Actually, it's probably a good thing for the ever-optimistic Gbaja-Biamila that he play the role of pass rusher rather than starter. The seventh-year pro is more likely to extend his career by playing against lineman who out-weigh him by 50 or more pounds.
Gbaja-Biamila had his playing time reduced to less than 50 percent last Sunday in Green Bay's 30-19 victory over San Francisco. Cullen Jenkins replaced Gbaja-Biamila on the majority of early downs and did an admirable job of slowing the dangerous Frank Gore, who ripped off a 78 yards in two carries before the Packers' coaching staff took Gbaja-Biamila out of the lineup on early downs. Gbaja-Biamila was better for the diminished role and effective as a pass rusher, getting three early pressures on quarterback Alex Smith.
Gbaja-Biamila has five sacks this season, far fewer than the double-digit sack totals he had from 2001-04, and less than the eight that he finished with in 2005. Gbaja-Biamila's value is measured in sacks. He got a $37 million contract in 2003 because of his ability to sack quarterbacks. At this point in his career, he is more likely to get more sacks as a pass rushing specialist, than trying to stop running backs and trying to sack the quarterback. Less will be more for KGB, and maybe that's why he feels good will come his role change.
Despite the adversity that he is facing in his professional career, Gbaja-Biamila, standing tall by his locker, explained to anyone and everyone in the media who met with him Wednesday that he staying as positive as possible, and clinging to his faith in God more than ever before.
"I lean on God, and ultimately I believe that God is in control," Gbaja-Biamila said.
"This is a time when you really lean on God and you see his miracle. I look at this as a miracle waiting to happen. It may not be this year, but it's a miracle waiting to happen. That's what I lean on."
The change in defensive ends certainly was a minor miracle for the Packers defense on Sunday. Gore burst free for a 72-yard run on San Francisco's second play from scrimmage, shedding a would-be tackle by Gbaja-Biamila 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. But after Jenkins took over on base downs and Gbaja-Biamila played on passing downs, the Packers held Gore to 52 yards rushing the rest of the way.
"It's not that he's doing a poor job," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Gbaja-Biamila. "By no means is he the reason why our run defense is where it is."
However, by making an adjustment on the line, the run-defense improved greatly within the course of one game, for at least one game.
Gbaja-Biamila, who is finishing the fourth year of the seven-year, $37.3 million contract given to him by then-general manager Mike Sherman, continues to remain upbeat.
"If they want me to play 100 percent of the snaps, I will. If they want me to play one snap, I'll be faithful with that," Gbaja-Biamila emphasized. "My attitude is to go out there and be the very best I can be and be faithful to what is being asked of me to do."
Which might include reducing his salary. Gbaja-Biamila is due to earn a base salary of $5 million and a salary-cap number of $6.5 million in 2007. If he continues to work part-time next season, the Packers likely will request a salary reduction, so Gbaja-Biamila's faithfulness will be tested once again. However, if KGB and the Packers can work out some kind of incentive plan based on his sack totals, he and the team would be in position to thrive.
"Whatever is being asked of me to do, whatever the coaches feel like I can do, I'm going to do whatever they tell me to do to the best of my ability. I don't know. … It doesn't matter." Gbaja-Biamila said. "Whatever is being asked of me, I'm going to do whatever with everything I've got and be faithful, faithful in whatever is being asked of me."
That's all Packers fans can hope out of Gbaja-Biamila, who still can be a valuable asset to the Packers in a lesser role.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.