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PredatorPeppers

Julius Frazier Peppers Thread

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22 minutes ago, electro's horse said:

It's a common tactic for low information fans to irritate away more knowledgeable posters.  Basically he's trying to outlast people  

Similar to saca's circular logic death routes, though less irritating. 

You were shut down in the last argument,  sorry :)

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12 minutes ago, rayzor said:

agree to disagree on the less irritating. this guy seems to have a never ending supply of articles to draw from. i learned to quit getting into pissing matches with someone whose initials are PP the last time he was around. really the only way to end it was to stop responding and take away any incentive for him to copy/paste more. not sure PP has ever posted more than a dozen words that weren't copy/pasted from somewhere else. it's like you're arguing with the google search engine.

;)

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Maybe I'm wrong though and Peppers just wanted to get out of the state of North Carolina to experience life in the big city of Chicago, to play for a storied franchise with a rich tradition and history.

Maybe he was tired of the cry baby fans and media complaining that he didn't try hard, and didn't appreciate what he brought to the team.

Maybe he did think his talents could be better utilized somewhere else.

Maybe he wanted to take the highest offer he got.

Who knows, it's his life and anyone in his position would have had these same choices and could very well have done the same. The NFL is a business, teams have no loyalty to a player once their deemed exposable, so why should players have loyalty to a team?

But he's back now to settle down in NC to play out the rest of his career, and to make amends with the fans so he can live in peace in his home state without being subjected to critiszm once he's retired.

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3 minutes ago, PredatorPeppers said:

Maybe I'm wrong though and Peppers just wanted to get out of the state of North Carolina to experience life in the big city of Chicago, to play for a storied franchise with a rich tradition and history.

Maybe he was tired of the cry baby fans and media complaining that he didn't try hard, and didn't appreciate what he brought to the team.

Maybe he did think his talents could be better utilized somewhere else.

Maybe he wanted to take the highest offer he got.

Who knows, it's his life and anyone in his position would have had these same choices and could very well have done the same. The NFL is a business, teams have no loyalty to a player once their deemed exposable, so why should players have loyalty to a team?

But he's back now to settle down in NC to play out the rest of his career, and to make amends with the fans so he can live in peace in his home state without being subjected to critiszm once he's retired.

yeah, and Never Say Never was the best Bond movie.

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I wonder how Pep felt when they brought old prune face back just after he signed?  The asswipe that was responsible for the shitshow to begin with is in fact one Marty "Scarface" Hurney.  

Scarface the movie character not his actual face folks...maybe.  He is a Coke head.

 

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Glad to have Peppers back one of the most gifted DE's in the history of the game and a sure fire hall of famer with gas still left in the tank that's going to help elevate this defense.

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46 minutes ago, electro's horse said:

lol now he's daring me to read his cp'd paper brick, declaring himself the winner, and taking his ball and going home

fug off kid

this is all that matters. whatever the motivation is for it to stop, i'd take it.

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1 hour ago, electro's horse said:

lol now he's daring me to read his cp'd paper brick, declaring himself the winner, and taking his ball and going home. 

fug off kid

Sorry to own you like that though. But I accept your raised white flag.  ;)

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Peppers has been dominating since he entered the league in 2002...

http://www.panthers.com/team/roster/Julius-Peppers/ed69df51-ff1c-4936-b8ea-45bd307bd462

Peppers helped Panthers boast only defensive unit since the NFL merger in 1970 to improve from last in the League in total defense to second in one season. (His Rookie year.)

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/peter_king/01/18/nfl-all-pro-team/index.html

Though Peppers had but eight sacks this year, he had a huge impact on a defense that went from 21st in the league in points allowed in 2009 to fourth this year; from 4.3 yards per rush last year to 3.7 this year; from 29 touchdown passes surrendered last year to 14 this year. He pushes the pocket. He buzzes around the quarterback. He makes other guys -- Israel Idonije, Tommie Harris -- better.
There's no question the return of Brian Urlacher at the pivot point of the defense has been a significant addition, but Peppers has been the most important reason the Bears have become the Monsters of the Midway again, and that's why he's my defensive player of the year.
He's the John Stockton of the Bears defense, the guy who makes everyone around him better.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ys-peppersbears011411

Peppers makes plays in spite of double teams and he empowers Smith’s Tampa 2-based defense to stick to its roots, relying on a four-man rush instead of counting on linebackers and defensive backs to blitz. According to Football Outsiders, the Bears rushed six or more defenders on 16.7 percent of passes in 2009, the third-highest rate in the league. They also sent only four players on 56.4 percent of pass plays (22nd). This season, though, the Bears have sent six or more defenders just 1.4 percent of plays (25th), and they relied on a four-man rush 72.2 percent of pass plays, the third-highest total in the league.

The Bears’ run defense was ranked second – its highest since the 2001 season – and it also allowed the third-fewest points (16.0)

The Panthers always won atleast 7 games while Peppers played for them, the year he leaves, they only win 2 games, meanwhile Chicago missed the playoffs 3 straight seasons, Peppers comes to town and they make it to the NFC championship game... that shows his impact.


Peppers finished 4th in the DPOY Award voting in 2010 with only 8 sacks only further proving it's not all about sacks, but about how much impact Peppers has for his team.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcnorth/post/_/id/19397/the-true-impact-of-julius-peppers

"I think we all know on the team, I'm speaking of players and coaches, I think we all know what I'm bringing to the team," Peppers said. "And while the numbers aren't popping out on the page, the things that I'm doing when you see the tape, it's good football out there. I'm pleased with it. I think everybody else is pleased with it, and hopefully by the end of the year, the numbers will be matching up to what we see on the field."

It's happened before in Peppers' career. As the first chart shows, he amassed 10.5 sacks in the second half of the 2008 season and 6.5 after the midpoint of 2005. It's true: Sacks can come in bunches.

But in the meantime, how can we fairly judge Peppers' performance? As we've noted several times, his presence has allowed the Bears to limit their blitz frequency and devote more players to coverage. The results has been remarkable. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Bears have the NFL's best pass defense when rushing four or fewer men.

