The Green Bay Packers are gearing up for the Sunday match-up against the Chicago Bears. With everything that is on the line, it will be all hands on deck. One player has been brought up whose status is currently questionable and who will be missed if unable to go for this pivotal matchup.
Green Bay Packers Outside Linebacker
Speaking with reporters before the Sunday game, Head Coach Matt LaFleur spoke on the concern of Preston Smith being available against the Bears. As someone who has been a hallmark of the defense, his ability to play on Sunday is very important.
Between knee and ankle injury concerns, Smith has been taking practices off regularly to have a better chance of healing before the game. When asked specifically about missing practices, and his status against the Bears, Coach LaFleur shared:
He’s been the model of reliability throughout the course of his career. So anytime he’s not out there, it’s real.
Especially against a quarterback in Justin Fields who can be elusive, the Green Bay Packers defense will have a hard time filling any potential void left behind without Smith. Although Coach LaFleur was generally vague about him being able to line up against the Bears will not be known until after the Friday practice at the earliest.
Green Bay Packers Durability
Considering how easily and often players are injured in this high-contact collision sports, it is something of a marvel that Smith has been able to withstand the injury bug for as long as he has. Coach LaFleur complimented his abilities to stay healthy:
Obviously, he knows how to take care of himself and be a pro, but I think (you know) some guys are just built to withstand. And I think he’s one of those guys…Quite frankly he’s tough. He’ll be able to fight through a lot of things. So again, that gives us reason for optimism this weekend.
With the playoffs on the line, and some of the marvels of modern medicine, it is difficult to picture the Green Bay Packers defense taking the field without Smith. Even if it’s to monitor the pain and discomfort, Smith will want to be out there, and a player of his caliber at even 50% would be an asset defensively.
Averaging an injury report appearance a year, and showing the ability to not miss games, like Coach LaFleur suggested there is hope for optimism. Sometimes it is later revealed that the levels of injuries that players are playing through are far worse than what was initially being let out, or it is discovered later through an initial oversight.
Hoping and assuming that that is not the case with Smith, this defense is not going to be the same without him, and will have a hard time against this Chicago team without his veteran leadership. Although the Green Bay Packers have had numerous young, talented players step up in the wake of injuries, this would be another level of “next man up”.
With his vast experience and ability to produce on Sundays, the Green Bay Packers may be simply exercising caution, rather than risk aggravating injury to Smith.