Packers activate Za’Darius Smith and Whitney Mercilus from injured reserve

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The pass-rush of the Green Bay Packers is returning two key members to start the playoffs.

The team officially activated outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Whitney Mercilus from injured reserve on Friday, making both eligible to play Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional round.

To make room on the roster, the Packers released cornerback Issac Yiadom and defensive lineman Jack Heflin.

Smith has been on injured reserve since playing only 18 snaps in Week 1. He needed surgery to correct a lingering back injury. Over the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Smith produced 26.0 sacks and 60 quarterback hits and was a Pro Bowler each season.

Mercilus was signed by the Packers after being released by the Houston Texans in October. He delivered 10 pressures and a sack over four games with the Packers but was injured while attempting to sack Russell Wilson in Week 10.

Smith and Mercilus will join productive starters Preston Smith and Rashan Gary to create a deep and disruptive group of edge rushers for the Packers to open the postseason.

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