16

April

Matthews Still Recovering From Injury

Clay Matthews

Matthews says he will be ready for training camp. The Packers hope he’s right.

A recent conversation between Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and USA Today’s Tom Pelissero revealed that Matthews is still not 100% healed from a repeat thumb injury suffered late in the 2013 season.  ESPN’s Rob Demovsky featured the conversation in a recent article at ESPN.com.

Matthews explained, in more detail, what happened with each injury and how doctors chose to address the second break in December.  Here is an excerpt:

“And unfortunately, on a sack of Roethlisberger, the tip of my thumb [hit] my teammate’s helmet. All that pressure went down the cast, broke it again. So then, to make it tighter, we took part of the tendon, turned it around, drilled some holes and they almost tied a knot through. It’s stronger than [the left one]. Now it’s super tight.”

The Packers defense is just not the same without Matthews on the field.  Since appearing in at least 15 games in his first three seasons, Matthews has missed 11 games over the past two years, including last season’s wild card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.  Had the Packers advanced and made a serious push for a Super Bowl appearance, Matthews may have returned and played.

It still bears mentioning that a player who plays with the type of intensity as Matthews does is likely to be more vulnerable to injury.  Although Matthews says he will be ready by training camp, everyone heals differently.  The thumb can be a tricky injury with all of the bones and tendons connected to both the hand, wrist and arm.

Matthews should be able to make a return but even if he does and based on averages, he will likely miss some time this upcoming season for whatever reason.  The Packers need to prepare accordingly at the outside linebacker position.  With a healthy Matthews and Nick Perry, the possibilities are many and scary for opposing offenses.  But the “healthy” part has not come easy in the two seasons that tandem has existed.  They have appeared together in just 14 games over those two years.

20

July

Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #5 — Perry’s improvement

Nick Perry was a project last summer. Is he ready to be a difference-maker across from Clay Matthews?

Nick Perry was a project last summer. Is he ready to be a difference-maker across from Clay Matthews?

When the Green Bay Packers selected Nick Perry with their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, they envisioned him and Clay Matthews being their version of LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison.

Prior to the draft, the 270-pound Perry made it clear that he’d rather play with his hand in the ground in a 4-3 scheme.

“I prefer 4-3,” Perry said. “I like to keep my hand in the dirt, but as long as I’m rushing and getting to quarterback I’m fine whatever it is.”

Last summer throughout training camp, Perry was brought along slowly by outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. Athletically, the transition wasn’t much of a problem for Perry, who clocked a 4.55 40-yard dash and posted a 38.5-inch vertical at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The biggest obstacle for Perry was the mental aspect of playing in space after playing on the defensive line for four years at USC.

As a rookie in Green Bay, Perry was the opening-day starter at outside linebacker across from Matthews. Perry appeared in six games before suffering a wrist injury which caused him to miss the remainder of the season.

The highlight of Perry’s rookie year was the crushing blow he delivered to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Perry wasn’t blocked on the play and drew a 15-yard penalty for hitting Luck on the chin; however, that type of aggressiveness is what the Packers envisioned when they spent the No. 28 overall pick on him a year ago.

When Perry went down, Erik Walden stepped in and filled his shoes in the starting lineup. Walden signed a four-year, $16 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts earlier this offseason, leaving the Packers thin at the position.

Behind starters Matthews and Perry, the Packers have an inexperienced group that includes second-year player Dezman Moses and rookies Nate Palmer, Andy Mulumba and Donte Savage. Needless to say, the Packers are counting on an improved Perry for a more effective pass rush in 2013.

Will Nick Perry show considerable improvement this season?

It’s not as if Perry got a ton of on-field experience as a rookie. Sure, he was a Week 1 starter, but the wrist injury ended his rookie year after just 211 regular-season snaps.

10

June

Nick Perry preparing for an important sophomore season

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews

Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry faced a tough transition from a college defensive end to outside linebacker in his first NFL season.

Perry showed flashes of promise throughout training camp and through the early stages of the season before a wrist injury landed him on the injured reserve. Appearing in six regular-season games, Perry recorded a pair of sacks and eight quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.

But since allowing the 49ers to rack up 579 yards in the playoffs, the Packers have made some changes to their defense. Perry, last year’s first-round pick, and Datone Jones, this year’s top pick, project as opening-day starters for the Packers in 2013.

Tyler Dunne wrote a piece outlining the importance of Perry and Jones at JSOnline.com, and Jacob Westendorf tabbed Perry’s improvement as the key to the Packers’ defense at PackersTalk.com.

Last season, the Packers ranked fourth in the NFL with 47 sacks. Clay Matthews racked up a team-high 13 sacks, while defensive end Mike Neal was second on the team with 4.5.

But if Perry lives up to his first-round draft position, the Packers finally have their bookend complement to Matthews. And although it’s only June and the team has yet to practice in full pads, head coach Mike McCarthy likes what he sees from Perry.

“He looks so much smoother and athletic than he did as a rookie,” McCarthy said, according to ESPN.com. “A lot of that is the transition he was making. Nick is a powerful man.”

Perry’s physicality will be a welcome addition not only to the pass rush, but to the Packers’ run defense as well. For the second consecutive season, Pro Football Focus graded former Packer Erik Walden as the worst 3-4 outside linebacker in football. Against the run, Walden came in at No. 26 among 34 players at his position.

Just six games into his professional career, it’s far too early to rush to any conclusions about Perry’s NFL future. But athletically, Perry certainly gives the Packers a lot to be excited about.

At last year’s NFL Scouting Combine at 271 pounds, Perry clocked a 4.55 in the forty-yard dash, put up 35 reps on the 225-pound bench press and recorded a vertical jump of 38.5 inches. Perry’s ten-yard split of 1.51 seconds bests 2013 fourth-round running back Johnathan Franklin’s time of 1.54.

