Packers Stock Report: Ups and Downs at Outside Linebacker

Even with Nick Perry returning, the Packers appear to lack depth at outside linebacker. 

The preseason has reached its midpoint, and time is dwindling for players on the margins to make their case to be on Green Bay’s 53-man roster.

The Packers have provided plenty of exciting moments in their two exhibition victories, and some players have stood out and gone a long way toward securing a roster spot. But the war of attrition has already begun as injuries have taken their toll on some players, while others are hoping they’ve gotten healthy just in time.

With that, here’s this week’s Packers stock report.

Rising: Buy! Buy! Buy!

Nick Perry: The veteran outside linebacker has yet to play this preseason, still recovering from ankle surgery. But Perry was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, when he practiced with the team for the first time this year, albeit in a limited capacity. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Perry will need to build up his conditioning, but he isn’t worried about him learning a new defensive scheme, since he’s done most of his rehab around the team facility.

“He’s pretty much been here the whole time,” McCarthy told reporters Monday. “I feel very confident that he’s totally engaged with everything that’s gone on as far as the adjustments or the changes that have been made with the defense. This will not be a mental transition.”

Perry will be crucial to the defense’s success as one of only two veterans at a position that lacks quality depth.

Reggie Gilbert: The Packerverse is abuzz about the 25-year-old rusher, as he’s emerged as the clear primary backup to Perry and Clay Matthews. After generating some pressure against Tennessee, Gilbert finished his plays Thursday against Pittsburgh, recording 2.5 sacks. Gilbert was a fan favorite last year but was stashed on the practice squad until he finally got his opportunity late in 2017. He recorded two tackles and a sack in two games last season, but he looks poised to provide more this season. And the Packers will desperately need him to.

McCarthy noted Monday how much Gilbert has learned from veterans like Perry and Matthews. “I think when you watch Reggie play, you see some of Clay and some of his movements and how he sets things up and, obviously, the influence of Nick,” McCarthy said. “For a young player, when you have a great player in front of you, pay attention and try to emulate some of those things if it’s within your skill set.”

Falling: Sell! Sell! Sell!

Kyler Fackrell and Vince Biegel: Unlike Gilbert, these two young pass rushers have failed to impress in their sophomore campaigns so far. At this point it looks like the team will need to keep at least one of this pair on the roster despite their struggles. The Khalil Mack dream isn’t dead, but it’s very close, and after general manager Brian Gutekunst failed to address outside linebacker until the very end of April’s draft, it’s become apparent he was counting on one of these young players to take a step forward. So far, it hasn’t happened.

Offensive Line: With two preseason games still to go, the offensive line is already beaten up more than anyone would like, and fans have found themselves qualifying their lofty expectations for the Packers’ offense with the caveat, “if the line can stay healthy…”

McCarthy said that an ideal camp would allow the top offensive line unit to practice a lot together, building cohesion and chemistry. But it sounds like Plan B is already being implemented, with the staff forced to choose flexibility over familiarity as a preparation for the inevitable series of injuries.

“We’re not going to achieve our goal of having them all practice together a bunch,” McCarthy said. “We’ve got this week and next week to get some decisions ironed out and give some guys a chance to play their second—maybe even third—positions. That’s going to be the focus there.”

Running backs: This may just be a temporary problem, but the Packers found themselves suddenly thin at the position after a series of injuries and a surprise retirement. Aaron Jones still hasn’t played this preseason, and his two-game suspension still looms. Jamaal Williams was injured on what he called a “dirty play,” and Akeem Judd unexpectedly retired, a decision that McCarthy classified as personal.

Second-year runner Devante Mays won’t practice or play this week after Monday’s medical report was “not encouraging,” according to McCarthy. The cherry on top is that the group is averaging just 2.56 yards per carry through two games. Each of these factors individually wouldn’t be such a big deal, but the combination isn’t promising for a rushing attack that seemed very good on paper a few weeks back.

Of course, a little healing could fix these problems for the regular season, but for the short term the Packers have brought in LeShun Daniels and Bronson Hill to bolster the group for the rest of preseason.

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Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Comments (54)

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Since '61's picture

August 21, 2018 at 11:48 am

I'm not buying Nick Perry until I seem him show up and play a few games (3-5) in Pettine's defense. First he needs to stay healthy and then he needs to be play solid and be consistent at it. Maybe Pettine will get more out of him than Capers ever did. We'll see. Thanks, Since '61

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mkelley's picture

August 21, 2018 at 11:53 am

For me, Perry's only real problem has been availability/health. When he's on the field he's consistently good, although rarely great. Seems to be a textbook red-chip player when he's playing.

