GREEN BAY - Linebacker Nick Perry has an idea of how he might fit into Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme, but until he practices in it, he doesn’t know for sure.
Perry has not taken a single snap in offseason or training camp practices because of offseason ankle surgery.
The season opener is less than a month away, so time is getting short for him to begin the acclimation process. But Perry said Tuesday that he feels ready to begin practicing and is only waiting for the medical staff to clear his transfer off the physically unable to perform list.
“They’ll give the green light, and that’ll be one of the best days of my life so far right now,” Perry said.
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Much like tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was coming off a torn ACL, team physician Patrick McKenzie is taking a cautious approach. Bulaga felt he was ready to practice at the start of camp, but McKenzie wanted to get closer to the nine-month mark from when the veteran suffered the injury.
Perry has been taking part in drills on the sidelines with a trainer this week while the rest of the team practices in pads. It’s a pretty good sign that he’ll be cleared soon — perhaps at the start of next week — but the cautionary approach will continue when he returns.
“Just seeing some other guys go through this same process, learning from those mistakes, one of the biggest things we wanted to make sure we do is not have any setbacks,” Perry said. “Not push it too much, too early, too soon, find that right mix to where I might be a little sore, but it’s football sore.
“We haven’t had any setbacks, and we’ve been just taking it one step at a time, one day at a time, not doing too much and just finding the right balance. Right now, everything is looking great. I’m excited about taking the next step and getting on the field.”
Judging from the things Pettine has done in training camp, there are multiple ways in which Perry, the team’s best pass rusher, can be used. But he is physically different than Clay Matthews, Reggie Gilbert and Kyler Fackrell and can be used as a hybrid defensive end/linebacker because of size and power.
What Perry has watched in practice isn’t necessarily what he’ll be doing when he gets on the field because he has a different skill set than the others.
“I see a lot of the classroom part of it, but not necessarily the transformation when you get on the field and you have to play out those plays,” he said. “So, I have to put myself in those positions and see it through. But it’s still not the same as the real deal, so there’s obviously going to be growing pains.”
It’s possible Perry won’t play in an exhibition game and will make his live-action debut in the season opener against Chicago. Until he is activated off PUP, however, there’s no use speculating when or how much he’s going to play at the start of the season.
His absence has allowed Gilbert, Fackrell, Chris Odom and Vince Biegel to get some critical playing time. No one has taken advantage of it more than Gilbert, who moved into the starting lineup this week ahead of Fackrell.
Perry knows that spot is his, but for now, has to be content working those drills on the sideline.