Nick Perry and the Three-Point Stance Come Full Circle at the NFL Combine

At the Combine, an NFL prospect mentioned how good Perry was in college with his hand in the dirt. Is it time for him to return to that role?

Stanford offensive lineman Cameron Fleming. Photo by Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.

INDIANAPOLIS––Two years ago at this time while at the NFL Combine, Nick Perry was professing his desire to play defensive end in a three-point stance.

"I prefer 4-3," said Perry in February of 2012. "I like to keep my hand in the dirt, but as long as I’m rushing and getting to quarterback I’m fine whatever it is."

Fast forward to 2014 and we know Perry got his wish to rush the passer. But as for playing defensive end and keeping his hand in the turf, those days are in the rearview mirror as an outside linebacker in Dom Capers' 3-4 defensive system.

On Thursday at the Combine, Perry's athletic ability and capacity to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks as a defensive end came full circle when Stanford offensive lineman Cameron Fleming called Perry the best player he's ever played against in his career, harkening back to his days at USC.

"He kind of had that combination of size and speed and the pass rush," Fleming said of Perry. "You usually get somebody who's big and wants to bull rush you, or somebody who's fast that wants to get around the edge. He had both, and he was able to do it with his hand in the ground, which is always impressive to me."

Through his first two years in the NFL, Perry has shown flashes of that potential to play with both power and speed, but hasn't put it together on a consistent basis.

With six career sacks in 17 career games, some of Perry's lack of production has to do with injuries rather than a lack of skill. After all, he only played in six games his rookie season before landing on injured reserve with a broken wrist.

Then in 2013, Perry appeared to be on the verge of a breakout, combining for three sacks and two forced fumbles in Weeks 5 and 6 of the season alone. It was later in that Week 6 game against the Baltimore Ravens that Perry broke a bone in his foot and his effectiveness the rest of the season was mitigated.

Regardless of the role injuries have played in Perry's performance, it's worth re-visiting if he'd be served as a traditional defensive end.

When Kevin Greene stepped down at the end of the season and the Packers didn't specifically hire an outside linebackers coach to replace him (instead giving Winston Moss the title of linebackers coach, both inside and outside), some observers wondered whether the Packers defense would be in for a change in scheme during the offseason.

Based on the comments from head coach Mike McCarthy earlier this month, there may be some tweaks––a desire to be more versatile––but there doesn't appear to be any wholesale changes happening in Capers' system.

For now, Perry is still an outside linebacker. And maybe with a clean bill of health, he'll be able to live up to the expectations as a former first round draft choice. Competition for playing time may be lessened as well, depending upon what happens to Mike Neal in free agency.

There's also growing evidence that Perry should play on the right side of the defense, where he seems to have more success. There's a comfort level for Perry on the right side, being where he played the majority of his college career.

Should any change take place, it would require moving Clay Matthews from the right side to the left. And considering Matthews seems to be in beastmode wherever he lines up, shifting sides shouldn't be an issue. The Packers won a Super Bowl with Matthews playing left outside linebacker in 2010.

Whatever happens, it's hard to deny the conviction Perry spoke with just two short years ago.

"Some people have a better edge getting off the ball with their hand in the dirt," said Perry two years ago. "I’ve been playing it a long time now, and I have experience in that. Being put further away from what you’re used to doing makes you a little uneasy."

Perry may never be the most comfortable dropping into coverage and playing in space. But it's possible Fleming has a point.

On the other hand, it's similarly possible Perry just needs to stay healthy and switch the right side of the defense. Arguments can be made either way. There's no magic bullet, and ultimately, the buck ends with Perry to be effective no matter how he's utilized.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Comments (80)

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ArodMoney's picture

February 20, 2014 at 04:29 pm

Really hope we see more of Perry on the right side with his hand in the dirt in the Packers 'new' defense. They just have to adapt the defense to the personnel better.

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Archie's picture

February 20, 2014 at 04:36 pm

You don't draft a guy in R1 and change his position. TT is stupid.

