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Time to step up: Packers OLB Nick Perry

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Over the next couple of weeks, we will take a look at 10 returning members of the Green Bay Packers who need to take their game to another level this season.

Next up is outside linebacker Nick Perry.

Why he needs to step up: Yes, Perry was on this list last year, too. But three sacks in 15 regular-season games (plus another 1.5 in the two playoff games combined) was not enough to get the former first-round pick off of it. The Packers, as expected, declined to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, which means he will be a free agent after this season, so he's in a prove-it season.

What he has to do: Perry has battled injuries throughout his career and even though he only missed one game last season, he had shoulder problems for much of the season. It was so bad that he needed surgery after the season. While he said he hopes to be full go by the start of training camp, Perry missed all of the offseason practices for the second straight year, meaning he will be in catch-up mode upon his return.

Outlook: If the Packers are as committed as they appear to be playing Clay Matthews at inside linebacker at least some of the time, then they need someone like Perry to make a greater impact on the outside. The opportunity is there for him to play significant snaps, but he'll need to show he's more effective than the likes of Mike Neal, Jayrone Elliott and Adrian Hubbard.

Quotable: "Whatever opportunities they give me, I'm going to maximize to my best ability," Perry said this offseason. "That's all I can do. I'll perfect my craft. I'll do what's necessary. I'll go above and beyond when it comes to training and getting prepared physically. On the mental note, learning, retain as much as I did over this time here and continue to prove that by watching film, studying opponents and just making sure I find ways to be more positive and be more productive."

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