Green Bay Packers Depending on Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila for Depth
Quick, who is the all-time sack leader for the Green Bay Packers? Well, the headline might have given it away, but it doesn't change the fact that Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has quietly made his way into Packer lore.
Affectionately called "KGB" by the Packer faithful, Gbaja-Biamila has been a crowd favorite for many years. He posted double-digit sack seasons for four straight years, from 2001 to 2004. However, his performances slipped in '05 and '06, and his decline in defense against the run wasn't exactly what Green Bay fans were used to.
Last season, Mike McCarthy and Company saw KGB still had plenty of potential if used in the right situations. Putting Cullen Jenkins in the starting role and bringing KGB in as a backup into late situations provided a comeback of sorts for the veteran.
Embracing the role and registering 9.5 sacks last year, KGB's accomplishments were incredible considering his backup status. Most of his sacks came in the second half, including 5.5 in the fourth quarter. His fresh body was unstoppable against a left tackle that had been playing every down.
Part of the success of KGB's season was the fact that the Packers had a lead late in the game, which forced the opposition to throw the ball more. Nine of his sacks came when Green Bay was ahead.
But it wasn't all the Packers' leads that led him to have a great season; Kabeer stepped up when it mattered most. Three of his sacks came against the Vikings' 23-16 bout last year. He came up big in the third quarter, sacking Kelly Holcomb deep in Packer territory. This was even with Bryant McKinnie called for a holding penalty on him, and it made the Vikings settle for a field goal.
During the Chiefs game, he sacked Damon Huard in the fourth quarter while the Packers held a one-point advantage. KGB also recorded 1.5 sacks in the playoffs, including the only one of the Packers-Giants game.
But there have been some obstacles in the offseason. KGB had surgery on his knee for a torn meniscus, and just got back to practicing on Aug. 20. Also the Packers drafted Jeremy Thompson, and the rookie has been receiving more time because of Gbaja-Biamila's injury. The age can certainly become a factor recovering as KGB is now 31 years old.
As a veteran, it shouldn't take long for him to get back into the flow of things. The real question is: Can Kabeer have a season like last year?
All signs point to yes, especially with playoff games as an indicator that he can still perform at a high level. The problem is just staying away from injuries.
The Packers need his intensity, as the defensive line has suffered setbacks with the Corey Williams trade and the injury to Justin Harrell.Green Bay's success last season came partly due to the incredible depth on the team.
To repeat a season like last, Gbaja-Biamila will need provide that same explosiveness from the bench.
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