Packers signed LaDarius Hamilton from the Buccaneers practice team to fill Smith’s job
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Za’Darius Smith was ready for the Green Bay Packers’ season opener after battling a back injury during training camp, but the Packers are scrapping him after playing just 18 plays in the loss to the Los New Orleans Saints.
Smith was placed on injured reserve on Friday, which means he will miss a minimum of three games. before you are eligible to return, but you could lose even more time.
The Packers considered leaving him on the active roster and limiting his playing time, but instead they decided to freeze it until at least the October 10 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Why not try to make it as healthy as possible so we can have it better, hopefully?” Matt LaFleur mused.
Smith, who has played two Pro Bowls in the same number of seasons since signing a four-year, $ 66 million deal with the Packers in 2019, he’s one of only three players in the NFL with more than 12 sacks in each of the last two seasons (Aaron Donald and TJ Watt are the others).
He wanted a contract extension this offseason, but instead the Packers simply converted part of his base salary and roster bonuses into a signing bonus that was paid immediately last month and, according to a source, did not meet his expectations. Smith, who has not spoken to reporters since the start of training camp, also seemed upset that he was not re-elected as the team’s captain. Shortly after the captains were announced last week, Smith tweeted, “Wow” with a thoughtful emoji.
Smith showed up to training camp with a back injury and was placed on the non-football related injury list. He practiced only once at camp before it was closed again until Week 1. He practiced three times on a limited basis the week of the first game.
The highlight of his 18-play stint against the Saints was a hit to quarterback Jameis Winston forcing the interception of Darnell Savage, but the fumble was eliminated due to a rudeness penalty against the quarterback, a penalty that the Packers vehemently rebuked.
The The Packers signed linebacker LaDarius Hamilton from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice team to fill Smith’s roster spot. Hamilton was an undrafted free agent with the Cowboys in 2020, but Tampa Bay claimed him out of waivers last offseason. Preston Smith and 2019 first-round pick Rashan Gary will be the starters and Jonathan Garvin and Chauncey Rivers will be the main substitutes for Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions.