Packers Getting Production from OLBs

It's no longer just Clay Matthews delivering the pass rush for the Packers' defense. For instance, Nick Perry had two sacks and Julius Peppers a pick-six against Minnesota. (Andrew Weber/USA TODAY)

Talk of the Green Bay Packers' pass rush in recent seasons has started and typically ended with Clay Matthews. The star linebacker has led the Packers in sacks every season since his rookie year in 2009.

Perhaps this season will turn out different with Green Bay not having to rely so much on Matthews to get after the quarterback.

"I just think we've got some studs on the defensive side," Matthews said.

As the Packers put up a season high for points in their 42-10 rout of Minnesota last week, their defense packed a punch rushing Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. Green Bay (3-2), which has won two straight going to Miami on Sunday, sacked Ponder six times. That matched the total number of sacks the Packers had in their first four games.

Nine different players have at least a half sack for Green Bay this season. Matthews? He has just one after nursing a groin injury in recent weeks.

"Yeah, it's good just knowing that we all can get there and we all can make things happen," linebacker Nick Perry said Friday.

Defensive lineman Mike Daniels tops the deep list with 2 1/2 sacks and Perry has two. After they reviewed the video of last week's game, the Packers coaches credited the defense with 15 quarterback hits, one of the highest totals in Dom Capers' six seasons as defensive coordinator.

"We've done a great job of not only getting after the quarterback but also disrupting him and really just changing, I think, what offense wants to throw at us, especially in light of the players which we have to shut those guys down," Matthews said.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Matthews is getting plenty of help trying to run down the opposing quarterback this season.

Capers has been making frequent use of a rotation of four players at the two outside linebacker spots with starters Matthews and Julius Peppers as well as Perry and Mike Neal. They have combined for 5 1/2 sacks.

"I think it's, at times, provided a shot in the arm," Matthews said. "I think it's only going to help spelling myself and Peppers as well as keeping those (offensive) tackles, guards, whatever it might be in front of them, kind of on their heels, or toes."

Peppers has made an early impact in his first season with the Packers. The 13th-year pro has 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble, as well as an interception he returned 49 yards for a touchdown against the Vikings.

"Pass rush is one of those things where you get better as the year goes along," Peppers said. "So hopefully that's an indication of us hitting our stride and getting better up front and getting more pressure and hits."

The Packers defense is in good shape health-wise for the game in the Florida heat against the Dolphins. Defensive end Datone Jones is questionable to play after leaving the last game with an ankle injury.

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