NFL Nation: Nick Perry

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You can go back to enjoying your Thanksgiving, the Green Bay Packers don't appear to be concerned that receiver Davante Adams is at risk of missing Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.

Adams
Adams was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice because of a heel injury, but he did not appear to do anything during the portion that was open to reporters.

Coach Mike McCarthy said someone stepped on Adams' foot in practice on Wednesday.

"Davante actually moved around, did some things, so they're just kind of working through exactly how they're going to handle it," McCarthy said after practice. "So I don't have high concern."

Neither did receiver Jordy Nelson.

"I think he'll be fine," Nelson said. "I'm not worried."

One player not listed on the injury report -- and who insisted that he shouldn't be -- is linebacker A.J. Hawk, who looked like he was having a hard time in coverage against Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph last Sunday. On the Vikings' first play from scrimmage, Rudolph easily ran away from Hawk for a 23-yard gain on a crossing route.

"It wasn't from being unhealthy or whatever," Hawk said. "He just caught me by surprise. I should've anticipated him coming across earlier, but it wasn't anything health-wise.

"I'm good. I'm healthy. There's no way I would ever say anything if I wasn't, but I'm actually not lying to you."

Here's the full injury report from Thursday’s practice:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Green Bay Packers' plan was to feature Davante Adams on Sunday against the New England Patriots, they might have some alterations to make.

Adams did not take part in the portion of Thursday's practice that was open to the media. He was in attendance but spent the early part of the session talking with members of the team's training staff.

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He could be a critical piece on Sunday if the Patriots, with two top-flight cornerbacks in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, can effectively cover the Packers' top-two receivers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

A full injury update will be available after practice.

Adams practiced on Wednesday and also spoke with reporters in the locker room afterward. However, during Sunday's win against the Minnesota Vikings, he left the game for three plays during the first quarter after he appeared to fall awkwardly on his midsection after a 10-yard reception on the Packers' second series. He returned for the next series after missing only three plays.

Linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) and cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin) were the only other players not practicing during the session that was moved to earlier in the day in order to allow everyone to get home for Thanksgiving.

Guard T.J. Lang (ankle) returned to practice after sitting out on Wednesday. Fellow starting guard Josh Sitton (toe) practiced for the second straight day.
MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Green Bay Packers still plan to use Clay Matthews at inside linebacker as extensively as they have the previous two games, they will need to find another option at his old outside linebacker spot.

Nick Perry, who started the last two weeks at right outside linebacker, was declared inactive for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. Perry was listed as questionable because of a shoulder injury.

Mike Neal would be the logical choice to assume those outside linebacker snaps, but rookie Jayrone Elliott also sees some action there.

Matthews has played the majority of his snaps the last two weeks at inside linebacker, especially on early downs, but it's possible he could go back to playing more at outside linebacker.

On Friday, coach Mike McCarthy said they would have to adjust their plan if Perry could not play.

The Packers also will be without one of their key special-teams players, cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin). In his place, rookie cornerback Demetri Goodson was activated for just the second time this season.

Here's the full inactive list:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The last time Clay Matthews was coming off a groin injury, the Green Bay Packers linebacker returned an interception 40 yards against the Chicago Bears before veering out of bounds.

That was in Week 4, one game after he dropped out of the loss at the Detroit Lions late in the fourth quarter.

Matthews
Matthews went back on the injury report this week with the same ailment, but thinks it's better this week than it was going into that Bears game.

How much better?

"I might go 50 yards and not 40," Matthews said.

Matthews was listed as a limited participant in practice on Thursday.

"I think we’re just being more cautious than anything," Matthews said. "I was able to go out there against Chicago, cautiously, of course. I feel like the progression I'm making this week as opposed to maybe Week 3 and 4 is ahead of where I was."

Perhaps more of an issue is the status of outside linebacker Nick Perry, who has a shoulder injury and did not practice for the second straight day, leaving his status in question for Sunday's road game against the Minnesota Vikings. Perry has started the past two games at Matthews' old outside linebacker position while Matthews has moved inside on early downs.

