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Green Bay Packers placing EDGE Za’Darius Smith on IR ahead of Lions game

The Lions offensive line will have a slightly easier time this week with Green Bay’s best pass rusher sidelined.

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions will catch a little bit of a break this week as they prepare to face the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football. Packers coach Matt LaFleur announced on Friday afternoon that star pass rusher Za’Darius Smith will be sidelined for “a little while” to a lingering back injury. When asked if Smith was headed to short-term injured reserve, LaFleur responded, “Yeah.”

Smith has led the Packers' defense in sacks in each of the past two seasons. Last year, he tallied 12.5 sacks for Green Bay, and in 2019, he had 13.5—both years ranking in the top six of the NFL.

With Smith out, the Packers will likely rely more on former University of Michigan edge defender Rashan Gary. Gary is no slouch, as he led the Packers with four pressures in Week 1 on 37 snaps. He also had five sacks for Green Bay last season.

Detroit’s offensive line is coming off a solid performance against a good 49ers defensive front. Rookie Penei Sewell, playing at left tackle as a replacement for injured Taylor Decker, successfully held Nick Bosa in check for most of the game, though Detroit had some protection issues at right tackle with Matt Nelson in his second career start.

Still, LaFleur came away very impressed with Detroit’s offensive line.

“I thought Detroit’s line was outstanding,” LaFleur said. “Both in the run game—there were some big holes in the run game—and I thought they really moved San Francisco off the ball pretty well, and that’s a really, really good front. One of the premier fronts in this league. They’re a penetrating defense, and that’s not easy to do. So I was super impressed with them in the run and in the pass. There were a lot of clean pockets there for Jared (Goff) to give him time to make correct decisions and get the ball down the field.”

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