Returning after 1-game suspension, Jaire Alexander says he wants to remain with Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Jaire Alexander said Wednesday he’s “very grateful” to be part of the Green Bay Packers and he won’t repeat the conduct that led the team to suspend him for one game.

The 26-year-old cornerback also said he wants to remain with the Packers beyond this season. Alexander was hopeful the conversations he had with team officials in the wake of the suspension should improve that relationship.

“There’s definitely things that I could have improved upon during that week to help with communication,” Alexander said. “Moving forward, that won’t happen again.”

Alexander has been dealing with a shoulder injury for the last two months but was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur wouldn’t go into details about what role Alexander might have Sunday as the Packers (8-8) seek to clinch a playoff berth by beating the Chicago Bears (7-9).

“I’m not going to get into too many of the specifics — you guys will find out later in the week — but I will say that it was great to have him back,” LaFleur said. “We had a great conversation on Monday, and I think he’s ready to go.”

Alexander served a one-game suspension after appointing himself captain for the Packers’ Christmas Eve victory over the Carolina Panthers in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

When the Packers won the coin toss, Alexander said the defense wanted to be on the field first rather than saying the Packers would defer the option to the second half. The Packers got a break when referee Alex Kemp asked Alexander to clarify. LaFleur had told the officiating crew beforehand what he wanted to do if the Packers won the toss.

Alexander acknowledged he wasn’t expecting a punishment of this magnitude.

“Yeah, I was surprised by the suspension,” he said. “I thought maybe I’d get fined.”

The suspension prevented Alexander from getting to match up with Pro Bowl receiver Justin Jefferson on Sunday at Minnesota, though Green Bay’s defense thrived without him in a 33-10 blowout of the Vikings.

“Initially I was very upset, but when my guys went out there and did what they did, I can’t be too mad,” Alexander said. “I was pretty happy.”

Alexander said he didn’t believe there would be too many obvious changes in the way he goes about his business from now on, but added that “my interviews might be a little more serious.” The guy who wore a comically oversized hat to one postgame news conference last year and had sunglasses on while discussing the coin-toss incident after the Carolina game didn’t have any accessories with him for Wednesday’s session with reporters.

Alexander is one of the Packers’ best overall players when healthy. He received a four-year, $84 million contract extension with a $30 million signing bonus in May 2022.

But he has played in just six of the Packers’ 16 games this season.

He missed three games during the first two months of the season with a back injury. He later missed six games with a shoulder problem before returning for the Carolina game. Then he served the one-game suspension.

Alexander was asked Wednesday if the shoulder issue was impacting how physically he can play when he’s on the field.

“I can try to,” he replied. “It’s a mindset. Some plays are better than others.”

Alexander expressed optimism that his shoulder would be healthy enough for him to play against the Bears. He also was hopeful the suspension led to conversations that should aid his dealings with LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst.

“It was good for both parties to hear both sides,” Alexander said. “We got down to the nitty-gritty.”

Alexander conceded he could do a better job of communicating with team officials.

“It’s easy to talk to my guys, but talking to anybody else would be a little bit of a challenge,” Alexander said. “I’ve got to be better at that.”

NOTES: WRs Christian Watson (hamstring), Dontayvion Wicks (chest) and Jayden Reed (chest) were all limited participants in Wednesday’s practice. Watson has missed four straight games. Wicks didn’t play against the Vikings, and Reed left the Vikings game early after scoring two touchdowns. … LB Isaiah McDuffie (concussion/neck), OLB Preston Smith (ankle), RB AJ Dillon (thumb), S Rudy Ford (hamstring) and LG Elgton Jenkins (knee/ankle) didn’t practice.

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Megargee is an Associated Press sports writer covering college and professional sports in Wisconsin, including the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks, University of Wisconsin and Marquette.