The Green Bay Packers have a new linebacker in Titletown and it’s Christian Kirksey. The former Cleveland Brown signed with the Packers this past offseason on a two-year, $16 million deal and will replace former Packers linebacker Blake Martinez, who signed a three-year, $31 million deal with the New York Giants. After six seasons, the Browns cut Kirksey, 27, after he missed 14 games due to a chest injury in 2019.
Kirksey seems very excited to be in Green Bay and is ready to get to work. While Kirksey has been in Cleveland, he has never been apart of a winning season. Since 2014 the Browns are 24-71-1. Kirksey is also very excited to play with Aaron Rodgers. While Kirksey was in Cleveland, he has seen 12 different quarterbacks take a snap under center.
“My time being in Cleveland, going in and out through QBs, coming to Green Bay, and seeing Aaron Rodgers, I’m excited. I’ve never had a winning season in my career. We are going to be hunted and I’m excited.”
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has worked with Kirksey when he was the head coach in the 2014 and 2015 season for the Browns. Kirksey was a rookie coming out of Iowa drafted in the third round, he played all 16 games and started eight where he totaled 81 tackles, five tackles for loss, four QB hits, two sacks, and a forced fumble. In 2015, Kirksey played 16 games, but only started five. Kirksey saw less playing time, so he totaled 18 fewer tackles, but he finished with more sacks and QB hits, then stayed the same in the other categories. Kirksey has some familiarity in the defense with his former head coach.
“The only thing that’s different is the terminology. Other than that, I understand it real clear.”
For the past few years at the linebacking position, there has been inconsistency regarding the run and passing game. Kirksey acknowledged that Martinez was a good linebacker for the Packers and was a tackling machine, but Kirksey wants to bring two things to this unit that will take them to the next level.
“Versatility. Versatility to the defense rather it’s the run or pass game. I also bring leadership to the team.”
Kirksey also acknowledged that there are many other leaders on the defense where Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith came to mind. Kirksey has great respect for what their roles are to the team and how they use their voice. The new Packers linebacker hopes to be another voice to lean on for the defense.
“I don’t believe in pressure on myself. I just go out there and play it. I play for my teammates and be a leader. I’m going to show I’m a hard worker and that I’m going to lead by example.”
The downfall for Kirksey is that he has missed 23 games in the past two years due to injury (hamstring and chest), but if you look at when he starts all 16 games, he produces. The Packers got a top-notch linebacker if Kirksey can stay healthy. Kirksey is calling himself a Cinderella story for the 2020 season. He mentions that he didn’t play for a great team, battled injuries, got cut, but now is playing for the Green Bay Packers.
“There’s a reason why I’m in Green Bay.”
The new Packers linebacker seems very excited to be with the Green Bay Packers and fans should be too. He has a lot to prove and a lot to showcase. The season cannot wait any longer for Christian Kirksey.