Kyler Fackrell, Packers' unlikely sack leader, looks for more

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Pick a sack, any sack, and you could call it a fluke.

On the first one, all Kyler Fackrell did was engage with left tackle Dion Dawkins, who helped Fackrell out by knocking down Josh Allen. If Fackrell touched Allen at all, it was a glancing blow.

On the next two, Fackrell had the benefit of knowing Akkeb and the Buffalo Bills wouldn’t run the ball in the final 90 seconds of a 22-0 loss.

On their own, the three plays don’t seem like much given that they all occurred in the fourth quarter of a blowout against a rookie quarterback who held the ball too long and took seven sacks.

Yet it doesn’t change the fact that through four games, Fackrell leads the Packers with three sacks. And no, it’s not because Clay Matthews and Nick Perry have missed games because of injuries.

Don’t expect the Detroit Lions to throw double teams at No. 51 on Sunday at Ford Field. But at least the former third-round pick gave an opponent someone to think about other than Matthews and Perry for a change.

For Fackrell, it was easily the biggest game of his three-year career that, before Sunday, included just five total sacks.

Fackrell has been an easy target for his lack of production. Watch him in the highly competitive one-on-one pass-rushing drills during training camp, and you’ll see he hasn't provided much competition. That’s why it became a big deal when Fackrell beat starting left tackle David Bakhtiari in a rep this summer. It was just Fackrell’s second career win in three training camps. Before that, his career record in that drill was 1-30. He finished this past summer with that lone win over Bakhtiari and eight other defeats.

“I think it’s unfair how he’s been treated in the media, honestly,” Bakhtiari said after Fackrell’s three-sack game. “He is a good player, and he does what he does and regardless of what anyone says about him, he comes ready to work. And he’s got intangibles about him that can be successful, and I appreciate him just continuing chopping wood and not let the noise out there [get to him]. No offense, you guys have a job to do as well, but I’m nothing but happy for him. Because I see him working every day. He’s a good player and an even better person.”

Fackrell began this season mostly on the bench. He played just four snaps in the opener against the Bears and 13 in Week 2 against the Vikings. That jumped to 23 and 26 in Games 3 and 4.

The 88th pick in the 2016 draft, Fackrell played just 14.1 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie but 42.5 percent last season, when he quietly finished tied for second on the team with 20 quarterback pressures according to team-kept stats.

“I love to see when Kyler makes plays because he obviously gets a bad rap around here,” Matthews said.

If the criticism bothered Fackrell, you wouldn’t know it. He’s soft-spoken and mature for a third-year pro. He will turn 27 on Nov. 25 and came into the NFL already married with children.

“Obviously, I wanted to play more but that’s not really my decision,” Fackrell said. “It’s up to me to be ready whenever they call my name."

It will be much more difficult on Sunday against Matthew Stafford, the Lions' veteran quarterback who’s not only playing at home but also gets the ball out of his hands more quickly.

“The approach I take is come to work the same way every day," Fackrell said. "Obviously I’m happy I had the three sacks, but if I end up with three sacks at the end of the year, I wouldn’t be too happy. So I think it’s just about progressing and continuing to work."