Ex-UM star Ryan emerges as ‘tackling machine’ for Packers

Eric Coughlin

Allen Park — Former Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan has started to heat up for the Green Bay Packers, on the cusp of their final game of the season in Detroit on Sunday.

Ryan has registered double-digit tackles in two of the last three games he’s played, including his first career sack, against the Buccaneers. He tied his career high for tackles with 11 last week (10 solo) against the division-leading Vikings.

“That’s what Jake is. Jake’s a tackling machine. When he’s out there he’s instinctive, has an excellent nose for the ball and does a good job getting off blocks,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said in a conference call Wednesday with Lions media members.

“He’s just had some misfortune in dealing with some injuries.”

That injury history is long and varied. In 2013, Ryan tore his ACL in the spring game at Michigan and missed half a year. He was drafted in the fourth round and 129th overall by the Packers in 2015, and missed two games in 2016 with an ankle injury. This year, the 25 year-old has sat out with tweaks to his neck and knee.

“I just think you’re seeing a healthy Jake Ryan, and he’s taking full advantage of his opportunities,” McCarthy said.

Ryan set a career-high for tackles last season with 82. He needs seven more tackles on Sunday to meet that mark.

Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.