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Since '61's picture

August 21, 2018 at 03:47 pm

If your comment about Perry being a red-chip player is serious, then you and I have very different definitions of a red-chip player.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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Demon's picture

August 21, 2018 at 03:32 pm

I was going to say the very same thing 61.

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Since '61's picture

August 21, 2018 at 03:47 pm

Maybe he has never seen an actual red-chip player. Thanks, Since '61

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Demon's picture

August 21, 2018 at 05:10 pm

Tony Bennet would have been a red chip pass rusher.
Same with Tim Harris
Bryce Paup would have been red/blue depending on the day.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 21, 2018 at 09:08 pm

I think Perry is a red chip player when he is healthy.

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mkelley's picture

August 21, 2018 at 10:22 pm

The guy has 30.5 sacks in 39 career starts. He's a solid player. I also think there's a worthwhile distinction between evaluating him as a player and evaluating the front office's evaluation. People tend to view Perry through the lens of his draft position and 2nd contract.

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Minniman's picture

August 22, 2018 at 01:27 am

I'm with you on that one - he seems like he needs other people around him to perform (like with CM3 and Peppers) to get the best out of him.

His injury history is a tragedy though - and probably the biggest blight on his career thus far (not his fault though).

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Lare's picture

August 21, 2018 at 02:13 pm

It would also help if he kept his eyes open when trying to make a tackle (image above).

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Tarynfor12's picture

August 21, 2018 at 12:11 pm

" Perry will be crucial to the defense’s success "....

How can you tell someone to buy into this. This investment will blow up as it has every year on the stock watch.

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WKUPackFan's picture

August 21, 2018 at 01:15 pm

Tell us about how great your boy Fackrell has been.

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Demon's picture

August 21, 2018 at 02:10 pm

Awe CRAP, was hoping they booted you from here.

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Tarynfor12's picture

August 21, 2018 at 06:23 pm

I can't and won't, but I can tell you how great Perry isn't as often as needed.

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dobber's picture

August 21, 2018 at 04:25 pm

That's fine, but the bottom line is: it's true.

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Demon's picture

August 21, 2018 at 12:31 pm

What in the world could Gilbert possibly learn from Nick Perry?

How to get maximum pay from minimal contributions?

Or, that you only need to produce while in a contract year.

Or, how to sit most comfortably on the trainers table.

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WKUPackFan's picture

August 21, 2018 at 01:42 pm

So let's follow your logic here. According to you, Perry somehow manufactured a situation whereby he suffered broken bones on the field, or he self-inflicted his injuries so he would not have to play. Either way, the Packers medical and training staffs would have to complicit in Perry's scheme to avoid playing.

That's a first-class conspiracy theory you've got going on there.

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Demon's picture

August 21, 2018 at 03:06 pm

Never said anything at all about conspiracy theories of self inflicted injuries.

All I am saying is NP is as tough as a roll of dollar store single ply toilet paper. That man is stealing money from the GBP as much as if he hacked their bank accts.

Unfortunatly because of TT's less than stellar job of drafting of defensive players, the 1 year NP remains healthy and puts up decent numbers, his contract was up. Forcing the packers to bite the bullett and pay him because they had zero talent behind him.

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stockholder's picture

August 27, 2018 at 07:34 pm

Logic doesn't work here. Only Fantasy. Complaining, and That a boys.

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cheesehead1's picture

August 21, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Need Perry to stay healthy for once, but I’m not holding my breath. Very disappointed that Biegal hasn’t shown much so far.

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Demon's picture

August 21, 2018 at 01:19 pm

Theres still time for Biegel, although I like most on here were hoping to see something encouraging from him this year.

Face it people,you are not supposed to find quality pass rushers in the 4th round. Thats not saying he wont be a contributor, but its not likely.

I suspect the trade down that TT made to aquire King and Biegel will go down as being worse than if he stood pat and selected TJ Watt in last years draft.

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Coldworld's picture

August 21, 2018 at 05:58 pm

Unless Biegel is still hindered by his surgery, I think he looks weak and lacks suddenness. Very Fackrell like in fact. This is the opposite of Gilbert: sudden but lacking technique or assignment discipline in first season’s.

Not much time if any. Play Odom and Donaldson a bit more in the next couple of games and scour the cut down lists. Donaldson has shown more than the rest thus far despite rawness.

