Rashan Gary was quiet as a rookie. His second season looks to be a year in which the Green Bay Packers are looking to unleash the 12th overall pick
The Green Bay Packers essentially redshirted their 12th overall selection last season. Rashan Gary was selected over the likes of Brian Burns and Montez Sweat but essentially was glued to the bench.
His lofty draft status didn’t matter. Whether it was production or by design, Gary sat behind Kyler Fackrell as the team’s primary option off the bench to run with the Smith brothers.
Overall, Gary played 245 snaps last season. He only got over 20 snaps in a game once. While that may have been disappointing, Gary did not sulk during his time off.
Fackrell is gone now having left to sign with the New York Giants. His departure essentially throws Gary into a de-facto starter role. The Smith brothers are going to play a lot. They rarely left the field a season ago.
Mike Pettine is not shy about using his edge rushers on the interior of his defense. Za’Darius Smith played there plenty. Kyler Fackrell did as well. The interior role suits Gary well as someone who played with his hand in the dirt at Michigan.
It’s a role the Packers can carve out for him as well. Fackrell played 422 snaps a season ago. Almost double that of Gary. A vast majority of those reps are going to go to Gary.
Through his rookie season, complaints from the fan base grew about the selection of Gary. Despite his hype as the top overall recruit, the production wasn’t necessarily there to match the recruiting stars.
Last season wasn’t overly productive for Gary either. He finished with just two sacks.
Those complaints didn’t get any quieter as Gary essentially was a redshirt for his first season.
Within the building? The Green Bay Packers could not be higher on Gary. Mike Pettine, Mike Smith, Matt LaFleur, and Brian Gutekunst all went out of their way to praise Gary this offseason.
Smith has always spoken highly of Gary’s work ethic. Smith famously has told a story where he ran around the building after the Green Bay Packers drafted him. Gary’s position coach loves him.
Mike Pettine’s confidence hasn’t wavered. He’s stated that Gary is going to be a big part of their defense and what they want to do in 2020. That’s a lot of praise for someone that didn’t play a ton in his rookie season.
LaFleur and Gutekunst both have said they want to see Gary on the field more.
Through training camp, Gary has been a menace. While August may not necessarily translate to what happens on the field on Sundays, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Gary has done with the glimpses we’ve gotten through those that have been fortunate enough to be at practice.
Zach Kruse of The Packers Wire tweeted during the team’s scrimmage on Sunday that, “Gary would have had a sack has become a daily thing at Packers camp.”
Gary has looked faster. He looks leaner. He looks ready to be unleashed.
Gary fits the model of what Mike Pettine wants in his edge players perfectly. He’s versatile and able to move around the defense. What he can provide is a key to unlock the final phase of this defense’s potential.
Last season, the San Francisco 49ers rode a pass rush that was a buzz saw to within one quarter of a Super Bowl championship.
The Packers’ defense is looking to do the same. Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Kenny Clark form a formidable trio. Gary would give them that final piece on a front four that can unleash hell on opposing passers that could turn this defense into a championship unit.
The Green Bay Packers have been fiercely loyal to Gary. It’s up to him to reward their faith. If he does, this defense can get scary in a hurry.