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Packers suspend Jaire Alexander for one game after toss incident

The Green Bay Packers suspended cornerback Jaire Alexander for one game Wednesday for conduct detrimental to the team stemming from an incident during the coin toss before Sunday’s 33-30 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst announced the decision, which will leave the team without its star cornerback for Sunday night’s critical Week 17 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

“The decision to suspend a player is never easy and we do not take it lightly. Unfortunately, Jaire’s actions prior to the Carolina game caused us to take this step,” Gutekunst said in the release. “As an organization, we expect everyone to put the team first. Even while we are disappointed, we had a good chat with Jaire this morning and we hope he learns from it as we move forward together. We look forward to welcoming him back next week as he is a valued member of this team and will continue to be in the future.

The Packers chose team captains on a weekly rotation this year, rather than naming select players before the season. In Sunday’s game against Carolina, Alexander was not a part of it.

Yet the sixth-year player joined designated captains Aaron Jones, Eric Wilson and Quay Walker in midfield for the pre-match coin toss. Alexander called tails, the Packers won the coin toss and Alexander said Green Bay wanted to be on defense — rather than saying he deferred his pick until the second half. Although the difference is technical, Alexander’s call could have been interpreted to mean that Green Bay wanted to kick off, which would have allowed Carolina to receive the ball early in both halves.

Referee Alex Kemp clarified that Alexander meant the Packers wanted to postpone, something coach Matt LaFleur told him in a pregame meeting with officials they would do if they won the draw. Alexander’s near-botched call could have cost Green Bay possession in its three-point win over the Panthers as the team fights for a playoff spot. For now, the Packers are looking on the outside looking in.

LaFleur said after the game that Alexander’s decision was “a big mistake.”

“It’s something you look at with the guys before you go in every time to say, ‘Hey, we win the toss, we’re going to postpone,’” he said. “I went to the officials before the game and made sure they knew what we were going to do. We had an incident earlier this year where we found ourselves in a similar situation, so we always try to be proactive in this approach.

Alexander, 26, grew up in Charlotte. The NFL’s highest-paid cornerback by average annual value, according to Spotrac, has 26 tackles, four passes defensed and a forced fumble this season, in which he was limited to six games due to injuries. On his motivation to enter the draw despite not being named captain, Alexander said after the match: “It’s only fitting. I don’t think Coach knew I was from Charlotte, so…”

Prior to Sunday’s win, the two-time Pro Bowl pick had missed the previous six games with a shoulder injury. He has missed three games this season because of a back problem.

“I said, ‘I want our defense out there,’ and they all looked at me like I was crazy,” Alexander told reporters after the game. “I’m like, ‘I mean, what I said is pretty simple: I want the defense out there.’ They like: “You mean defer? And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I guess.’ »

When asked if the coaches added Alexander as captain for the game or if Alexander named himself, LaFleur told reporters, “Yeah.”

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