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Packers hope Perry can follow in Matthews' footsteps

Pro Football Weekly
Packers hope Perry can follow in Matthews' footsteps
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Packers hope Perry can follow in Matthews' footsteps

The Packers hope OLB-DE Nick Perry can effectively follow in the footsteps of fellow USC product Clay Matthews, who wasted no time becoming a big-time star in Green Bay.

Entering the draft, the team’s biggest need by far was for another pass rusher at defensive end or outside linebacker to complement Matthews, who was basically a one-man gang when it came to applying steady pressure on the passer this past season, although ILB Desmond Bishop did have his moments.

Only six sacks in the last seven games, counting the playoffs, isn't going to cut it again next season, and Perry will be counted on to improve those numbers in a hurry.

Even after adding 15-20 pounds last year, Perry is considered to have the kind of explosiveness needed to keep opposing QBs constantly nervous. As a hybrid pass-rushing outside linebacker/defensive end, he will compete with Brad Jones, Erik Walden and Frank Zombo for the starting OLB job opposite Matthews or else try to fill the void at  defensive end created by the departure of Cullen Jenkins, who signed with the Eagles last offseason.

Perry, who had 9½ sacks in his final season at USC and 29½ tackles for loss in his college career, certainly passes the eyeball pass with a great-looking body. He has a sudden first step and terrific balance and body control that made him a terror against the likes of top OT prospects like Stanford’s Jonathan Martin.

Ideally, Perry will fare a lot better than former second-round pick Mike Neal, who was envisioned as a replacement for Jenkins a year ago at this time but continued to have problems staying healthy. A four-game suspension to start the 2012 season makes matters worse for Neal, whose status could become increasingly shaky with Perry on board.

PFW draft expert Nolan Nawrocki Perry believes Perry would really benefit from having a reliable veteran position coach. In that regard, Mike Trgovac definitely fills the bill.

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