The Green Bay Packers used their first round pick in 2012 on outside linebacker Nick Perry, a pass-rusher from the University of Southern California. Perry played in six games and started five, though he rotated snaps with veteran Erik Walden, and he showed flashes of his athletic ability before landing on injured reserve after the game in Houston.
Perry recorded two sacks in his six games, one against Seattle and one against Indianapolis. However, the play that got most Packer fans' attention was a penalty - Perry was called for leading with his helmet when making a highlight-reel hit on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Regardless of whether the penalty was or was not legitimate (I think it was a bogus call, but that's just me), that play showed Perry's speed and explosiveness in getting around the edge and closing on the quarterback. His wrist and knee injuries kept him off the field for the final 12 games, however, and he will look to rebound in 2013.
Need I say more than Erik Walden? He was reasonably effective in the first few weeks when splitting time with Perry, but struggled mightily when asked to play every down on defense. His best game came in Indianapolis, when he, Perry, and Clay Matthews were terrorizing Luck regularly. Now Walden is in Indianapolis, which is probably no coincidence.
There has been minimal news on Perry's injury since the end of the season, but outside linebacker coach Kevin Greene seemed optimistic for Perry's recovery back in January:
He just has to come back highly motivated and ready to go, ready to take the bull by the horns. Just come in with the right attitude and be ready to do his thing.
That sounds like a coach who expects one of his players to be fully healthy for the off-season program, so hopefully there will be no remaining impact on Perry lingering into the upcoming season. He did have surgery on his injured wrist fairly early, in November, which makes the likelihood of Perry coming back at full strength better.
2013 Roster Preview
Perry will be the full-time starter on the left side, barring another injury or a major surprise in this year's draft. He, Matthews, and Dezman Moses are the only outside linebackers currently on the roster, and a full off-season program should give Perry more time to get used to the position after playing defensive end at USC. He still will have some work to do to get used to playing back in coverage off the line of scrimmage, but his return should give the pass rush a spark and hopefully help keep opposing quarterbacks under duress.
Other "Return from Injury" previews: ILB Desmond Bishop