"Nick Perry is definitely important," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Just that whole group, you talk about Nick and Mike Neal and Julius [Peppers], their ability to move around and play the elephant position has been very important. That was a big part of our change, and definitely fits with the movement of Clay."

However, Matthews said he doesn't think his role would change if Perry can't play Sunday.

"I think it's more of a 'next man up' type of mentality around here," Matthews said. "I'm sure [Jayrone] Elliott will have more opportunities as well as Mike and J.P. As we have seen in weeks prior, I rush off the edge and play in the middle, so wherever they need me, I will be there."

Here's the full injury report:
  • TE Brandon Bostick (hip, did not practice)
  • CB Jarrett Bush (groin, did not practice)
  • LB Elliott (hamstring, limited participation)
  • G T.J. Lang (ankle, limited participation)
  • LB Matthews (groin, limited participation)
  • LB Perry (shoulder, did not practice)
  • G Josh Sitton (toe, limited participation)
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Clay Matthews didn't miss any games when he first injured his groin this season, and the Green Bay Packers aren't too concerned about it now that it has cropped up again.

Matthews was listed on the injury report Wednesday as a limited participant in practice.

"Just speaking with him, he doesn't have high concern," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Matthews first injured his groin in the fourth quarter of the Week 4 game at the Detroit Lions and did not play late in the game. However, he played the next week against the Chicago Bears and did not appear to have any issues with it going forward.

Outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday. Perry has been key to Matthews' move to inside linebacker the last two weeks because he inherited some of Matthews' snaps at outside linebacker. Both of their injuries stemmed from Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, although never came out of the game because of the injuries.

McCarthy said Perry might not practice until Saturday.

In the two games since Matthews moved primarily to inside linebacker, he has combined for 15 tackles, two sacks and one pass breakup.

After listing just four players on their injury report last week, that number nearly doubled on Wednesday.

Here's the full injury report:
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You have seen this before from Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy.

It's nothing new -- these 341-yard, three-touchdown, no-interception games from the Green Bay Packers quarterback, and the 129-yard and 109-yard receiving games from Cobb and Nelson, respectively, and tackle-breaking touchdown runs by Lacy. Breaking records and reaching milestones has become the norm for Rodgers and his crew of playmakers.

But what you saw from the Packers' defense in Sunday's 53-20 dismantling of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field might be the new normal. Since their meltdown in the 44-23 loss at New Orleans before the bye, defensive coordinator Dom Capers' unit has turned in a pair of dominant performances in blowout home victories over the Eagles and Chicago Bears.

It has coincided with the new, hybrid role for outside linebacker/inside linebacker Clay Matthews, an idea that was launched during the bye, but it's about much more than that.

"It just shows that we have a very talented defense," said Matthews, who registered a sack for the second straight game. "And it's all about deciding which defense wants to show up."

[+] EnlargeJulius Peppers
AP Photo/Mike RoemerThe Packers' Julius Peppers gets away from Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews for a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown.
If it's the one that foiled Jay Cutler last week and Mark Sanchez on Sunday, then the Packers (7-3) might have the kind of complete team capable of a long playoff run.

Sacks by defensive tackle Letroy Guion on the Eagles' opening series and outside linebacker Mike Neal on the second series set a tone of aggressiveness from the start. Guion beat right guard Matt Tobin on a second-and-6 and dumped Sanchez for a 7-yard loss, which set up a much easier third-and-long situation for the defense and ultimately led to a punt. Neal then dumped Sanchez for a 9-yard loss on third-and-6 to force another punt.

By the time the Eagles got the ball back the next time, they were down 17-0.

"Defensively, you're just seeing a unit that's playing faster," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "The personnel groups that we're getting in and out of, I think it's happening seamlessly. You're getting used to playing together in combinations that we kind of set for the second half. With that, our playmakers are making plays, and we've got a lot of playmakers on defense."

Eagles coach Chip Kelly's fast-paced, high-powered offense looked no different than the Bears offense in their futile performance a week earlier. For the second straight week, the game was over by halftime. This time, the Packers led 30-6 at the break, and even though they gave up 429 yards, it was empty yardage in the end.

