Green Bay Packers star cornerback Jaire Alexander injured his shoulder in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team placed him on the injured reserve (IR), and he hasn’t played in a game since. Alexander is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and although Rasul Douglas has looked elite in his absence, Alexander has game-changing ability. Is Alexander playing against the San Francisco 49ers this weekend, and how might he affect the game?
Update 01/22/22: Jaire Alexander is officially active for the Green Bay Packers tonight against the 49ers. For the entire list of inactives, make sure to check out our 49ers vs. Packers Injury Report.
Will Jaire Alexander play vs. the 49ers this week?
Alexander suffered a shoulder injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4, landing on IR. With that said, Alexander was removed from the IR prior to Green Bay’s Week 18 loss to the Detroit Lions.
He wasn’t able to play in that game, as he hadn’t practiced all week. It was also a meaningless contest for Green Bay, as they solely used it to get their starters some reps before benching everyone.
Alexander received another week of rest, as the Packers earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. Their star cornerback was able to practice in a limited fashion on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week.
Alexander is currently listed as questionable, but many believe he will be able to play against San Francisco this weekend.
Who would start if he can’t play?
Green Bay is in an interesting spot in the secondary. They have several solid cornerbacks, but they’re all similar in terms of the way they play. Rasul Douglas started in Alexander’s role in recent weeks. He would continue to start there if Alexander were out this week.
Yet, Douglas has played too well to bench at this point. He’s taken over as Green Bay’s top cornerback, and Alexander isn’t likely to push him to the bench.
Instead, they’ll have a decision to make. Rookie cornerback Eric Stokes enjoyed a solid campaign for the Packers. He’s been the other outside corner with Douglas in Alexander’s absence — Kevin King lost his starting role earlier in the year.
If Green Bay wants to continue to use Stokes, they’ll have to move one of these three corners into the slot over Chandler Sullivan. Sullivan’s been their worst starting corner by a wide margin, so this would be an upgrade. The only major concern is that the slot and outside positions are entirely different, and Alexander, Stokes, and Douglas have barely played there throughout the season.
How would his absence affect the Packers’ defense vs. San Francisco?
If Alexander doesn’t play this week, it would be a massive downgrade to the Packers’ defense. He’s an All-Pro CB that would make an elite pairing with Douglas, who produced a stellar season.
If Alexander misses this game, Stokes will remain in the first-team lineup. He has looked outstanding throughout his rookie season, but he’s more prone to mistakes than the veteran.
The difference between Alexander and his replacement is sizeable. If he returns this weekend, it would be a major hit to the 49ers’ outside receivers in this game.