Thursday, July 31, 2014
Is Nick Perry finally back for good?
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are finally at full strength in their linebacking corps, but how long will that last?
It's a reasonable question considering the injury history of Nick Perry and to a lesser extent Mike Neal.
A day after Mike Neal was activated from the physically unable to perform list, Perry joined him on Thursday.
For Perry, it was his first on-field activity since the end of last season, which he finished on a bum foot and ankle. He then missed all of the offseason practices while recovering from not only the foot, but also a knee injury.
For a former first-round pick who has missed almost as many games (15) as he has appeared in (17) in his first two years, it was not the kind of offseason he needed.
"Availability is a primary focus for job responsibility, definitely," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said upon Perry's return Thursday. "We obviously have had some tough times in the past, but we feel like we're doing things to stay in front of that. Nick, sometimes players go through injury situations, one then two. Sometimes it just takes a little while to get off that cycle. Hopefully he's off that."
In their first practice together, Neal (who had a core muscle injury) and Perry were paired together as the No. 2 outside linebacker combination behind Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. Last season, Neal and Perry combined to play more than 1,100 snaps. Their snap counts almost certainly will not be as high, considering Matthews and Peppers will be the primary rushers.
Last season, Neal played in all 16 games for the first time in his four NFL seasons. Perry played in 11 games last season and just six as a rookie.
McCarthy said Neal and Perry have no practice limitations.
"It was good to get Nick back out there," McCarthy said. "Mike obviously practiced yesterday and had a good day, did some really good things today. You can't have enough really good football players, and just getting them out there and getting them in sync with what we're doing and how we're using them to get the combination work, to get the feel for the next guy you're going to be rushing with in the game, that's a priority of training camp. These reps are so important. Missed practices in training camp in today's world is a little more magnified obviously than in past years."
However, the defense was still not at full strength because safety Morgan Burnett was held out after suffering an ankle injury during Wednesday's practice. Also, undrafted rookie safety Tanner Miller missed practice because of an ankle injury.
McCarthy did not have specifics about the long-term prognosis for either player.