"Against an offense like that, to do what they did tonight, that was very impressive," Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. "They're the reason ... yeah, we scored points in the first half, but they kept it to six points. That was huge."

What followed the early sacks was this: a pair of fumble recoveries, one by Nick Perry and another by Casey Hayward, who returned it 49 yards for a touchdown. Then two interceptions, one by Tramon Williams and another by Julius Peppers, who returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.

This against a team that, though it was missing starting quarterback Nick Foles, brought the NFL's fifth ranked offense to town.

The Packers' run defense that was so awful the first half of the season -- it ranked dead last and gave up 155 yards per game -- all of a sudden is more than respectable. They have nearly cut that number in half the past two games and allowed an average of just 82 yards rushing per game.

"We’ve been going out saying that we’re going to get off of the field," Williams said. "[The] offense has been moving the ball unbelievable, and if we can continue doing that throughout the year, then we're going to be where we want to be."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You can't accuse the Green Bay Packers' 64-year-old defensive coordinator of being averse to trying new things.

On Sunday, after a week of questions about why Clay Matthews' production had slipped this season, Dom Capers unveiled another new defensive package. This one, called "NASCAR" presumably because it employed more speed on the defensive front, may not have led to a breakout for Matthews, but it proved useful in what was perhaps the Packers' best defensive showing of the year in their 38-17 win over Carolina.

[+] EnlargeClay Matthews
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsClay Matthews was able to put steady pressure on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday.
And, oh yeah, Matthews managed to get a shared sack with Julius Peppers, although it came out of a different package.

In "NASCAR," Capers went without any traditional defensive linemen in what was a dime (six defensive back) secondary alignment. Instead, he lined up Matthews and Peppers -- his starting outside linebackers -- as defensive tackles on the interior of the line and flanked them with Nick Perry and Mike Neal as outside linebackers.

"It gets all four of our elephant types on the field at the same time," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Yeah, it's been very productive."

Capers used it only in third-down situations. The first five times he employed "NASCAR" on Sunday, the Packers came up with third-down stops on four of them, including Perry's sack of Cam Newton on third-and-5 to end the Panthers' second series. Carolina converted just 4-of-12 third downs.

"We like that a lot because you put me, Pep, Mike Neal and Nick Perry out there; that's a pretty good pass-rushing group," Matthews said. "When we put that in there, we're thinking that's a pass-rushing down, and we turn loose a little bit. You always love that."

The Packers sacked Newton just three times, but Matthews missed on two others. He shared one of the sacks with Peppers, who had another by himself. Still, through seven games this season, Matthews has just 1.5 sacks. After getting shut out in the tackle category a week ago at Miami, Matthews was credited with two stops against the Panthers.

"In all honesty, I don't have to prove it to anyone but myself," said Matthews, the four-time Pro Bowler. "I'm a good player, and I know that I am. And it's just about putting together performances."

The Packers didn't feast on turnovers like they had the previous four games (when they had 11 takeaways), although cornerback Casey Hayward picked off his second pass in as many games. But the defense was borderline dominant early in the game. At first quarter's end, the Panthers had just 5 total net yards.

"You wish every quarter was like that," Packers cornerback Davon House said. "We only got, what, 12 plays of defense, and the offense scored every single time they got the ball. That was probably as close to perfect."

Good news for Packers' Clay Matthews

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Clay Matthews has progressed as he had hoped since leaving Sunday's loss at Detroit with a groin strain.

 After he took part in practice on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday, the Green Bay Packers on Friday listed their star linebacker as probable for Sunday's game at the Chicago Bears.

That came a day after Matthews said: "I'll be out there."

There's still one hurdle for Matthews to clear before kickoff. Under coach Mike McCarthy’s new schedule, the Packers hold a light practice on Saturdays before Sunday games. The Packers did not practice on Friday but estimated that Matthews' participation level would have been limited if they would have practiced.

"Yeah, so far, so good," McCarthy said Friday. "The medical review, the report today was good on Clay. We still have 48 hours, so we're confident that he'll be ready to go. But like I said, he's still working through it."

Perhaps the biggest injury concern is to No. 3 receiver Jarrett Boykin, who had previously been on the injury report with a knee injury. However, the team added groin to the list of his ailments so he's questionable.

