McCarthy likes Packers' pass rush potential in 1st season with Matthews, Peppers

  • Article by: GENARO C. ARMAS , Associated Press
  • Updated: September 2, 2014 - 2:45 AM
hide

Clay Matthews sacking Christian Ponder in 2012.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

GREEN BAY, Wis. — With Clay Matthews on one side and Julius Peppers on the other, the Green Bay Packers have a pair of prolific veterans to spearhead the pass rush.

It made for a pleasant sight for coach Mike McCarthy during training camp.

"It looks good," he said Monday about the potential for the pass rush this season.

Matthews is back from a thumb injury, and Peppers signed with the Packers in the offseason after becoming a salary cap casualty of the NFC North rival Chicago Bears. The debut of the retooled defense comes Thursday night with a visit to the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in the NFL opener.

"We're a better pass rush team today than we've been in a long time," McCarthy said after practice Monday. "Some of the things we've changed schematically, we've worked at it a lot more ... and I think we saw the benefits in the preseason."

It's not often a team can add someone like Peppers, a 13-year veteran with 118 1/2 career sacks. Now 34, Peppers has fielded questions all preseason about his age — though he looked fine during his limited snaps as the preseason progressed.

Matthews is returning from surgery for a right thumb injury that sidelined him for parts of last season. When he did come back after the initial injury in October, he wore a club-like wrap around his right hand that might have hindered his effectiveness.

It no longer appears to be a problem for Matthews, who has 50 sacks in five seasons.

"It seems like he's gotten very comfortable over the offseason, training camp, and it was a work in progress through the preseason," linebackers coach Winston Moss said. "But he seems like he's operating pretty much at full strength, yes."

Nick Perry, a 2012 first-round draft pick, is back, too, after being bothered by a foot injury last year. So is Mike Neal, a defensive lineman in college who had five sacks last season while playing a hybrid defensive end-linebacker role.

Andy Mulumba returns after getting valuable experience last season filling in for injured players. Undrafted rookie free agent Jayrone Elliott made the roster after compiling five preseason sacks.

Now add Peppers to the mix, and the Packers have the making of a deep corps of pass rushers.

The Packers aren't going to have Peppers and Matthews on opposite sides all the time, either. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers could come up with some creative looks.

"It'll be fun to see. I know, as I've seen over the years and as Dom has shown, we keep a multitude of defenses and schemes and formations, and (the Seattle offense) presents the very same problems," Matthews said. "So we'll look to unleash it in Week 1 and hopefully it works in our favor."

It won't be easy with mobile quarterback Russell Wilson displaying the ability to extend plays, and Marshawn Lynch pounding away at running back.

Lynch, in particular, provides the renovated defensive line with a test. The Packers didn't re-sign 340-pound Ryan Pickett and 325-pound Johnny Jolly in the offseason, then lost 337-pound nose tackle B.J. Raji to a season-ending biceps injury two weeks ago.

The front line in the base 3-4 is now composed of 290-pound Datone Jones and 305-pound Mike Daniels sandwiching 315-pound Letroy Guion in the middle. Guion is listed as a starter just a week after debuting in training camp following a hamstring injury.

"Six-foot-4 1/2, 290? That's a big defensive end right there," Jones said with a chuckle when asked how a smaller line could handle the run.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland 4 Top 10th Inning
Minnesota 4
Detroit 10 Top 9th Inning
Kansas City 1
Seattle 9 Bottom 8th Inning
Houston 3
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia 1 Top 6th Inning
Oakland 3
Texas 7 Bottom 3rd Inning
LA Angels 0
San Francisco 0 Top 4th Inning
San Diego 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 2nd Half
Real Salt Lake 4
Toronto 18 3:16
Brt Columbia 8
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close