Trgovac: Peppers just makes it look easy

Julius Peppers' motor has been questioned since his college days, but those who know say he plays hard all the time. Mike DiNovo/US Presswire

ARLINGTON, Texas. -- Mike Trgovac is a certified expert on the topic of Julius Peppers.

Trgovac, the Green Bay Packers current defensive line coach, spent seven years with Peppers in Carolina as both defensive line coach (2002) and defensive coordinator (2003-08). Over that span, Peppers made five Pro Bowls and recorded double-digit sacks in six separate seasons.

However, after all the success in Carolina, Peppers arrived in Chicago with the reputation of occasionally taking plays off.

"He had it [the reputation] coming out of college," Trgovac said Tuesday at Super Bowl media day. "I always attribute it to [the fact] he's so smooth and natural. I was his position coach his rookie year, and he was rookie of the year by the way, and he only played 12 games. I did every [college] game on him because we had just been hired there in Carolina and Houston already said they were going to take quarterback David Carr, so we had to choose between Julius and Joey Harrington.

"People always talked about him taking plays off and doing this, but he's just so smooth and natural that he does things so easy that people think he's being lazy. But Julius plays hard. That reputation has always followed him, and maybe will always follow him for his whole career. I don't know, I hope not, because he is a really good guy. He commands a lot of attention. What was really impressive for us [in Carolina] was his work ethic in practice. He busts his butt in practice and I don't think the kid ever got enough credit for that."

Besides providing background on Peppers, Trgovac shed light on the Packers defensive mind set during the NFC Championship Game in the aftermath of the Jay Cutler injury.

"Let me tell you, I've played against Jay Cutler a bunch of times and he is a tough kid," Trgovac said. "We were talking about it on the sidelines as coaches. You could see Collins warming up and one of our coaches even commented that if Cutler could play, he's a tough guy, he'll play, and to just keep your guys focused on the rush lanes.

"When Jay was in there, we respect his running ability. He's had some runs on us in the past so we really respect his running ability. When Todd came in there, Todd isn't that mobile, so we changed up a couple things on our rush lanes. When [Caleb] Hanie came in, we knew he could run a little bit. I mean, Cutler and Hanie aren't Michael Vick, but they both have escapability, so we had to make a quick change. It was one of those deals where the players were over there by the heaters, and I saw what was coming on, so Kevin [Greene] and I grabbed our guys really fast, we were knocking guys out of the way, to tell them [the Bears] are bringing [Hanie] into the game. We told them to keep your rush lanes and be conscience of stuff like that."