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'Great news' sparked Kingsley Enagbare's big offseason

Packers dodged a bullet with third-year veteran’s knee injury in Dallas

DL Kingsley Enagbare
DL Kingsley Enagbare

GREEN BAY – Amidst the jubilation in the visiting locker room at AT&T Stadium this past January, Rashan Gary couldn't help but feel for Kingsley Enagbare.

The Packers had just pulled off a remarkable 48-32 upset of the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card playoffs but also lost Enagbare to what was thought to be a significant knee injury in the process.

Having completed his own comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Gary was quick to put his arm around his 24-year-old teammate and tell him everything would be OK.

When Gary returned for the start of Green Bay's offseason program in April, he fully expected Enagbare to be on his own road to recovery…until something strange happened.

Enagbare wasn't rehabbing. Instead, the 24-year-old edge rusher was on the field with Gary and the rest of his teammates during Phase 1 of the offseason program like nothing happened three months prior.

"Coming back, I'd seen him walking around and jumping around, and I'm like, 'What?'" Gary said. "We heard the same thing that we heard last year and I'm like, 'Man, God is good.'"

At the start of organized team activities in May, Head Coach Matt LaFleur confirmed the Packers "dodged a bullet there" with Enagbare after further tests determined he didn't tear anything and would be "a full go" during offseason practices.

It was glorious news for one of Green Bay's deepest position groups, which is in midst of a significant offseason transition from a 3-4 alignment to a 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley.

A fifth-round pick out of South Carolina in 2022, Enagbare has been a reliable member of Green Bay's edge-rushing rotation with 66 tackles, 14 quarterback hits and five sacks in 34 games through his first two seasons.

When Gary tore his ACL in November 2022, Enagbare stepped up as the starting outside linebacker rushing opposite veteran Preston Smith.

While limited during the first half of his offseason, Enagbare said he feels back to "100%" now and doing everything he did before, whether it's running, cutting, or pressuring.

"It was great news. I'm on my 10 (toes) walking," Enagbare said. "I guess they reviewed it and saw it was OK."

Under Hafley's vision, two of Green Bay's most veteran positions – outside linebacker and defensive line – converged under position coach Jason Rebrovich this offseason.

Even with Enagbare's situation in flux, the Packers had ample edge-rushing options with Gary, Smith, 2023 first-round pick Lukas Van Ness and Brenton Cox Jr. all back.

The possibilities now appear endless, especially with the D-linemen's ability to line up in multiple spots. No longer in a gap-based, read-and-react scheme, Enagbare and the newly minted defensive ends are excited to get after the quarterback.

"It's very simple. Really nothing to think about – see-ball, get-ball type of thing," Enagbare said. "It's pretty much how we all essentially want to play… Just look forward and make a play."

Fully healthy and cleared to compete, Enagbare was grateful to have the opportunity to rep Hafley's defense to the fullest extent this spring. The third-year veteran made his presence felt during the final OTA practice open to the media on June 4, when Enagbare ended a two-minute drive for the No. 1 offense with a third-down pressure.

Mentally, it didn't take long for Enagbare to get past the knee issue. His goal, from the very beginning, has always been to make "an impact wherever I'm at."

Because one way or another, Enagbare was ready to put in the work. If anything, he's just pleased his efforts can be channeled toward helping his team in the here and now.

Gary and the rest of the defensive line are happy to have him.

"He understands that it could have gone either way for him," Gary said. "So, having that mindset and having the way that he's attacked this offseason … He's hungry and he's gonna have a hell of a year for us."

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