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Packers' Rashan Gary Doesn't Need a Redshirt

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Packers' Rashan Gary Doesn't Need a Redshirt

If you are unfamiliar with the term redshirt, it's a term used in college football for a player that sits out his first season. 

This is generally due to a lack of seasoning or an abudnace of depth. Most of us are familiar with this and while some have suggested that the Packers first-round pick. Rashan Gary, needs a redshirt year in 2019, I disagree.

Gary isn't going to play 70 some percent of the snaps like Clay Matthews did a year ago. But I could absolutely see him getting in on 30-50 percent of the snaps next season and even in that limited role, Gary can make an impact.

In fact, with Gary, less could be more. A lot more. 

At Michigan, he was a workhorse. As a sophomore, he played all the time and he did last year too before injuries started nagging him and forced other players to emerge.

The thought of Gary, coming into the game with fresh legs, cannot be a friendly thought for opposing quarterbacks or offensive line coaches. 

Mike Pettine is a great defensive coach and one of the things he is good at is scheming pressure. He can create mismates and stunts and Gary is a master at those.

He's athletic, explosive and strong as an ox. He can move offensive lineman out of the way and he can easily occupy two blockers on a stunt. In the run game, he is also tremendous at setting the edge and even if he doesn't get a sack next season, the Packers run defense will be better because of him.

Say what you will about Rashan Gary, he doesn't shy away from the trenches. He's tough and that will show through this season.

There will be some adjustments. Gary has never been an edge rusher full time and that will be a change. Yet, it should be a good one. However, if needed, he can also put his hand in the dirt and help out at the five-technique making him more likely to see significant snaps.

Certainly, it takes time to hone pass-rush skills in the NFL and Zadarius Smith, Preston Smith and Kyler Fackrell appear to be the Packers top three edge rushers right now. But with his size, speed and bend, Gary is too good not to get some chances. He's also too good not to at least get some pressures. 

Gary may not register a ton of sacks but he will make an impact. He has barely scratched the surface of what he can be and this season, under the Packers watchful eye, he should start to find himself. 

He may not be a full-time starter, have gaudy stats or get a bunch of postseason awards, but Rashan Gary is going to be a player in 2019.

Any talk of him redshirting is just plain foolish. 



Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (51) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

kevgk's picture

Put him out there on 3rd down and tell him to go get the QB. Doesn't seem like stunts would be particularly hard to master either. I read about a pressure package with Z and Gary lined as inside linebackers (to blitz?) with Preston and Fackrell on the edge (drop into coverage?). Sounds like a great way to overcome heavier offense formations and throw teams off.
I hear Packers fans throwing around the idea of bringing Perry back for cheap. He was always a high motor quality lockerroom player, but would he even make the team? Do we really need to upgrade OLB5?

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Yeah he should be playing a 100% on 3rd Downs

Coldworld's picture

This kid is a really good run player now. I doubt that this would be the optimal use for him, particularly at the start.

kevgk's picture

I think blizing up the middle would be the easies and most impactful position for him. Stunts are easy to pull off, he has the strength to bull rush through centers/guards/halfbacks, and the speed to capitalize if he gets a free run. Rushing the edge takes a little more experience with swim moves and going around the bend, and playing edge contain is more nuanced against the run.
Best way to build some confidence and make some plays? Charge him right up the gut.
They will probably give him plenty of preseason starts moving him around to see how he handles, but rushing the passer and scheming him on easy matchups sounds like the best way to get him started.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Get his butt in their now.

jannes bjornson's picture

He'll be in the rotation from day one.

wildbill's picture

Not having the need for Gary to start right away is great. Work him in and with our front seven talent we should be able to keep the big guys fresh, which should really show up in the fourth quarter. With Z and Gary inside and Smith and Fackrell on the outside I envision one heck of a four man pass rush with seven to cover. No need to even look at Perry unless we have injuries and he can be brought in cheap.

Bearmeat's picture

I agree 100%. Not absolutely needing our top pick to be a OLB1 on day one is a luxury that free agency has afforded us. And he certainly does have athletic upside galore. This approach, while not a true "redshirt" like someone like Jordy got, does fall somewhere on that spectrum.

Old School's picture

If we get 300 defensive snaps out of him I'll be happy.

dobber's picture

If we take last year as a benchmark, 300 snaps isn't 30% of the total. With the ability of Z. Smith and Gary to play interior DL positions on passing downs, 300 shouldn't be hard to reach.

Old School's picture

If he stays healthy.

dobber's picture

So true, but that's a caveat for every player...

Old School's picture

So I'll be happy if he stays healthy enough to get 300 defensive snaps.

Actually, I just did some research. 300 snaps would put a defensive player somewhere between 10-15 on the defense for snaps. When you deduct the safeties and CBs from the equation, 300 snaps would make him one of our more frequent front seven defenders. In fact, it'd make him one of our core Front 7 guys.

We have to make up for Matthews 756 snaps, but we did acquire the Smiths. Gary will probably eat into the minutes Gilbert and Fackrell had last year. (That'd be about 1000).

If four of your OLBs all shared playing time equally, you'd have four guys with about 500 snaps each. If your two best guys get more snaps by design, then you'd see the second string guys getting less. That's Gary, currently behind the Smiths and Fackrell but probably not Gilbert.

If he can stay healthy and earn more, great, but I stand by my 300 snaps number. If he lines up that much it'll mean he stayed healthy. If he lines up a lot more than that, it'll be because other guys got hurt. So I'll be happy with the 300 defensive snaps.

D Ernie's picture

Ya lets spend 3 years developing him because he was only a 12th pick. I say you play this sucker and see what he can do. First he aint getting any younger. Second, I do know a person who learns anything by doing nothing. Play him, give him a role and let him learn.
I dont see anyone on any team playing every play. You have to spell people for sure. But funny how dominant players spell less then the ones that cant cut it.

Coldworld's picture

We will, but we will also play the Smiths and Clark and some guy called Daniels. There is Fackrell too, who probably sees a deal of third down action,

Thats’s the point, so many potential threats and so many line up permutations creating uncertainty and coming with relatively fresh legs.

dobber's picture

It's my hope that Z. Smith and Gary being able to swing inside on passing downs to relieve Daniels and Clark means that they won't ride Clark into the ground, but still will be effective up front.

Freezn's picture

Offenses will hate our defenses as they will not know where Mike will be sending them from its going to be great watching our defense dismantle the apposing offenses. Gary will be a stud learning from the two Smiths

holmesmd's picture

So has Sackrell now been anointed as “the real deal” after one reasonable season where all of his sacks came against 3 sub-par offensive lines? I tend to root for all younger players their first few years in the league but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Hopefully the man can build on last year’s achievements and stay healthy. Those certainly are “if’s”. Perry was more impactful when on the field and healthy....which wasn’t often enough. The Smith brothers and some of the other depth guys at OLB are more intriguing to me.

Old School's picture

I don't know if Fackrell is the ' real deal', but over the last three seasons he's been available more, has more sacks and more tackles and more tackles since he entered the league than Za'Darious Smith has had over the same period of time...…….

Last season, they were pretty close, numbers wise. And we know that Smith is making a lot more money than Fackrell is right now, so he'll probably start. If both Smiths and Gary stay healthy, Fackrell's numbers will decline but he'll get a real good FA offer.

IceBowl's picture

Old School,

We have seen Guty more than astute on player moves. I believe he has the Pack's best interest at heart.

We have a ton of talent on the D front 7. It would not surprise me one bit if someone is moved.

If some team just looks at numbers, Fackrell will have high value now.

Barnacle's picture

D Ernie

I agree and hope Gary plays significant snaps immediately. My big concern is with this “versatility” crap. These rookies have a hard enough time learning one position at NFL speed.

