For the Packers as we move closer to the end of the regular season, and into the playoffs the hope to get our three All-Pros back is gaining. Bakhtiari hasn’t played since tearing his ACL last year. Smith hasn’t played since week one, and shortly after had back surgery. Alexander hasn’t played since injuring his shoulder in week four. Having these three players back is huge for the packers as we look to gain home field in the playoffs for the 3rd straight season. I’m going to breakdown what each player means for the Packers moving forward into the late regular season, and into the playoffs.
Jaire has been the lockdown corner the past couple of years that the Packers desperately needed. The recognition he has garnered is certainly warranted. Coming into the season many experts considered him and Jalen Ramsey one and two respectfully. Jaire was a second team All-Pro last year, after his best season as a pro. The loss has been most notable in games like the loss to the Vikings. Rookie Eric Stokes has shown great growth, but Justin Jefferson got the best of him. The Cousins to Jefferson connection was a major reason why we lost that game. Having Jaire lockdown Jefferson is huge moving forward.
In recent weeks we’ve seen more and more of Jaire at practice only adding to the speculation that a return could be imminent. Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes, and even Kevin King have done their best job in filling the void until Jaire returns. Having Jaire back to face the NFC elite as we look to get over the NFC Championship hump will be huge.
The All-Pro, and arguably best Left Tackle in the NFL has yet to see the field this year after last years ACL injury. Optimism had grown in recent weeks, as we’ve reached the time frame where a player can return from the almost year long recovery process. But there was a minor setback (for a major comeback) as David had to have a minor Arthroscopic surgery to clean up his knee. It’s hard to put into words how important Bakhtiari is to the Packers. But having Rodgers blindside protected and almost worry free week to week is huge. That’s likely a big reason why the two have become such good friends. The Packers offensive line has been different, almost week to week. But having that left side tackle position covered, in turn makes everyone better.
Protecting Aaron and allowing him to make plays with his feet is only possible when he has time. While Elgton Jenkins and Yosh Nijman have been great filling in, there’s nobody quite like 69 on the left side.
It didn’t even take a full season for Za’Darius to become a fan favorite in Green Bay. His demeanor, on the field and off, have been huge reason why the Packers have had recent success, especially in the pass rush department. Z started the season with a lingering back injury, and after only playing for a limited time in week one, Z had back surgery. There was no timetable for his return, but there was optimism that the surgery wasn’t season ending. Having Za’Darius on the team has meant great things for other players. It allowed the Packers to work slowly with Rashan Gary. That certainly helped as Gary has filled the void quite well. On the opposite side having Z on the field also makes Preston Smith better.
As there is with Jaire and David optimism has grown especially in the past few days, as Z posted on instagram a photo with the caption “It’s about that time.” As we get ready to face the Bears and we get a look at the Packers practice we will certainly know more. Having Z back will do wonders on the field, and as a leader in the locker room.
Optimism Remains High
While there is no guarantee we get any of these three back this season, fans should be excited even still. The Packers medical staff have been known to be more on the conservative side. Having any of these guys fully healthy is a lot better than putting them out there with the risk of getting reinjured. Let’s hope we get these three back for the late season and into the playoffs.
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