‘He’s the Best Leader on Our Team’

Rashan Gary is stepping up his game from a leadership perspective and hopes to step it up on the playing field, as well, now that he’s fully back from a torn ACL.
Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) is shown during the fourth quarter of their regular season opening game Sunday, September 10, 2023 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill.
Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) is shown during the fourth quarter of their regular season opening game Sunday, September 10, 2023 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. / Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – After the final practice of Green Bay Packers minicamp – the team’s final day together until the start of training camp on July 22 – coach Matt LaFleur, as usual, gathered the team. After encouraging his players to press through the rest of the day before being turned loose for summer vacation, it was Rashan Gary’s turn.

“I think RG said it best after practice. Just get 1 percent better every single day,” quarterback Jordan Love said.

From that regard, Gary plans to lead by word and by deed.

“For me, stepping up and being a captain, being a leader,” Gary said. “Starting from my group, making sure we get together sometime. Me, Kenny (Clark), Preston (Smith), we’re going to get the guys together either in Dallas or Cali to work for about two weeks.

“I feel that’s important to me being a leader. Making sure I’m starting with my group, making sure I’m starting with my unit and making sure we’re doing what we’ve got to do and work out to our standards so we can come back in shape and have the season we want.”

Renowned for his work ethic – “getting back in the lab,” as he likes to put it – being part of leading the larger group for additional workouts will be a first.

“It’s something I’m stepping into,” Gary said. “It’s something that I want to challenge myself to do – help the young guys step into that leadership role. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been loving it.”

From a leadership perspective, getting the gang together is the next step in his development.

“I said it before, I’ll say it again,” defensive line coach Jason Rebrovich said, “he’s the best leader on our team. I mean, every day he comes to work, every day he’s encouraging. Any of you guys that have seen pre-practice when he’s out there, he’s constantly pulling somebody aside to talk to them. He’s the engine. He drives it. It’s what he does.

“So, from a mentality standpoint, I don’t see any difference. Now, the good thing is, he’s had a full year of his injury that he’s come back from and we’re taking it day by day just like anything else and, hopefully, we’re wishing for the best for him this upcoming season."

Coming off a torn ACL, Gary’s 2023 season ran a bit hot and cold. Officially, he had nine sacks and 22 quarterback hits, both second-best in his career. According to Pro Football Focus, 95 edge defenders had at least 200 pass-rushing snaps. With 60 total pressures, he finished 14th in its pass-rushing productivity, which measures sacks, hits and hurries per pass-rushing snap. He was 16th with a pass-rush win rate of 17.2 percent.

However, six of his sacks came during a pair of three-game sacks. Including playoffs, he had zero sacks in his final seven games, making him 0-for-5 for his career in hitting the 10-sack milestone.

Last offseason was about rehabbing from a major injury. This offseason is about getting ready for his sixth season.

“Man, it’s a blessing,” Gary said. “I remember when I first got back here and I was talking to the training staff. I’m like, ‘I miss this. I actually miss this.’ Just having the offseason to do what I need to do, I worked on parts of my game I really didn’t have time to work on last year. It’s very important and very crucial for me, so now I’m just enjoying it and thankful to God.”

As with seemingly everyone, Gary is fired up about the upcoming season. He’s healthy, first and foremost. Beyond that, the team is coming off a surprise playoff berth and pushed the San Francisco 49ers, who almost won the Super Bowl, to the limit in the divisional playoffs. On top of that, new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley has installed a new scheme and a fresh dose of confidence.

“You can tell the energy around the building from top to bottom is great, especially on defense having a whole new staff, a whole new life,” Gary said. “We’re loving it on defense. With the offense, man, I love their swagger. It’s not like last year at all. We come back, everybody works day in and day out. Like I told everybody, come back 1 percent better than what we were today when we left, we’re going to be fine and where we want to be.”

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Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: packwriter2002@yahoo.com History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: https://twitter.com/BillHuberNFL Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and PackerReport.com. In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.