Packers ‘optimistic’ about Rashan Gary’s recovery from ACL injury

In the midst of their five-game losing streak last season, the Green Bay Packers suffered a big loss beyond just their standing in the win-loss column. Rashan Gary suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 9 against Detroit.

Up until that point in the season, Gary had been one of the more dominant pass rushers in football, with 38 pressures and six sacks through eight games. In terms of efficiency in getting after the quarterback, Gary finished the season ranked third in PFF’s pass rush productivity metric and 10th in win rate.

Just like on the field, Gary is a “tone-setter” off of it for this Packers team, as Matt LaFleur said last summer, with his high energy and relentlessness rubbing off on the entire team.

Unsurprisingly, without Gary, the Packers’ pass rush struggled to generate regular pressure. The trio of Preston Smith, Kingsley Enagbare, and Justin Hollins each had their moments, but the unit lacked consistency. Green Bay’s defense ended up finishing the season ranked 22nd in total pressures.

Improved play in the trenches is one quick way that the Packers’ defense can rebound in 2023. The best way to wreck a play, whether that be against the run or the pass, is with quick pressure, and there isn’t a position on the field that doesn’t benefit when the quarterback is under duress.

We still do not know exactly when Gary will be back on the field in a meaningful game, but he is progressing well with his rehab, as GM Brian Gutekunst told reporters on Tuesday in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine.

“He’s going to attack this thing like he plays,” said Gutekunst of Gary’s rehab via “(Head athletic trainer Bryan Engel) and his guys have been in constant communication with him. He was here a few weeks after the season ended before he left. We expect full recovery and hopefully we’ll ease him back into it like we always do in camp. We’re very optimistic there.”

As one of the most important positions in football, edge rusher will again be a positional need that the Packers should look at addressing this offseason. Until Gary returns, the depth is still a concern, just as it was a year ago, and even when he is back on the field it is something that should be upgraded, given how heavily rotated the position is. OLB coach Jason Rebrovich mentioned last summer that he wanted a four-man rotation available each week. At the moment, La’Darius Hamilton, a primary practice squad player, and Jonathan Garvin, who was often inactive during the latter portion of last season, are the only other edge rushers on the roster.

The good news is that there will be options early on in the draft for the Packers to address this need. In Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent top 50 big board, he has 10 edge rushers listed. Re-signing now free agent Justin Hollins could be on Gutey’s radar as well.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire