GREEN BAY, Wis. – By practicing for a third consecutive day, Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith is taking “steps in the right direction” to be available for Sunday’s Week 1 showdown against the New Orleans Saints, coach Matt LaFleur said on Thursday.
That doesn’t mean Smith will play against the Saints, though. After practicing just once in training camp due to a back injury – he returned from a three-week absence on Monday – LaFleur said it “absolutely” was a consideration to keep Smith on the sideline.
“We know every game is so important in this league,” LaFleur said before the full-pads practice. “However, it is a marathon and it is a long season. So, we would never want to jeopardize the long term for the short term.”
LaFleur said it “seemed like” Smith was in good shape despite missing every competitive drill during camp. But, there’s a difference between being in “good shape” and “football shape.” Getting on the practice field on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday should help.
“As far as where is he at and how many plays could he contribute? You know, I can’t answer that right now,” LaFleur said.
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Three players didn’t practice. Safety Vernon Scott has been sidelined for a few weeks with an injured hamstring. Outside linebacker Preston Smith didn’t practice because of a head injury. It’s a minor laceration and not a concussion. Tight end Marcedes Lewis, who at age 37 is the oldest player at his position in the league, got the day off.
The Saints might have an issue at cornerback. One starter, Ken Crawley, was out for a second consecutive day. Their top corner, three-time Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore, was added to the injury report as limited participation.
Packers Injury Report
Did not participate: TE Marcedes Lewis (rest), S Vernon Scott (hamstring), OLB Preston Smith (head).
Limited: DT Tyler Lancaster (back), OLB Za’Darius Smith (back).
Saints Injury Report
Did not participate: CB Ken Crawley (hamstring), WR Tre’Quan Smith (hamstring).
Limited: CB Marshon Lattimore (knee).