Sep 12, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  Green Bay Packers linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55) stands on the sidelines during the game against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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Packers LB Za’Darius Smith returns to practice

Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl linebacker Za’Darius Smith returned to practice Wednesday after missing virtually the entire season.

The Packers designated Smith to return from injured reserve, where he’s been since Week 1 after playing just 18 snaps in the season opener. He underwent back surgery after being put on IR on Sept. 17.

With a bye this week, the Packers hope Smith can return to action for next weekend’s divisional playoff game.

Green Bay could also get back cornerback Jaire Alexander, out since Week 4 with a shoulder injury. He spent time on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week.

Smith, 29, made the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 13.5 sacks in 2019 and 12.5 last season.

Smith spent his first four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and had 18.5 sacks in 58 games (16 starts).

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