Green Bay Packers

Lukas Van Ness Looked Like the God Of Speed and Tackling In Chicago

Photo Credit: Mike De Sisti-USA TODAY Sports

In Roman lore, Hercules was the god of strength and heroes. Lukas Van Ness looked like the god of speed and tackling Sunday afternoon in Chicago. The play that Van Ness made for his first career sack in the red zone was unreal. He was playing against one of the shiftiest players in the league, with the Chicago Bears knocking on the door.

Lukas Van Ness is 6’5”, 271 lbs. and was able to read and react to Fields’s read-option. Van Ness ran a 4.58 40-yard dash and put his absolutely insane athletic ability on full display during a crucial moment in the game.

Van Ness played 35 snaps on defense and 11 on special teams in his first NFL game. The former Hawkeye had five pressures and a sack. With defensive stalwart Rashan Gary easing back into the rotation after an ACL injury, Van Ness saw 47% of the defensive snaps. Gary only got 12 snaps, but he also recorded five pressures.

Preston Smith and Kingsley Enagbare got the start, with Justin Hollins, LVN, and Gary rotating in. Enagabre played the most with 55% of the snaps on defense, while Van Ness played just as much as Smith. Currently, it seems like Van Ness is above Hollins on the depth chart. Hollins only played 34% of the defensive reps. But that could also be because the Green Bay Packers blew out Chicago 38-20, and they wanted to get Van Ness more reps in low-pressure situations.

Justin Fields rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and led Chicago’s No. 1 ranked rushing attack. It’s a tall task to ask a rookie to set the edge and contain a quarterback with Field’s skillset. However, Van Ness more than held his own out there in his first NFL game.

LVN displayed his strength the entire game. While it did not result in a lot of stats, it is evident on tape.

The Packers tried to move him around and include him in a lot of stunts. He was often in a stand-up position, but there were a handful of reps where he had his hand in the dirt. Green Bay ran big stunts and short stunts, doing all they could to mix up the pressure looks to confuse the offensive line. Van Ness would often come from the outside to the inside and create pressure up the middle on Fields.

Van Ness had a difficult time shedding blocks most of the night, but he made some good things happen in the run game.

Below, he was able to read the play and shed the block quickly in the red zone.

Van Ness lacks any sort of other pass-rushing moves. The bull rush is the only thing he has in his arsenal. Van Ness can develop more moves, and it was only his first game. But there were some plays where he had the opportunity and space to rush one-on-one, and he just drove into the chest of Bears rookie tackle Darnell Wright. That strategy did not go super well for Van Ness.

Near the end of the game, he was trying to get creative against Wright. The Bears look to have a really good tackle in Wright. Not much of a surprise that Van Ness lost this battle.

Van Ness’s potential future brother-in-law and newly-paid tight end Cole Kmet works him on the play below.

Van Ness’s rookie debut was rather encouraging. I’m sure the Packers are thrilled with what the former Iowa Hawkeye put on tape. Van Ness did exactly what the Packers expected of him. Van Ness is a freak athlete who has a high motor. He is incredibly raw and needs to develop, but the potential is there and obvious.

Is that not what we saw at Soldier Field last Sunday?

Van Ness had an exciting rookie debut. The Illinois native showcased what he can do and what he needs to work on during his first game, and that’s all the Packers could have hoped for.

So yeah, get your Defensive Rookie of the Year votes in now.

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