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Allen Park — Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said Michigan’s Rashan Gary is improving as he works his way into a bigger role with the defense.

Through five games, the 12th pick of the draft has been on the field for one-fourth of his team’s defensive snaps as a hybrid outside linebacker and defensive end. Against Dallas last week, Gary had three tackles in 22 snaps.

"I think he’s getting a little bit better each and every week,” LaFleur said Thursday, as his team prepares to host the Lions on Monday night. “It takes those rushers usually some time before they really come into their own and reach their full potential. What’s been so impressive about Rashan is just the way he attacks each and every day.”

Gary, who has battled a calf injury in the season’s early going, has eight tackles, including one for a loss, and a fumble recovery.

LaFleur credited veteran linemen such as free-agent acquisitions Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, along with Kyler Fackrell, with pushing the rookie, a two-time All-Big Ten selection.

“You’re going to get (Gary's) best effort every time we take the field,” said LaFleur, a Mount Pleasant native and rookie head coach.

Matt Schoch is a freelancer writer.

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