Packers not fretting over Peppers' slow start

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
12:38
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Julius Peppers' new coaches say they have seen more than enough on the practice field and in their meeting rooms to believe the 34-year-old former All-Pro pass-rusher will be the major contributor that Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson banked on when he signed him as a $26 million free agent in March.

Even if his first foray didn't show it.

[+] EnlargeJulius Peppers
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsThe Packers have been impressed with how Julius Peppers has picked up their defense.
Peppers admitted he "didn't get much done" in his Packers debut last Saturday against the Tennessee Titans. But for a player with 186 regular-season games with the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears to his credit, 10 unproductive snaps in his first preseason game with the Packers have not left defensive coordinator Dom Capers and linebackers coach Winston Moss fretting.

"I think he's been outstanding," Moss said this week. "It doesn't show in the Tennessee game, but he's come in and he's adapted to the scheme. He's a very smart, experienced player. He picks up and understands concepts. He's played long enough, and he's played in enough different schemes to where he understands everything."

One thing no one can deny is that Peppers, at 6-foot-7 and 287 pounds, still strikes an impressive pose on the field. He has not missed a practice even if it sometimes looks like he's on cruise control. However, in his only rep this week during the one-on-one pass-rushing drill, he turned it on and schooled starting left tackle David Bakhtiari with a speed move to the inside.

"You can tell when he makes a play on tape, you watch in the meeting room and those guys are all well aware when he makes a play," Capers said.

For most of his first 13 NFL seasons, Peppers played with his hand on the ground in a 4-3 scheme with the Panthers and Bears, but the Packers believe he can transition to rushing out of a two-point stance as an outside linebacker in Capers' 3-4 scheme.

"He's picked things up mentally really better than I anticipated he would," Capers said. "And the good thing about him is he's been able to stay on the practice field and work. He's been very professional in his approach, which you always look for that because when a guy's played as long as he's played, had the success that he's had, but he's come in and fit in.

"He can do probably whatever we ask him to do."

Coming off a down year -- relative to the rest of his career -- with just 7.5 sacks, Peppers knows there are those who wonder whether he can be an impact player anymore. But he has no interested in offering a defense.

"We'll see about that," he said. "I'm not really going to get into too much discussing what I can and can't do. I'm going to let the film speak for it."

And the Packers think that film will start showing more than it did against the Titans.

"I think that you have to look at the Tennessee game more as getting his feet wet," Moss said. "Once he gets some more reps in the preseason, I think he's going to take off."

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


Insider