Five Packers to watch vs. Lions with chance to earn first-round bye

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Jones (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Jones (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers, Rashan Gary
Green Bay Packers, Rashan Gary (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

4. Rashan Gary

Without looking at stats and just using the eyeball test, it would seem Rashan Gary is hitting his stride and potential is starting to produce. Looking at the stats will tell us this is true. In the last three games, Gary has doubled his sack production (1 to 2) and tackles for loss (1 to 4).

All of this while still playing a limited number of snaps. In fact, Gary hasn’t gone over 18 snaps in a game since Week 5 in Dallas, according to Pro Football Reference. He’s just getting better.

And now is the perfect time for that.

Because of Za’Darius and Preston Smith’s production and ability to stay on the field, the Packers haven’t needed Gary. The team has been able to bring him along slowly while he learned his craft.

Now as the Packers prepare for the playoffs, Gary has a chance to become a major factor for Green Bay. Think back to 2009. In a Week 14 game against the Bears, then-defensive coordinator Dom Capers unveiled for the first time, his “psycho” package. Jay Cutler had no idea what to do. He saw five linebackers standing around with one down lineman also pacing looking for his spot.

Could Mike Pettine have something else up his sleeve for the postseason?

If the Packers can win in Detroit, like on offense, there will be more time to plan for looks like that.

Also, should the Packers get a big lead, I would think two of the first players off the field on defense would be the Smiths. That should give the Packers plenty of time to evaluate Gary and his development.