By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor
ASHWAUBENON – After a season-ending injury outside linebacker Rashan Gary acquired during the Packers vs. Lions game last season, Gary has spent the last few months working to recover by doing all of the necessary steps to rehabilitate his ACL tear in order to come back this season as a top-performing athlete.
All of his hard work and patience has paid off in his game with the Packers against the Saints on Sunday, Sept. 24 when he recorded three sacks in their 17-point comeback game.
“Like I told the team in the locker room, I’m just happy to go out there and go to war with these guys. In the nine and a half months or so that I was out, that is something I truly missed, so being able to be back that’s all I want. I’m happy I was able to take a stepping stone in the right direction,” said Gary.
Although he had one of the best games of his career, Gary only had 23 plays in their game as part of his slow return to play process. However, he said he couldn’t necessarily tell before the game what was in store for him.
“It wasn’t necessarily a mood. The mindset was ‘just let the defense take it play by play,’” said Gary. “Days like this, you kind of get in the zone. I couldn’t tell you I woke up this morning feeling like it was going to be that type of game, but I like where I’m at, I like where I’m going and I’ve just got to keep going.”
Gary said that his team’s tenacity played a large part in their big comeback on Sunday.
“We just knew that if we played our game and took it play by play we would be fine and come out with a win and thank God we did.”
Gary said that he never had a doubt in his mind that the team would come away proud of what they left on the field.
“The team that we have and the way that we’ve been working during training camp, we understand when to dig deep and how to push each other and expect certain players to perform. Anybody that needs to perform performs.”
Even with a new career highlight in the books, Gary said that he knows he still could have performed better for his team.
“Off the top of my head, there are a couple of rushes I wish I would have had back,” said Gary.
Gary also said that under the new leadership of quarterback Jordan Love, the team is ready to follow his lead through thick and thin.
“That’s just who J-Love is. He played behind a Hall of Famer for three years and we’ve just been seeing his confidence building and building,” said Gary. “He’s our leader and he’s super passionate and he loves seeing his team win.”
Despite having big names out on the injury report, Gary said that he was proud of how his team held themselves together and persevered.
“Having guys out — like Jiare (Alexander) — that’s a major impact and guys like that help tremendously. To have a guy like that out, you have no choice but to step up and that’s what everybody did. One thing about this group [on defense] is that we understand how to play at a high level, we’ve just got to be consistent.”