When Julius Peppers was trying to wriggle his way out of Carolina last decade, one of the reasons his camp kept citing was his desire to play in a 3-4 defense.
He’s finally going to get his chance, though it might be different than it would have been in 2008 or 2009.
With the 34-year-old Peppers signing a three-year deal with the Packers this morning, he’s going to get a chance to play multiple roles for the Packers.
With the team intent on improving things on that side of the ball, they’re asking coordinator Dom Capers to adjust. One move was bringing B.J. Raji back to play over the nose instead of as a defensive end, and Peppers gives them a different type of end to play in their base defense.
He’s still a long and fluid athlete who was better against the run than given credit for, who should be able to make plays with his hand on the ground.
But he’s also still enough of a pass-rusher that they’d be foolish to not let him stand up opposite Clay Matthews in certain situations as well.
He’ll get to work with a familiar face in line coach Mike Trgovac (who was his line coach for a year and defensive coordinator in Carolina). But perhaps the shame is that Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene left the staff this offseason.
While some question Peppers’ motivation (primarily because of his enormous physical gifts), he also has a respect for the history of the game, and working with an all-time pass-rusher like Greene (who could motivate a tree stump into a sack) would have been fascinating.
It’s still an interesting experiment, and out of character for the Packers. Though they brought Charles Woodson in in 2006, he was five years younger than Peppers is now. But Peppers is still a unique athlete, who will give the Packers plenty of options.