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Cheese Curds, 8/15: Packers’ defense needs key players back on the field

Thankfully, it appears that most of these players are making good progress from injuries.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

If the Green Bay Packers want their defense to help put the 2018 squad over the top and help them to another championship, it is going to need to receive significant contributions from rookies. However, one of the most important players for new coordinator Mike Pettine is one who has not yet taken a snap all offseason.

That player is outside linebacker Nick Perry, whose ankle surgery has kept him out of drills starting in OTAs and carrying through to this week. Perry is the Packers’ most consistent and explosive edge rusher, having recorded 18 sacks over the past two years, and as such he will be counted on to carry a heavy load in that department. Yes, the team’s front line can rush the passer as well, but Perry needs to be that disruptive player off the edge whom Pettine can count on.

Meanwhile, the Packers’ rookies and second-year players need to contribute as well. Thankfully, first-round pick Jaire Alexander returned to practice this week, increasing the odds that he will play on Thursday against the Steelers. Second-year pro Kevin King sat out the last period of practice on Monday, but he is at least practicing somewhat and might be able to suit up as well.

Those players will all be called upon to play major roles for Pettine this year, so the sooner they can get back to full health and get some preseason snaps in, the better.

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Perry has remained on the PUP list after offseason ankle surgery, which made 2018 the latest in a line of lost offseasons. Pettine is counting on him to be that do-it-all pass rusher this year, so he needs to get back on the field quickly — and thankfully he has been ramping up his individual work in practice over the past week or so.

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