The second chart provides those details. The Bears have rushed four or fewer men on about 70 percent of opponents' dropbacks this season. Opposing quarterbacks have a 66.6 passer rating in those situations, the lowest in the league.




With all due respect to the rest of the Bears' line, including defensive end Israel Idonije and his five sacks, I think we can reasonably trace that success to Peppers and the havoc he creates. He leads the Bears with 12 quarterback pressures, has intercepted one pass at the line of scrimmage and batted away two others while also forcing fumbles after both of his sacks.

"I've been pleased," Peppers said. "The numbers aren't where we would like them to be, but those things will come. But other than that, I think it's been a great season. I think it's been one of my better seasons playing the position overall. Rushing and playing the run and just being active on the field, it's been one of my better years."

But more than anything, what we saw in the first half was a textbook example of how an elite pass-rusher can impact a team in ways other than sacks. Do you think the Bears would have the NFL's No. 8 defense without Peppers?

This argument could all be a moot point after Sunday, when Peppers will face a Minnesota Vikings team he lit up last season as a member of theCarolina Panthers. Peppers played so well early in that game, notching a sack along with three other quarterback hits while also batting down a pass, that the Vikings benched Pro Bowl left tackle Bryant McKinnie.

"I've been seeing [extra help] a lot, just as I have my whole career," Peppers said. "It's not anything new. So you know, I'm being patient, I'm working hard. The sacks and stuff will come. I'm not really concerned about sacks right now. I'm concerned about winning games and being disruptive. I think I'm doing a good job at that." 

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/3423373-419/story.html

So I posed the question to scouts and coaches from the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions: Which is the scarier player?


“Peppers is a monster,” one source said. “He’s a freak out there. Matthews is a guy you can’t fall asleep on but he’s not the most imposing [player].”

Another source said Matthews is a throwback, the sort of player who is athletic but has a non-stop motor. Make a mistake, and he’ll make you pay.

But Peppers is seemingly from the future, a 6 foot 7, 283-pound man who, on at least two occasions, chased down Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick from behind.

One offensive coach said Peppers “keeps you up at night” because he can wreck a carefully thought out game plan.

“He’s a match up nightmare,” he said.

Matthews had a brilliant season for the Packers. But several players make that defense special, including defensive linemen B.J. Raji and Cullen Jenkins and cornerback Charles Woodson.

In Chicago, Peppers keys the defense.

“He was the piece they were missing,” one source said. “He makes the people around him better.”

Don’t just look at the most obvious defensive rankings. The Bears were 17th overall, and 23rd against the run and 13 against the pass in 2009. This season, they are ninth overall, 2nd against the run and 20th against the pass.

But he’s been a key factor in points per game dropping from a tie for 21st to fourth, and third-down efficiency from 27th to sixth.

“We thought he was good when he came here,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “We watched him play in Carolina and then once he got here he was everything we thought he would be and more.

 

 

http://www.denverpost.com/2011/12/09/broncos-fox-hopes-von-miller-a-perfect-repeat-of-julius-peppers/

 

As he leaned his head back slightly to scroll through a career’s worth of memories, Broncos coach John Fox stopped on October 2004. He stopped on Denver and Julius Peppers, the very definition of franchise building block, with the sincere hope that history can repeat itself.

“It was right here,” Fox said. “Right here in this stadium, back-to-back plays, one-two, just like that and you saw everything you needed to see. You could see what he was going to do, and when it’s all done, I don’t know what all the stats say or whatever, but (Peppers) was our first draft pick in our time (with the Carolina Panthers), and history says not a lot of guys can ever do what Julius Peppers can do.”

In that 2004 game, Fox’s Panthers arrived at what was then Invesco Field at Mile High. The Broncos, leading 13-10 in the third quarter, had driven to the Panthers’ 3-yard line. On third-and-goal from the 3, quarterback Jake Plummer rolled right on a run-pass option.

“And Julius was beat, but he just takes off and runs straight down the line and pushes Plummer out at the 1. And the next play, now, the next play was one of those you don’t forget,” Fox said.

On the next play, Peppers snatched a Plummer pass out of the air and ran 97 yards before Rod Smith chased down the 6-foot-7 defensive end.

“He’s a freak,” Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said of Peppers. “He’s a freakish athlete who can do anything. I mean, the guy played on a Final Four (men’s basketball) team, but he’s also humble, down-to-earth. You just don’t see that all the time.”

“Julius, I would love to have a guy like that on my team,” Bailey said as he looked at Miller walking through the team’s locker room this week. “And maybe we do, maybe we do, but you’ve got to do it over the years, though. Like Julius has.”

 

 

When an update of fan balloting for the Pro Bowl was announced last week, Minnesota left tackle Bryant McKinnie was the leader at his position.

Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers sent him to the bench in the Panthers' 26-7 Sunday night win against the Vikings, generating such consistent pass pressure that coach Brad Childress sat McKinnie in favor of backup Artis Hicks.

 

"Bad day at the office," Childress said of McKinnie.

It was a big night on a big stage for Peppers, who sacked quarterback Brett Favre once and was credited with five hurries after Carolina coaches reviewed tape of the game Monday. They cited him for two more hurries than the game stat sheet did, which isn't an official tally for that category.

"I thought he played tremendous," Panthers coach John Fox said. "In a big spot, he had a very big game."

Peppers didn't make himself available to local reporters after the game or on Monday, but he had plenty of reason to be motivated despite the Panthers being eliminated from playoff contrntion.

HE WAS PLAYING ON NATIONAL TELEVISION IN THE SAME GAME FEATURING ANOTHER OF THE NFL'S ELITE DEFENSIVE ENDS, MINNESOTA'S JARED ALLEN.

Ever since Allen's 41/2-sack performance against Green Bay on a Monday night game this season, Allen has been the high-effort standard to whom Peppers has been compared.

A headline atop the sports page of Sunday's Observer compared Peppers' athleticism to Allen's motor.

Based on the ferocity of his performance, it sure looked like Peppers wanted to make a statement about his own motor.

Though critics say it doesn't always run at full throttle, it's hard to deny it was in overdrive against the Vikings.

