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Packers add hybrid 'elephant' position to defense


The Green Bay Packers added an elephant to their defense.

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No, not a six-ton wild beast -- rather, the hybrid outside linebacker position labeled "elephant" in coordinator Dom Capers' defense (other teams might use terms such as "Leo" for this flex position).

"An elephant for us could maybe be in certain schemes an outside backer," Capers said, per the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "He could be a defensive end in other schemes. You'll see an elephant align in a lot of different spots (along the line). When you have a number of different schemes, you could see a number of different elephants on the field in different spots based off what those schemes are. I just think in this day and age, with the injury factor and that type of thing, you've got to have a lot of flexibility because what you play one week you might not be able to play the next week because you have a couple of guys banged up."

The addition of the flexible outside linebacker position is an admission by the Packers that they have a bevy of outside tweeners in Mike Neal, Nick Perry and rookie Carl Bradford.

Julius Peppers is also expected to play a heavy elephant role, which fits his skill set.

"We think Julius Peppers can be that same type of guy (as an elephant)," Capers said. "Julius has rushed inside. We're using him more outside (at linebacker) probably more than what he's played and we're standing him up some."

The addition of the elephant is relatively new to the Packers' defense under Mike McCarthy. Details have slowly trickled out of Green Bay after the ninth-year coach promised defensive changes following last season.

The main utilization of the hybrid elephant position will be to create unpredictability and flexibility -- both position-wise and schematically. This meshes well with Capers' discussion last month about having "less volume, and more packages" in his defense.

The Packers plan to unleash their playmakers on defense in 2014 and hope that letting the elephant loose proves problematic for opposing quarterbacks.

In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the heroes discuss which teams "realistically" have no shot at winning the Super Bowl this season.


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