The Green Bay Packers defense was terribly disappointing last season. When Rashan Gary went down with a torn ACL in Week Nine, the pass rush suffered. While Joe Barry was able to make the Packers’ defense into a respectable group towards the end of the season, the pass rush still remained weak without Gary on the field.
Related: Green Bay Packers Fans React to Exciting Rashan Gary News
While there is no guarantee that Gary will be back in time for Week One, he is present at OTA’s and was seen working with the trainers on the sidelines. If he is not back by Week One, he will be back with plenty of season left to play, and plenty of time to make an impact. For this reason, Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report named Gary as his number one Comeback Player of the Year candidate.
Could Rashan Gary Be the 1st Green Bay Packers Player to Win Comeback Player of the Year Since Jordy Nelson?
Jordy Nelson was the 2016 Comeback Player of the Year after he recorded 97 receptions for 1,257 yards and a NFL-leading 14 touchdowns a year after tearing his ACL in the preseason. Could Rashan Gary see similar success and accolades on the defensive side of the ball in 2023? Moton thinks so:
“Rashan Gary came out strong to start the 2022 season, recording five sacks within the first four weeks and seemed well on his way to a breakout campaign with a double-digit sack count. In Week 9 against the Detroit Lions, he tore his ACL, finishing the term with 32 tackles, seven for loss, six sacks and 17 pressures.
“Gary has one year left on his deal and could cash in on an extension if he picks up from a dominant start to the previous season. The 25-year-old has a little extra motivation to help jump-start his motor and keep it running through the 2023 term.
“The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman spotted Gary working with Packers trainers on the sideline during OTAs, which is a good sign for the fifth-year pro only six months removed from a major knee injury.
“Even though the Packers selected edge-rusher Lukas Van Ness in the first round of this year’s draft, Gary will likely maintain a full-time starting workload after a couple of impressive seasons in defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s scheme. Also, keep in mind that Van Ness didn’t start in a single game in two active collegiate terms at Iowa.”
The idea of earning a massive extension is certainly noteworthy in considering Gary’s desire to get back on the field (healthy) as soon as possible. If he starts off 2023 the way he started off 2022, the Packers may then be motivated to get a deal done during the season, as they did with Elgton Jenkins last season.
The fact of the matter is that Gary is one of the best edge rushers in the NFL when he is healthy, and he has been for the past two seasons. The drafting of Lukas Van Ness should not concern him or fans because the Packers are known to ease their rookies into the system. Gary himself only played 24% of the defensive snaps when he was a rookie.
That being said, the narrative that Van Ness did not start a single game at Iowa is a lazy and tired one. Anyone who knows anything about Iowa football knows that seniors always start. While Van Ness did not start, he played more snaps than the starters at his position did.
Regardless, Gary is the unquestioned best pass rusher on the team. Van Ness’ presence does not change that nor will it affect his playing time once he is healthy.
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