GREEN BAY – The Packers have a new inside linebacker.
Green Bay has agreed to terms with seventh-year veteran Christian Kirksey, the team announced Tuesday. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound inside linebacker has registered 484 tackles, 11½ sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions in 73 regular-season games with 54 starts.
Here are five things to know about Kirksey:
1. He has experience in Mike Pettine's defense
A third-round pick out of Iowa in 2014, Kirksey played his first two NFL seasons for the current Packers defensive coordinator, when Pettine previously served as Cleveland's head coach in 2014-15. Kirksey tallied 144 tackles and 5½ sacks in 32 appearances (13 starts) over that span.
2. Kirksey solidified his starting status in 2016
After rotating behind veteran Craig Robertson for two seasons, Kirksey moved into a full-time starting role during his third NFL season after Robertson departed in free agency. Kirksey went on to start 34 consecutive games, extending from the 2015 regular-season finale through the '18 opener. He finished top five in tackles in back-to-back seasons during that time, racking up 148 in 2016 and 138 in 2017. After being rewarded with a four-year extension in May 2017, Kirksey played every defensive snap for the Browns later that season. He suffered a season-ending hamstring injury seven games into the 2018 season before a chest injury landed him on IR last year after only two games.
3. He's been a respected voice on every team he's played for
A former defensive captain for the Hawkeyes, Kirksey was voted a team captain for the Browns in 2018 at only 25 years old. He also was honored as the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for his charitable efforts in the Cleveland community. That involvement included his time spent with Camp Courageous, which aims to foster independence and better the quality of life for children and adults with developmental disabilities through outdoor activities. He also hosted 'A Kirkoland Story: Cleveland Family Adoption, Backpack Giveaway' at I PROMISE School. In 2016, Kirksey was voted the PFWA Dino Lucarelli Good Guy award winner.
Snapshots of newly-signed Green Bay Packers LB Christian Kirksey.
4. Kirksey carries his father's legacy with him on the field
Kirksey's father, Elmer, passed away from a heart attack in 2010 prior to Christian's freshman year at Iowa. He was only 17 years old at the time. The youngest of seven children to Elmer and Patrice Kirksey, Christian played drums and sang in the choir of his father's church in St. Louis, Mo., since he was seven. Christian credits a lot of his leadership qualities to what his father taught him. "It comes from just looking up to my father, and just seeing the type of man he was and the type of things he did and the way he carried himself," Kirksey told WKYC-TV in Cleveland in 2014.
5. Yes, he's also the 'Madden' glitch linebacker
Due to a glitch in the 'Madden 15' video game, Kirksey went viral when his character was accidentally placed on the Tennessee Titans and measured only 1-foot, 2-inches tall. He used that publicity during interviews with ESPN SportsCenter and CNN to spread his mother's words of wisdom that "No matter how small you are, always dream big and live big."