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Thursday, July 31, 2014
Perry still thinks he has 'bright future'

By Rob Demovsky

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Nick Perry knew full well why the horde of reporters surrounded his locker on Thursday, and he seemed prepared for it.

When you're a former first-round pick whose career, by almost any measure, has been a disappointment, how else is there to react?

On the day Perry made his 2014 practice debut after missing the entire offseason program because of lingering foot and knee injuries, the Green Bay Packers outside linebacker was nothing if not consistent when asked about his career thus far and where it might be headed.

Nick Perry
Injuries have plagued linebacker Nick Perry in his first two seasons.
"I still think I have a bright future," Perry said.

Injuries ruined each of Perry's first two pro seasons. As a rookie, he played in only six games before a wrist injury ended his year. Last season, he played in 11 games but clearly was hobbled even after returning from the foot injury he sustained on Oct. 13 against the Baltimore Ravens.

"We've all got to deal with something throughout our careers," Perry said. "Hopefully, we're flipping the page on that, and we're looking forward to a better year this year."

Can you sense the pattern?

Perry would rather look ahead than look back.

Perhaps that's because there is not much to see in Perry's rear-view mirror.

It could have been different if not for the injuries. Perry, a defensive end in college at USC, was finally starting to look like an outside linebacker last season when he got hurt again. On the final defensive snap of the first half against the Ravens, Perry completed perhaps his finest half in the NFL when he sacked Joe Flacco and forced a fumble that Datone Jones recovered and the Packers turned into a field goal on the final play before halftime. In one half, he was credited with six tackles (five of them solo), a sack and a forced fumble.

But it was on the strip-sack play in which another player fell on his leg and took him out for the next three weeks and five of the next six.

The Packers have not stood still to wait for Perry to produce. They moved Mike Neal to outside linebacker last season and signed veteran pass rusher Julius Peppers this offseason. Peppers has been lining up at right outside linebacker, the spot Perry prefers, with Clay Matthews on the other side.

"There's always that notion that goes back that I think, if I could have been healthy things would have been better for me," Perry said. "I haven’t had the seasons that I've wanted due to that, but the main goal for me every year is staying healthy and playing to the best of my ability and helping my teammates any way I can. I'm glad to be here, and it's an honor to be here and I'm just ready to roll this year."