Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers: Getting healthier for the playoffs

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This postseason could be very different than the last season for the Green Bay Packers. Instead of losing players, it’s shaping up to be a roster close to full strength.

The playoffs this season for the Green Bay Packers already have fans excited and confident the team will have success. They finished out the regular season 13-4 while missing pro bowlers and all-pro caliber players nearly the entire season. Now, when the Green Bay Packers take to Lambeau Field in the divisional round, they look to add those players back.

David Bakhtiari

David Bakhtiari got his first taste of action this season against the Lions, and looked good during his limited playing time. Yosh Nijman filled in very nicely for Bakh while he was out and Elgton Jenkins went down. Sunday just felt different for the line. Aaron Rodgers often had a lot of time to throw, and Bakhtiari gave up zero pressures and sacks, per PFF.

In his limited time on Sunday, Bakhtiari said he felt good with the reps he got. “I’m just fortunate, blessed, honored, privileged just to be able to put my pads back on” said Bakhtiari. “Be out there with the guys, laugh, have fun and do what I do best, which is play ball.”

Josh Myers

The return of rookie center Josh Myers on Sunday was massive. There were times during his absence that the interior line was struggling, primarily in the running game. Myers has six total starts to his young career, but he impressed in his limited time. The move shifted over Lucas Patrick to guard over rookie Royce Newman. The offensive line is starting to look a lot more ideal for they playoffs.

Jaire Alexander

One player that appears to be knocking on the doorstep of his return is CB Jaire Alexander. Alexander was activated off the list near the end of last week, and the Green Bay Packers did not opt to activate him for the game against Detroit. With his return inevitable, coaches will have to make tough decisions on who plays where. And it sounds like Matt LaFleur is figuring that out as we speak.

One big plus with Alexander is he can more comfortably play in the slot as opposed to Douglas or Stokes. I would expect to see packages where all three are seeing the field simultaneously to have the best guys all out there. Chandon Sullivan has struggled at times this season for the Green Bay Packers, and this is one solution to that problem.

Za’Darius Smith

A pleasant surprise that came this week was the Green Bay Packers clearing Za’Darius Smith. His three week window to be activated has now started, and Z could bring some more juice to the Green Bay Packers pass rush. Rashan Gary and Preston Smith have held it down, with the two combining for 18.5 this season. They have been animals along the edge, and Z can provide depth and versatility in the pass rush.

Smith has been a player the Green Bay Packers are comfortable plugging in along any part of the defensive front. They have him along the edge, but they also like having him attack the middle of the line. Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry alike have had success rushing the passer this season, but Za’Darius Smith would bring that much more for offensive lines to handle.

If Za’Darius Smith comes back in time for the divisional round with his head on fire, watch out offenses. It’s going to be a long day for your quarterback.

Randall Cobb

One of the many great offseason acquisitions by the Green Bay Packers, Randall Cobb, could also be making his return to the field soon. Cobb has been practicing since late December after getting core muscle surgery earlier in the season. He and Rodgers’ chemistry proved to be quite valuable when he was healthy, and they are going to need that in the playoffs.

But, the big thing is Cobb needs to be activated by Thursday if the Green Bay Packers want to have him available for their first playoff game.

Before his injury during the game against the Rams in Week 12, Cobb put up 28 receptions for 375 yards and five touchdowns.

Billy Turner

More good news came from Matt LaFleur on Monday. He says that he expects Billy Turner to return to practice this week. While he isn’t sure the exact day, it could be as early as today.

With that knee injury sidelining him the last several weeks, Dennis Kelly has been filling in. Kelly has played extremely well at right tackle for the Green Bay Packers, so it will be interesting what they do. Turner did play a lot of snaps at right guard and they could potentially place him there and bench Lucas Patrick. Turner has been excellent this season, and I find it hard to believe the Green Bay Packers would not plug him into the starting line right away.

The Green Bay Packers have a lot to be happy about right now. Their first playoff game will be at home, and they will likely be close to full strength. Gaining back a lot of these players will be key for a Super Bowl run. Time to sit back, see how wild card weekend pans out and look forward to the divisional round.

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