Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press
The defensive coaching staff started thinking out of the box last season when they decided to use Mike Neal in a couple of different ways. Neal had always been a defensive lineman at both Purdue and with the Packers, but the Packers started working with Neal at outside linebacker besides playing on the line.
It led to the best season of Neal's career in Green Bay, as No. 96 had 50 tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble. Neal also played in all 16 games last season for the Packers, after only playing in 20 games the previous three years combined.
In the postseason game against the 49ers in which Neal injured his knee and was forced to leave the game, the Packers were forced to use defensive end Datone Jones at outside linebacker.
Before the season even began, the team was using both Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer at outside linebacker after both had played defensive end in college.
Expect more of the same in 2014 with a number of different players, as the coaching staff is trying to get their best players on the field depending on the down and distance.
The Packers plan to use newly acquired free agent Julius Peppers at both defensive end and outside linebacker. The Packers also plan to utilize outside linebacker Nick Perry at the "elephant" defensive end, which was the position he manned at USC in college.
The plan is also to move Neal around this season as well, plus fourth-round draft pick Carl Bradford will be getting some looks on the line and also standing up.
No. 91 played both defensive end and outside linebacker at Arizona State, where he was extremely effective getting 142 tackles, 40 tackles for a loss, 20 sacks, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), nine passes defended, one fumble recovery and six forced fumbles in two seasons.
Bottom line: Expect to see defensive coordinator Dom Capers substituting freely to keep his hybrid players fresh, and to also to come up with the best ways to utilize the pass-rushing skills of these players.