A closer look at KGB

Everyone knows Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is worth his weight in gold as a pass rusher. What about that weight -- thought to be too slight -- when it comes to defending the run? A closer look reveals that KGB can get the job done.<p>

With about 250 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame, Gbaja-Biamila is literally a lightweight on the defensive line. He is the slimmest of the Packer D-linemen. With the exception of Jamal Reynolds, the rest are much closer to, or over, 300 pounds.

"People just look at my weight and say 'He can't play the run,' " Gbaja-Biamila said. "They don't understand what my job is. I can do what I need to do. I don't have to be the biggest guy in the world. I just have to make sure I know where I need to be."

If KGB has taken heat for his ability to stop the run, he may be a victim of circumstance. Gbaja-Biamila was among a host of other Packers playing out of their true position or role due to the avalanche of injuries in 2002. When free-agent prize Joe Johnson went down with a season-ending muscle tear last season, Gbaja-Biamila was thrust into a position as an every-down player against the run rather than the extraordinary pass-rush specialist he had become.

Even with his unexpected responsibilities in the run defense, Gbaja-Biamilia fared better than expected -- and even better than perceived.

"Anybody that watches film will tell you that I'm not a liability on the run," KGB said "Just watch film. Instead of looking at the (weight) numbers -- just turn on the film and you'll see. You'll be amazed."

Coach Mike Sherman recently said in a print interview that even he was surprised when he reviewed the tapes of KGB's run defense in preparation for contract negotiations.

"That was the knock against him, but I went back and checked and he played the run a heck of a lot better than I even gave him credit for," Sherman said. "He has such long arms that he keeps people off him, they don't get into his body."

Johnson is back in the lineup, although he has been hampered by minor injuries during training camp. With the Packers' run defense ranked near the bottom of the league, coupled with the loss of Vonnie Holliday to free agency and Gilbert Brown to injury, they'll need a healthy Johnson a well as a surprising Gbaja-Biamila to combat the run this season.

As a pass rusher, Gbaja-Biamila finds himself in a fantastic position on the brink of the 2003 season. He is in pursuit of his third consecutive double-digit sack season, and he is proud owner of a new $37 million contract. Will he be able to repeat his sack-master success as well as his role against the run?

"I really have no reservations about him," Sherman said. "He was effecitve last year doing it, I think he should be effective this year."

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