Black and Blue all over: Concerns about KGB
There is beginning to be some reasonable concern about the short-term future, at least, of Green Bay Packers pass-rush specialist Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.
Gbaja-Biamila had been sidelined with residual soreness in his right knee following offseason surgery, and his return to practice Monday did not go well. He sat out Tuesday's practice and it's not clear when he will return. The Packers have an extra day to prepare for their regular-season opener against Minnesota, which is a Monday night game, but it's not known whether that will make any difference for Gbaja-Biamila.
After Tuesday's practice, coach Mike McCarthy told Wisconsin reporters that the knee "didn't respond very well" to the previous day's work. He did not elaborate on Gbaja-Biamila's timetable. Every team takes its own approach to rehabilitation, but never is it a good sign when an injured player unexpectedly sits out the day after returning to practice.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out that four of Gbaja-Biamila's 9 1/2 sacks last season came against Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie. (Of course, McKinnie might not be eligible for that game if the NFL suspends him for violating its personal conduct policy). The Journal Sentinel suggests the Packers would use Jason Hunter in Gbaja-Biamila's role as the right end in passing situations.
Gbaja-Biamila has a $6.15 million base salary this season and a $7.7 million cap number for 2008, prompting some suggestions that his roster spot could be vulnerable if he does not recover soon. But given how effective he was as recently as last season when healthy, it's hard to imagine the Packers jettisoning him any time soon.
Elsewhere around the NFC North:
- Packers running back Ryan Grant will get about 10 snaps in Thursday's preseason finale against Tennessee, the same number as most of the rest of the team's starters. It will be Grant's first game action of the summer.
- The Chicago Bears were busy Tuesday. In addition to terminating the contract of defensive back Ricky Manning Jr., they decided to remove Danieal Manning as the primary nickel back, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Brandon McGowan is the likely replacement, with Kevin Payne taking over at strong safety. Chicago also is awaiting a decision from veteran offensive lineman Fred Miller on its recent contract offer.
- The Chicago Tribune projects the Bears will attempt to get rookie quarterback Caleb Hanie, a fan favorite, through waivers and put him on their practice squad.
- The Detroit Lions' only notable cut was kicker Dave Rayner, who was let go because incumbent Jason Hanson has recovered from a hip injury.
- Newly-signed quarterback Drew Henson is expected to play at least a quarter of the Lions' preseason finale Thursday at Buffalo.
- Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenway, two years removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, has had an exceptional summer. "I think I'm playing at a level where I haven't been before," Greenway told the Star Tribune.
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