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Starter Pack: Big week for Julius Peppers

9/25/2014

A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat:

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Julius Peppers did not make an appearance in the Packers' locker room Wednesday, but that doesn't mean he wasn't one of the major topics of conversation.

He should be considering he's preparing to play his first game in Chicago as a member of the Packers on Sunday. The last time he stepped foot on Soldier Field it was for the Bears and against the Packers.

So much has changed for Peppers since the Packers' Week 17 win in Chicago last season but three games into his career in Green Bay, not much has changed about the way he plays. At least that was the view from Bears coach Marc Trestman and quarterback Jay Cutler, who both spoke on a conference call with reporters at Lambeau Field.

"I think he's played well, and we expected him to," Trestman said. "I think in that system, it's going to be continued growth for him. He's going to continue to get better at it."

It's a small sample size, but the 34-year-old Peppers, who was cut by the Bears last March, is coming off his best game for the Packers. It was highlighted by a strip-sack and fumble recovery Sunday against the Detroit Lions, a play that surely caught the eye of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

"He still has got a lot left in the tank," Cutler said.

Since signing with the Packers shortly after he was released by the Bears, Peppers has been careful not to say much, if anything, disparaging about his former team and the way things ended in Chicago. And that's not likely to change whenever he decides to speak this week.

From Peppers' perspective, he's surely hoping Sunday goes better than his last appearance at Soldier Field, when as a member of the home team he narrowly missed hitting Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers before Rodgers unloaded the game-winning touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute of the regular-season finale. If not for a desperation block by fullback John Kuhn, Peppers might have drilled Rodgers.

"We've kind of broken the ice, shall I say, about that play," Rodgers said Wednesday. "I think he's still upset about Kuhn, but hopefully he'll get over that. He'll see that play probably a few times this week."

In case you missed it from ESPN.com:

  • The Packers have relied heavily on the no-huddle offense so far this season with only limited success. And it also has resulted in the Packers’ relying mostly on one personnel grouping, their “Zebra” package, which has made their offense far less diverse.

  • Two days after coach Mike McCarthy said Eddie Lacy needs to play better, it's clear the running back knows as much even if he hadn't heard his coach's message.

  • The Packers had all 52 players, including linebacker Clay Matthews, on the practice field Wednesday. For Matthews, that's an encouraging sign that his groin injury is not serious. Details can be found in the injury report.

  • You heard Aaron Rodgers tell fans worried over the Packers' 1-2 start to R-E-L-A-X. See how that played in the locker room in this video.

  • And in this Insider piece, colleague Field Yates explained why Rodgers is not the major reason for the Packers' offensive struggles.

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