Former Kentucky pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week following his three-sack performance on Monday.
In a 30-16 win for the Green Bay Packers over the Atlanta Falcons, Smith led the team with eight tackles (four for a loss), five quarterback hits, and three sacks. He played 64 of 70 defensive snaps (94%) in the victory.
The Packers linebacker has earned an NFL weekly award just one other time in his career, with his first coming back in 2018 when he captured AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after registering three sacks for the Baltimore Ravens in a Week 6 win over the Tennessee Titans.
This is the first time a Packers player has earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors since Preston Smith did so in Week 3 of the 2019 season following a five-tackle, three-sack performance against the Denver Broncos.
Za’Darius Smith’s five sacks in four games currently are tied for the most in the NFL this season with Cleveland’s Myles Garrett.
Smith was drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round back in 2015 after a successful two-year season at Kentucky. Transferring from East Mississippi Community College for his final two years of eligibility, Smith started played all 24 games in 2013 and 2014, recording 119 total tackles (50 solo), 14.0 tackles for loss, 11.0 sacks, three pass deflections, and two fumble recoveries.
In his sixth season in the NFL, Smith has racked up a total of 190 total tackles (124 solo), 97 QB hits, 47 tackles for loss, 34 sacks, five forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.