Sports

No surgery for Packers’ Alexander; return possible

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers and Jaire Alexander have decided against shoulder surgery — for now — leaving open the possibility that the All-Pro cornerback could play again this season.

Coach Matt LaFleur said Friday that Alexander might still be placed on injured reserve, but that doesn’t necessarily mean his season is over. Alexander, the Packers’ first-round draft pick in 2018, injured his right shoulder in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He and the Packers’ medical staff spent the week consulting with specialists before they decided what to do.

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“It’s just one of those things we’re going to let heal and see where it’s at down the line before making that determination,” LaFleur said. “But we’re hopeful that it’ll heal the right way and he’ll be back with us in a matter of weeks.”

LaFleur said surgery would have most likely prevented him from returning this season. While the Packers will be without Alexander for Sunday’s game at the Cincinnati Bengals, they expect to have cornerback Kevin King available. King missed the past two games because of a concussion but was cleared on Friday.

He likely will pair with rookie pick Eric Stokes as the two starting cornerbacks. Stokes, the Packers’ first-round pick this year, came up with his first NFL interception against the Steelers.

The Packers also have issues on their offensive line. Rookie center Josh Myers, who had been playing with a finger injury, will be held out of Sunday’s game by the Packers’ medical staff. Myers had been seen with a wrap on his right hand all week while he watched practice.

However, Elgton Jenkins, who made the Pro Bowl at left guard last season, could return. He was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. Jenkins started the first two games this season at left tackle while David Bakhtiari continued his ACL recovery on the physically unable to perform list. Jenkins also has experience at center, so it’s possible they could play him there in place of Myers.

Lucas Patrick, who lost his starting guard spot this season, is another option at center. The Packers have been down to their third-string left tackle, Yosh Nijman, the past two games. Friday also marked the first practice for recently signed linebacker Jaylon Smith. He arrived in Green Bay on Thursday, two days after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys.

While there are questions about whether Smith resembles the player who made the Pro Bowl in 2019, he disagrees. When asked what kind of player he still is, Smith said: “Elite. Elite.”

He said the Cowboys released him for business reasons. While his $7.2 million salary for this season was guaranteed and will be paid by Dallas, his $9.2 million salary for 2022 would have become guaranteed if Smith couldn’t play because of an injury.

The Cowboys, who reduced Smith’s role this season, did not want to take that chance. The Packers signed him for the veterans minimum, which prorates to $770,000 for the rest of the season.

The Packers don’t expect to play Smith on Sunday given that he’d have only one day of practice and would not put a timeline on how quickly he could find a role in their defense.

“You know [at] 26 years old, got a lot of game left to play, especially at a high level,” Smith said Friday. “And anytime I touch the field, that’s the goal — to add value.”

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