That could open the door for rookie Jeff Janis to get his first shot. The seventh-round pick has been inactive the first three games.

Here's the full injury report:

Questionable
WR Jarrett Boykin (knee, groin)
LB Brad Jones (quadriceps)

Probable
RT Bryan Bulaga (knee)
CB Davon House (knee)
OLB Clay Matthews (groin)
OLB Nick Perry (wrist)

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- General manager Ted Thompson was probably fortunate to find anyone willing take defensive end Jerel Worthy off the Green Bay Packers' hands.

That the New England Patriots on Tuesday were only willing to give up a late-round pick, likely a seventh-rounder, that is conditional on Worthy making their opening-day roster, should serve as condemnation of Thompson's 2012 draft class.

Most believe it takes three years to evaluate a draft class but less than two-and-a-half years later, that class is almost all gone.

In his 10 years as GM, Thompson has relied on the draft to build a perennial NFC contender but his 2012 class has not helped much. He picked eight players that year and only three of them remain on his roster. Just one of them, defensive end Mike Daniels, is penciled in as a starter.

To pick Worthy at No. 51 overall, Thompson traded up, giving a fourth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up eight spots.

Thompson will speak to the media on Wednesday during his regularly-scheduled training camp press conference, and the decision to trade Worthy and what it says about that draft class will be discussed.

But before that, here's a player-by-player look at how that class turned out:

OLB Nick Perry (first round, No. 28 overall): Tired of waiting for him to be healthy, Thompson brought in veteran pass-rusher Julius Peppers this offseason to play in the spot where Perry started at times in his first two seasons. Multiple injuries limited Perry to just 17 of a possible 32 games in his first two seasons. He has worked as a backup in training camp.

DE Jerel Worthy (second round, No. 51 overall): Played 467 snaps in a part-time role as a rookie before he tore his ACL in the regular-season finale. Then played just 13 snaps last season after coming off the physically unable to perform list in November. He sustained a back injury lifting weights this offseason, which required surgery in April, and never made it back to practice before Tuesday's trade.

CB Casey Hayward (second round, No. 62 overall): Led all rookies with six interceptions in 2012, but played in only three games last season because of a recurring hamstring injury. Likely will return to his role as the slot cornerback in the nickel package this season.

DE Mike Daniels (fourth round, No. 132 overall): An emerging star and leader on the defense, Daniels posted 6.5 sacks last season (second on the team to Clay Matthews) as a backup and figures to have a greater impact as a starter this season. So far, he's been the star of this draft class.

S Jerron McMillian (fourth round, No. 133 overall): Began the 2013 season as the starting strong safety but was released on Dec. 3 after being phased out of the defense because of poor play. He is in camp with the Kansas City Chiefs.

LB Terrell Manning (fifth round, No. 163 overall): Played only sparingly, mostly on special teams, as a rookie and then was released in the final cuts at the end of training camp last year. Since then, he has been with three different teams and is currently in camp with the New York Giants.

T Andrew Datko (seventh round, No. 241 overall): Released in the final cuts at the end of training camp last year. Spent his rookie season on the practice squad and was never on the active roster. He's currently out of the NFL.

QB B.J. Coleman (seventh round, No. 243 overall): Spent his rookie season on the practice squad and then was released before the start of last season. He's currently out of the NFL.
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.

Neal
Perry
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.

Packers Camp Report: Day 3

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:


