Green Bay Packers edge rusher Rashan Gary has captivated headlines over the past week after commanding the defense in training camp while taking on a new leadership role in his fourth season. Gary, a Pro Bowl selection in 2021, has higher goals within his reach this year but there’s one goal he can earn from the team before games even begin. Given his impact and influence on the team so far, Gary deserves to be a team captain in 2022.
Being a team captain is a prestigious honor that’s a team-appointed position that recognizes players as leaders on and off the field. Last season, the seven team captains in Green Bay were quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Davante Adams, tight end Marcedes Lewis, safety Adrian Amos, defensive tackle Kenny Clark, cornerback Jaire Alexander, and kicker Mason Crosby.
According to Head Coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers’ roster last year was mostly a veteran team but he noted that some of the young guys on the team would eventually become great leaders. Gary was surely one of those players he had in mind.
Early in training camp, Gary has been as dominant as ever, attacking every rep with an intense ferocity. Gary has also taken some of the younger players under his wing throughout training camp including rookie pass rusher Kingsley Enagbare. The impact he’s had on and off the field has been something to note at nearly every single practice thus far.
“Rashan is a tone-setter, and I think you guys see that each and every day,” LaFleur said. “He’s got the capability of wrecking practice. He probably would have had four sacks (last Thursday). He’s just relentless. He plays with a great motor and energy, and I think it rubs off on everybody. He makes everybody around him better.”
A similar sentiment was shared by Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, who drafted Gary with the 12th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. When Gutekunst made the pick, he knew Gary would become a project to groom playing behind Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith early on in his career. Gutekunst’s vision has come to fruition and Gary is everything more than he could have imagined back in 2019.
“Rashan’s really taking the path we thought he would,” Gutekunst said. “He’s getting to the point where all the physical skills, now knows what’s happening on the field before it happens. Yeah. He’s wrecking practice.”
Even when he’s not been on the field for a play during training camp, Gary is still making an impact by taking the next step of being vocal and making sure that his voice is still being heard on defense.
According to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic, nobody is more animated at practice than Gary. Schneidman noted on Sunday that Gary “just sprinted 20 yards without a helmet into the defensive huddle to give a pep talk, the defense then got nice pressure on Jordan Love and Gary barked something again.”
Gary has truly emerged as a franchise star in Green Bay and is starting to embody his role as the heart and soul of the Packers’ defense. The 24-year-old just capped off a 9.5 sack season and looks primed to easily clear double-digit sacks for the first time this season. According to Caesars Sportsbook, Gary is currently +6000 to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year this season.
The road to the mountain top for Gary is quickly approaching, but this season is only the beginning of what he can achieve in Green Bay.——————
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.