Green Bay Packers Still Have a Formidable Force in Peppers

The Green Bay Packers have been widely regarded as a draft-and-develop team under the managing of Ted Thompson. Prior to last season, the Packers strayed from that mentality when they signed veteran free agent Julius Peppers to a three-contract.

The move was a curious one to say the least. Green Bay has made a point to not spend large amounts of money on other teams’ free agents, so why should the team break that philosophy to sign a 34-year-old defensive end who has been criticized for occasionally taking plays off?

But over the course of the season, the signing of Julius Peppers proved to be a very important move for the Packers. Peppers became a leader on the Green Bay defense (he was even voted to be the team’s postseason defensive captain) and had one of the most solid defensive performances that the Packers have seen in recent years.

Heading into the 2015 season, Peppers can still be a formidable player for the Packers’ defensive unit. Motivated by the possibility of winning a championship before retiring, Peppers has found new life in Green Bay that make him one of the Packers’ most important players heading into next season.

The biggest concern when Peppers joined the team was his age. At age 35, he is easily the oldest player on the Packers’ roster. But his age did not factor into his performance last year, and it will likely not impact him in 2015 either.



The Green Bay Packers two big needs that were identified by the masses going into the draft were cornerback and inside linebacker.  Would a tight end have been a nice luxury item? Sure. Would it have been good to get a long term replacement for Julius Peppers? Absolutely.  Would it have been worthwhile to draft a pass-catching back to impact 3rd downs and eventually replace James Starks? Why the hell not.  But corner and linebacker were the big spots.

The two positions became issues for two different reasons.  The cornerback position might have been the strength of the team (besides Aaron Rodgers) in 2014.  The team was legitimately 5 deep at the position: Sam Shileds, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Davon House were all capable starters.  House and Williams have since departed on high-dollar free agent deals.  Normally that would be fine.  You’d tell me that that leaves the Packers with 3 starting caliber cornerbacks when some teams only have one and that they drafted a developmental player in the 6th round last year (Demetri Goodson).

Yes, that wouldn’t be an issue normally, but there’s an element of the unknown.  The Packers really only played 3 cornerbacks on the outside.  Sam Shields and Davon House played outside exclusively, and Tramon Williams was really the only corner over the last two seasons that the Packers have trusted to play any and all of the corner spots.


5 Guys That Have to be Good: #1 – Terrell Manning

Training camp opens on July 26.  To prep for that I’m going to take a look at 5 players that “have to be good”.  The reasons can be varying but because of whatever circumstance it is either vitally important to the 2013 season or the teams foreseeable future that the investments made in these players pay off.  When a team is run the way that the Packers are, players have to step up every year.  Often times a popular veteran is allowed to leave via free agency or released outright and unproven players have to become useful NFL contributors.


When the Packers decided to give Brad Jones a 3 year deal making starter’s money, it set off a chain reaction.  It became possible all of a sudden that one of AJ Hawk, Jones, and Desmond Bishop would not be on the opening day roster.  While there is a large contingent of Packer fans that would have liked to see AJ Hawk released, all signs pointed to Desmond Bishop being the one that the team was willing to part ways with.  Rumors surfaced during the draft that the Packers were willing to part with Bishop for a late round pick, sending reactionary fans (read: me) into quite a tizzy.



Is Mike Neal at OLB Salvaging a Career, or a Case of Crazy?

Mike Neal: outside linebacker.

Of all the news that has come out of Green Bay during OTAs, this is the one newsworthy item that stands out above the rest.

The concept of this is difficult to grasp. How could a 294 pound defensive lineman go from playing with his hand in the dirt to rushing the passer from a standing position, playing in space when necessary?

It might be a case of Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers making an effort to salvage Neal’s career.

Since entering the league as a second round draft choice in 2010, Neal’s production has been far less than what one would expect from a high draft selection. Twelve tackles and 5 1/2 sacks in a total of 17 games played is not exactly what the Packers envisioned from someone drafted as high as he was.

Injuries have plagued Neal since he was a rookie. Playing in just two games as a rookie and seven in his sophomore season, Neal was finally able to stay somewhat healthy in 2012 (even though he was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy) and responded with his best season. Eleven tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in eleven games. Not exactly numbers that jump off the page, but a huge improvement from the 4 tackles and 1 sack Neal had in his fist two seasons COMBINED.

And now he is learning how to play outside linebacker.


ALL Packers Talk Podcast: Linebackers and NFL Draft Needs

The Packers’ linebackers group is put under the microscope as we put on our GM hats and take a look at “where we are now”, “where we want to be” and “how do we get there.” We plan on doing a series of these podcasts, looking closely at this Packers team, position group by position group, and analyzing where improvements are needed. Then, of course, we’ll examine some college prospects that could help the Packers.

Tune in for this expanded coverage of the original Packers Linebackers Position Group Post  and much, much more…

Listen using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the co-founder and editor of He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for