 

NBC's Chris Collinsworth, a former Bengals receiver, said Peppers played good enough to merit doubling his $1 million-a-game salary.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King raved about him in his popular "Monday Morning Quarterback" feature online, saying Peppers was "Deacon Jones and Lawrence Taylor rolled into one dominant force."

Teammate Charles Godfrey, Carolina's second-year free safety, marveled at Peppers' play, too.

"That's the best I've seen him play an all-around game - pressuring the quarterback, getting those linemen and just demolishing them," said Godfrey.

He acknowledged Peppers might have been fired up about squaring off against Allen.

"You've got somebody who's good on the other side (and) you try to come out and out-do them," said Godfrey. "Julius is competitive. That's probably something that sparked him a little bit."

Allen played well, too, getting a sack and causing a fumble on the same play that resulted in a 20-yard loss.

But there was little doubt that Peppers outplayed him, leading a Carolina defense that held the Vikings to a season-low point total.

Peppers' effectiveness not only prompted Childress to switch tackles, but to also consider making a quarterback change, which Favre strongly resisted.

Childress said Monday he wanted to protect Favre, whom he said was "getting (his) rear end kicked" and was "taking a beating."

Favre said after the game: "No secret I was getting hit a little bit. I felt the pressure on a lot of plays. Peppers played a great game."

Fox has been a steadfast proponent of Peppers and didn't miss the opportunity to wave the banner for him.

"Julius has been a very, very productive player, no matter how you try to define it," said Fox. "He's done a lot of good things, been to a lot of Pro Bowls and, I think, is one of the marquee players on defense in this league."

Twee
t
 

 

https://www.si.com/more-sports/2009/12/21/mmqb

 

Julius Peppers was Deacon Jones and Lawrence Taylor rolled into one dominant force for four quarters. It's the best I've ever seen Peppers play. I don't care what the stats said -- one sack, three other quarterback hits, one tackle. Peppers was as dominant as a defensive lineman can be. Once, he fought through two blockers, forced Favre to throw a wasted incompletion, and wrapped him up legally and fell atop him, crushing him to the ground. If Favre wasn't thinking, I came back at 40 for this?, when exactly would he ever question his decision to come back for another year?

Peppers' dominance got Bryant McKinnieyanked from the game. (When's the last time you saw a top-10 left tackle get pulled for performance, not being hurt? Ever? I don't recall it.) It forced Brad Childress to put pedestrian Artis Hicks at left tackle, and to keep a back in to chip on Peppers when the game got desperate and the Vikings fell behind in the second half.

But in the middle of the Minnesota ineffectiveness, the NBC cameras caught a semi-heated exchange between Favre and coach Childress. Evidently, it was Childress suggesting that maybe it was time for a relief pitcher. 

 
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000159114/article/carolina-panthers-best-and-worst-draft-picks
 
Not many people outside of the Carolinas probably remember this, but there was a vocal faction leading up to the 2002 NFL Draft that felt thePanthers should take Oregon QB Joey Harrington. Good thing John Fox stuck to his defensive instincts. While Harrington flamed out in Detroit, Peppers emerged as one of the NFL's most dangerous pass rushers. Peppers posted 12 sacks his rookie season and had five other double-digit sack seasons in Carolina. A two-sport star at UNC, Peppers' athleticism made him unique among his peers. How he lost out on the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2004 -- a season in which he scored two touchdowns in addition to his 11 sacks -- remains one of the sport's unsung travesties.

http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/julius-peppers-first-player-100-sacks-10-interceptions-career-packers-panthers-bears-100214

Thirty players in NFL history have accumulated at least 100 sacks in a career, including 10 Hall of Famers. Hundreds of players have intercepted at least 10 passes in their careers (OK, that isn't quite as impressive). But never in history has a player done both in a career.
Until now.
With his 49-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter of Thursday night's 42-10 drubbing of the Vikings, the Packers' Julius Peppers became the first player in NFL history with at least 100 sacks and 10 interceptions in a career.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000354373/article/best-player-in-team-history-nfc-edition-niners-head-tough-calls
 
CAROLINA PANTHERS: Julius Peppers, defensive end

Peppers is the choice for one of the league's younger franchises. The reason: He was considered the best at his position for several seasons. There probably isn't another Carolina Panther you can say that about. (Sorry, Steve Smith.) From 2004 to '06, there was no better defensive end at all phases of the position. Also, he was an integral part of a Panthers team that nearly took down the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Peppers is a Hall of Famer, no doubt.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/sport/archives/2004/12/18/2003215706

"I want to be the prototype defensive end, not just a guy who gets sacks rushing the passer," he said then. "I want to do everything and show my range as a player."

 

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-01-22/sports/ct-spt-0123-peppers-matthews-bears-ch20110122_1_famer-reggie-white-sacks-worst-nightmare

"I don't consider myself a pass rusher at all,'' he said. "I consider myself a defensive end. Pass rushing is part of the job, but playing the run and doing some other things are part of the job too.

http://www.bearsfansonline.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2195

"A lot of people don't really understand that a statistic is an indicator, but it doesn't really give the full picture of the body of work,'' he says. "There's been time when I've had one sack or no sacks and controlled a whole game, and I've seen other cats get three or four sacks and it had no effect on that game.

"My approach is going to be all about winning games. All the rest of that stuff will take care of itself.''

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/every-play-counts/2006/every-play-counts-julius-peppers

Every Play Counts: Julius Peppers

by Michael David Smith

Is Julius Peppers underrated? That might seem like a silly question because everyone who follows football knows that Peppers is a good player, a rare talent who has not only the typical strength of a defensive end but also the speed and athleticism of the power forward he once was. But watching Peppers on every play of the Carolina Panthers' 23-21 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, my jaw dropped at seeing not just a good or even very good player, but a defensive lineman doing things I didn't think a defensive lineman could do.

Baltimore's blocking schemes revolved around controlling Peppers. On each play of the Ravens' first possession, both right tackle Tony Pashos and running back Jamal Lewis blocked Peppers. All three plays were passes, and on all three Lewis chipped Peppers before running his route because the Ravens figured that Pashos couldn't keep Peppers off quarterback Steve McNair without Lewis's help. Peppers didn't do anything extraordinary on that possession, but just seeing the way Baltimore opened the game showed how much its game plan focused on Peppers.

