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Bush: Peppers makes Packers 'championship-caliber'

The signing of Julius Peppers has at least one Packers defender thinking Green Bay finally has the pieces to get back to the Super Bowl.

"I think J.P., pound-for-pound, is one of the most athletic athletes in the league right now," defensive back Jarrett Bush told reporters this week, per the Green Bay Press Gazette. "I think he's going to give teams a lot of trouble, especially with Clay (Matthews), Nick Perry, Mike Neal and Mike Daniels. ... They can't just double Clay anymore, He's going to wreak havoc over there."

Said Bush of Peppers: "He's definitely a force to be reckoned with. I think with Clay and the whole gang, I think we'll be a championship-caliber team."

We talked up Matthews this week as a defensive bounce-back candidate for the factors cited by Bush. Held in check last season by a fractured thumb and limited to 7.5 sacks over 11 games, Matthews graded out negatively as a pass rusher, per Pro Football Focus.

Matthews also tallied 50 sacks over his first 69 games facing a flood of double teams, something opponents can't rely on with Peppers stationed across the way.

Peppers is on the wrong side of 30, but his versatility makes him invaluable in Green Bay's "elephant" role, which will see him switch between defensive end and outside linebacker, pulling blockers away from CMIII.

It's far too early to tout last year's 25th-ranked unit as a championship-level beast, but Green Bay went through 2013 battered by injuries. The Packers' defense saw more starters lost to injury than all but three NFL teams.

With a leap in production from second-year end Datone Jones and full seasons from Casey Hayward and Nick Perry, Green Bay is primed to flex its muscles. Paired with an Aaron Rodgers-led offense, a healthy, improved D makes the Packers one of the NFC's most intriguing teams heading into the summer.

The latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast" covers the Aldon Smith arrest and analyzes the offseason movers and shakers in the NFC East and NFC South.

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