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Upbeat update: Rashan Gary pushing hard in rehab

Packers’ edge rusher working his way back from torn ACL

LB Rashan Gary
LB Rashan Gary

GREEN BAY – Rashan Gary repeated the refrain unemotionally, but tinged with confidence he's on the right track.

"I'll be ready when I'll be ready," the Packers' fifth-year outside linebacker said, multiple times, regarding the pending return from his 2022 knee injury.

The comments made Wednesday, the Packers' final day of minicamp practice, marked Gary's first to the media since tearing his ACL at Detroit last season on Nov. 9. The injury occurred early in the second half, when chasing a screen pass, and Gary was so unaware of the severity he played three more snaps before leaving the field.

He's been in rehab mode ever since, seen by reporters over the past month toiling away off to the side at OTA practices.

When asked about returning for Week 1, or possibly before the end of training camp, he wasn't making any promises, but he sounded upbeat about where he is in the recovery process.

"I'm just making sure I'm squeezing the towel as much as I can every day, making sure I'm not leaving not one inch of doubt if I pushed it to my all," he said. "Just going 100 percent day by day and we'll see where I'll be.

A relentless worker with goals and targets to hit in the coming weeks, Gary joked he won't be taking any break between minicamp and training camp like most of the team.

All kidding aside, he credited a strong support system, both inside and outside the team facility, for where he is physically and mentally. He couldn't remember exactly when it was, but his most memorable rehab moment came when he put the crutches aside and walked on his own for the first time, in his mother's presence.

Speaking of his mom, this offseason he also delivered on a promise he made to her about completing his degree from Michigan, graduating in late April.

The injury provided more time for the return to school, and the dedication on multiple fronts is no surprise to those who know him.

"I just think he's made and wired the right way and we're definitely lucky to have a guy like that," said Head Coach Matt LaFleur, who confessed to peeking over at Gary's rehab progress "every day."

He's a significant piece to the Packers' defense playing at its best. Gary was on pace for his first double-digit sack season last year, with six through eight games, before the injury in Week 9.

His game has taken noticeable strides every year since he entered the league as a first-round draft pick in 2019, going from two sacks as a rookie to five in 2020 to 9½ in '21. He also has 3½ sacks in five career playoff games. This season is a contract year, as he's playing in 2023 on the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

"We all see the intensity at which he plays," LaFleur said. "He is a game-wrecker, a guy that can significantly impact whether you're winning or losing."

LaFleur also lauded him for, along with veteran Preston Smith, helping along the team's young edge rushers. Gary said 2022 fifth-round pick Kingsley Enagbare is growing into "who he was at South Carolina," while this year's first-round rookie Lukas Van Ness is "hungry for knowledge" as he looks to settle in and find his role.

Gary sounded excited about all the possibilities with the pass-rush packages, whenever he's able to officially rejoin his defensive mates.

It'll happen when it happens.

"I had to become patient," he said of the arduous rehab process. "So I'm good, calm now. I'm in a good head space."

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