On the second possession, Baltimore still doubled Peppers, with little success. On the first play of the series both Pashos and right guard Keydrick Vincent blocked Peppers. On the second play, Vincent held Peppers, but it wasn't called. On the third play, Peppers bull-rushed Vincent, collapsing the pocket and forcing McNair into a bad throw, which strong safety Colin Branch intercepted. At this point, the Panthers' defense had been on the field for six plays. Peppers had been doubled four times and held once, and on the one play he was neither, he forced a turnover.

Holding was Baltimore's most effective strategy. On a second-and-4 on Baltimore's fifth possession, Peppers stunted to the inside and Vincent held him. In fact, Vincent held Peppers every time they went one-on-one. Later in the game Pashos started joining Vincent in holding. The officials never called it, though. It was actually a smart tactic. Referee Peter Morelli's crew was calling the game, and that crew has called by far the fewest holding penalties of any group of officials this year. If the officials aren't going to call it, the linemen might as well do it. My advice to all offensive linemen: When Morelli works your game, just hold all day.

On the Ravens' third possession, Carolina's defense revealed a different wrinkle when Peppers dropped into coverage on first-and-10. Peppers' presence kept McNair from having an easy checkdown to Lewis or tight end Todd Heap, and that forced McNair to hold onto the ball too long. Linebacker Chris Draft and defensive end Mike Rucker sacked him, knocking him out of the game.

Peppers dropped into coverage a few more times as Carolina zone-blitzed with Draft or other linebackers. On a first-and-10 in the third quarter, Todd Heap went in motion to the right and Peppers dropped back to cover Heap, which would usually be a linebacker's job. Kyle Boller (who played most of the game in relief of McNair) rolled to his right and threw to Heap, and Peppers tackled him for a nine-yard gain. In general, I don't like that strategy for the Panthers. Why not have Peppers rush the passer so Boller can't roll to the right in the first place, rather than having Peppers drop back and therefore giving Boller free rein to find someone open? It's not that Peppers can't cover the tight end, it's just that he's so great at rushing the passer that having him in coverage seems like a waste. It's an interesting strategy for an occasional change of pace, but generally if the other team is passing and Peppers isn't rushing, Carolina isn't using his talents properly.

After the sack that knocked McNair out of the game, Boller's first two plays were probably Peppers' most impressive plays of the day. On second-and-19, Peppers lined up at left end. Boller threw a short pass to Lewis along the sideline on the opposite side of the field, and Peppers pursued Lewis across the field and pushed him out of bounds after a gain of only five yards. Defensive ends just aren't supposed to run down running backs like that, but Peppers did it. And on the next play, Peppers made the tackle in pursuit on the opposite side of the field again. It was third-and-14 and Peppers rushed to the outside. Pashos blocked him, and running back Musa Smith helped with a chip. Boller rolled out and took off running on the other side of the field, and Peppers ran across the field and tackled him for a gain of only six yards.

That pursuit is what separates Peppers from other defensive ends. On third-and-15 on Baltimore's fourth possession, the Ravens ran a draw to Smith. Peppers started the play on an outside rush. On that type of play, the offense doesn't worry about the defensive end -- even the best defensive ends can't be expected to rush to the outside and then tackle a running back on a draw up the middle. But when Peppers recognized the draw, he reversed course, drilled Smith and forced a fumble. Peppers isn't like other defensive ends.

On a first-and-10 later, Mike Anderson took a handoff off the right tackle, running away from Peppers. But when the right side of the Panthers' defense bottled up Anderson, it was Peppers, pursuing the play from the backside, who tackled Anderson for a loss of two.

While I'm praising Peppers I should acknowledge the obvious, which is that he doesn't make every play. On a third-and-9 with Boller in the shotgun, Peppers tried to rush to the outside, and Pashos did a nice job allowing him to rush upfield but not collapse the pocket. Boller had time to pick up the first down while Peppers essentially took himself out of the play. But those plays were the exception, and Peppers' pressure masked some bad coverage from Carolina's secondary. On a third-and-6 on Baltimore's sixth possession, Heap beat Carolina defensive back James Anderson and was open deep, but Peppers' pressure forced Boller to throw the ball without getting completely set, causing an incompletion on what could have been a 40-yard gain. On one first-and-10 in the third quarter, Lewis was left to block Peppers one-on-one. That was a mismatch. Boller rolled to the outside, Peppers got past Lewis and got in Boller's face, and Boller had to throw the ball away to avoid a sack.

Sacks are the main way defensive linemen get attention, but I haven't even mentioned Peppers' two sacks Sunday. One was a first-and-10, when Peppers rushed straight ahead into Pashos, knocked him to the ground, and sacked Boller for a loss of six yards. The other came on a second-and-10 when Peppers rushed to the outside and evaded both Pashos and Vincent. Boller tried to run up the middle, and Peppers reversed course, getting into the middle of the field to sack Boller for a three-yard loss. Peppers shows a very instinctive ability to know where the ball carrier is going. Most defensive ends would have continued to rush to the outside, but Peppers seemed to sense that Boller was going to go up the middle, and he got there in time to sack him.

So if Peppers can sack quarterbacks, run down running backs, and cover tight ends, is there anything he can't do? If I were an opposing offensive coordinator, I'd try to run directly at him. Peppers is a strong player and a sure tackler, but if he showed any weakness Sunday it was that Pashos sometimes beat him in straight-ahead run blocking. But this is a mere quibble. Peppers showed on Sunday that he's not just a good player. He's the best defensive player in the NFL.

http://www.espn.co.uk/nfl/recap?gameId=220915029

Julius Peppers lived up to his billing with three sacks and a forced fumble for Carolina. Peppers also had five tackles and a deflected pass. 

Peppers, the second overall pick in the draft, got his first NFL
sack early in the first quarter. He got another a few minutes
later, and registered his third on the final play of the first half
when he drilled McMahon from behind, knocking the ball loose and
leaving McMahon motionless on the ground for several moments.

It reassured Carolina fans that the Panthers made the right
choice in picking Peppers, who was taken right before the Lions
selected Harrington.