  • Lest you forgot about Sean Richardson when it came time to talk about playing time at the safety position, the third-year pro reminded everyone of his potential on Monday. With the pads on for the first time, Richardson made a play that has rarely been replicated by a Packers safety since the days of Nick Collins or Charles Woodson. During a team blitz period, Aaron Rodgers fired a pass over the middle to Jordy Nelson but Richardson jumped in and snatched the ball away from Nelson for an interception.
  • For the first padded practice of camp, the temperature on Monday morning when things kicked off at 8:20 a.m. local time was just 56 degrees. An hour into the practice, it was not yet 60 degrees, but the Packers took one of their TV timeout regeneration breaks and followed it with one short period followed by another water break. Still, when asked whether it was fun to put the pads on, veteran guard Josh Sitton said, "I mean, fun is a little strong." The practice lasted 2 hours, 26 minutes – or about 10 minutes longer than the non-padded practices each of the first two days.
  • Nose tackle B.J. Raji got off to a strong start in the first one-on-one pass-rushing drill. He won all three of his reps. Of course, when someone wins, it means someone else looked bad. Twice, Raji beat JC Tretter, who is trying to lock down the starting center job. Raji beat Tretter with his quickness on one turn and then overpowered him on another. Tackle Bryan Bulaga also looked good in his first turns since blowing out his knee last camp. He won all three of his reps, including one at left tackle against Clay Matthews.
  • In other odds and ends from practice: Cornerback Davon House had a strip-sack of Matt Flynn and recovered the fumble during the team blitz period. … If you're looking for an undrafted rookie to watch, keep an eye on inside linebacker Joe Thomas of South Carolina State. He's a bit undersized (6-1, 227) but is around the ball often. … In what could be a bad sign for undrafted rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, he was relegated to the scout team that worked against the defense at the start of practice while the majority of the offensive players, including fellow undrafted rookie tight end Justin Perillo, practiced inside the Hutson Center at the start of the session.
  • Outside linebacker Mike Neal said he could be cleared to practice as soon as Wednesday. He remains on the PUP list with a core muscle injury but is scheduled to be examined on Tuesday. He said he reported to camp lighter than ever, at 263 pounds. He played last season at 275, which is about 25 pounds lighter than he was is first three seasons, when he played defensive end.
  • In addition to Neal, others who remained out were: Nick Perry (foot, knee), Jamari Lattimore (illness), Jeff Janis (illness), Letroy Guion (hamstring), and Jerel Worthy (back). Janis made an appearance at practice for the first time in camp.
  • The Packers do not practice on Tuesday. They return to the field on Wednesday at 8:20 a.m. local time.
Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)
The Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster since 2008, but they might be inclined to do so this season in order to avoid a situation like last year, when Rodgers broke his collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy is high on Tolzien, who made two starts last season, but Flynn has proved he can win as a backup in Green Bay.

Running backs (4)

The return of Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, gives the Packers insurance behind Lacy and Starks. Kuhn is valuable both as a fullback and on special teams. It's possible they'll keep a fourth halfback, but the loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury has left them without a strong in-house candidate for that spot.

Receivers (6)

The Packers often keep only five receivers, but given that they drafted three -- Adams (second round), Abbrederis (fifth round) and Janis (seventh round) -- there's a good chance they will keep six. Abbrederis and Janis will not only have to show they're better prospects than second-year pros Myles White and Chris Harper, but they also could help themselves if they can return kicks.

Tight ends (4)

McCarthy likes tight ends (he has kept five before), and the wild card is undrafted rookie Colt Lyerla.

Offensive linemen (8)

The Packers typically only activate seven offensive linemen on game day, so they can get away with keeping just eight on the roster. Barclay's ability to play all five positions also allows them some freedom. Lane Taylor could be the ninth lineman if they go that route.

Defensive line (7)

Worthy and Guion have work to do to make the roster, but there's room for them if you count Julius Peppers and Mike Neal among the outside linebackers, which is where they lined up more often in the offseason.

Linebackers (8)

There will be some tough cuts here. Second-year pros Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba both played last year as rookie outside linebackers. It also may be tough for highly touted undrafted rookie Adrian Hubbard to make it.

Cornerbacks (6)

Hayward's return from last season's hamstring injury means he likely will return as the slot cornerback in the nickel package, a role played last year by Micah Hyde (who may primarily play safety this year).

Safeties (4)

The major question here is whether Hyde or Clinton-Dix will be the starter alongside Burnett. Chris Banjo, who played primarily on special teams last season, might be the odd man out.

Specialists (3)

There's no competition at any of these spots.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's one thing for a proven player like Clay Matthews to miss the entire offseason program while recovering from his twice broken thumb.

Matthews has turned in Pro Bowl seasons before while missing major parts of the offseason and training camp because of hamstring injuries.

