Za'Darius Smith, Packers defense look to stop Zeke Elliott

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GREEN BAY (WBAY)- Another day of practice without receiver Davante Adams for the Packers as he continues to deal with turf toe.

Packers running back Jamaal Williams (concussion) also sat out Thursday, along with starting corner back Kevin King, who is still nursing the groin injury he suffered against the Eagles.

If King can't play, that leaves a hole on the defense, a defense that has given up too many holes on the ground the last three games.

The Vikings, Broncos and Eagles combined for a total of 523 rushing yards.

And now comes Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys, which at first blush, doesn't look like a good match-up.

However, the New Orleans Saints may have provided a blueprint on how to defend Elliott.

Last Sunday night, he was held to just 35 yards on 18 carries. Those yards are the third fewest of his career since entering the league in 2016. The Packers were paying attention.

“I think a lot of it was up front. Their d-line played well, played with a lot of hands, a lot of getting off blocks,” Packers defensive lineman Montravius Adams said Thursday.

Adams missed the last two games with a shoulder injury but is expected to return Sunday.

Nose tackle Tyler Lancaster also took note of how the Saints defenders played up front against Elliott, using a skill the Packers work on all the time.

“That's what we start with in individual every single day at practice is working with our hands, and making sure we are fully locked out. Because when we are not fully locked out, we can't get extended and we can't get off blocks and we can't make plays,” Lancaster said.

It’s been the opponents making all the plays on the ground the last three games, but the defensive captain, outside linebackers Za'Darius Smith knows it can, and will be corrected.

“After coming back from that last game we got a chance to look at the film,” Za’Darius Smith said Thursday. “And we felt like a lot of guys were out of their gaps, me myself included, and (Preston Smith). That is something we just got to work on.”

For the first time all season Za'Darius Smith was ineffective in the pass game against the Eagles playing with a knee injury that he told us Thursday he suffered on the last play of the Broncos game when Joe Flacco fell on his knee.

He gutted it out against the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday night.

“Hey I can tell you this. coach always says, 'Z you need to come out for a play.' But I'm not coming out man. I can tell you that. If it's not broken I'm going to still go. If I have the opportunity to go out and help my teammates succeed I'm going to do that each and every time."

Smith also mentioned that the Packers medical staff advised him not to play against the Eagles.

"I still played because of who I am and my leadership around here. This week will be a better week for me. I'm getting treatment now and I am almost healthy," Smith said.

The Packers defense should have a tough task on Sunday against the Cowboys.

Dallas's offense is ranked 7th in the NFL. The Packers-Cowboys game starts at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be broadcast by FOX.