GREEN BAY—The last two days have provided a boost to the Packers outside linebacker corps.
Both were immediately getting their share of reps behind starters
“We’re just getting them out there and getting them in sync, what we’re doing and how we’re using them,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said.
Neal has slimmed down to the mid-260-pound range, one year after dropping from around 300 to 275 to transition from playing defensive lineman. Perry made the position change as a first-round draft pick in 2012, but injuries have marred his first two seasons as a pro.
Knee and wrist injuries sidelined Perry after only six games his rookie season. Then last year, just as he was coming on with three sacks over a game and a half, he broke his foot and was out again.
He returned to play down the stretch last season, but it was easy to see he wasn’t fully healthy. Sitting out the entire offseason program and the first four practices of training camp further underscored that.
Neal’s career started similarly, with injuries galore for two seasons. Mostly healthy over the last two years, Neal has produced 9½ sacks and an interception.
When healthy, Perry has made an impact. In 18 career games, including last January’s playoff contest, he has recorded seven sacks and forced three fumbles.
“I know the defense, I have a good foundation, so now I don’t really have to worry about plays anymore,” Perry said. “I can really study my opponent and anticipate things. That’s part of being a pro now. I’m staying ahead of those things.”
Thursday’s practice was the most spirited and energetic of camp thus far. With starting safety
“We were having a conversation yesterday and he said he knows a lot more of the playbook this year than he did last year, and you can tell,” fellow safety
The offense later countered with
The most eye-catching play of camp to date was made by receiver
Running a go route down the sideline against rookie cornerback
“Especially when Aaron’s in there and you drop a ball, that’s one you’re like, I need to make up for it,” he said. “So that definitely crossed my mind.”
Gillett, a converted college quarterback from Eastern Michigan, has a tough row to hoe in climbing a deep depth chart at receiver, but highlight-reel plays like that don’t go unnoticed.
“Big plays are huge in the National Football League,” said McCarthy, explaining the Packers consider big-play production one of five fundamentals they preach. “You look at the statistics, big plays play a huge part in your success as a football team. When you see a play like that, yes, it has a lot of magnitude to it.”Additional coverage - July 31