Is Packers OLB Nick Perry Falling Behind?

Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE

Have the Packers lost faith in 2012 first-round pick Nick Perry?

When Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was asked about players not participating in practice during Monday's post-minicamp media availability, his answer for Nick Perry stood out compared to others recovering from injury.

"Talked to the staff and team about [Nick Perry]. Accustomed to 15-week offseason. Now nine weeks. For a player to miss all of it is not good. Any of the players who did not take advantage of this nine-week opportunity will have to work hard to catch up."

By contrast, Josh Sitton was "excused from [Monday]'s practice and meetings" while Clay Matthews was described as "coming along." Both portrayals were far more positive in tenor than McCarthy's rather harsh dissection of Perry's lack of involvement.

It begs the question: has Green Bay lost faith in Nick Perry?

Ted Thompson has few first-round blemishes on his record, but the misses he's had there -- defensive tackle Justin Harrell in 2007 and offensive tackle Derek Sherrod in 2011 -- share two common trait: significant injuries and missed games.

In his first two seasons, Nick Perry has appeared in only 17 games with the majority of his absences stemming from a wrist injury his rookie year. However, while his inability to remain healthy is worrisome, the number of games Perry has missed (15) pales in comparison to the figures for Harrell (19) and Sherrod (27) over their first two seasons.

Additionally, Perry's performed competently when he has played (albeit not at a level commensurate with his first-round status). With him expected to take a smaller role in the defense this season due to the addition of Julius Peppers and the return of Mike Neal, Perry still has the potential to influence the outcome of games. Teams like the Seahawks succeed in large part due to regular contribution from rotational pass rushers like Cliff Avril. If Perry provides quality pass rush in a reserve role, the Packers won't need to overwork Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.

But that remains a hypothetical until Perry proves that he can stay on the field and play well consistently. To date, he's missed nearly half his games and has roughly as many poor performances as good ones. The fact that Packers coaches have publicly called out Perry cannot be ignored. Many pass rushers come into their own during their third year, but one would expect that if Perry were gearing up for such a jump, his coaches would express a little more excitement.

Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He also serves as a contributor at various publications. His work has previously appeared on Hook’em Headlines, Beats Per Minute, and Lombardi Ave.
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