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Dom Capers' restocked defense key to Packers' success

Around the League will examine one key figure under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season. Next up: The Green Bay Packers

Under Pressure: Dom Capers

Though he was far from his sharpest in the Packers' postseason loss, no one will blame Aaron Rodgers for his team's inability to get back to the Super Bowl in 2011.

Under Pressure

Around the League will examine one key player under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season:

AFC East
Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Seahawks

In truth, it was Rodgers' brilliance that covered up many warts in Green Bay, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The Packers were asking Rodgers to be perfect every week. When he wasn't against the New York Giants, Titletown was toast.

The Packers obviously knew this, which explained why they used their first six draft picks to shore up Dom Capers' defense. The team selected USC defensive end Nick Perry in the first round, then traded up twice in the second round to grab Michigan State defensive end Jerel Worthy and Vanderbilt defensive back Casey Heyward. Capers will lean on each of the players to make an instant impact.

The Packers made the difficult decision to cut ties with safety Nick Collins after determining the three-time Pro Bowler faced too great a risk following neck surgery. It's a loss, no doubt, but Capers now has an entire offseason to find a way to replace him.

Perry will be counted on to provide pressure on the opposite end of Clay Matthews, with the hope that Matthews can return to being the sack-compiler he was in 2010. Matthews has moved from left to right outside linebacker to make way for Perry, and Capers could move Matthews around more then ever.

"I hope so. That's the plan," Matthews said last week. "It's all about mismatches and preferable lineups. Whenever we can take advantage of that, playing on the right side, left side, middle, wherever you want me to play, we're all about that, so I hope that's the case."

The Packers are a smart organization that realized where they fell short last year and acted aggressively to fix it. They turned draft day into Christmas for Capers, re-stocking the roster with young talent to assimilate with a proven core.

Now Capers has to find a way to make it work. The Packers re-tooled the defense with new personnel in 2012. If that doesn't take, a new coordinator might be next.

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