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Cory's Corner: Julius Peppers is the Packers' playoff key

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Cory's Corner: Julius Peppers is the Packers' playoff key

Aaron Rodgers has easily been the Packers’ MVP this season. But if Green Bay wants to sniff an eighth straight playoff appearance, the most important player is Julius Peppers.

You read that right. The oldest guy on the Packers is the most important over the next four games.

And the reason is simple. Green Bay’s defense has been devastated this year. The entire secondary has been down to starting a third stringer. Nick Perry could miss the rest of the season with a "significant hand injury," Clay Matthews has dealt with shoulder and hamstring issues and of course, Mike Pennel’s four-game suspension due to ignorance.

"Julius is playing more," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "In fact, I didn’t let him practice on Wednesday, because he’s old school that way. He likes being out there and he doesn’t like to miss practice. And that will be our path every Wednesday from here on out."

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has done a good job of regulating Peppers’ snaps this year. He knew all along that in order for this team to be ascending into the playoffs, Peppers, 36, would need to be as energized as possible at the end of the season.

And that’s clearly the case now. Peppers has been running with the secondary, in an effort to get quicker and apparently it’s helping. Peppers had nine tackles and three sacks in the last three games. On Sunday, Peppers moved past Hall of Famers Richard Dent and Michael Strahan to grab fifth place on the all-time sacks list with 142½. He’s 55½ away from tying Reggie White at No. 2.

"I think Julius always produces with more opportunities," McCarthy said.

Peppers is one of those guys that just keeps hanging around. In August you’re surprised he’s still he’s still on the roster and before you know it, he’s within striking distance of his 10th double-digit sack season.

This is Peppers’ 15th pro season. The fact that he’s still in the league is amazing in itself. Yet, he advanced to his ninth Pro Bowl just last year.

This is the stuff that can galvanize a team — especially one that is the third-youngest team in the NFL for the second straight year. The teams above and below the Packers are not in the same stratosphere. The Rams are the youngest followed by the Browns and the Jaguars are fourth.

With so many young players, Peppers can change the youngsters’ mindset. Kind of like, “If that older guy can still get it done in his 15th season, what the heck am I doing wrong?”

This team has been searching for a voice. Someone to lean on. Rodgers has said he’s not a rah-rah guy. Maybe it’s time for Peppers to be that guy. Give a heartfelt speech. Let the teammates know that you’re running out of time and that you’ve been to one Super Bowl and Adam Vinatieri ripped your heart out with four seconds left in your second season.

Despite all of the Packers’ early-season problems, they still have a chance to resurrect the season and win the NFC North. And the person that will punch their ticket will be the ageless wonder Julius Peppers.

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RocsCave's picture

Peppers may be a key to something but not to the playoffs lock. He may make a play or have a hand in one, more and more infrequently sadly.
The playoffs keys are those who don't know yet they have the key in their play but hopefully this week vs Seattle they hear the jingle, find the lock and open the door.
Peppers may be the flashlight that helps locate the door lock but that's where his aide ends, while a couple of others need to either jimmy it open or realize they hold the key in their hands.
This week is a young man's game for the Packers and old men are just too old to handle what needs be done.
Go Pack Go

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

Rocs, I think you misunderstand the metaphor. Cory said, "This team has been searching for a voice." Peppers is obviously the key as in singing...the musical key to our season. No locks or flashlights needed.

No, Peppers will be on key and leading the chorus as the Packers march to the playoffs. Or then again, they may be spending the playoffs in the keys.

RocsCave's picture

I never took music in school and for good reason apparently as my voice was off. But be that as it may, if Peppers is the voice for this operatic aria to inspire the needed performance, it may fall on deaf ears as has been his voice and play for quite awhile. A lead singer he is not unless the team is tone deaf to begin with. Like 70's hair bands in spandex on stage now...jaw dropping but not in the manner hoped.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

Love it.

ray nichkee's picture

Um, spandex and big hair was the 80's. Now let's go back to pretending that never happened.

RocsCave's picture

Perhaps you know not of Kiss...started in 1973...spandex, hair, makeup. However, you may disagree with whatever to appease your meticulous dates phobia and then move on as if it didn't happen.

ray nichkee's picture

Ok man, you just told me, now excuse me while I blast Stryper on my cassette player.