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sum ding wong's picture

February 20, 2014 at 06:05 pm

First, I remember reading from many analyst that Perry was a 'barely' first round pick and more likely a good find in the Second round.
He lacked quickness and speed. He was considered a back up player and not a power rusher.
Yes, Ted got it wrong. He also got Datone J wrong, Burnett wrong, the list goes on and on and unfortunately a lot of those wrongs are on this team and not free agents.

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 07:05 pm

You can read just about anything and cherry pick it. Almost everyone said it was a good pick. Funny you don't list the rights. Nobody hits on every pick.

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Mags's picture

February 20, 2014 at 09:03 pm

Since Schneider,Dorsey and Mckenzie left Ted has had more misses than hits in the draft. I think it is starting to catch up to him.

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 09:08 pm

So these guys were the Packers' scouts?

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steven's picture

February 21, 2014 at 01:44 am

sum ding you are an idoit!!!! perry not considered fast? he ran a 4.64 at 6'3 270, one of the bast at the combine. Not a power rusher??? He is reminiscent of current Pittsburgh OLB's Harrison and Woodley, players who can set the edge with a strong, powerful base and are capable of winning using a direct bull rush. http://www.nfl.com/combine/profiles/nick-perry?id=2533048

These trolls need to leave now. It would be different if they actually knew something.

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Arlo's picture

February 21, 2014 at 09:48 am

Perry was considered fast (straight line - 40) but his 1st step is slow. It's called quickness. --- Learn more & you won't continually embarrass yourself.

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4thand1's picture

February 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

You embarrass yourself every time you post. Nobody likes you.

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steven's picture

February 21, 2014 at 03:39 pm

Arlo where did you come from you troll. Or maybe your ereaserhead

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steven's picture

February 21, 2014 at 03:42 pm

And arlo why dont you read the link i posted. They even state he has good burst off the ball... sounds like he is quick to me. Seems plenty fast on the field, especially in games he wasnt hurt

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Hank Scorpio's picture

February 20, 2014 at 04:39 pm

Matthews has played both sides in the NFL already. I don't recall him being more or less effective after he moved.

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Drealyn Williams's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:57 pm

In fact,he makes plays blitzing from the left,right and middle

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Rymetyme81's picture

February 21, 2014 at 12:44 pm

yep. Capers lets him spontaneously line up wherever he feels is best in certain situations.

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L's picture

February 20, 2014 at 04:59 pm

Perry will be fine; he really just needs to put in a full healthy season because his potential as a disruptive defensive force opposite Clay Matthews will be entirely evident. Outside of injuries, I'm not worried.

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Eraserhead's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:12 pm

I for one am very concerned!! Perry has been a complete bust so far! He needs to live up to his status or he needs to be GONE.

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Arlo's picture

February 21, 2014 at 09:53 am

You being worried has zero to do with the equation.

"Perry will be fine." --- Just WTF does that even mean? He'll play 16 games? He'll have 10+ sacks? He'll go to the Pro-Bowl? --- Your statement is meaningless.

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L's picture

February 21, 2014 at 11:09 am

Perry will be fine as a potential disruptive defensive force opposite Clay Matthews is what I was referring to you douche and I said as much in that statement.

Now, that could certainly consist of 10+ sacks as well as going to the Pro-Bowl, but the playing of 16 games was the linchpin of my statement -- that he must stay healthy because dude's a beast who will make disruptive plays against the opposing team as long as he's on the field and playing without worrisome injuries holding his potential back.

Damn, didn't think I would need to explain in detail what I was getting at for slow-minded individuals but alas here I am doing it.

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Eraserhead's picture

February 22, 2014 at 05:16 pm

L stands for Lesbian!

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L's picture

February 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm

...and apparently Eraserhead stands for clueless idiot.

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Bobby D's picture

February 20, 2014 at 05:31 pm

Nothing like position switching and horrible coaching to bring out the best in someone

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 05:47 pm

Apparently you don't pay attention to the NFL. A lot of teams make undersized college DE's OLB's in the NFL.

