Julius Peppers wasn't feeling too nostalgic when asked Thursday about his first trip back to Soldier Field as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
The 34-year-old defensive end-turned-outside linebacker might not want to talk about it, but he has history with the Chicago Bears. Three of his eight Pro Bowl seasons came in Chicago where he didn't miss a game from 2010-2013.
Peppers joked Thursday it was John Kuhn's chip block prior to Aaron Rodgers' game-winning touchdown to Randall Cobb last December that cost him his job.
Whether that's actually the case, the Bears decided to let go of Peppers this offseason to avoid a $20 million cap number for 2014. Because of the six-year, $91.5 million deal he signed with Chicago in 2010, he still counts more against the Bears' cap this season ($8.3 million) than the Packers ($3.5 million).
Peppers says there's no hard feelings. On Thursday, he also wasn't shedding any tears.
"It's not really that big of a deal this time," said Peppers, a native of Wilson, N.C., who spent his first eight years of his career with the Carolina Panthers. "It was more of an emotional experience when I went back to Carolina the first time. This time, it's really more business. It's more of a business trip."
"Carolina is home. That was the main thing. It was home. Chicago wasn't really home. It was more of a place. It wasn't home. That's the difference."
Peppers signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Packers shortly after his release from Chicago because of the intrigue of playing a hybrid role in a 3-4 defense. The Bears replaced him with former Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen, who missed practice Thursday with an illness.
There weren't many positives to come out of the Packers' 19-7 loss to Detroit on Sunday, but Peppers certainly was a bright spot. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers felt the 13-year veteran had his best showing in a Packers' uniform with two tackles, a sack and forced fumble.
Peppers says he's not seeking any extra motivation heading back to Chicago. He might say hello to a few former teammates in pre-game, but he's fully concentrated on the task ahead as soon as the opening whistle blows.
"Those guys, most of the guys that I know on the team that are still there, I see those guys as friends," Peppers said. "I have nothing but respect for that whole organization, from the ownership to the coaches to the players. There is no hard feelings at all. This is a business trip. I'm a Green Bay Packer now, so that's what it is."
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