GREEN BAY – Rashan Gary knows precisely what’s expected of him, starting this season.
“I’m out there to be a big performer,” Gary said. “To be a game changer.”.
The question is how long will it take Gary to get there. Gary, the 12th overall pick in last spring’s draft, has played into the third quarter of the Packers’ first two preseason outings. With that extended play time, Gary has not registered in the box score. No sacks. Not even a single tackle.
Two preseason games does not a career make. Still, it could be enough to make a young player grow impatient. Gary said it’s only a matter of time until he starts making big plays.
“I feel like I’m getting better,” Gary said. “I’m picking things to improve on. I’m sitting down with coach, and we’re going over what I’m getting better at and what I need to improve on. So I’m keying on those things and making sure I’m getting them done in the game.
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“I feel like the plays are going to come. I’ve just got to keep playing football and keep getting better, just focus on myself.”.
There’s a reason Gary has played so much more this preseason than fellow first-round rookie Darnell Savage. Unlike Savage, a safety who’s still playing his college position, Gary faces a steeper transition. Gary has stood up in a two-point stance at outside linebacker predominantly in camp, something he didn’t do as a defensive end at Michigan.
Gary said he’s getting more comfortable dropping into coverage. He’s also adjusting to seeing more of the field, something a two-point stance allows but also demands more awareness. In the three-point stance, Gary could visual focus on a smaller area of the field.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said the Packers are pleased with Gary’s progress, despite the lack of production.
“Just kind of teaching him the outside linebacker position,” Pettine said, “we knew that he was going to be a little bit of a work in progress. Because like I said before, we’re teaching him all of it. So there’s some things he’s doing now that he won’t necessarily be doing in the regular season. As we get closer, we’re going to start to hone that down and put him in position where he’s ready to excel.”.