By season’s start, I fear we need to hope that neither Fackrell or Beigel see meaningful defensive reps at this point.

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carlos's picture

August 22, 2018 at 06:32 pm

Odom hasn’t lit the camp on fire either. I like Donnerson, even though he’s raw, and I’d take him on the 53 over the other disappointments.

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Hawg Hanner's picture

August 23, 2018 at 07:00 pm

Vince was okay at UW but just doesn't have the talent at this level. Another TT bust along with Fackrell.

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Qoojo's picture

August 21, 2018 at 01:13 pm

I thought they were doing much better than 2.56 ypc by RBs. Not too worried about it though, since teams need to worry about Rodgers more, and Jones + Williams will generate more than that.

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kevgk's picture

August 21, 2018 at 03:38 pm

the run blocking on the second and third team leaves some to be desired

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Coldworld's picture

August 21, 2018 at 05:59 pm

Also tend to be fairly vanilla play calls.

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Bure9620's picture

August 21, 2018 at 01:27 pm

I am likely higher on Nick Perry than most Packers fans, yes "injury prone" I get it. But, his effect when on the field and healthy is felt.

1) Perry is a very good run defender and frankly in a league that had become increasingly specialized, many pash rushers are not great at defending the run or vise versa. Setting the edge, helps set up a pass rush by other players, very important and not statistically measured.

2) Yes he is our best outside rusher right now.

3) Perry does not need to be a double digit sack guy, I am one whom believes sacks are an overrated statistic. Who cares if you get a sack on 1% of plays?, I look more at pressures, hurries, forced throws at bad angles, pockets collapsing, and tight passing lanes. Its more about getting pressure, hurries and forcing bad throws, forcing an offense to "play left handed."

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Qoojo's picture

August 21, 2018 at 01:23 pm

Yea, the injuries are frustrating, and he clearly is a force when healthy. In one article, some guy called Perry a china doll or something like in the comments, which is disrespectful for what these guys go through. Then you consider that the guy is probably some obese slob that can barely mow his own lawn without a beer break. These OL, DL, LB, RB players take a beating.

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kevgk's picture

August 21, 2018 at 03:40 pm

Totally agree, and I think he will belong well in Pettine's defense as a containment guy.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 21, 2018 at 09:18 pm

I think poor secondary play hurts Perry more than most rushers. He isn't a quick sack guy for the most part. His pressure is more consistent and takes a tick longer to be effective. CBs who allow receivers to be open almost immediately largely negate Perry's effectiveness.

I also think Gilbert is likely to be similar in that respect to Perry. IOWs, Gilbert is Perry-lite. The difference in fan opinion is based on draft status and contract.

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mkelley's picture

August 21, 2018 at 10:40 pm

These are great points. Perry isn't particularly quick for an EDGE so he doesn't get instant pressure, but he's skilled at getting pressure without abandoning his run responsibilities. A better secondary definitely helps a guy like that look better.

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Oppy's picture

August 22, 2018 at 02:03 pm

You might be interested in pulling up Perry's combine results and comparing him directly to Clay Matthews. Perry actually matches up athletically with Clay. Actually, a little better overall, believe it or not.

That being said, I think Perry's foot fracture and knee problems early in his career robbed him of some movement, but he's still pretty quick for a big OLB.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 22, 2018 at 08:20 pm

Yes, overall yes. But quick twitch is another matter. Perry has always been stiffer than CM3. Not sure if 3 cones capture quick twitch completely, and I just looked up top sack players at random:

Perry: 7.25 3 cone
CM3:: 6.90 3 cone
Von Miller: 6.70 3 cone
K. Mack: 7.08 3 cone
Harold Landry 6.88 3 cone
Justin Houston: 6.95
Demarcus Ware: 6.83

DeMarcus Lawrence: 7.46 3 cone
Ryan Kerrigan: 7.18 3 cone

Kerrigan is the only LB I found with a 3 cone around the same or worse than Perry's. Both guys play in the 265-pound range like Perry. Lawrence and quite a few of the sack leaders are DEs. Mack plays both LB and DE.

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Oppy's picture

August 22, 2018 at 11:09 pm

Three cone certainly is a good indicator, it's a change of direction/ explosion metric. That's definitely why you're seeing the more DE body types with those higher 3-cones still being effective pass rushers- they aren't necessarily winning by getting around the edge and bending, or with spin moves. They're the guys who are converting power to speed, clubbing there guy out of the way and straight-lining the QB or simply putting the blocker straight back into the QB's lap.

