Packers reportedly add veteran linebacker, lose another player to season-ending injury

Green Bay has added another veteran to their inside linebacker room.

As first report Wednesday by the NFL Network, the Packers have signed former Dallas linebacker Jaylon Smith to a 1-year contract.

Smith was cut by the Cowboys earlier this week. The reasoning out of Dallas was to allow for some of the younger linebackers to continue to grow and learn. Smith played in the first four games of the season, including starting two. However, he was on the field for just 40-percent of the defensive snaps against Carolina last Sunday.

The 26-year-old Smith was considered a top-10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft before he suffered a gruesome leg injury in Notre Dame’s bowl game. He ended up falling to the Cowboys in the second round and did not play his rookie year. Smith would go on to start six games in 2017 before really bursting onto the scene in 2018 with 121 tackles, two forced fumbles and four sacks. He followed that up with a Pro Bowl season in 2019.

Despite the accolades, many that cover the league say Smith isn’t as fast as he once was, isn’t a big run stuffing linebacker and has also struggled in coverage.

Prior to the signing, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was asked about Smith and a picture that surfaced of the two embracing after the Packers beat Dallas in 2019.

“I like him as a person. I think he’s a super friendly, happy guy even on the field. He’s a fierce competitor, but he always has a smile on his face. I appreciate that about him and it was just more of a respectful competitor to competitor conversation after the game,” Rodgers said. “I haven’t heard that’s anything been done yet, but in general, I think anytime you add a veteran player to a team there’s the possibility of a guy getting an opportunity, who has played football before at a high level, and sometimes it just takes an environment switch for some of those guys to play their best football.”

With De’Vondre Campbell playing at high level and Krys Barnes set to return from a concussion, Smith likely slots in as Green Bay’s third ILB in front of Oren Burks and Ty Summers. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry has used three ILBs on the field together at times and that could be where Smith fits, at least early in his time.

Rivers injured

The Packers are dealing with another injury to an outside linebacker. Top pass rusher Za’Darius Smith is on injured reserve and just had back surgery, while Randy Ramsey suffered a season-ending injury in training camp. Now, Chauncey Rivers has sustained a season-ending knee injury, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.

Rivers was used in spot duty on defense, though he played a season-high 32 snaps against the Steelers.