If our rookies need to master a few positions before getting on the field, we are wasting a lot of high energy potential. Let them develope their versatility in later years.

ricky's picture

If Gary could have a role similar to Peppers during his stint with GB, that would be really nice for the first year. What he needs to do is attack with controlled intensity. Get to the QB and get him on the ground, or hit his arm or hand or deflect the ball. Anything to disrupt the timing of the throw.

Sol's picture

Gary should wind up having a great rookie season and should get plenty of playing time. I personally would like to see him get extra snaps when we play our division rivals, teams he will be seeing twice a year for the foreseeable future. This I think would to help him develop most and gain the confidence to have a great break out season, in his 2nd year jump, especially if Mike Daniels is no longer available next year due to age or expensive contract.

porupack's picture

Right. No redshirt for Gary. Nor Keke, Savage, nor Jenkins, nor Sternberger, nor Summers, nor Williams.
Only Hollman....maybe. No. actually not even Hollman, despite a deep CB group . All go out and earn your job. Pampering, cradling and bottle feeding doesn't set the right start. Box and send the redshirts to DC, KC where they're in vogue.

Since '61's picture

Gary will be worked slowly into the defense getting more snaps as the season progresses. If the Packers have the luxury of playing with leads he will see even more snaps.

As he learns the defense and his role(s) he will have an increasing impact. The problem is that the limited # of practices both during TC and in the season prevent younger players from learning their positions as quickly as rookies did prior to the current CBA. As a result even high draft picks like Gary need a longer grooming period than in the past.

If Gary is the real deal his time will come, just like it has come for Kenny Clark. Thanks, Since ‘61

sonomaca's picture

Wow, the Gary hate has turned to love very quickly. Gute was an idiot. Now, genius. I, for one, remain skeptical. He’s a player without a true position.

IceBowl's picture


You say ... "He’s a player without a true position."

Isn't that how the DC wants it? That's what we keep hearing. Multiple positions .... versatile.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

That seems true, Ice Bowl. It seems to apply to the OC, HC, and perhaps the GM as well. Whether it is a good idea is another matter. Having some versatile players is necessary, but it should be a secondary goal.

If Gary turns out to have the versatility to become an average starting OLB and an average starting DL but doesn't excel at either, then he would be an underwhelming #12 overall pick.

Any player taken with the #12 overall pick needs to be a very good player at one position at least.

IceBowl's picture


You say ... "
If Gary turns out to have the versatility to become an average starting OLB and an average starting DL but doesn't excel at either, then he would be an underwhelming #12 overall pick."

I couldn't agree more. Finding his 1a ability should be paramount. Then find 1b and/or 1c.

We don't know, but I sure hope that is how he is coached up.

Coldworld's picture

Agree to a point, unless his versatility is the key that unlocks the others. Pressuring the passer or crushing the run is really a group activity.

That said, for uncertainty to be created, these players need to be able to play different roles out of a formation. I believe Gary will be rotated in initially in situations where they are confident he is comfortable. Thus the limitation may be governed by the defensive call.

Lare's picture

Gary will play this season because of where he was drafted, but I think initially it'll be more on the DL or at DE when they show a 4-3 defensive formation.

jannes bjornson's picture

Smith has him up and down. Dom"s gone. Gary can go from either side and the middle. 4.56 speed @ 277lbs is rare.

sonomaca's picture

The reason they passed on Burns is that they want their OLB’s to be bigger/stronger. However, if they see Gary as an OLB, perhaps he’s too big at 277. Maybe he should drop around 10 pounds.

IceBowl's picture

Seems like Gary doesn't worry about stats. At least for the college portion of his career. So that part should not bother him too much.

But if I were him, I would be chomping at the bit to get on the field. I don't see how NFL teams can double (or triple) team him as much. Or move away from him as much.

I know he cannot demand PT, but his play can earn it.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I have not really read anything about "redshirting" Gary based on his projected ability to produce in 2019. Due to the upgrades provided by Smith and Smith, and the presence of Clark and Daniels, it seems possible that Gary's snap count might be limited to 300 to 500, but we have to wait to see to what extent Gary can force more playing time.