RocsCave's picture

What are you angry about? Surely not something so trivial as big hair and spandex era. Unless I hit a nerve pertaining to its possible return to fashion but you gave yours away.

ray nichkee's picture

I just looked deep inside myself and after an intense and thorough search I was unable to find any anger whatsoever. Amongst otherthings I did find a touch of sarcasm and a slight annoyance to the smallest degree (you know the kind that makes you chuckle) to people who don't posess reading comprehension skills.

ray nichkee's picture

#DouchebagPackFan

Nick Perry's picture

LMAO... That was funny RN..Stryper and cassettes players? You forgot MTV.

Tundraboy's picture

NY dolls started it all in the 70s.

Nick Perry's picture

Man RocsCave, you sound a lot like Stroh, almost as if you could be related. He likes Spandex too, well it seemed he did that is, If you had a chance to see his photo under his previous screen name you'd understand.

Nick Perry's picture

I don't disagree with Cory on this, but I also don't believe Peppers can make that big of difference, on the field or vocally. The Packers have been obliterated by injuries this season. So much so it's completely possible the 4 linebackers who started week one against Jacksonville will be out of Sunday's game, not to mention all the other injuries. That's a HELL of a lot to ask of a 37 year old Football Player, no matter how great of career he's had. If it was 2014 I'd feel better but it's not, it's 2016 and a lot has changed in 2 years.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Mike Pennel’s four-game suspension due to ignorance."

On the part of Pennel or our society? Probably both...

dobber's picture

Regardless of what we think as a society, Pennel honked it. He knows what the rules he's expected to adhere to happen to be, and he couldn't do it. I'll say it again: these tests are largely tests of a player's intelligence, discipline and commitment. Clearly he's coming up short in a couple areas. What a shame.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

No, what we think and do as a society is key. Cannabis has been proven to be effective in dealing with pain. Pennel is a player in a hitting sport, and almost certainly deals with pain. He should not be disallowed to seek treatment other than the use of Dr prescribed opiates. Marijuana is illegal and labeled as a gateway drug to heroine but Dr prescribed opiates are not. It's totally dishonest and not based in the facts of addiction but in the interests of corporations who are vested in the production of pharmaceuticals.

It's immoral, and so is the punishment. The punishment involves Pennel's income and reputation and therefor morally is theft and defamation as well.

RocsCave's picture

Legal Marijuana and Dr prescribed opiates are still needed to be adhered to by the user or taker. Abuse of either other than the prescribed dosage is on the user/ taker.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Why do you infer that I don't get that?

RocsCave's picture

You feel he should be able to use a substance, via his own discretion no matter that it is still illegal at his employ and in still a large area of the country.

I have no argument about Marijuana aiding pain but I do believe the bigger reason behind the push for legalized Marijuana is recreational and that like alcohol and opiates needs to have strict guidelines in the work force, whatever that may be.

ray nichkee's picture

Read his original post which ends with "or both..."

RocsCave's picture

Your nose must be huge!!!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

This is all very high-minded. Bottom line is that Pennel is unavailable because he could not control his desires. There are other pain medications that he could have taken, assuming that he was in pain in the first place.

ray nichkee's picture

#DouchebagPackFan

dobber's picture

JJJB, I know where you're coming from but this argument fails to get to the crux: the CBA illustrates what's allowed for players and what's not, and what the punishments are. The players have bargained this position (whether they like it now or not) and if individual players want to roll the dice and challenge some of the stipulations, this is what can happen if they get caught. This is on Pennel. If there's a punishment to his income and reputation, it's something that he's brought onto himself.

ray nichkee's picture

#DouchebagPackFan

Lphill's picture

Maybe Daniels and Jones can actually make some plays , we get more from Clark and Lowery then we do from those guys.

Allan Murphy's picture

Peppers will play his heart out he no's it's his last chance at the ring Go Pack Go.

Samson's picture

"Cannabis has been proven to be effective in dealing with pain. Pennel is a player in a hitting sport, and almost certainly deals with pain."

I love it when someone justifies the use of "weed" as a sure cure for pain. That is probably true but.... "weed" also is very good at putting a smile on your face, making mediocre music sound great and making that container of whatever it is in the back of your fridge suddenly edible.

Pain relief ?? --- not so much really.

BTW -- you won't even know Peppers is on the field this Sunday.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

"Weed" these days isnt the sticks and leaves you smoked in a joint once during high school in the 60's. They are now using liquid butane to concentrate the active cannibinoids into extremely pure, ultra-strong wax. The stuff isnt even smoked anymore, sometimes, vaporized amongst other methods. The effects of this must be crazy! I've seen more lives lost on opiates and their addictive properties and misuse than "weed, " though. Either way, it's a moot point in regards to Pennel's next 4, just saying both drugs can probably work for pain these days.

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