A shoulder injury suffered during Friday’s practice now has Rashan Gary’s status for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers up in the air He is listed as questionable. If out, or even on a snap count, second year edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare and rookies Lukas Van Ness and Brenton Cox are going to be thrust into larger roles.
The Packers have primarily relied on a four-man edge rusher rotation since Gary’s playing time increased a few weeks ago. Of course, Gary and Preston Smith are have taken the majority of the snaps, but Enagbare has averaged about 27 snaps per game this season and Van Ness 23. Presumably, it could be Enagbare starting along side Smith on Sunday if Gary is inactive.
“That’s a given,” said Enagbare when asked about the young edge rushers needing to step up if Gary can’t go. “We prepare like we the next man up every day, so we’re not too worried about that.”
Pressuring the quarterback is always the name of the game in the NFL but it feels like a near must for the Green Bay defense against Herbert. When throwing from a clean pocket this season, Herbert has been incredibly efficient, completing 74.6 percent of his passes at 7.7 yards per attempt with 13 touchdowns to only one interception.
Herbert’s top target, Keenan Allen, has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL, ranking fourth in receiving yards, along with being one of the most efficient as well, averaging the 10th best yards per route run rate in the NFL. The Packers may once again find themselves short-handed in the secondary, with Jaire Alexander questionable and Rudy Ford doubtful.
“(Herbert) is always trying to pass the ball,” added Enagbare. “They have a pretty explosive reciever in 13 (Allen) a running back in 30 (Austin Ekeler). So it’s pretty much trying to limit those three guys and the explosive plays.”
Pressuring Herbert doesn’t guarantee success against a quarterback of his caliber, but it’ll at least not have the odds so far stacked in the Chargers’ favor. When under duress, Herbert’s completion percentage falls to 50 percent, his yards per attempt 6.4, and four of his five interceptions this season have come with pressure. Offensive tackles Trey Pipkins and Rashawn Slater rank fifth and 18th in terms of most pressures allowed this season.
While getting after Herbert will be crucial, the Chargers also do a really good job of utilizing running back Austin Ekeler in the…