"They can't go wrong in choosing me,'' Peppers said. "Everyone
in this locker room and organization feels the same way.''

McMahon recovered from Peppers' pounding to start the second
half, leading Detroit on its only scoring drive, then falling apart
when Minter intercepted him on the second series and returned it
40-yards for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead.

http://www.panthers.com/news/article-2/20-Seasons-of-Panthers-Football-2002/bb0a87ce-2840-4d14-975f-f7a7455827b8

On defense, it was rookie defensive end Julius Peppers. As the second overall pick in the previous spring's NFL draft, he wanted to prove he was worthy of being such a high selection by disproving those who doubted his ability to consistently disrupt opposing offenses.

It didn't take either of them long to begin accomplishing their goals.

 

140925_peppers_inside.jpg

Peppers got off to a fast start. In the season opener versus Baltimore, he deflected a pass thrown by Ravens quarterback Chris Redman with 1:27 remaining in the game that linebacker Dan Morgan intercepted to seal a 10-7 Carolina victory.

In the second game of the season - a 31-7 rout of the Detroit Lions - Peppers seemed to be everywhere all at once. In a thoroughly dominant first half, Peppers racked up three sacks and forced a fumble.

Peppers was so dominant, in fact, that defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said he actually started feeling a little sorry for the Detroit linemen assigned to block the 6-foot-6, 283-pound phenom.

"They had to keep adjusting, because he kept beating the snot out of whoever was trying to block him," Jenkins said.

For veteran tight end Wesley Walls, watching Peppers play brought back memories of the franchise's earlier days.

"I haven't seen guys flying around like that and making plays and being explosive like that on defense since '96," said Walls, referring to Carolina's run to the NFC Championship. "Lamar Lathon and Kevin Greene were coming off the edge in '96, and today you had Julius Peppers and Brenston Buckner and Mike Rucker and all those guys.

"It was fun to watch, and it just demoralizes the opposing offenses. They were getting frustrated. They couldn't do anything."

Peppers, meanwhile, ended his rookie season with a team-high 12 sacks and earned the Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. First-year head coach John Fox said Peppers was very deserving of the award. "I have been pretty blessed to be around some good players as an assistant coach, but Julius would have to rival some of the best I have seen."

http://www.procanes.com/Archive2006/files/ec8bc0a7407483aae38983cb350d7f83-431.html

Lewis excited about chance to watch Peppers

Oct/14/06 10:37 AM Filed in: Ray Lewis

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Peppers > Ware and Allen

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Pete Dougherty ‏@PeteDougherty 21h
Just talked to another NFL scout about Peppers. Ranked him as the best player among him, DeMarcus Ware n Jared Allen


http://www.espn.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/8208/starter-pack-no-action-no-surprise

The Packers view defensive end Julius Peppers, who was released by the Chicago Bears, as the best defensive front player still available. But at age 34, he probably isn't a player Packers general manager Ted Thompson would be willing to pay.

Perhaps the next best option as a pass-rusher is DeMarcus Ware, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys for the same reason as Peppers. Ware is younger (he turns 32 in July) and would be a good fit for the Packers' 3-4 defense. The Packers spent part of Tuesday discussing Ware but have not set up a visit. That would likely only happen if Ware goes unsigned after the initial wave of interest.


http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/01/05/bernstein-one-guy-responsible-for-bears-turnaround/

 

Amazing that this same group can sit proudly as the team awaits a playoff opponent. They are 11-5, and the NFC’s second seed.

And the reason they can do so is Julius Peppers.


Understand that Peppers is a brute squad – a freakish package of strength, smarts and athleticism. He’s a Hall-of-Famer at the peak of his abilities who has elevated a defensive scheme that apparently needed only him to function properly. He’s the focus of blocking attention on every play, as he makes zone drops like a safety, chases downfield like a linebacker, caves in the line on run plays, sets the edge and contains, pursues quarterbacks relentlessly, and blocks kicks.

He’s the best defensive lineman on the Bears since Dan Hampton.

Smith’s one-gap scheme works when the need for blitzing is obviated by front-four pressure. Chicago fans enamored with other approaches fail to understand the philosophy of seven sets of eyes seeing the play, and defenders swarming to the ball to limit gains and increase opportunities to cause turnovers.

I’m also convinced that North Carolinians need a remedial course in how to watch NFL football. Panthers observers asked about Peppers repeated the memes of him “taking plays off,” or “disappearing in some games” because they can’t see further than a stat sheet.

This ain’t baseball, gomer. It’s a true team game, and you have to actually watch line play. Stick to your car racin’ and professional bass fishing.

We admit we scoffed and chuckled a bit during training camp, when Urlacher, Charles Tillman and others casually described Peppers as the best individual football player each had ever seen. It sounded like the inflated rhetoric that accompanies the outsized expectations of a team trying a last-ditch stimulus spree before it all comes crashing down.

Several months later, and a year after that strange, uncomfortable day at Halas Hall, we’re not laughing.

http://www.espn.com/nfl/columns/story?id=1629581

Even on a television videotape of last weekend's Atlanta-Carolina matchup, one could sense the mounting frustration of Panthers left defensive end Julius Peppers, palpably feel his ire as he was thwarted in his attempts to get to Falcons quarterback Doug Johnson.

s_peppers_i.jpg

One second-quarter sequence, on a second-and-long play, graphically illustrated Peppers' plight. As he rose out of his stance to attack the pocket, Peppers was double-teamed by right offensive tackle Todd Weiner and by tight end Alge Crumpler, but still managed to squeeze through the blocking sandwich they comprised. Suddenly into the backfield, he was then chip-blocked by fullback Justin Griffith.

And then as he closed to within sniffing distance of Johnson, the Falcons quarterback released the ball, and Peppers was forced to perform an incredible contortion simply to avoid contact and a possible personal foul penalty. Little wonder that Peppers, who had 12 sacks as a rookie in 2002 before his season was truncated by a four-game suspension for using a banned substance, ambled back to the defensive huddle shaking his head.

"People don't understand sometimes," lamented Peppers, "just how hard it is to get a sack in this league."

