Packers face possibility of losing Alexander for long period
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Already accustomed to playing without their top pass rusher, the Green Bay Packers now must prepare for the likely absence of their best cornerback.
Jaire Alexander injured a shoulder in the second half of the Packers’ 27-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Without getting into specifics, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Monday he had spoken with head athletic trainer Bryan Engel and team physician Patrick McKenzie about Alexander’s situation.
“They’re just getting some other opinions on how to proceed, I guess, is the best way for me to say it right now,” LaFleur said.
When LaFleur was asked if he could rule out a worst-case scenario, he replied that “everything’s kind of getting looked at right now.”
If Alexander misses significant time, it would represent arguably the toughest blow yet for a team already dealing with multiple injuries.
Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who had a combined 26 sacks in 2019-20, hasn’t played since a season-opening 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints and might miss the rest of the season.
“We’re hopeful to get him back, but as far as the timeline, I just know it’s going to be a while,” LaFleur said. “I know he’ll do everything he can to try to get back because he’s a big part of this football team.”
Left tackle David Bakhtiari, a 2020 All-Pro selection, hasn’t played all season and will miss at least two more games as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling went on injured reserve with a hamstring issue last week and must miss at least two more games.
The Packers (3-1) played without guard/tackle Elgton Jenkins (ankle) for a second straight game Sunday and also were missing linebacker Krys Barnes and cornerback Kevin King due to concussions.
“You can never have enough great players out there,” LaFleur said. “Right now, we’ve got a few of our stud players on the bench due to injury.”
Through it all, the Packers have won three straight games to lead the NFC North. They’ve beaten San Francisco and Pittsburgh the past two weeks while missing their two best offensive linemen.
“If you would’ve told me early in the season we’d be without arguably two of our best linemen for a couple of games and play those two fronts, I would’ve been ecstatic with two wins,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after Sunday’s game. “And here we are 3-1, beating two fronts without Dave and without Elgton.”
The passing game remained as crisp as ever with Rodgers showing he can find different targets when defenses focus on containing 2020 All-Pro receiver Davante Adams. ... After gaining just 3.4 yards per carry through its first three games, Green Bay had a season-high 131 yards rushing on 33 attempts. ... The defense played perhaps its best game of the young season.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Only an offside penalty on Pittsburgh prevented the Packers’ special teams from allowing a penalty that could have changed the game. Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked a field-goal attempt and ran 75 yards for a touchdown that would have put the Steelers ahead late in the first half.
Rodgers has thrown eight touchdown passes without an interception over the past three games. ... WR Randall Cobb scored his first two touchdowns of his second stint in Green Bay. It was his first two-touchdown game since Sept. 28, 2015. ... RB A.J. Dillon rushed for a season-high 81 yards on 15 carries and had a 16-yard catch. ... CB Eric Stokes, a rookie first-round pick from Georgia, got his first career interception.
TE Robert Tonyan had just two catches for 8 yards, the third time in four games he has been held below 10 yards receiving.
The Packers are hoping to get King and Jenkins back soon.
“If we had a practice today, neither one of them would be available,” LaFleur said Monday.
420 — Rodgers has that many touchdown passes, tied with Dan Marino for sixth all-time. Next on the list is Philip Rivers, who threw 421 touchdown passes from 2004-20.
Green Bay goes on the road for four of its next five games. That stretch starts Sunday when the Packers make their first trip to Cincinnati (3-1) since 2013.
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