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Enagbare Making Noise One Sack at a Time

Fifth-round pick Kingsley Enagbare is making his move in the wide-open competition behind starting outside linebackers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers rookie outside linebacker Kingsley Enagbare figured he had three sacks of Aaron Rodgers during a two-minute drill on Sunday.

“We were just arguing about that in the team meeting,” coach Matt LaFleur said on Monday morning. “You’ve got the whole defense saying ‘sack’ and the offense is saying ‘no.’ It gets fun. It’s tough to tell whether or not some of those were sacks or weren’t. Maybe two of those for sure probably were.”

Whether it’s two sacks of three, Enagbare – a fifth-round pick out of South Carolina – has emerged the last few days. He had one sack and three pressures in the preseason game at San Francisco and the big day on Sunday against the No. 1 line.

“The last couple practices, I feel like I’ve been coming along and I’ve been able to stack a couple good days,” Enagbare said. “It’s trying to stack each day and having a focus each day, whether it’s my hands, my get-off, things like that. Just have a focus each day and try to attack that so, slowly but surely, getting better each day.”

Facing the best of the best in the SEC, Enagbare had six sacks in eight games during the COVID-impacted 2020 season. As a senior, he had 4.5 sacks. A poor Scouting Combine sent him tumbling to the 179th overall selection.

Enagbare opened training camp toward the bottom of the outside linebacker depth chart, and a slow start to camp didn’t change that reality. But he’s gotten going of late. On the sack, he blew past the lineman and was in the face of the Niners’ quarterback in an instant.

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“My eyes got big – a little bit too big,” he said with a smile.

Ultimately, it was one sack in one preseason game. Enagbare obviously has much bigger goals than making a play in August.

“It’s definitely good to get it out of the way,” he said. “Now, I’ve got to do it in the regular season, where it really counts.”

Getting that opportunity, Enagbare and LaFleur agreed, will depend on him making the roster because of his play on special teams. That’s not something Enagbare had much experience with in college. Having to focus on Rich Bisaccia’s “we-fense” and not just the teachings of outside linebackers coach Jason Rebrovich has been the biggest adjustment, he said.

“I think he’s giving great effort,” LaFleur said. “I think the big thing for him is going to be his ability to help us on special teams, as well. That role, we need our backups in that position to contribute in that area. There’s still a lot of growth not only on the defensive side but with (special) teams, in particular. Hopefully, he continues to get better in that area, as well as more developed as a defensive player, as a pass rusher. I think for a lot of guys in that position, in particular, there is a learning curve. It seems like outside backer, D-line, it takes that position a little bit longer to learn how to set people up, especially when you’re talking about pass rush and getting more moves in their bag.”

Enagbare knows the opportunity that’s within his reach. The Packers badly need to find a couple players to provide quality reps behind starters Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Incumbents Jonathan Garvin and Tipa Galeai are the front-runners, but Enagbare’s string of success has put him in the conversation with joint practices vs. the Saints and two preseason games coming up to state his case.

“We all know the competition in the room, where everyone stands and where we’re trying to get,” he said. “But it’s a friendly competition. We’re all trying to push each other to be each other’s best man each day and try to bring the best out of each other.”