As Harry Sydney wrote in his column today, Gbaja-Biamila has been "getting abused and dish-ragged by whoever he is facing in the run game." Sydney should know when a defensive lineman is getting beat. He's run head first into a few linemen and linebackers during his playing days as a fullback, so he knows a weakness when he sees it. At this point, Gbaja-Biamila is trying and playing hard, but falling short of the results that the Packers are seeking from a defensive end on rushing downs.
All is not lost, however. Sherman indicated during his press conference on Monday that he plans to use rookie Mike Montgomery more on base downs and insert Gbaja-Biamila more on passing downs. This makes sense and is worth a try. Montgomery has had almost half a season, plus training camp, to learn Green Bay's defense and adapt. His legs are fairly fresh because he has only played in four of Green Bay's seven games.
"Certainly the ability to rest Kabeer and use him on third down would be a plus for us," Sherman said. "Not that we wouldn't use him on other downs, but to give him a little bit of a break would probably benefit us."
Gbaja-Biamila actually is ahead of his sack total pace from last year. In 2004, he had 1 ½ sacks through seven games and tied his career high with 13 ½. That total included four in the final game against the then-hapless Chicago Bears. He was second in the NFC and third in the NFL in sacks. During games 8 through 11 last year, Gbaja-Biamila had six of his sacks for 57 yards.
This is the time of year when injuries and fatigue start rearing their ugly heads on offensive linemen. A more fresh Gbaja-Biamila would certainly give him an advantage as long as Montgomery can hold his own on the base downs.
Sherman is optimistic about the rookie defensive end, who was taken in the sixth round of this year's draft.
"There's no secret to Kabeer. He has been one of the league leaders in sacks the last three years," Sherman said. "When we go into games, people know him and do employ some techniques on ‘chipping' him and things of that nature. When that occurs, you've got to be able to get (to the quarterback) from somewhere else. And he's still got to be able to beat some of that stuff.
"One of my attitudes going into this season is to give him an opportunity to be rested, and Mike Montgomery is going to give him that. I haven't been able to use that because of the injuries."
Now is the time. Gbaja-Biamila played most of the game against the Bengals Sunday and was ineffective. He finished with no sacks, few pressures and two tackles. The Packers will benefit with Gbaja-Biamila in a more streamlined role, beginning this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.