The Green Bay Packers could be without All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander when they travel to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10, but not because of the back issue that has kept him on the injury report over the past few weeks.
Alexander is no longer listed on the Packers’ injury report with a back injury, but he did not participate in Wednesday’s first practice of the week due to a new shoulder injury. He also remained sidelined for Thursday’s practice, adding to the level of concern.
“I’d say so, two days not practicing,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters on November 9 when asked if there is concern with Alexander’s injury. He had previously said Alexander got “banged up” in Week 9’s win over the Los Angeles Rams, but he could not say whether there is long-term concern with his All-Pro moving forward.
A shoulder injury is particularly concerning for Alexander considering he missed all but four games of the 2021 season with a significant right shoulder injury; although, it is not clear whether his current shoulder injury is on the same side as his previous one.
The Packers have already played three games in 2023 without Alexander in the lineup due to his back injury. And they no longer have Rasul Douglas on the roster to hold things down in the secondary in the event he needs to miss another game. While Alexander still has two more practices to earn a clean bill of health, his status will be worth monitoring through the remainder of the week leading up to Sunday’s game.
Alexander, a second-team All-Pro in both 2020 and 2022, signed a four-year, $84 million extension with the Packers in May 2022 and is signed through the 2026 season.
Packers Impressed With Rookie CB Carrington Valentine
Now would be a terrible time for the Packers to lose Jaire Alexander, even for one game. They traded Douglas to the Buffalo Bills at the October 31 NFL trade deadline. They also placed 2021 first-round pick Eric Stokes back on injured reserve less than a week after activating him, the result of him suffering a new injury in his return performance.
Fortunately, the Packers might just have something in rookie Carrington Valentine.
Valentine, a 2023 seventh-round pick, is coming off a phenomenal game against the Rams last Sunday. In just his second career performance playing at least 50 defensive snaps, he allowed just one 14-yard reception on eight total targets in coverage and notched the first two pass breakups of his career.
Granted, Valentine and the Packers played against backup Brett Rypien — whom the Rams cut earlier this week — but the quality of quarterback did not dampen the impression the rookie made on LaFleur and the rest of the Packers coaching staff.
“I loved how he went out there competed, challenged,” LaFleur said. “I just thought he was playing very competitive football. He was throwing his frame in the fire, so to speak, when he needed to and was a willing tackler. That’s important at that position, especially with some of these teams that try to get the ball on the perimeter. You need that corner support.”
Jaire Alexander Not Packers’ Only Injured Defender
The Packers have a new issue to monitor with Alexander, but they also have three other notable players who did not participate in Wednesday’s first practice along with him. They were also missing left tackle Yosh Nijman (back), guard Jon Runyan Jr. (neck) and inside linebacker Quay Walker (groin) on the practice field to add to their worries.
On the bright side, both Nijman and Runyan returned to practice in a limited capacity for Thursday’s second session, but Walker did not rejoin his teammates and remained out with Alexander. If neither of them play, the Packers would be missing two of their most important defensive starters heading into a tough road venue in Pittsburgh.
The Packers also listed several other notable players as “limited” participants on Thursday: defensive tackle Kenny Clark (shoulder), safety Rudy Ford (calf), left guard Elgton Jenkins (knee) and running back Aaron Jones (hamstring). Neither Walker nor Ford played for the Packers in Week 9’s win over the Rams.
Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (back) has been a full participant for consecutive practice after leaving last Sunday’s game with multiple injuries.