I've seen some concern about whether Gary's shoulder will hold up all season, but that's about it.

Matt Gonzales's picture

I would not be surprised if Gary is essentially a package player for the first half to 3/4 of the year, who is asked to do only 1 or 2 things while on the field. This would give him time to hone in on his position while still maximizing his skill set. If he shows he can take the workload and is growing in his skill set, then he can either start to spell other players to keep legs fresh for a postseason run (ideally) or to give him game action and see what he can do as a potential year 2 every down player (less than ideal).

This would also hopefully help with the durability concern.

Denise Chanterelle's picture

I'm concerned about Gary's injury history at Michigan St, and his current one. I question the wisdom in drafting him due to that, but what's done is done, the medical staff must've green lighted his health, and we'll see how it all plays out. I hope he gels with the team as our #1 draft pick is expected to for any team. Go Pack!

jannes bjornson's picture

I question your concern, given the fact Gary played at Michigan the past three years. You may be thinking of the none-year wonder, Jerel Worthy.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Gary will do well and a lot of that is due to Mike Pettine being a great defensive coach.

dobber's picture

Rashan Gary's injury history really is only the current one. He didn't miss games in his first two years at U of M.

Nononsense's picture

Dont forget about the other Smith in this equation, Mike Smith. Hes that fiery in yo face, expect the most, get their best effort kind of coach like Kevin Greene before him.

Sacks? This dude is preaching pressure and turnovers. Why tackle the QB if you dont have to, just knock the ball out, from everyone. An attitude and a practice that's long been dormant on this team.

Hes a big reason why I feel confident in Gary at OLB or where ever they line him up. Hes gonna learn real pass rush moves and a get a plan for rushing the QB. Hes a big piece of expensive clay and I think we have the coaches to mold that clay into a masterpiece. No pun on Clay intended.

Speaking of equations, here's a physics one: If Mass times Acceleration equals Force (MA=F). How much force can a guy like Gary generate at 6'4" 277 running a 4.58 40 yrd dash?

I'm not quite smart enough to figure it out but maybe someone out there is.

Nick Perry's picture

First of all...Excellent comment, especially about Mike Smith. Just think, a PROVEN NFL OLB coach coaching up our new FA additions, Gary, and Frackrell. What a great addition to the 2019 Packers. A LB coach who actually can coach! Winston Moss he's not.

"Speaking of equations, here's a physics one: If Mass times Acceleration equals Force (MA=F). How much force can a guy like Gary generate at 6'4" 277 running a 4.58 40 yrd dash?"

I GOT this... The answer is A SHI# LOAD!

dobber's picture

"I GOT this... The answer is A SHI# LOAD!"

Is that a metric unit?

penorton's picture

It has been 25 years since I did any physics but it is probably something close to this.

Force = Mass * Acceleration

Gary ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds so his average velocity was (40 yards * 3 feet/yard ) / 4.58 sec = 26.2 feet / sec.

To calculate the force we need acceleration though, which is the change in velocity over time. I'm going to assume he reached his top speed at the 10-yard split (since I could find that time :-)).

Acceleration = change in velocity (dV) / change in time (dT) = dV / dT
dV = final velocity (Vf) - initial velocity (Vi) = Vf - Vi
dT = final time (Tf) - initial time (Ti) = Tf - Ti

Gary's average velocity was 26.2 feet / sec but his final velocity would be higher. Based on the assumption of full speed at the 10 yard split (1.63 seconds) he ran the final 30 yards in 4.58 seconds - 1.63 seconds = 2.95 seconds or 30 * 3 / 2.95 = 30.51 feet / second.

