Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith is practicing again, raising hopes the 2020 Pro Bowl selection could return for the playoffs after missing nearly the entire regular season.
Smith, who recorded a combined 26 sacks for the Packers from 2019-20, participated in the Packers’ practice Wednesday as they begin postseason preparations. The Packers (13-4) own the NFC’s No. 1 seed and lone first-round playoff bye, so they won’t play until Jan. 22 or 23.
Smith hasn’t played since the season opener due to a back issue. He was on the field for just 18 snaps during that opening game, a 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Packers outside linebackers Preston Smith, who isn’t related to Za’Darius, and Rashan Gary have stepped up in ZaDarius Smith’s absence. Gary improved his sack total from five in 2020 to 9½ this season. Preston Smith has nine sacks, up from four last season.
In other injury news, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the toe that was bothering him for much of the second half of the season is starting to feel better. Rodgers said he hasn’t needed to take a pain-killing injection on the toe “in a number of weeks.
Rodgers says he fractured his left pinkie toe in early November while working out at home during his quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
Rookie center Josh Myers said he felt good after playing 32 snaps in a 37-30 loss at Detroit on Sunday. That marked the first time Myers had played in a game since suffering a knee injury Oct. 17 at Chicago.