CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jaire Alexander wasn’t even supposed to be on the field for the coin toss when the Green Bay Packers cornerback crashed the captains meeting at midfield, almost costing his team a possession in Sunday’s 33-30 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Alexander, who joined the Packers’ three game captains Aaron Jones, Quay Walker and Eric Wilson at midfield, called tails and won the toss.

When referee Alex Kemp asked for his choice, Alexander said the Packers wanted to be on defense, which technically speaking is not the same as choosing to defer. Had Kemp not clarified, it could have cost the Packers a possession, and the Panthers would have received to start both halves.

By rule, the winner of the coin toss can choose to receive, kick off or defer the choice to the second half. With Alexander saying they wanted to be on defense, it could have been interpreted as choosing to kickoff.

It’s possible the only reason Kemp double-checked and asked Alexander if he meant defer was that coach Matt LaFleur makes it a point in the pregame meeting with officials to inform them of their choice should they win the toss.

LaFleur did not sound pleased with Alexander, who was playing for the first time after missing six games with a shoulder injury.

“That was a big mistake,” LaFleur said of Alexander’s call. “That’s something that you review with the guys before they go out there every time about, ‘Hey, we win the toss, we’re going to defer.’ I went to the officials before the game, made sure they knew what we were going to do. We had an incident earlier this year where we had a similar situation, so always trying to be proactive in that approach.”

LaFleur added that he believes Kemp clarified because, “I don’t think they ever want to get that [wrong].” Alexander didn’t seem to realize his mistake.

“I said, ‘I want our defense to be out there,’ and they all looked at me like I was crazy,” Alexander said. “I’m like, I mean it’s pretty simple what I said, like I want the defense to be out there. They like, ‘You mean defer?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I guess.'”

Why Alexander went out for the toss at all was a mystery. The Packers don’t have season-long captains, instead having weekly rotations. When asked whether Alexander was added as a game captain by the coaches or by Alexander himself, LaFleur replied: “Yeah.”

Said Alexander: “It’s only suiting. I don’t think Coach knew I was from Charlotte, so…”

This was another chapter in a bizarre season for Alexander, who has been healthy enough to practice for more than a month but had not played since his Nov. 5 shoulder injury.

His return didn’t help the Packers’ struggling defense or embattled defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Panthers rookie Bryce Young threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

When asked whether it was worrisome to give up 30 points to a team that has won only two games, Alexander said, “Uh, yeah, it is. Honestly. But we just got to play the call that’s called,” which could be taken as a shot at Barry. But Alexander then added that it was “a pretty good game plan.”

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