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WKUPackFan's picture

February 20, 2014 at 08:00 pm

No matter how many times this well known fact is pointed out, some choose to either ignore or not believe it.

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Arlo's picture

February 21, 2014 at 09:55 am

Come on 4thand1. Where are the names?

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Evan's picture

February 21, 2014 at 10:05 am

I'll chime in on this one - Suggs, Orakpo, Aldon Smith, Brooks Reed, Ryan Kerrigan, Paul Kruger, Anthony Spencer, Tamba Hali, LaMarr Woodley.

Pretty much every top 3-4 OLB played DE in college.

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Arlo's picture

February 21, 2014 at 10:21 am

4thand1 was suppose to provide the names. Everyone knows there are many college DEs who convert to OLB in the NFL.

4thand1 needs to demonstrate that he's more than just a name-calling troll on here. I'm trying to help him accomplish that goal.

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Evan's picture

February 21, 2014 at 10:25 am

"Everyone knows there are many college DEs who convert to OLB in the NFL."

I only wish that were true.

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4thand1's picture

February 21, 2014 at 11:03 am

Shea McClellin is switching, Mario Williams played OLB at Houston, Whitney Mercilus. Want some crow arloserville. You lose again.

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cLowNEY42's picture

February 21, 2014 at 11:22 am

That's a lot of good players.
Why does this position-transition system seem to work everywhere BUT Green Bay?

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Evan's picture

February 21, 2014 at 11:30 am

"Why does this position-transition system seem to work everywhere BUT Green Bay?"

I'd be interested to see how long it took those players to adjust. I know Suggs and Smith came out of the gates like a maniac. Woodley took a year. Spencer took a couple. Brooks Reed still isn't there yet.

Maybe, as you said, these guys embraced the transition more than Perry has and that hasted their development - I think there is definitely some validity to that.

Perry has the size, speed (4.64) and quickness (7.25) to do the job.

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4thand1's picture

February 21, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Artroll, I don't like to provide proof to fucktards.

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Morgan Mundane's picture

February 20, 2014 at 06:09 pm

People sure have short memories or false memories. Perry started out in 4 pre season games and four regular season games before injuring his wrist. Up to that non injury time he showed nothing. He had one sack for a penalty. So this, once he gets healthy stuff I ain't buying.

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Nick Perry's picture

February 20, 2014 at 06:27 pm

You didn't see the games he referred to against the Ravens and Lions then huh? Funny thing is I remember damn near every Mock Draft had Perry going to Gren Bay too. Before I give up totally on the guy, I'd like to see him play a schedule without some kind of broken bone.

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 06:32 pm

Nick, these know-it-all trolls know more than the scouts, draft experts, and coaches. Wish they were in charge so the Pack would win it all every year.

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Stroh's picture

February 20, 2014 at 08:18 pm

Know Nothing Trolls is more fitting!

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Eraserhead's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Trolls are fictional man. You've read way too much Lord of the Rings.

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Arlo's picture

February 21, 2014 at 09:58 am

Look it up in the dictionary.

Next to "troll" there's a pic of Stroh.

One ugly dude!!

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4thand1's picture

February 21, 2014 at 11:05 am

Artroll sounds appropriate.

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 06:28 pm

You mean the hit on Luck? Sure it was called a penalty, but it was bullshit. Sack and forced fumble which the Pack recovered. Also broke his foot on a sack forced fumble this year. Maybe he should just stop hitting QB's. By the way, you suck too.

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Eraserhead's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Completely agree Morgan. Perry is a useless bum a wasted draft pick!

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cLowNEY42's picture

February 20, 2014 at 06:53 pm

i hope he stays healthy, but more importantly i hope he buys in. i've always gotten the feeling that he hasn't embraced his role (see bj raji). i don't put this on the Packers. i put it on perry. stop being a bitch. appreciate the fact that this team chose YOU. appreciate the fact you make shitloads of $. appreciate the fact you play in the nfl. stop moping because you don't like your position (loved ak74 but he pissed and moaned too).

you are an athletic freakazoid.

go rip someone's face apart.

