The Green Bay Packers have been searching for new sources of a pass rush recently, and they might be on the verge of getting a nice little boost.
Fourth-round pick Vince Biegel has been beset by injury as a rookie, but he finally got into the fold in the Week 9 loss to the Detroit Lions. Biegel's play was one of the few highlights for the Packers — he played 18 snaps on defense and was given high marks for his NFL debut by the Packers coaching staff.
The team had a very solid grade on him and was happy to land him with the first pick of Round 4. One of their scouts had a comp on him of Brooks Reed, the pass rusher for the Atlanta Falcons who was a solid contributor to the Super Bowl club last year.
We hear the team believes he could be a notable contributor down the stretch in what has been a shortened rookie season. Linebacker coach Winston Moss said this week he graded Biegel out as having 17 "plus" grades on his first 18 NFL snaps in that Lions game.
That snap number might hover around a similar range in the next game, starting with Sunday at the Chicago Bears, or two. The possible return of Ahmad Brooks, who has missed three straight games with a back injury, should get the Packers close to the depth they seek at the outside linebacker spot.
Head coach Mike McCarthy said the team ideally wants six of those rushers on the roster, which would allow them to keep four or five active on game days. Without a full cadre there in recent weeks, the team has leaned far too much on Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.
It also has pressed into duty players such as Kyler Fackrell and Chris Odom, neither of whom provide the pass-rush juice that Biegel or Brooks could in top form. Perhaps that's one reason why defensive coordinator Dom Capers implemented such a blitz-heavy game plan against the Lions, which backfired when the Packers couldn't get home enough and Lions QB Matthew Stafford made them pay.
The next few weeks, as Biegel and Brooks get back into the flow of things, could see a different approach from the Packers' defense — at a time when everyone on the team needs to pick up the slack and rally around an Aaron Rodgers-less operation.