Kruger Now A ‘Dangerous Pass Rusher’

With a few added moves to his repertoire, Paul Kruger is finally starting to emerge.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink, Week 8 vs Cardinals

Drafted in the second round in 2009, Paul Kruger looked the part of a ferocious pass rusher.

He was 6-foot-4, chiseled and explosive off the ball. He immediately got comparisons to former Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary, who also wore No. 99 and was also 6-foot-4.

But Kruger’s growth has taken longer than many fans anticipated. Playing behind veterans Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding, Kruger’s been marinating.

Now heading into his third season, the wait is starting to pay dividends.

Kruger notched two sacks Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. He now has three in his past two games after none in the previous five contests.

“It’s really what I’ve been working for the past three years,” Kruger said after Sunday’s game. “Trying to get better and better and work with the coaches to get my game elevated. I’m really happy.”

Kruger notched a sack on the Cardinals first series of the game, dropping quarterback Kevin Kolb for a 10-yard loss, in which he felt no contact while running through the line. He said rookie Pernell McPhee and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata opened gaping holes.

He stepped up again at the very end of the game. With Arizona facing a key third-and-8 with an opportunity to run out the clock and go for a game-winning field goal, Kruger again got into the backfield.

“He has had [quarterback] pressures. He has been doing it in practice,” Harbaugh said.

“I think just even from the start of training camp, Paul is much improved. He has added a couple of moves into his pass-rush repertoire, and he has been quick and explosive. I think he is a dangerous pass rusher right now.”

Kruger had just one sack leading up to the season.

But this offseason, he went back to his natural defensive end position, shed a few pounds to help his speed, and looked like a different, more confident player in training camp.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs said Kruger is an example of a player who gets confidence and starts to run away with it. Linebacker Ray Lewis is also impressed with what he’s seen.

“I think Kruger is one of those special wild cards where he has a special set of skills,” Lewis said. “It’s always next man up. In our room, we praise each other.”

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