Packers' Za'Darius Smith Placed on IR Because of Back Injury; Out at Least 3 Games

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 17, 2021

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 03: Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55) runs in action during a game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers on January 03, 2021 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers have placed linebacker Za'Darius Smith on injured reserve because of a back injury that will keep him out a minimum of the next three games, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN. 

"Why not try to get him as healthy as possible so we can have him more readily available, hopefully?" head coach Matt LaFleur said Friday.

Smith played just 18 snaps in the season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints, per Demovsky.

The 29-year-old was placed on the non-football injury list at the start of training camp after reporting with a back injury. 

LaFleur initially said in August Smith could miss Week 1 due to the issue.

"He's injured right now," the coach said. "I know he wants to be out there, but we're going to be smart with him."

He ended up playing Week 1 but tallying just one tackle in a 38-3 loss.

Green Bay will now be without one of its top defensive players for at least the next few games.

Mike Sando @SandoNFL

Za'Darius Smith leads the Packers in pressures since 2019 and it's not close. He has 135, according to PFF, while Kenny Clark is next on the team with 85. Yeah, the Packers are going to miss that type of production while he's out, starting with their game against the Lions.

Smith joined Green Bay in 2019 and totaled 26 sacks over the next two years combined, earning Pro Bowl selections each season. He was named second-team All-Pro last year after finishing with 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

The Packers have reportedly signed Ladarius Hamilton from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad to help add depth, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Preston Smith and Rashan Gary must also provide some pressure off the edge to help a defense that allowed Jameis Winston to throw five passing touchdowns in Week 1.