The Green Bay defense displayed spurts of excellence in the team’s 51-34 win over the Steelers in their second preseason game. Tramon Williams and Josh Jackson both had an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Oren Burks looked like he could be the one to replace an injured Jake Ryan by racking up 6 total tackles in limited playing time. However, outside linebacker, Reggie Gilbert, took the title of “Defensive Player of the Week” with 3 quarterback hits, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. The 6’3” 261 pound monster stood out by being the disruptive force a pass rusher should be. His troublesome nature showed midway through the second quarter when Pittsburgh’s right tackle missed his assignment and the linebacker was left unblocked. Gilbert came flying off the left edge and delivered a jarring blow to Mason Rudolph that caused a fumble. Gilbert constantly caused Rudolph to get the ball out early and never let the Steelers’ lineman get comfortable. He was the aggravating thorn in Pittsburgh’s side whenever he was on the field.
After a solid week 1 and an outstanding week 2, it is great to see an edge rusher play above expectations. Green Bay needs to add depth at outside linebacker behind an aging, Clay Matthews, and an injury prone, Nick Perry. With the way Reggie Gilbert has played, it seems like a roster spot is opening up for #93.
Gilbert’s high energy and high motor has been noticed by Green Bay’s all-pro offensive lineman, David Bakhtiari. According to Bakhtiari, Gilbert has made huge improvements since being on the practice squad in 2016 and most of 2017. He has said that the linebacker is able to “manipulate blockers better,” and has shown a noticeable difference in setting up his moves. Also, Gilbert is a class A teammate often described by Bakhtiari as a “great person, someone you want to have in your locker room.”
An outstanding week 2 did not matter to Gilbert. When asked about his tremendous play he said, “I had a few things I could have done better so that’s something I’m going to focus on more than the productive things.” As a fan, I love to hear a player have a constant inclination to improve even if he just played a near perfect game. Hopefully Gilbert, as well as the rest of the defense, carry over their solid play this Friday against Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders.