NFL

Packers to place Za'Darius Smith on injured reserve

Za'Darius Smith played limited snaps in the Packers' season opener and now will be on the sidelines for at least the next three weeks.

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Packers to place Za'Darius Smith on injured reserve with back problem

The Green Bay Packers will be without edge rusher Za'Darius Smith for at least three weeks as he is set to be placed on injured reserve. 

Smith has been dealing with a lingering back injury and played only 18 of Green Bay's 60 defensive snaps in their 38-3 Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints. 

"Unfortunately, we're going to have to shut him down for a while," Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said on Friday. 

"It's a matter of just, do you keep him in a limited role? Or do you shut him down for a while, try to get him healthy and then get him up to the snap count that we'd like him to be, just like he's been in the past, because he's such an impact player. So, that's just the route that we thought was best long term." 

It means Smith is poised to miss not only Monday's home game with the Detroit Lions, but also difficult clashes with the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Signed as a free agent in 2019, Smith racked up 13.5 sacks in his first season before registering 12.5 last year, with the Packers reaching the NFC Championship Game in each of those campaigns. 

However, his overall pressure rate tailed off from 27.4 per cent, fourth among edge rushers, in 2019 to 16.5 per cent in 2020. 

With Smith on the sideline, the onus will be on his namesake Preston Smith (10 per cent pressure rate in 2020) and Rashan Gary (19.1 per cent) to provide the pass rush and help the Packers prevent their opening-game disappointment stretching into the coming weeks as they aim to go one better than in the previous two seasons.