Still, Perry is pretty damn athletic for his size, and it's that strength/athleticism balance that makes him pretty darn effective when healthy.

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Mojo's picture

August 21, 2018 at 01:48 pm

I'd wait until next year to combine the two number ones and move up to take what should be a good 2019 draft for OLB's.

As for this year, keeping Perry healthy is the key. If he can play in 16 games the pass rush won't be that bad. Maybe GB can get enough of a rush inside with the help of improved secondary play.

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 21, 2018 at 02:28 pm

Or use those two number ones this week in Oakland and get a good OLB/DE for THIS year;-)

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kevgk's picture

August 21, 2018 at 03:41 pm

"According to Albert Breer of MMQB.com, the Raiders are turning down teams – none were specifically identified – calling about Mack’s potential availability via trade.

“Inquiries about Mack’s availability from other NFL outposts have been quickly met with a no,” Breer wrote."

Maybe theyre waiting for the Packers to meet face to face on Friday, but it seems like we're stuck with our crew for now.

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dobber's picture

August 21, 2018 at 04:28 pm

The Mack trade talk has never had any substance. It's just bloggers and media types generating clickbait.

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Turophile's picture

August 21, 2018 at 05:26 pm

No way I'd combine two first round picks. that's a serious waste.
Those first four picks (1,1,2,3) can get the Packers out of a hole.

For example lose CM3 ? Then OLB, OLB, looks a good start.
In fact, anything that starts OLB and then selects three from OT, S, TE, WR, OLB, is also fine by me, for the first three rounds of that draft.

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Christopher Gennaro's picture

August 21, 2018 at 05:36 pm

Its your last sentence, that has me hopeful for this defense. While we may not get the pressure from the outside, I just can't wait to see that d-line come together. If they can demand double teams, then rush will get home.

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 21, 2018 at 02:33 pm

I focused on watching the OLBs in last Thrusday's game.

Reggie never stops and is able to shed blockers. He has a some nice moves around and under blockers now. He has a real hard punch and bull rush too.

Unfortunately both Biegel and Fackrell get locked up by blockers and get washed out of the play too many times.

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dobber's picture

August 21, 2018 at 04:29 pm

Biegel and Fackrell were good college players, but they aren't "NFL physical". They just aren't going to be prototypical edge players, IMO.

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Christopher Gennaro's picture

August 21, 2018 at 05:37 pm

You are not the only one that has that opinion.

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Coldworld's picture

August 21, 2018 at 06:03 pm

That is a wonderfully charitable way of expressing it too

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MITM's picture

August 21, 2018 at 03:28 pm

Living in NY most of my close friends are Jets fans so I have seen a ton of Pettines defenses in his time with the Jets. Having had some very good defenses there, even though we seem dangerously thin at OLB its still far superior to any group Pettine had with the Jets.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 21, 2018 at 07:51 pm

....except for that whole Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in their primes thing.....

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MITM's picture

August 21, 2018 at 09:45 pm

Whats that have to do with the talent and depth they/we have at OLB

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kevgk's picture

August 21, 2018 at 03:45 pm

I'm happy for Gilbert, and I like his story, but if you watch the clip, he doesn't get the sack without tight coverage making the QB hesitate. I expect a lot of his sacks will be like that this year. I'm certainly happy that the team is performing well though.
If coverage holds, and Nick Perry stays healthy, he can certainly return to 11 sack form. Maybe more if he gets a lot of DE snaps.

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Paul Konieczny's picture

August 21, 2018 at 08:10 pm

He’s back and practicing, can’t y’all just be happy about that for a minute. Thanks, since 57

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PatrickGB's picture

August 22, 2018 at 10:23 am

Beigel is looking like a near bust. I posted once before that because of his size he might be better suited to MLB. I don’t doubt the mans heart and effort but the size and talent don’t seem to be there. Of course Fackrell has both and he isn’t there either. So there is that. OLB is is tough position to excell in in today’s NFL.

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carlos's picture

August 22, 2018 at 06:48 pm

Could Beigle be a hybrid safety \ linebacker?

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blue eyes's picture

August 23, 2018 at 04:04 pm

Gilbert a backup? More like starter! Or at least he will be once Clay or Perry goes down. I'll give it until week 3, then Reggie is gonna rock out with his c**k out!

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stockholder's picture

August 29, 2018 at 02:19 pm

:) moved it.

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