For sure, some new sack threats have emerged this season, like Mike Rucker of Carolina, who has taken advantage of the double-team attention Peppers has drawn,

https://www.google.com/amp/www.myplainview.com/news/amp/Human-highlight-film-Peppers-leads-Panthers-8746934.php

Mike Rucker and Brentson Buckner would make great directors of the Julius Peppers highlight film. His fellow defensive linemen on the Carolina Panthers already have some clips picked out.

 

Rucker's favorite came in the preseason, when Peppers leaped to block a pass, was hit around his knees, flipped and still managed to land on his feet.

 

The one Buckner remembers best was "seeing how quickly he goes from zero to 60" after Peppers intercepted a pass against Dallas in the playoffs and returned it 34 yards.

 

They're both good picks. Yet there's one thing missing _ something from his specialty, rushing the quarterback.

 

His versatility is typical of what makes Carolina's defensive line so tough. Any offensive line that concentrates on trying to stop Peppers is risking Rucker getting to the quarterback from the other side, or letting Buckner or Kris Jenkins come up the middle.

 

"Stopping their front four is the key to being successful against Carolina, and it's probably the toughest thing to accomplish," said New England left tackle Matt Light, who will mostly face Rucker in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

"All those guys are very good athletes, very talented and had a lot of success this year. It's going to take a great effort to beat them."

 

Led by the line, Carolina's defense was one of the best this season. They've been even better in the playoffs.

 

They started by shutting down a Cowboys offense that had its way against the Panthers six weeks earlier, then kept it up against St. Louis. While Rams coach Mike Martz was criticized for playing conservatively in that game, Carolina should be credited for influencing his decision.

 

The Panthers were at their best in the NFC championship, holding Philadelphia to just a field goal. Carolina intercepted four passes, recovered a fumble and knocked out quarterback Donovan McNabb.

 

The Patriots will be another stiff test. Their line hasn't allowed a sack in the playoffs, despite losing starter Damien Woody to an injury before the AFC championship.

 

New England's offense isn't fancy. Quarterback Tom Brady manages a balanced run-pass system that lacks a headliner at receiver or running back. It works because they're efficient and have few weaknesses.

 

Whatever the Patriots try, Carolina will be ready, especially up front. Rucker said the beauty of the line is that they stop running backs as well as quarterbacks.

 

"When a team comes in here, they're not saying, `Hey, this guy is just going to run upfield, so we can trap him or we can draw him or just block down against him,'" Rucker said. "They can't do that. We're all going to stop the run, we're all going to pass rush."

 

Rucker led the team with 12 sacks. Peppers had seven, although he pressured quarterbacks another 32 times, 12 more than Rucker. Jenkins had five sacks, as did reserve end Al Wallace.

 

Still, the unquestioned attention-getter is Peppers.

 

After playing football and basketball at North Carolina, he was the second overall pick of the 2002 draft. He had 12 sacks in his first 12 games, then was suspended from the final four for taking a banned dietary supplement. He won rookie of the year anyway.

 

Although his numbers were down this season, Peppers thinks he's playing better, especially against the run. And he still makes plays others can't even fathom.

 

Rucker said there are times when he's barely out of his stance and Peppers is going into his third step.

 

"He definitely does some crazy things with his body," he said. "You would think you'd tear a muscle doing the things he can do."

 

The craziest was the flip.

 

"It looked like he was going to land on his neck, but he landed on both feet," Rucker said. "We rewound that probably 10, 15 times because we didn't understand how he did that. He's just so flexible, such an athlete, that it wasn't really a big problem. He just started laughing."

 

Peppers laughed again when asked about it Thursday. That's easier than trying to explain how he did it.

 

"What I do is just freestyle," he said, comparing his on-the-fly technique to a basketball player who comes up with a fancy dunk after leaving the ground.

 

"When that ball is snapped and I'm running at the passer, I don't have a clue what I'm going to do. I'm just reading him and going off whatever he does."

 

Look out, Tom Brady. The cameras will be rolling Sunday.


http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-11-18/sports/ct-spt-1118-bears-pompei-chicago--20111118_1_three-technique-famer-dan-hampton-bears

Julius Peppers is such a special athlete he probably could moonlight anywhere and help the Bears in spots.

But he could be a difference-maker at defensive tackle.

Anyone who watched the defensive end slide inside Sunday against the Lions would agree. On four plays as a three technique, or under tackle, Peppers had a sack, a quarterback hit and a pressure.

 

http://host.madison.com/sports/football/professional/oates-bears-strides-as-apparent-as-packers-faults/article_154573a6-cac6-11df-bc62-001cc4c03286.html

 

Chicago 20, Green Bay 17

 
Peppers didn't get a sack, but he blocked a field-goal attempt and forced the Packers into several false starts and holding penalties.
 
 

It was fitting, because Peppers and the Carolina defense bailed out the offense yesterday.

Peppers had a sack, forced a fumble and hit quarterback Charlie Frye five other times

Coming into the game tied for the league lead with five sacks, Peppers was a nightmare for Frye, who was 26 of 43 for 173 yards and two interceptions

"There is not another 290-pound guy that can move, that's as flexible or as strong as this guy," said defensive end Al Wallace, who also had a sack.
 

http://www.si.com/vault/2001/08/13/308949/game-of-choice-he-always-loved-basketball-best-but-now-the-time-has-come-for-north-carolinas-julius-peppers-to-devote-himself-to-one-sport-year-round--and-its-football

Peppers was the best basketball player and among the best football players ever at Southern Nash, where he received so many recruiting letters that he was given his own mail slot in the school office. In basketball he finished his career with more than 1,600 points, 800 rebounds and 200 assists and was heavily recruited by Duke. In football Peppers rushed for 3,501 yards and 46 touchdowns at tailback and manhandled opponents as a defensive lineman. In his final game, when Northeast Guilford High ran a sweep away from Peppers, he chased down the running back, stole the ball from behind and raced 90 yards the other way for a touchdown.

As a senior, Peppers placed second in the triple jump at the state track meet, despite wearing spikes two sizes too small because size 18s couldn't be found. Having watched Big Head swing a bat, Davis believes he could have been a baseball star as well. The coach still shakes his head in disbelief as he recalls a three-hour football practice on a scorching summer day before Peppers's junior season, after which all the other Firebirds lay sprawled on the grass or huddled around the water spigot. Peppers strolled over to one end zone and began doing backflips the length of the field. No hands. For 100 yards. In full pads and helmet.

