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Defense is 'different' with both Nick Perry and Clay Matthews on the field

Perry returned to practice Wednesday in a 'trial-return' capacity


GREEN BAY – Packers linebacker Nick Perry was back at practice Wednesday in a "trial-return" capacity after sitting out of Sunday's 27-21 overtime win in Cleveland with foot and shoulder injuries.

Perry, who missed a game earlier this season with a hand injury, is second on the Packers' defense with seven sacks in 11 games. He and fellow linebacker Clay Matthews have been the face of the pass rush this season in combining for 14½ sacks and more than 1,000 defensive snaps.

If the Packers get Perry back for Sunday's game against Carolina, it would be a huge boost for a defense that likely will be without starting cornerback Davon House, who didn't practice Wednesday due to a back injury.

"(Perry) will do a little bit today in padded work during some of the team periods, but he'll be on a rep count," said Head Coach Mike McCarthy during his news conference prior to Thursday's padded practice inside the Hutson Center. "But yes, we're different when Clay and Nick are on the field at the same time."

The Packers are preparing to see a familiar face on Sunday when they line up against nine-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers, who played the past three seasons with the Packers before re-signing with the team he entered the league with in 2002.

Peppers, who is tied with Mario Addison for the team-lead in 9½ sacks this season, was an instrumental part of the Packers' run to the NFC Championship Game in 2014 and 2016. He was voted a playoff captain in each of his three seasons in Green Bay, leading the defense with 25 sacks.

"Excellent player. Extremely professional," McCarthy said. "One of my favorite memories of Julius, we have a pregame ritual where, we have three captains for every game, one captain is selected to speak to the team the last two minutes before we take the field. It was Julius' turn to speak, so he started going through his two-minute talk and he was on a roll, a big-time roll. (Football administration coordinator) Matt Klein taps me. He's like, 'We're out of time.' I said, 'Hell, don't worry about it. He's on a roll. Let him go. It was one of the funniest things ever."

McCarthy said safety Josh Jones (personal reasons) is expected at practice Thursday. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers also continues to make progress in preparation for his first start since Oct. 15 in Minnesota.

"Aaron looked good," McCarthy said. "Once again, he's been practicing. He looks like himself."

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