Perry
But for a player like Nick Perry, the Green Bay Packers outside linebacker who has yet to perform like the first-round pick that he was in 2012, the fact that he has been unable to participate in any on-field activities this offseason could prove to be another detriment to his development.

"I don't think it helps any player to miss a whole offseason," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday following the first practice of minicamp. "I talked about it last week with the staff. I told the team about it today. Our coaching staff took a different approach. You're accustomed to being a 15-week program. Obviously we're in a nine-week program going on here in Year 4 [of the new CBA]. To get all that work done, nothing changes. You have a season to get ready for. You have this much work. And to do it all in a nine-week period, and for a player to miss all of it, obviously it's not a good situation to be in.

"I think any of the players who did not take advantage of this nine-week opportunity or due to injury is definitely something they're going to have to work harder to catch up once training camp starts."

McCarthy would not specify the reason for Perry’s absence, but Perry missed five games last season because of foot and ankle injuries.

"I mean, he's injured, so. ..." McCarthy said.

There is frustration throughout the organization about Perry's inability to get on the field. He missed nearly half (15) of the 32 regular-season games in his two NFL seasons.

When asked what Perry is missing by being unable to practice, linebackers coach Winston Moss said: "Everything. Everything."

"It's unfortunate," Moss said. "It's disappointing."

In addition to Matthews and Perry, three other former draft picks have been unable to participate this offseason: defensive end Jerel Worthy, tight end Andrew Quarless and running back Johnathan Franklin.

Perhaps the biggest concern is about Franklin, the fourth-round pick from UCLA who finished his rookie season last year on injured reserve following a neck injury. The Packers are worried that Franklin's neck injury might be career-threatening. According to two people with knowledge of his situation, the Packers are putting Franklin through more tests to determine whether it's safe for him to continue playing.

Worthy, who last season played in only two games after coming off a torn ACL in the 2012 regular-season finale, missed the first two weeks of OTAs following the accidental shooting death of his grandmother in Ohio, but he also is dealing with an unspecified injury that is not believed to be related to his knee.

Quarless, who signed a two-year, $3 million contract to return to the Packers, also has not practiced. He missed all of the 2012 season because of a knee injury in 2011 but returned to play in every game last season, including 10 starts.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Perhaps you've heard this before about the Green Bay Packers' defense: Everything will be fine as long as they're healthy.

The problem is – or has been – that they have not stayed healthy.

Last year, playmakers like Clay Matthews and Casey Hayward missed significant time because of injuries.

[+] EnlargeJamari Lattimore
Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY SportsThe ability to fill various roles will likely earn LB Jamari Lattimore additional playing time in 2014.
The year before, it was Desmond Bishop, Nick Perry and Charles Woodson.

In the Super Bowl season of 2010, it was Nick Barnett and Morgan Burnett, among others.

Coach Mike McCarthy has apparently grown tired of watching his defense struggle when players go down. Simply plugging in replacement players and asking them to do the same jobs has not always worked.

To combat that, he and defensive coordinator Dom Capers have agreed on some changes.

At the root of those changes isn't necessarily Capers' scheme or whether it will continue to be his traditional 3-4 alignment in his base package, or a regular nickel or dime in sub packages. But rather, it is a plan to develop players who can play multiple positions in different defensive looks in order to better combat issues that could arise during the season.

The buzzwords appear to be these: More personnel, less scheme.

To be sure, there will be changes in scheme – some of which McCarthy does not want to discuss before he unveils it in the regular season. Some of them might even be a drastic departure from what Capers has done since he arrived in Green Bay in 2009 and throughout his career.

"We've learned some hard lessons here of late, the last couple years of maybe playing some players that probably weren't quite ready and because of a scheme [that] we were playing," McCarthy said after the Packers' first open OTA practice on Thursday.

The addition of veteran pass-rusher Julius Peppers by way of free agency provides a window to the changes. Peppers, who has been a traditional defensive end in a 4-3 scheme for most of his career, will play multiple positions for the Packers. During Thursday's OTA, he lined up almost exclusively as an outside linebacker in a two-point stance, but don't be surprised if he moves inside and rushes from a three-point stance as well. The same could be said for Perry and Mike Neal.

