GREEN BAY, Wis. — It didn’t take long for Packers rookie outside linebacker Nick Perry to suffer his first painful injury. Midway through the Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Perry hurt his left wrist and has been having some issues with it ever since.
Perry, Green Bay’s first-round draft pick out of the University of Southern California, is playing with a brace on his left wrist for protection, but it hasn’t completely masked the problem.
“It’s just the pain,” Perry said. “That’s it. We’re just being smart about it, pretty much just trying to get me back fully healthy. I’ve just got a little pain.”
Perry’s wrist injury was the biggest reason for him only playing 20 snaps in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears. He started that game, but spent most of the night on the sideline while Erik Walden was in for 36 snaps.
“When you’ve got a short week like that, you aren’t going to have a lot of physical work on the practice field,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “(Perry) had the protector on (his wrist) all week. We just felt like, let’s see how it goes, and if he’s having problems extending and punching with that wrist, Erik Walden’s back and we want to get Erik in there and play Erik anyway.”
Walden was suspended for the first game, but even had he been available, Perry was the clear No. 1 option at the outside linebacker spot opposite Clay Matthews throughout all of training camp and preseason.
Perry described his injury as “just a little bruise” and has been a full participant in recent practices, adding that the team’s training staff has told him that it shouldn’t be a lingering issue all season. However, Perry wasn’t completely sure whether he’d be available for the upcoming game against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.
“I think I’ll play,” Perry said. “I’ve just got to see how I feel and go on from there.”
Matthews, whose college career at USC overlapped one year with Perry, has been a mentor to the fellow Trojan since the first day of Packers mini-camp, and that hasn’t changed. Now that Perry is dealing with his first injury as a paid professional, Matthews is trying to help him with it.
“You’ve just got to fight through it, (but) it’s tough,” Matthews said. “Right in the first game he hurts his wrist and he’s got to battle through it and it’s tough. It’s the nature of this business. You’re going to get hurt, and it’s about managing pain amongst other things.
“It looks like he’s getting a little more use back in it, so I’m sure he’ll continue playing, provided he can continue to hold up with his wrist. But he’ll get better and he’ll be back to full strength here shortly.”
Perry did struggle somewhat in his NFL debut. According to the grading system of ProFootballFocus.com, Perry had a -5.6 overall rating, the worst on the team in that game. He played all 67 snaps, had one quarterback hurry and six tackles.
While playing less than one-third of Green Bay’s defensive snaps in Week 2, Perry was actually much improved, even with the brace on his left wrist. ProFootballFocus.com gave him a 2.6 overall rating, fourth-best on the team, with Perry accumulating three quarterback hurries.
Perry’s best attribute early in his NFL career is clearly pass-rushing, and that’s where Capers used him in his limited opportunities against the Bears. In that game, 15 of Perry’s 20 snaps were on passing plays.
Due to Perry’s wrist injury, Walden will likely continue to split time with him. But coach Mike McCarthy sounded confident this week that Perry’s wrist isn’t bad enough to keep him off the field for an entire game.
“It’s part of the path of an NFL season,” McCarthy said. “(Perry) practiced again and I expect him to play Monday.”