Packers Relying On Getting Healthy to Get Better Down the Stretch

NFL: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers did not make any trades at the trade deadline yesterday but they did make several roster moves. The bottom line for the Packers will be that they will rely on getting healthy to get better in the second half of the season.

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The Packers did make some roster moves before the trade deadline. They released linebacker Jaylon Smith who played just two games for the Packers after the team claimed him off waivers from Dallas on October 7. Smith played a total of 27 defensive snaps for the Packers in those two games and made a total of one tackle.

The Packers also released long snapper Hunter Bradley who had struggled with inconsistency since the team drafted him in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The team moved long snapper Steven Wirtel from the practice squad to the active roster to replace Bradley. Wirtel has been on the practice squad since September 2.

The Packers also released LB Aaron Adeoye from the practice squad and signed defensive lineman Abdullah Anderson to the practice squad. Anderson was on the Packers practice squad for the first two weeks of this season.

But the bigger news was that the Packers did not make any trades at the NFL deadline which was at 3 PM CT on Tuesday. Head coach Matt LaFleur indicated the team would be active earlier this week but apparently the asking price for the players the Packers were interested in was too high.

What GM Brian Gutekunst is counting on now is that the 7-1 Packers will improve by getting their injured players healthy again down the stretch.

The Packers are presently without Pro Bowl players on both sides of the ball and several other starters and key contributors. All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari has yet to play this season as he rehabs from knee surgery. He started the season on the PUP list and resumed practicing with the team two weeks ago. The Packers are expected to activate Bakhtiari to the active roster for either the Chiefs game this weekend or the Seahawks game in Week 10.

That move will allow the Packers to move Elgton Jenkins back to left guard and strengthen the offensive line. Either rookie Royce Newman or second-year man Jon Runyan, Jr. will no longer be a starter once Jenkins moves back to guard.

The Packers are also hoping to get Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander back later in the season. Alexander has been out of the lineup since hurting his shoulder in the Packers Week 4 win over the Steelers. If Alexander returns for the stretch drive, the Packers would be adding one of the league’s best cover corners to a pass defense that is presently ranked sixth in the league with just 216.8-yards per game allowed.

At the present time, it is still not clear when or even if Alexander will be ready to return to the lineup but the fact that the Packers did not add a cornerback at the trade deadline shows that the team does not feel like they desperately need to fortify this position.

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The Packers are also hoping to get edge rusher Za’Darius Smith back soon. Za’Darius has been out of the lineup since Week 1 and he had back surgery after that game. He is the Packers best pure pass rusher and has earned Pro Bowl honors in each of the last two seasons when he recorded a total of 26 sacks.

Za’Darius recently returned to Green Bay and attended practice although the team has yet to announce any kind of timetable for his return to action. If the Packers can get Za’Darius back in the lineup, they would have three strong edge rushers with Za’Darius, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. Add the inside pressure from Kenny Clark and the Packers pass rush could be one of the strongest in the league.

The Packers could also get starting center Josh Myers back in the lineup. The rookie out of Ohio State has been out of the lineup since suffering a knee injury in Week 6 against the Bears. Lucas Patrick has done a steady job of filling in since Myers has been sidelined.

The Packers have also been banged up at wide receiver. Allen Lazard has been activated from the Covid-19 reserve list and should be available against Kansas City. The team is still waiting for Davante Adams to be cleared to resume playing. Marquez Valdes-Scantling may also be ready to return to play. MVS has been out of the lineup since Week 3 with a hamstring injury. Getting all three of these receivers back would be a significant boost for the offense.

It is also possible the Packers will look to sign some street free agents. One example that many fans are interested in is wide receiver DeSean Jackson who was released by the Los Angeles Rams after they were unable to work out a trade for him. It is not clear that the Packers are looking to add a receiver at this point but Jackson is a speedy veteran who could add something to the team.

Right now, the Packers are looking at a team that has won seven straight games despite suffering all these injuries. The front office believes just getting these players back in the lineup would be a major improvement for the second half of the season.


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