Likewise, there could be additional roles for the inside linebackers. While Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk do not appear to be in danger of losing their spots, Jamari Lattimore could see the field more, too. He was featured prominently during Thursday's practice in a variety of roles.

All of that could free up the cornerstone of the defense, Matthews, to move around more, too.

"It just seems like a lot of the linebackers have taken on roles that require them not only to be the traditional 3-4 linebacker or 4-3 [linebacker] but to do both," Matthews said. "Whether that's one minute rushing against a tackle or playing out on the slot receiver. Really, I think it just provides a lot of versatility for the guys we have here.

"I think rather than making players fit into certain schemes, we're making those schemes fit around players now. I think it's great for the personnel that we have and what we’re trying to accomplish moving forward."

It's an effort to reverse a trend that has seen the Packers finish in the bottom third of the defensive rankings in two of the past three seasons and struggle in a pair of playoff losses to the San Francisco 49ers to end the past two seasons.

"I think we have to change something," Hawk said. "Not change, but we have to evolve and hone in on who knows what our plan is going in once the season comes, but we need to find a way to play better. We need to find a way to get off the field. I don't think you have to make any crazy, drastic changes. I don't think that's what we're going to do. But you have to find a way to evaluate what we did wrong and find a way to get better at that."

Capers did something similar earlier in his career. When he took over as the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive coordinator in 1999, he inherited a roster filled with players who better fit the 4-3 scheme they had run previously.

So instead of trying to force feed players a defense that did not suit their skills, he adjusted.

That season, the Jaguars gave up the fewest points in the NFL and the fourth-fewest yards.

"I hope it works as well as it did that year," Capers said. "We've done that, really, since we've been here. The first year we came in, there's a reason why Charles Woodson was the Defensive Player of the Year. He's a good player, and you do a lot of good things to feature your best players."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Let's get this out of the way from the top: We know Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson does not draft for need -- or so he says.

But in the months leading up to this week's draft, Thompson and his scouts have spent hundreds of hours not only discussing the prospects who will be available to them but also their current roster and its strengths and weaknesses.

With that in mind, let's break the 12 position groups that make up the roster into four parts based on the following categories of draft needs.

We will define them this way:

Part 1: Negligible -- positions where there is little or no need.

Part 2: Non-essential -- positions where there is a need but it is not paramount to fill.

Part 3: Secondary -- positions where there is a need but not at the critical level.

Part 4: Pressing -- positions where it is imperative that help be found.

On Monday, we looked at the negligible needs, Nos. 10-12.

Next up are the nonessential needs.

7. Quarterback: It's too early to start thinking about a replacement for Aaron Rodgers, who turned 30 last December and is under contract through 2019, but they need to find the next Matt Flynn -- a long-term backup who can be counted on to win games just in case. Flynn is back under a one-year deal, but coach Mike McCarthy has said he would like to develop a young quarterback. Is that Scott Tolzien? Perhaps, but don't be surprised if they bring in a mid-to-late-round quarterback.

Possible players of interest: AJ McCarron, Alabama; Tom Savage, Pittsburgh; David Fales, San Jose State; Keith Wenning, Ball State; Brock Jensen, North Dakota State.

8. Cornerback: The Packers committed to Sam Shields this offseason with a four-year, $39 million contract just as free agency opened, but veteran Tramon Williams is in the final year of his contract. Casey Hayward is expected to be back from the hamstring injury that ruined his 2013 season, and there's depth with Micah Hyde, Davon House and James Nixon, although Hyde may move to safety. If the right corner fell to the Packers, Thompson might jump at the chance.

Possible players of interest: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State; Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech; Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State; Keith McGill, Utah; Stan Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska.

9. Outside linebacker: Like defensive end, this is another position where there's plenty of talent depending on who lines up where. Beyond Pro Bowler Clay Matthews, there's Julius Peppers (who will play a combination DL-OLB), former first-round pick Nick Perry, former second-round pick Mike Neal and second-year players Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer.

Possible players of interest: Anthony Barr, UCLA; Kyle Van Noy, BYU; Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech; Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State.

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