While scouts from the NFL and the NBA believe Peppers could excel in either league, he has made up his mind:

Peppers may be the largest, most intimidating model to date. He bench-presses 425 pounds, runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds, has a 37.5-inch vertical leap and only 4% body fat. During Peppers's redshirt year the North Carolina football coaches couldn't decide at which position he might wreak the most havoc, so they listed him on the roster as athlete. "Julius is a freak of nature,"

http://www.basketballforum.com/national-football-league/197844-man-steel-julius-peppers.html

"It's like Mother Nature just decided to scratch her chin and say 'I'm going to create me something special right here,'" Panthers radio announcer **** Mixon said of Peppers, whom he covered at the University of North Carolina.

If you want to get people talking, ask them the most amazing thing they've ever seen the fourth-year defensive end do. In most cases it will be one of those highlight reel plays, something involving jumping high or running fast or getting away from extremely large men who attack him in multiples.

Tar Heels football coach John Bunting has little doubt Peppers could be "a dominant tight end, an All-Pro tight end like Tony Gonzalez. Heck, he might be able to play safety."

But that would be taking away from the things Peppers does best, and Bunting had a front-row seat for one of the early entries into the lexicon of Peppers highlights.

On Oct. 20, 2001, Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler (then considered a Michael Vick-type talent) was trying to throw a screen pass, but threw it with plenty of steam. Peppers got off a cut-block, jumped straight into the air to tip it, then intercepted the ball several yards downfield.

"He's simply the most unique athlete I've ever seen on the football field, and I had (linebacker) Derrick Thomas in Kansas City," Bunting said. "Julius just has every tool you want in a football player."

Bunting suggested Peppers could change positions easily.

"He could trim down to 250 or 260 pounds and be a dominant outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense," said Bunting, who coached in the NFL for eight years before taking over the Tar Heels prior to Peppers' last college season.

As intriguing as that seems, there's one major flaw.

"Where's he going to lose 35 pounds?" Panthers defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac said. "There's not a lot of extra on him at 288."

Trgovac could seemingly talk all day about a play at Denver last year, and not the 101-yard interception return most recall.

On the play before, a third-and-goal from the Panthers 3, Peppers was blocked away from Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer's roll-out. And though Plummer's one of the more athletic passers in the league, Peppers rolled his hips, got back to his feet, turned and chased Plummer out of bounds a yard shy of the goal line.

"There's not another defensive end that can make that play," said Trgovac, a man not given to brash pronouncements. "Nobody else could get fooled and recover like that. It should have been a touchdown, and then there wouldn't have been the big interception return."

Quarterback Jake Delhomme recalled laughing when he saw Peppers chase down Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman from behind -- from the other side of the field.

"It's not supposed to happen," Delhomme said. "I remember watching it on the screen because I normally don't get to watch our defense during a game, and thinking, 'That just doesn't happen.'"

Men who approach 300 pounds aren't supposed to run like that. But when the defensive backs and running backs and receivers were picking fantasy track teams last year, they all seemed to want Peppers on their 4x100 relay team.

He said the fastest he's ever been timed in the 40-yard dash was 4.55 seconds.

"But I've raced guys who ran 4.3s and beat them," he said, a slight grin creeping over his face. "I think speed is different. Game speed is different. Some guys can run 4.3s and they get on the field and they're slow. It's a different type speed you can have."

It's also a different kind of agility.

Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins recalled a play from Peppers' rookie year, when he was turned upside down and landed in a back bend.

"He had his hands on the ground and his feet on the ground at the same time," Jenkins said. "I remember saying, 'If that was me, my career would be over.' But he just walked off the field and I was like 'Is he serious?' ... If I did that, I'd probably tear every ligament I had in my knees and shoulders and probably pop a couple discs out of my spinal cord.

"We call him the next evolution of man. Some of the things he does, it just doesn't make sense."

The scary part? He can get better.

With a straight face, veteran safety Mike Minter suggested earlier this year that Peppers could break the NFL's single-season sack record of 22.5.

Fox says Peppers can become more proficient at other things, because of the way Peppers works.

"He expects it; that's what you want in a player," Fox said. "It's how he practices every day -- he comes to work and brings his lunch pail. I think he has developed his game more each year. He understands the game faster. This game is about playing fast. The more you see it, the faster you get. When you match that with the fact you are fast, that's when you get great players.

"That attitude is the thing that's awesome. When you think you've kind of got it figured out, that's when you get bit. He's still continuing to try to learn. He's become a student of the game. Each opponent brings a new challenge. Each style of offense is a new challenge, and he thrives on it."

http://www.si.com/vault/2005/09/05/8272204/1-carolina-panthers

You could argue that Carolina's best big-play threat last season didn't line up at wide receiver or in the backfield. He was on the defensive line, in the form of 6'7", 290-pound end Julius Peppers. That's part commentary on the injuries that bedeviled the Panthers in 2004--they played most of the season without receiver Steve Smith and running backs Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster--but it also tells you something about Peppers's athleticism. Against Tampa Bay he returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown; against Atlanta he snatched a Michael Vick fumble out of midair with one hand and went 60 yards for a score; and against Denver he returned an interception 97 yards before being dragged down just short of the goal line. No other Carolina player had as many plays of at least 45 yards.

You could write that off as a case of Peppers's being in the right place at the right time; or, more accurately, you could say that Peppers, who also led Carolina in sacks (11) and forced fumbles (four), is redefining the defensive end position.

http://slumz.boxden.com/f16/deep-article-on-julius-peppers-786596/

Like smoke, Peppers can seemingly be everywhere. Like Batman, he can come swooping in from nowhere.

