Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers during NFL
football training camp, Sunday, July 31, 2016, in Green Bay,
GREEN BAY — No
matter what the plan is for Julius Peppers this season, the
expectations aren't changing for the oldest player on the Green Bay
"It's not like
we're going to put him out to pasture or sit him over on the bench a
whole lot," general manager Ted Thompson said Wednesday.
Peppers is beginning
his 15th NFL season; whether this will be the final one for the
36-year-old defensive stalwart isn't known.
Of more immediate
attention, as the Packers prepare to play their first preseason game
Friday night against the Cleveland Browns, is just what role Peppers
will have when the season starts in a month.
Peppers is listed as
a starter on the depth chart this week. But another former first-round
draft pick, Nick Perry, not Peppers, has been taking most of the reps
at the outside linebacker spot opposite Clay Matthews in Green Bay's
base defense early in training camp.
Dom Capers said reining in Peppers has been by design.
"I think we know
what Julius is capable of, so you'll probably see limited reps of
Julius with where he is," Capers said. "You've seen that
through training camp thus far, so it's enabled Nick to get a lot of
reps. We have a number of guys there that we need to see and take a
good look at."
While Perry is
relishing the extra work as he looks to put an injury-marred first
four pro seasons behind him, Peppers isn't saying much about the
apparent role reversal. In fact, he hasn't spoken to reporters in the
locker room since the first couple of days of camp, which opened July
Peppers declined to
talk as he walked out of the locker room after practice Wednesday.
As long as he can
stay healthy, which he's been since the team's offseason program in
the spring for the first time in his career, Perry is expected to have
a bigger role in Green Bay's defense this season.
"He's a physical
guy, very good player against the run, and he can use that physicality
and size, and he's got a couple pass-rush moves that he's very good
at," Capers said.
Perry has yet to play
a full season, but the Packers saw enough production at the end of
last season to re-sign him to a one-year contract.
"This is home
for me," said Perry, who led Green Bay with 3 ½ sacks in its two
playoff games. "For those guys to believe in me and know that
I've got more to give, it just puts everything in perspective on
what's to come. There's unfinished business here, and we're just
trying to get to that."
As for Peppers, the
Packers are hopeful he will remain as productive as ever, even if his
role is diminished.
marvelous player and a very gifted, athletic specimen, the likes of
which I don't know that I've ever seen," Thompson said.
Peppers had a
team-high 10 ½ sacks last season, moving him to No. 9 on the NFL's
all-time sacks list with 136. He also was selected to the Pro Bowl for
the ninth time.
Thompson wouldn't say
whether the team will try to maximize Peppers' production in the final
year of a three-year, $26 million contract by reducing his workload.
certainly you can make that argument that that would be a logical
conclusion," Thompson said. "I don't know. I think it just
kind of depends. I think you pick your spots and you use players that
are extraordinary, which Julius is, in a certain way."
(ankle) and WR Randall Cobb (calf) were held out of the Packers' final
open practice before Friday's game. Among those still sidelined were
QB Brett Hundley (ankle), LB Jake Ryan (hamstring) and C JC Tretter
(illness). . Long snapper Jesse Schmitt watched practice with a cast
on his broken right hand. Schmitt suffered the injury while making a
block on his first snap in a punt drill in his first practice with the
team Tuesday night. The Packers signed Schmitt, an undrafted rookie
from Purdue, to compete with incumbent Rick Lovato. Schmitt didn't
know if surgery would be needed.