Green Bay Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith reportedly underwent back surgery earlier this week.
While the recovery from this procedure will keep the star linebacker off the field for an extended period of time, there is still hope that he could return before the end of the 2021 season, per NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo.
The NFL world took to Twitter on Friday to react to this disappointing update.
Bad news for the Packers pass rush, though it has shown improvement without him as the season progresses https://t.co/NNlgCQIzRK
— Dave Schroeder (@SchroederWBAY) October 1, 2021
— Jonathan Diel (@RealDielCosplay) October 1, 2021
Get it fixed now, have him back for the playoffs (hopefully) https://t.co/XcnPKPgBZC
— #RodgersReckoning (@RodgersForeva) October 1, 2021
— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) October 1, 2021
Well…that is not the short term turnaround they thought https://t.co/TC8LsnaKyj
— MK Burgess (@MK_Burgess) October 1, 2021
When Smith reported to training camp earlier this year, he was already plagued by this nagging back injury. The two-time Pro-Bowl defender tried to play through the issue in Week 1, taking 18 snaps in his team’s blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints. But he was then placed on IR during the following week.
Since signing with the Packers in 2019, Smith has been a consistent producer on the defensive side of the ball. Through his two seasons in Green Bay, the former Raven logged a whopping 26.0 sacks, 107 tackles, 60 QB hits, five forced fumbles and two Pro-Bowl selections.
Heading into the final year of his current contract with an expected cap hit of $28.13 million in 2022, Smith very well could have played the final snap of his Green Bay career if he doesn’t return this season.
Linebackers Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, De’Vondre Campbell and Krys Barnes will be forced to step up in Smith’s absence.
The 2-1 Packers will face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Week 4 matchup on Sunday afternoon.