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Eraserhead's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:16 pm

I agree Clowney (related to the player?).

Perry needs to play football with passion and he needs to be worthy of such a high draft pick. Sadly, I see a stiff, fragile and lazy young man who doesn't seem like he cares at all!!

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:51 pm

To bad your head isn't erased.

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Eraserhead's picture

February 21, 2014 at 12:15 am

A grown man as ripped as Perry is, constantly injured? Doesn't that seem suspicious to you? If this were soccer where players are flimsy and soft I'd get it. But you're talking about an "athlete" in supposed peak condition, with access to the world's best training regimes, who is bulging with muscle and in prime age. It seems to me like he doesn't want to play and he is using "injuries" as an excuse! It's only logical. Thank you Spock.

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Stroh's picture

February 21, 2014 at 08:11 am

He's had broken bones you idiot! Big muscles don't prevent broken bones and in Neal's case he was too big for his own good and his muscles were too strong for his tendons/ligaments which caused some of his injuries. Your not very bright are you?!!

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Eraserhead's picture

February 21, 2014 at 09:23 am

Woah, I think name-calling and insults are hardly necessary. I'm just voicing my opinion and I believe we can all be civilized about it.

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Stroh's picture

February 22, 2014 at 03:36 pm

I don't tolerate ignorance!

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Drealyn Williams's picture

February 21, 2014 at 12:01 am

"Stop being a bitch"

Really??? Perry has played with (a) broken/fractured bone(s)

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Stroh's picture

February 20, 2014 at 07:40 pm

What I've seen, which is all Perry's NFL and quite a few games in college, indicates Perry is a very effective pass rusher whether standing or 3 point. The issue for Perry is he is a right side pass rusher. He has never really shown the ability to turn the corner coming from the left side. I didn't see it in college and he hasn't shown it w/ the Packers. If the Packers really want to get the most out of Perry he has to be rushing as the ROLB. That means switching Perry and Matthews. Matthews had his highest sack output on the right side in '10. He would be forced more into coverage at ROLB, but IMO that would take Perry almost entirely out of coverage, put Matthews in coverage more often, which he does very well too, and add to Matthews every down responsibilities. But to get the most out of Perry and the draft pick that's what needs to happen. Matthews showed he can play either side and excel, Perry has only shown he is disruptive on the Right side. Making the switch will get the most out of all the Packers talent, not just Matthews. That's what NEEDS to happen for Perry and the Packer's D to take the next step!

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Eraserhead's picture

February 20, 2014 at 10:50 pm

What does Stroh mean?

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Stroh's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Its a nickname I've had since childhood. Why and whats it to you?

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Eraserhead's picture

February 21, 2014 at 12:06 am

Woah easy. I'm not attacking you. Just curious.

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Arlo's picture

February 21, 2014 at 10:02 am

Stroh or Strohman has been kicked out (or asked to leave) in nearly every blog/forum he's ever visited,

Do a search --- Stroh & Packers. It gets funny.

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4thand1's picture

February 21, 2014 at 10:40 am

Why? Did he get a rough on pussies like you?

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KurtMc's picture

February 20, 2014 at 08:05 pm

Perry also needs to develop something other than the "Bull Rush".

I'd like to see him develop & be the terror opposite Clay that we all hoped he might be.

I wonder what Moss might bring as a Coach that Greene didn't?

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Nononsense's picture

February 20, 2014 at 08:56 pm

Common sense says you don't complicate a players transition to the NFL by changing positions and side of the defense. At least not with your 1st round pick if you expect him to contribute right away. Changing positions and sides can also leave you more susceptible to injury IMO.

So, the Packers have only themselves to blame for Perry's lack of production so far. You think they learned their lesson from that? I highly doubt it.

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 09:03 pm

Like the running game lesson?

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Arlo's picture

February 21, 2014 at 10:05 am

4thand1 --- And his straw man arguments again.

