Green Bay Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith wasn’t named one of the team’s seven captains, though Matt LaFleur says it’s nothing personal.
Smith was named a Pro Bowler in 2020, and was a captain last season as well. However, he spent most of training camp recovering from an injury, which could very well keep him out Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints.
This, LaFleur says, is what kept Smith from being named captain.
“He’s still a leader on this football team,” LaFleur said. “I think sometimes when you’re going through everything that he’s gone through throughout training camp and the preseason, and you’re not around the guys quite as much, sometimes that is a byproduct of that.”
Smith voiced his frustration on Twitter Thursday, with a vague tweet that clearly symbolized his unhappy nature.
Packers: Za’Darius Smith frustrated with Matt LaFleur
LaFleur was quick to buckle down, stating that to him, Smith is still a leader and captain. As great as that sounds, it doesn’t add a ‘C’ to Smith’s uniform.
Smith’s back injury could keep him out on Sunday, and given how cautious the Packers have been with injuries, it wouldn’t be a marked surprise.
“I wouldn’t say (he had) a setback,” LaFleur said, “but he’s feeling some things (in his back). So we thought it was in the best interest to leave him out, and give him the next 48 hours to kind of prove whether or not he can go out there and play.”
Whether or not Smith plays on Sunday, his frustration shouldn’t be allowed to fester. Whether it’s a conversation with LaFleur or another team leader, the Packers must make sure everyone is on board entering an important season.