Peppers ‘Can Do Whatever He Wants To Do’

Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith had high praise for Julius Peppers, who is having a big first season as an outside linebacker for the Packers.

Lovie Smith spent three seasons with Julius Peppers in Chicago. So Smith, Tampa Bay’s first-year coach, isn’t at all surprised about the instant impact provided by Peppers, the Green Bay Packers’ first-year outside linebacker.

“Julius Peppers, as much as any player I’ve been around, Julius Peppers can do about whatever he wants to do, play any position he would like to play,” Smith said in a conference call on Wednesday looking ahead to Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.

Together from 2010 through 2012, Peppers recorded 30.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles and was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad following each season. For the Packers, he’s second on the team with five sacks and third with 13 quarterback hits.

“He was just a blessing to be around in my time at my last job,” Smith said. “Doesn’t surprise me at all what he’s done. He’s as fast as any defensive back around and has great size and as good of athletic ability as anyone around. As you can see, I’m pretty high on Julius Peppers. We will definitely have our hands full. He’s been a great addition to the Packers this year.”

After recording a sack in three consecutive games, Peppers has gone five games without one. However, he’s forced three fumbles, recovered three fumbles and intercepted two passes for a team-high eight turnover plays. Only J.J. Watt (nine) has more turnover plays. Peppers’ nine passes defensed only trail Watt (10) among front-seven defenders; Peppers leads the league’s outside linebackers. “I don’t get too tied up in the sacks as long as you feel you’re getting pressure and production,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said on Monday. “He’s batted enough balls and those types of things. We’ve been moving these guys around a quite a bit. I think we’re using Julius in a lot of different ways.”

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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