His post is about Perry. He never mentioned anything about the running game.

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4thand1's picture

February 21, 2014 at 10:43 am

No, all you bitches just find fault with everything. NEVER anything positive and it gets really old. Yes they f'ed up the safety, their plan didn't work out. The BU QB wasn't bad, they got a veteran in Wallace and got hurt. TT brought back Flynn when nobody else wanted him.

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4thand1's picture

February 21, 2014 at 06:03 pm

Again you dumddick, it was everyone screaming about the running game before Lacy arrived. Guess what, its fixed. You can't fix injuries, they have to heal. Lesson learned, you lose again.

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 09:32 pm

Mundane, Aloser, and Cow should run the 3 cone drill. After they bomb out with ridiculously slow times, the 3 stooges could wear them as hats. Fitting for dunces.

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Stroh's picture

February 20, 2014 at 09:51 pm

You forgot my Personal troll. I'm missing a comment from him. He makes me feel important! LMFAO

Where are you Hater.

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 10:52 pm

There's only 3 cones to go around,lmao.

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Eraserhead's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Is he like your husband ?

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Stroh's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:29 pm

No, if anything he's my bitch!

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Eraserhead's picture

February 21, 2014 at 12:07 am

LOL!!!!

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KennyPayne's picture

February 20, 2014 at 10:46 pm

So Perry told everyone he preferred to play in a 3-point stance as a D, TT forced him to play OLB, and his most remarkable feature after 2 years in the NFL is his numerous injuries -- wrist, knee, foot.

Who cares, the GB press tells us TT is a genius and why let the facts of Perry's underwhelming performance as a first round pick get in the way of a good narrative.

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Again another Einstein blaming TT for an injured player. By the way he didn't hurt his knee. DL NEVER get hurt. Man is he stupid. Fire Ted!

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4thand1's picture

February 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

You TT haters sure stick together. Seen your kind a million times, must pump you out by the dozens at the troll factory.

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Arlo's picture

February 21, 2014 at 10:08 am

Kenny --- you're hit the nail on the head. Many of these homers won't admit the 'Perry Fiasco' until he's gone.

Similar to Neal.

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Eraserhead's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:22 pm

This team needs some real talent and for Ted Dumbson to stop embezzling the team's money!! It's clear he and Murphy are stealing that's why they don't hire real players. Those 30 million we are having in cap space this season? We will not spend them because these clowns are sending it to their bank accounts in Switzerland! While we face another playoff disaster they will be enjoying in their sunny Italian villas. McCarthy is probably not in on their scam, he's FAR TOO DUMB!!!!!

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:48 pm

SOFA KINGDOM

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4thand1's picture

February 20, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Are you for real? You must have just escaped from the psyche ward and stole a PC. Put your straight jacket back on and go home.

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Eraserhead's picture

February 21, 2014 at 12:10 am

I prefer leather jackets. BING!

And if you really think Dumbson and his cadre of lackeys aren't channeling those dollars to their pockets then I don't know what to tell you. It's the only reasonable explanation. How else do you explain a complete lack of interest in spending the bucks we have available? Money is not for hoarding, it's for spending. Ergo, TT must be doing something fishy with it!

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Rymetyme81's picture

February 21, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Another jsonline.com commenter made it over here

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ray nichkee's picture

February 21, 2014 at 05:11 pm

Do a search for arlo+packers, all you get is gay porn.

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Stroh's picture

February 22, 2014 at 10:40 am

LMFAO

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Eraserhead's picture

February 22, 2014 at 04:41 pm

Classy!!

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Hank Scorpio's picture

February 22, 2014 at 10:32 am

Nick Perry the Elephant?

http://espn.go.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/7767/a-new-position-...

What I don't get is why they didn't use this last year? With Perry and Neal both seemingly suited for the role, it seems like a good way to suit the plan of attack to the personnel.

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Eraserhead's picture

February 22, 2014 at 04:41 pm

Because McCarthy is stupid!!!!!!!!!!!

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