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Two More Sacks Solidify Gary’s Stardom

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary added two more sacks against the New England Patriots, making him a Defensive Player of the Year favorite.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Rashan Gary, the Green Bay Packers’ rampaging fourth-year outside linebacker, is tied for third in the NFL with five sacks. He’s one of only two players with at least one sack in each game. And he’s the only defender in the NFL with four-plus sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

“Just chipping away day by day, man,” Gary said after a particularly disruptive game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. “I’m really not paying attention to it. Our No. 1 goal as a team and as a unit is what I’m trying to help add to. So, I’m just chipping away.”

The season is young but it’s worth noting that the Packers’ single-season record for sacks is 19.5, set by Tim Harris in 16 games 1989. Gary’s early-season pace works out to 21.25 sacks in 17 games. Even with the old 16-game format, he’d finish with 20.

Continually working over 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn, Gary was a one-man wrecking crew at times on Sunday. With quarterback Mac Jones out with an ankle injury, the Patriots started Brian Hoyer. His day didn’t last long. Gary came screaming around the corner and drilled Hoyer, ending the veteran’s day after 15 snaps. Late in the first half, he added a strip-sack of rookie Bailey Zappe. His five tackles on running plays resulted in a cumulative gain of 10 yards.

Said Gary of the sack/strip: “To be honest, man, all I remember – it might have been like two plays before – and Preston (Smith’s) like, ‘Get the ball out. I see you being close. Get the ball out and I got you.’ And man, God was shining on me on that play. I seen him and seen the ball and I punched it. Good things happen but, man, shout out to Preston for giving me that little extra juice.”

With the score tied at 24 in overtime, the Patriots took possession at their 49. With strong-legged Nick Folk as their kicker, they needed about 15 yards to get a shot at a field goal. On third-and-5 from Green Bay’s 46, Gary got immediate pressure and Zappe threw incomplete to force a punt.

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“Get ‘12’ back the ball. Give ‘12’ back the ball,” was his mentality before that pivotal drive. “We have a quarterback like that, a living Hall of Famer, he’s able to do wonderful things for us. You all know what he can do with the ball; we also know what he can do with the ball. So, just get ‘12’ back the ball, make sure they don’t score, keep them out of field goal range. So, that was our mindset.”

“I’m just happy we got off the field man and I was able to, I guess, have an impact in the play.”

With every big play, with every time he’s in the face of the quarterback, the price tag on Gary’s next contract gets bigger, too. A first-round pick in 2019 based almost solely on potential and upside, Gary has been everything the Packers hoped he’d become. A combination of talent and relentless work ethic, Gary has built himself into a dominant player.

Gary enters Week 5 with the third-shortest odds to win Defensive Player of the Year at FanDuel Sportsbook. Nick Bosa, with a league-high six sacks, is the favorite to pace the league in sacks. Gary is second on that list.

It took a while for the rest of the league to notice, but Gary has solidified his spot on the list of the league’s premier defenders. Gary no longer is a budding star. He is a star, period.

He doesn’t care about any of that, though. Winning is foremost on his mind. And if he can have a big role in making it happen with sacks, turnovers and timely pressures, all the better.

“I’m just trying to impact the game as many ways as i can and be a help for this team,” he said.