Green Bay Packers could ‘potentially’ see David Bakhtiari, Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander on practice field this week

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Yes, Matt LaFleur is telling you there’s a chance the Green Bay Packers could return a trio of 2020 first- and second-team All-Pros at premium positions for the stretch run.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari, outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander could “potentially” start practicing this week after missing months because of injuries, LaFleur said Monday. Already 9-3 entering last week’s bye, their potential returns for the stretch run could catapult the Packers from a crowded group of NFC contenders to being the clear Super Bowl favorite.

It’s uncertain when Bakhtiari, Smith and Alexander might return. LaFleur said each is doing “everything in their power” to return, and that an update will come when the team returns to the practice field Wednesday.

Even if each returns this week, it’s unlikely their transition back to football will be identical.

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“It’s hard to put them all in the same box,” LaFleur said. “They’re all recovering from different things. So I trust that Flea (head athletic trainer Bryan Engel) and our medical staff have a great plan for these guys in terms of trying to incorporate them back into practice, and then just the whole ready-to-play process for each individual.

“But I wouldn’t say we lump them all into the same kind of category.”

Bakhtiari has not practiced since Nov. 11 because of arthroscopic surgery on his surgically repaired left knee. The two-time, first-team All-Pro left tackle has not played this season after tearing his ACL in Week 17 last year. He is now roughly 11 months from surgery to repair his ACL. The Packers activated Bakhtiari from the physically unable to perform list Nov. 10.

Smith has played only 18 snaps this season, all in the opener against the New Orleans Saints. After missing almost the entirety of training camp, Smith got back surgery a week later and has not practiced since. A second-team…


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