Packers placing Za’Darius Smith on IR with back injury

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Dealing with a back injury, Packers edge rusher Za'Darius Smith played only 18 defensive snaps in last week’s loss to New Orleans.

It’s going to be at least three weeks until he sees the field again.

Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur announced on Friday that Smith will go to injured reserve, with the hope that it’ll be only a short stint. Smith was limited for two days last week with the injury and didn’t practice on Friday. He wasn’t on the field for Thursday’s practice in Week Two.

“We’re going to have to shut him down for a while,” LaFleur said, via Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “It’s a matter of, do just you keep him in a limited role, or do you shut him down for a while, get him healthy, and get him up to the snap count that you’d like him to be.”

Smith recorded one tackle in Sunday’s contest. Despite Smith going on IR now, LaFleur said he’s comfortable with the decision to let the edge rusher play last week. The head coach added Smith will have to “rehab hard” to put the back injury in the rearview mirror.

Last year, Smith put up 12.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 23 quarterback hits, and four forced fumbles while starting every game for Green Bay.

The Packers play the Lions on Monday Night Football in Week Two.