Look out everyone! Nick Perry is starting to get it!
That’s the word from the Green Bay Packers, who are counting on the second-year outside linebacker to provide a pass rush opposite Clay Matthews.
Perry, the Packers first-round pick in 2012, was converted from defensive end to outside linebacker after he got drafted. The transition wasn’t, uh… terribly smooth. Although Perry started the first six games, he was outplayed by Erik Walden, who’s now in Indianapolis.
And then he had a wrist injury that cost him the final 10 games of the season. So, pretty much a lost season.
But now Perry is leaner and meaner and adapting to linebacker.
“I think he’s a lot more comfortable,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said recently. “At USC, he had his hand down rushing. You’re asking a lot of a guy — you think about last year, we bring him in here and he had never done any of this stuff and we stick him out there and start him against San Francisco in the opener.
“You’re learning on the run, and that’s hard in this league. Unfortunately, he hurt that wrist and had surgery, but he’s looked a lot more comfortable to me throughout the offseason and through training camp than he did at any time last year.”
Perry was pretty much a straight-ahead, get-after-the-quarterback guy as a defensive end at USC. And, well, now he has to cover people and shit from time to time.
Good thing he appears to understand the difference.
“I’m one year better just seeing some things over and over again,” Perry said. “You start to get familiar with it so things become second nature and you play faster and you play smarter. You see things that you’ve never seen before. You see the bigger picture as opposed to playing defensive end and just putting my hand on the ground and rushing.”
Everyone is saying the right things, which is usually the case at this time of year, but the bottom line is the Packers are going to need some real production from Perry if they’re going to be a top-tier defense this season.
Like more than the two sacks and six games he gave them last year.