Time to step up: Nick Perry

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson say it every offseason: It is not the rookies who will make the difference for the Green Bay Packers but rather the returning players.

With that in mind, over the next couple of weeks, we will take a look at some returning players who need to take their game to another level in 2014.

The previous installment focused on safety Morgan Burnett.

Next up is outside linebacker Nick Perry.

Why he needs to step up: Having missed 15 of a possible 32 regular-season games in his first two NFL seasons, Perry is trending toward being injury prone. And he has done little to reverse that this offseason, when he sat out every OTA and minicamp practice. There's growing frustrating in the organization about Perry, considering that they used a first-round pick (No. 28 overall) on him in 2012. In fact, if Perry does not turn things around, that draft class might be considered one of the Packers' worst in recent years. Four of the eight players from that draft already are gone and one other, defensive end Jerel Worthy, has contributed little.

What he has to do: First and foremost, Perry must stay healthy. But even that isn't guaranteed to translate into production. Perry has just six sacks in his first two NFL seasons.

Outlook: Perry, a defensive end at USC, is going to play the elephant position this season. That means he will move around from outside linebacker to defensive end to perhaps even defensive tackle. Maybe that will suit him better than the outside backer position has so far. Look for the Packers to play Perry on the right side, where he has said he’s more comfortable and has been more effective.

Quotable: "He's been in meetings and taking part in that but as far as any work on the field, he hasn't been able to do [anything]," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "He obviously has some catching up to do. You miss this segment and you really have to make up some ground in training camp."