Packers' Julius Peppers sees sacks spike, gets practice rest
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Julius Peppers doesn't like to take breaks.
He has missed just two practices in his three seasons with the Packers. One was late last year, and the other came Wednesday. Both were just days off for rest.
Coach Mike McCarthy plans to give Peppers a midweek practice break the rest of the season, his 15th in the league. Peppers is still productive, with a sack in three straight games going into the Packers' critical contest Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
''He has a very old-school approach,'' McCarthy said Thursday. ''He just does not want to come off the field, and I think he's a tremendous example for your younger players and has been a tremendous asset to our program.''
Peppers reached another career milestone during the 21-13 win last week over Houston. A sack in the second quarter gave Peppers 142 1/2 for his career, moving him past Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan for fifth place on the all-time list. The four players ahead of Peppers - Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Kevin Greene and Chris Doleman - are also in the Hall.
In practice, McCarthy said the 36-year-old Peppers will often run with younger, quicker defensive backs.
''He's always working different moves, even as a vet,'' first-year defensive lineman Dean Lowry said. ''Being a rookie, you look at that and it kind of motivates you to get better each day, too.''
But Peppers had to adjust to a new role this year. The Packers limited his snaps early in the season, a move made easier in September because Peppers was part of a deep pool of pass rushers.
Lately, Peppers' snap counts are up, in part because of the mounting injuries on defense.
Clay Matthews is bothered by a left shoulder injury, and he was already being counted on to partner with Peppers to rush the passer as well as help fill in for injured inside linebackers Jake Ryan (ankle) and Blake Martinez (knee).
But, like Peppers, Matthews has been tough to keep off the field. He was initially supposed to miss two days of practice to help build strength back in the shoulder, but Matthews was back on a limited basis Thursday.
''You have to be smart but at the same time take your shots, so you just hope for the best,'' Matthews said. ''It's moving in the right direction, so hopefully that's good news.''
Outside linebacker Nick Perry, who has a team-high eight sacks, is also out with a hand injury. And now the Packers have to deal with Seattle dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson, with the Seahawks coming off 40-7 rout of Carolina.
A fresh Peppers should be seeing more time to help fill the void, at a time when his production is up. Capers has said that Peppers will play even more down the stretch, as the Packers try to close a two-game gap with first-place Detroit in the NFC North, with four games left in the regular season.
''We were going with a pitch count, or however you want to express it, earlier in the season. But just because of a number of different factors, Julius is playing more,'' McCarthy said.
So to help compensate, Peppers will get breathers in practice, whether he likes it or not.
''Frankly, I did not let him practice Wednesday because he's old-school that way. He likes being out there and doesn't like to miss practice,'' McCarthy added. ''That will really be our path every Wednesday from here on out.''
INJURY REPORT: CB Ladarius Gunter missed a second straight day because of an illness. DT Letroy Guion (shoulder), along with Ryan and Martinez were limited for a second straight day, as was QB Aaron Rodgers (hamstring).
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