Greene: Perry 'Can Do It All' as Linebacker

Nick Perry played in only six games but his coach saw enough to believe last year's first-round pick will be a high-level player. While there are concerns about Perry's coverage skills, Greene points to a couple plays against Indianapolis.

At a listed 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, Nick Perry is a big man playing outside linebacker.

At a listed 6-foot-3 and 294 pounds, Mike Neal is a giant at the position.

Based on the depth charts at Ourlads.com, the average weight of the NFL's 32 projected starting 3-4 outside linebackers is 258.7 pounds. So, Perry isn't really out of place.

And, swears outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, Perry didn't look out of place during his injury-shortened rookie season.

"I have a snap of Nick Perry doing everything," Greene told Packer Report last week. "Every concept, every technique, every coverage technique, every pass rush – I have snap of him on film doing everything that he needs to do the right way at a high level. Yeah, he can do it all."

Perry played in six games, including five starts. He went down with a knee injury in the Week 6 game but would up on injured reserve because of a wrist injury sustained in the season-opening game. He finished with two sacks and, according to ProFootballFocus.com, he registered 10 total pressures (two sacks and eight hurries) in 99 pass-rushing snaps. That gave him a pass-rushing productivity ranking of 8.1. Of the 36 3-4 outside linebackers who had at least that many pass-rushing snaps, Perry ranked 19th in that metric.

Rushing the passer, however, isn't the issue for a player who had 21.5 sacks in three seasons at USC, including 9.5 as a junior. The rest of Perry's game was in doubt entering his rookie season and remains in doubt after missing out on 12 weeks worth of practice and game reps. At 265 pounds, too often he didn't play to his Scouting Combine speed of 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Perry wouldn't say how much he weighs, only that he's shed some pounds.

"You put a lot of stress on your body out there," he said, "but, most importantly, I want to feel more comfortable where I'm at, and right now I've lost a little weight just to feel more comfortable playing linebacker and playing the schemes."

"It just brings more speed," he added later. "I have power, I have speed, I have everything to excel as a pass rusher, I have all those things. It's just sometimes you're a little more fatigued. Just a losing a little bit of that weight will help."

Greene said he has no issues with Perry's weight.

"Negative. Not whatsoever," Greene said. "I don't know if you watched the Indianapolis Colt game."

In that game, he lined up over Reggie Wayne in the slot and stayed on Wayne's hip down the field.

"I think that's as good as it gets," Greene said. "He carried the wide receiver vertical in a hip-trail position. He covered the tight end outside-in and covered him on a center route and Clay comes in and got a sack on it. Yeah, he can do everything he needs to do."

Health-wise, Perry has been cleared by the medical staff and says he is ready to go, even though he's been wearing a brace on his left wrist at practice. Perry had a broken bone and torn ligament on the back of his hand. He tried to play through the pain but the injury worsened as time went on. A pin was inserted — it remains in his hand.

"I need my hands," Perry said. "We strike and we do everything with our hands. Without hands you don't have any grip to keep force and do all the things you're supposed to do with both hands. Makes you a little handicapped out there."

That violence is back. Asked generically about Perry as a lead-off question, the first thing Greene mentioned was the strength of Perry's "strike" when he takes on a blocker.

"He has it physically to do what it takes to play at a high level at this position," Greene said. "He's hungry. Great work ethic. He is tuned in."

At the Scouting Combine, Perry said he preferred to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. Now, he said he feels at home.

"I'm an outside linebacker," he said. "I'm playing the position I was made to play. We'll take it one day at a time."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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