Based on the assumption above, Gary's acceleration over the first 10 yards is:
dV = Vf - Vi = 30.51 feet / second - 0 feet / second = 30.51 feet / second
dT = Tf - Ti = 1.63 seconds - 0 seconds = 1.63 seconds
A = dV / dT = 30.51 feet / second / 1.63 seconds = 18.72 feet / second ^2

Now we can do the force calculation:

F = MA = 266 lbs * 18.72 feet / second ^2 = 161.168 pound force or 716.913 Newtons

I real physicist will probably laugh at this analysis but hopefully, this helps you decide whether or not you are on board with the pick. :-)

Nononsense's picture

Thanks Penorton, I tried to figure out his acceleration based on the 10 and 20 yrd splits but couldnt wrap my brain around it.

I didnt need to solve that equation to get on board with Gary though. I can admit I was swayed pre draft by many of the pundits "scouting reports" and the shoulder they said would require surgery. So much so that I didnt even watch one highlight video of him until Devon Bush said he would take Gary before himself.

It wasnt till after he was drafted at 12 that I went back and did a deep dive on Gary. I've read and watched every video and article I could on the guy. Even went over to a friends house who's a big Michigan guy who had all their games on his DVR.

My conclusion; Gary was criminally misused at Michigan. How you gonna take a guy that big, strong and fast and put him at 6 technique, as a strong side defender used to eat up blockers. They barely ever stood him up and got him in space that I could see so Im severely interested in what hes capable of at OLB in this defense.

I think Gute actually smashed this draft, of course in time reality will set in and will reveal what these picks actually do on the field but I dont see a bad pick in the bunch as of now.

I've seen some compare Gary to Nick Perry but Perry straight up said he didnt want to be an OLB in the NFL and he wasnt nearly the kind of athlete Gary is. Gary is actually excited about getting to play OLB here and I just have this gut feeling he will be unleashed on the league starting game 1 against the Bears. Remember the game Mack had against us week 1 last season. That's the kind of debut I feel Gary will have.

Wishful thinking? Heck yeah but hes gonna use those 716 newton's of force to destroy opposing OL on his way to the QB or RB this year and for the foreseeable future. They say if you're gonna dream, dream in color. So that's what I'm doing.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

May the 161.168 pound force be with you.

MrFitz66's picture

Nice article, but I kinda disagree. This guy, along with several others, needs to become a star quickly, for us to get back to the big game and win it. Thats all that matters. When we look back in a few years, there will be All-Pros drafted after him and if he is not making game changing plays (most importantly, Sacks), we will have made a mistake. I hope the GM is right. I want to see this guy becomes a monster like White , Peppers and a young Matthews. A stud who has the ability to beat their guy and crush the QB when the game is on the line. Eating up two blockers is not going to cut it for me. Too high of a pick to fail, given Rodgers age. If this guy's jersey is a best seller come playoffs, we're in business. Go Pack - The Bears Suck - Truebisket is a fraud.

dobber's picture

Guys are going to get hurt. Teams that can wallow through it and be successful either have quality depth or flexibility in scheme that allows them to mitigate their losses. The Packers went from piss-poor depth on the edge to solid edge depth (and potentially high end) in just one off-season. Z. Smith and Gary also upgraded their depth at DE.

"Truebisket is a fraud."

A currently mediocre QB propped up by a defense that stakes him to short fields and leads.

Freezn's picture

With the Defensive lineman that can bring pressure especially the Smiths I believe Gary will have a lot of one on ones as the offenses don't know where Mike has them coming from this defense will be scary to play against

RCPackerFan's picture

I think Gary will play a lot this season. He probably won't start, but he will be used in rotation a lot. He was the 12th pick for a reason so he should be used a lot.

I know a lot of fans were down on him when he was drafted. I will admit he wasn't my favorite pick either. But he has grown on me. Especially when I started to look more at what they want to do defensively and how they are going to use him.
Pettine now has the ability to mix and match fronts a lot more easily. He can move guys around. The Smiths and Gary are similar in what they can do. Which means he can move guys around easier, he can create a lot of different looks with those guys.

I think Gary will be a really good fit for what they want to do.

Rudedawg67's picture

No reason why Gary can’t play some edge rusher too. He is faster and stronger than both of the Smiths and he has a really quick first step.

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