Rookie inside linebacker Jake Ryan was one of the few bright spots for the Green Bay Packers in their 37-29 loss Sunday to the Carolina Panthers.
Ryan was one of only five Packers defensive players to earn a positive PFF grade (+2.6 overall, +1.9 vs. the run) against the Panthers. The others were Nick Perry (+2.9), Morgan Burnett (+2.7), Mike Daniels (+1.8) and Casey Hayward (+1.6).
Ryan replaced Nate Palmer in the defensive lineup with 4:47 remaining in the first half and had far more snaps (39-22) for the game. Of those 39, 19 were defending against the run, 17 were in pass coverage and three were rushing the passer.
Ryan had five solo tackles (second only to Burnett's six), a team-high four assists and three "stops" (tackles that resulted in offensive failures). Ryan made a touchdown-saving tackle on a red-zone run by the Panthers' Jonathan Stewart in the third quarter, but it was unblocked and he got an assist from cornerback Casey Hayward. His shoestring tackle of a scrambling Cam Newton short of the sticks on a third-down play came with an assist from Julius Peppers (and the replay booth).
Ryan has yet to miss a defensive tackle on 10 attempts (compared to six missed tackles in 13 attempts by fellow rookie linebacker Joe Thomas).
Ryan also remains a key contributor on special teams. On the kickoff coverage unit, Ryan consistently has lined up on either side of kicker Mason Crosby and has three tackles/assists in 35 snaps. On the punt coverage team, Ryan has 24 snaps at the left tackle position, charged with protecting the punter and then getting downfield to cover the punt. He has two tackles.
For kickoff returns, Ryan has 35 snaps at the left front wall positions, setting up blocking for the Packers' returner. On punt returns, he has 21 snaps lined up on the right side of the defensive line, either rushing the punter or holding up the opponent's coverage players.