5

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Sean Porter, LB Texas A&M

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: LB Sean Porter

Player Information:

Sean Porter, LB Texas A&M
6-1, 229 pounds
Hometown: Schertz, TX

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 yard: 4.75

Bench: 22

Vert: 35″

Broad: 119″

News and Notes:

Sean Porter’s story is much like another less known linebacker coming out of a big college program that Packers fans have gotten to know over the last couple years.  Like Clay Matthews III, Sean Porter was overshadowed by his peers in college; instead of Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga it was Von Miller and current prospect Damontre Moore.  With so much talent on the field at linebacker both Matthews and Sean Porter ended up playing everywhere, from traditional outside linebacker to the “joker”/”elephant” positions.  Porter in particular started out as the “joker” in the 3-4 and then moved both strong and weakside linebacker in a traditional 4-3 after a defensive scheme change in his senior year.  Both Porter and Matthews probably deserved to get more credit coming into the draft and like Matthews, Porter has the ability to be the best linebacker from his school this year.

 What they’re saying about him:

  • CBSSports.com: “Possesses an athletic, well-defined frame, looking the part of an NFL linebacker. Versatile defender who can line up in multiple roles. Has the burst to beat tackles off the edge as a rusher and is particularly adept at timing the snap as a walk-up blitzer, showing the burst and ability to “get skinny” to slip through interior gaps. Porter, however, is at his best in pursuit of ballcarriers on the flanks and operating in coverage due to his athleticism, including impressive straight-line speed. He shows good strength to set the edge and the agility to avoid blocks and make tackles in the running game.”
12

March

Packers News: Erik Walden bolts for the Colts

The Colts gave Walden $16 million

The Colts gave Walden $16 million

Who says there’s no such thing as exciting free agent news in Green Bay?

Former Packers outside linebacker Erik Walden raised some eyebrows today by reaching an agreement with the Indianapolis Colts on a contract worth $16 million over four years. Walden, 27, expects to be a starter opposite Robert Mathis, according to Bob McGinn on Twitter.

In three seasons with the Packers, Walden accounted for nine sacks. Among the 34 outside linebackers that played in a 3-4 scheme last season, Pro Football Focus graded Walden dead-last. In 2011, Walden also graded out dead-last among the 28 3-4 outside linebackers that played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps.

Just last summer, the Packers signed Walden to a one-year contract worth $700,000. Apparently, the Colts felt Walden’s 2012 season justified a pay raise of over $15 million.

Free agency never disappoints. The first wave of free agency brings both the expected moves (Mike Wallace to the Dolphins) as well as some head scratchers (Walden).

Not surprisingly, the financially cautious Packers have yet to dive into the free agent market.

Pro Football Talk reported that Green Bay is the favorite to sign running back Steven Jackson. Take that for what it’s worth, as it could simply be Jackson’s agent trying to drive up his client’s price tag. Personally, I’d be surprised if the Packers are willing to match the 30-year-old running back’s financial demands.

Free agent defensive lineman Chris Canty visited the Packers last week, but he visited and signed with the Baltimore Ravens today, according to his Twitter account.

If you’re sitting on pins and needles waiting for the Packers to make a big free agent splash, it’s probably safe to stand up and find your recliner.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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12

November

Packers News: Bulaga to I.R., So’oto to 53-man roster

Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga

Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga

The Green Bay Packers announced Monday that left tackle Bryan Bulaga had been placed on the season-ending injured reserve with a hip injury.

Bulaga suffered the injury against the Arizona Cardinals when he landed awkwardly. The early diagnosis wasn’t optimistic, and some had speculated immediately that Bulaga’s season may be over.

Losing Bulaga leaves the Packers shorthanded on the offensive line. T.J. Lang will shift over to right tackle, while Evan Dietrich-Smith will take Lang’s normal spot at left guard. For the rest of the season, the Packers’ offensive line–at full strength–will consist of Marshall Newhouse, Dietrich-Smith, Jeff Saturday, Josh Sitton and Lang.

Through ten weeks of the NFL season, the Packers have allowed 29 sacks–tied for second-most in the NFL.

To fill Bulaga’s roster spot, the Packers have signed outside linebacker Vic S’oto. The move gives Packers some depth at outside linebacker, as Frank Zombo was the team’s only available backup prior to So’oto’s signing.

So’oto played in seven games for the Packers last season and was in training camp with the team this summer. After appearing in four games with the Oakland Raiders this season, he was let go. So’oto, again, will wear No. 97 with the team.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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6

November

Packers News: Nick Perry has surgery, season over?

Packers OLB Nick Perry

Packers OLB Nick Perry

Just one day after head coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers may be without Clay Matthews for a couple weeks, the team appears to have lost outside linebacker Nick Perry for the rest of the season.

After the Packers selected Perry with the 28th overall pick in the 2012 draft, he entered training camp as the team’s starting left outside linebacker. Perry recorded two sacks in five games for the Packers before being injured.

Perry underwent surgery to repair his wrist, but he also injured his knee in week five at Indianapolis. The rookie outside linebacker reportedly had surgery on Tuesday.

Lance Allan, of WTMJ4 in Milwaukee, tweeted that Perry will likely wind up on the Injured Reserve.

While the Packers are now thin at the position, Erik Walden is quietly enjoying the best season of his career. Fellow outside linebacker Frank Zombo was just activated from the PUP list, and undrafted rookie Dezman Moses has made the most of limited playing time so far this season.

Moses is someone to keep an eye on. He impressed the coaching staff since the moment he arrived in Green Bay and was taking snaps with the second-team as early as June.

With the immediate future of 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod in doubt, the loss of Perry would mean the Packers’ last two first-round selections will have combined for very little impact in 2012.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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