KGB worth keeping around

Packer Report's Todd Korth explains why the Green Bay Packers should retain veteran pass-rushing defensive end

Some football experts hanging around the Green Bay Packers training camp feel that defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has a 50/50 chance of making the team's final roster. KGB has yet to fully recover from an arthroscopic knee surgery that he had on May 29, which leads some to believe that he won't be ready to go in early September.

The ninth-year pro has missed most of the team's offseason minicamp and OTA practices. He has been very limited in training camp and will miss the team's second preseason game on Saturday night at San Francisco.

Is there a need to worry? Not really. Gbaja-Biamila, who injured his knee during a game last year on Thanksgiving Day, keeps himself in top shape. Even though he hasn't been practicing, he works out inside the Don Hutson Center when the team is practicing and continues to work out when the team isn't practicing. Count on him being diligent in his rehab and preparing physically for the season. That's the way he has been throughout his career.

"We kind of know what Kabeer brings to the table, but he has been struggling with trying to get all the way back," said Packers general manager Ted Thompson. "We don't feel like we need to rush him, so we'll take that day to day."

The Packers have at least four good reasons to keep Gbaja-Biamila on their roster, even if he doesn't practice until the season begins:

1. He is still an effective pass-rusher. Though it can be argued that KGB is on the downside of his NFL career, he finished with 9 1/2 sacks, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles last year. It's a few less sacks than his hey-day seasons of 2001-04 when he racked up 49 sacks and a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2003, but respectible.

2. He's a part-time player. Packers fans have found that KGB is much more effective in a part-time role than full-time player. Coming in for Cullen Jenkins on passing downs, KGB gives the defense more speed off the edge.

3. Depth. The Packers selected Jeremy Thompson in the fourth round of the NFL draft this season. He is the heir apparent pass rusher to Gbaja-Biamila, but it's doubtful that the Packers will enter this season with Thompson in that role. Packers assistant coaches say that Thompson needs more time to develop. KGB is experienced and better than anyone else behind Aaron Kampman and Jenkins, including Jason Hunter and Mike Montgomery.

4. Chemistry. Gbaja-Biamila is perfect for the locker room. Very outgoing, he keeps other defensive linemen (the whole team as far as that goes) loose.

As far as his salary of more than $6 million for this season, the Packers have plenty of room under the salary cap to pay Gbaja-Biamila. For a a talented pass-rushing end, that is about the going rate these days in the NFL.

Sure, KGB's knee may be a concern, but is anyone out there concerned that veteran defensive tackle Ryan Pickett won't be ready by the start of the season? Didn't think so. Pickett has yet to practice with the team in training camp due to a hamstring injury. Yet, you know that he will be in the lineup when the team opens the season Sept. 8 against Minnesota.

While it would be great for KGB to get some practice in, the Packers are better off making sure he is completely healthy before inserting them into the mix. He's a valuable member of the team. Someone they cannot afford to lose.

Todd Korth writes for and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

Packer Report Top Stories