Gbaja-Biamila Racking Up Sacks

TAMPA, Fla. – Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is similar to Reggie White in a couple of ways. They both have deep religious beliefs and both have found ways to get to the quarterback. White, of course, much more than Gbaja-Biamila. But Gbaja-Biamila is catching on in a hurry.

The second-year defensive end collected three more sacks for 19 yards in losses Sunday to raise his total to a league-high nine. At this pace he will smash the league record of 22 set by Mark Gastineau (New York Jets) in 1984.

Ezra Johnson holds the unofficial Packers sack title with 20.5 in 1978. Tim Harris is second with 19.5 sacks in 1989. The league has only recognized quarterback sacks as an official statistic since 1982.

Gbaja-Biamila said the sack title would be great, but "all I know is what really matters is us being a championship team, " he said after Green Bay's 14-10 loss to the Buccaneers. "Being a contender. Being the champions. If I win it, so be it. But I promise you, this is a group effort."

Gbaja-Biamila had three sacks in the regular season opener against Detroit. He had one against Washington and two against Carolina. The Packers brought down Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson five times and raised their league-high total to 20 as a team. They finished with 38 last year, and their pass rush was ranked 19th in the league.

Gbaja-Biamila is a big reason for Green Bay's improved pass rush. He has been able to combine newfound strength to go with his quickness. Gbaja-Biamila had his way with rookie left tackle Kenyatta Walker and right tackle Jerry Wunsch for most of the afternoon. He beat Walker, the Bucs number-one draft pick this year, twice and Wunsch once.

On his third sack of the day in the third quarter, he whipped Wunsch to nail Johnson from behind. Johnson fumbled the ball and it was recovered by defensive end John Thierry at Tampa Bay's 22 yard line.

"I thought he did an exceptional job," said Packers coach Mike Sherman. "A lot of times he was getting double teamed. The play that he made on (Brad Johnson) that forced a fumble, if we had won this game, probably would have been the key play of the game. There's no question about that. You can't take that away from him. He still made the play and continues to impress."

After sputtering in the red zone, the Packers used a field goal from Ryan Longwell to take a 13-10 lead with 4:20 left in the corner.

Gbaja-Biamila, often compared to ex-49er Charles Haley because of his lanky 6-foot-4 frame, has the most sacks for Green Bay since White, the league's all-time sack leader, finished with 16 in 1998. As usual, though, he isn't taking any credit, instead praising his teammates on the line for setting him up to get the sacks, God, and the encouragement he gets from others.

"I mean c'mon, I used to watch Brett Favre," Gbaja-Biamila said. "He said, 'Hey, Kabeer we need one (a sack). That's like a dream. Hey, Brett Favre told me we need one. Little things like that, guys are always encouraging me. My neck's hurting and guys say, 'Hey, Kabeer we need you.' Hey, I'm just a two-year guy, a nobody, and guys are telling me they need me. I have to give all glory to God."

Gbaja-Biamila injured his neck when he hit Johnson after he released a pass late in the first half, but returned to the game in the second half. Gbaja-Biamila played mainly in third-down passing situations, but he also played a few base downs for either John Thierry or Vonnie Holliday, Green Bay's two starting defensive ends and finished with four tackles.

"On the last two sacks my neck was messed up," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I came here my neck was hurting me. My favorite move is to bull rush the guy and go around the corner. I had to clearly use speed, which I really didn't have. I really didn't have my legs, it was hot and humid out there."

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