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Green Bay Packers put star LB Za'Darius Smith on injured reserve

Green Bay Packers put star LB Za'Darius Smith on injured reserve
Green Bay Packers linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55), shown Sept. 27, 2020, has dealt with a lingering back injury over the past few weeks. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The Green Bay Packers have placed star outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith on injured reserve with a lingering back injury.

The Packers announced the roster move Friday on social media. Smith will miss at least three games before he is eligible to return, though he could remain out longer than that.

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Green Bay considered keeping Smith on its active roster and limiting his playing time. Instead, the team opted to hold him out until at least the Packers' Oct. 10 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Why not try to get him as healthy as possible so we can have him more readily available, hopefully?" Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said.

Smith battled through the back injury in training camp, but he played just 18 snaps in the Packers' loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 1. He reported to camp with the ailment and was placed on the non-football injury list.

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The 29-year-old Smith practiced only once in camp before being shut down until Week 1. He took part in three practices on a limited basis in the week leading up to the Packers' season opener.

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Smith, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, is one of only three players in the NFL with at least 12 sacks in each of the past two seasons. Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald and Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt are the others.

In a corresponding roster move, the Packers signed outside linebacker La'Darius Hamilton off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad.

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