’ll be fine.”
Of the five inactives, only safety Vernon Scott (hamstring) is out due to injury. The other inactives include three rookies (cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles, defensive tackle Jack Heflin and linebacker Isaiah McDuffie) and first-year center Jake Hanson.
For the Saints, their inactives are quarterback Ian Book, linebacker Chase Hansen, defensive back Jordan Miller, fullback Adam Prentice and first-round pass rusher Payton Turner.