GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith has played in all 102 regular-season games in his career. There is optimism that streak will continue even though he missed most of Sunday’s game at Chicago.
Smith played eight snaps against Chicago before dropping out with an oblique injury. That has an impressive streak in at least some jeopardy. Among all line-of-scrimmage defenders, only New Orleans defensive end Cam Jordan (165) has played more consecutive games. Excluding specialists, Jordan has the NFL’s longest ironman streak. He’s followed by New Orleans linebacker Demario Davis (149), Atlanta safety Duron Harmon (132), New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins (124), Atlanta offensive tackle Jake Matthews (115) and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce (111). Smith is next.
A source expected Smith to play, though he’d have to fight through pain and limited movement. Oblique muscles are located on the side of a person and are responsible for rotating the torso. The severity ranges from stretched muscle fibers to partial or complete tears of the muscles.
“P, he’s been really consistent, does a great job of getting prepared each and every week,” coach Matt LaFleur said on Monday. “We’ll just see how he’s feeling this week. I know he’s definitely motivated to want to play but we want to make sure that he’s not going to put himself at further risk of injury and be out a long period of time, so we want to make sure that he’s good to go.”
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Smith is second on the team with two sacks and six quarterback hits. The ability of Smith and Rashan Gary to set the edge has weighed heavily in Green Bay’s improvement against the run. Without Smith for most of last week’s game, Bears running back Khalil Herbert rushed for almost 100 yards.
With Pro Bowler Za’Darius Smith and backup Randy Ramsey on injured reserve, the Packers are thin at outside linebacker. Against Chicago, Gary played 49 snaps, Jonathan Garvin played 44 and La’Darius Hamilton played 12. Tipa Galeai, who is in his second season with the team, is on the practice squad.