"It's rare when you have the opportunity to see a player who is ahead of his time," said Howie Long, a Hall of Fame defensive end and Fox Sports NFL analyst. "Lawrence Taylor was ahead of his time. Kellen Winslow was ahead of his time. They gave you a snapshot glimpse of what you could see in the future. Julius Peppers is that way."

http://members.jacksonville.com/sports/football/jaguars/2012-10-03/story/julius-peppers-makes-bears-defense-go
 
The Bears’ linemen can cause havoc even when they don’t get a lot of sacks. They had just one sack in Dallas Monday night, but harassed Tony Romo into throwing five interceptions, two that were returned for touchdowns. They could make it a long day for Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
“They’re definitely one of the better defensive lines and they play with their hair on fire and we’ve got to be able to match that,’’ guard Uche Nwaneri said.
And it all starts with Peppers, who got a six-year $91.5 million free agent deal in 2010 with $42 million guaranteed. Many big-money free agents aren’t the same after they get the big money, but he’s the exception to the rule.
“He’s been everything — no, he’s been even more than what we wanted him to be when he became a Bear,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.
His sack total wasn’t eye-popping in his first two years with the Bears. He had 19, although he caused six fumbles. And he has just 2.5 this year.
But he opens things up for other players because opposing offenses have to pay so much attention to him.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, Peppers said at the start of the season, “Just because teams try to take me out of the game doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the game. You can still impact the game.’’
Of the double-teaming and chipping teams do to stop him, Pepper said, “Take it as a compliment. You also know you’re helping out your teammates. You might not get the looks you want to get as far as getting a single, but you’re helping somebody else. You’re trusting your teammates to get the job done.’’
He’s a main reason the Bears are third in the NFL in sacks with 15, two behind the Bengals, who boosted their total to 17 with the six against the Jaguars last Sunday.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton leads the team with four sacks while defensive end Israeal Idonije and Peppers each have 2.5 and rookie Shea McClellin, who’s still a backup, has two.
Two weeks ago, the defense throttled the Rams, 23-6, holding them to two field goals and scoring a touchdown on Major Wright’s 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.
And they do it without doing much blitzing because they can get to the quarterback with their front four.
They’re also stout in stopping the run and rank third in the league in rush defense.
Teammate Lance Briggs said Peppers is the player teams have to account for.
“You always have to chip him. He’s constantly chipped by running backs, or double-teamed,’’ Briggs said.
The Bears also keep him fresh by limiting his snaps. He played on 40 of the 70 defensive snaps the Bears had against Dallas.
And while he’s technically a defensive end, the Bears line him up all over the line.
Briggs said, “We move him around. He plays inside. He plays the interior as well as the outside creating some matchup problems for offensive lines. He’s just a guy who is a dominating force in the league.’’
Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey was familiar with Peppers from his days in Atlanta, when he had to scheme against Peppers twice a year.
“You’ve got to find him and it’s not like you can design your scheme around one guy and go, ‘He’s always lined up on this side.’ They’re moving him around. He’s a tough guy to block without help. He definitely can become a game wrecker,’’ Mularkey said.
Nwaneri said: “He’s a very dangerous player. You’ve got to keep him out of that zone. Those elite defensive ends get in zones and they get the tackle or guard on their heels. You don’t want that. He’s a great finisher at the quarterback.’’
Smith said he was shocked when Peppers couldn’t reach a deal with Carolina and hit the open market. It was like Christmas came early when the Bears got to sign him on the dotted line.
“And being a guy that’s been a fan of his from afar for a long time, early on you couldn’t let yourself really think that you really had a legitimate shot until it started to happen and we got a chance to meet Julius,’’ he said.
Smith said he felt like he was recruiting Peppers.
“The money will take care itself, but nowadays free agency is about recruiting and showing a player exactly what you have to offer. He saw it was a good fit,’’ he said.
When Peppers does line up at right end, he’ll take on Eugene Monroe in one of the better matchups in the game. In the opener at Minnesota, Monroe neutralized another noted pass rusher in Jared Allen. And Mularkey said Monroe only gave up one pressure against Cincinnati.
Monroe said of Peppers: “He’s a great athlete. He does a lot well. It’s a great challenge to be playing against him. I’m looking forward to it.’’
 
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...-idonije-sacks

While Julius Peppers was named NFC defensive player of the month for November on Wednesday, the rest of the Bears' season largely hinges on how his defensive linemates perform down the stretch.

Peppers had two sacks Sunday in a 25-20 loss in Oakland, giving him four for the month and eight for the season. That matches his 2010 production after he was signed to the largest contract in franchise history to re-charge Lovie Smith's defense with a fierce edge-rushing presence.

Peppers has 97 sacks in his career, putting him one big game away from triple digits and leaving him only 21/2 behind the Colts' Dwight Freeney for the most in the NFL since 2002. But the question is when a pass-rushing presence will emerge around Peppers — the player who benefits from the double teams Peppers commands on a regular basis and the one who cleans up the plays Peppers forces when quarterbacks flee his reach.

Israel Idonije, who matched Peppers with eight sacks last season, has three this season. Defensive tackle Henry Melton, whom coach Lovie Smith prodded to play better last month, has five. Amobi Okoye, a nickel pass rusher on the inside, has four. They've all flashed at times but none has been consistent, not since the season-opening victory over the Falcons anyway.

The Raiders felt left tackle Jared Veldheer could handle Peppers one-on-one last week after he got the best of the Vikings' Jared Allen the week before. Players and coaches alike were marveling at how Peppers manhandled Veldheer.

"Guy is a monster," weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs said.

Offered Idonije: "He literally is throwing guys all over the place. I mean, throwing tackles, tight ends, it doesn't matter who he's lined up against. He has his way with those guys. It's just incredible to watch."

It's the kind of performance that doesn't translate into stat sheets and doesn't even get its proper due on a highlight show.

"The numbers don't talk about what he did," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "It was the intensity of the game he played at, the speed. My God, the details of his pass rush. Forget the sacks already. Some of the rushes where the ball came out quick, they were some of the prettiest rushes you'd ever want to see. Just beautiful, the skill, the technique, the work habit, you know? He's starting to really come right now. It ignites everybody else around him."

What's interesting is most of Oakland's focus was on the interior of the Bears' line. That is where the Raiders chipped and sent help. A lot of weeks, Peppers does command the double teams, and that's when you expect someone else to win one-on-one situations. It's what Marinelli drills in training camp — winning those individual battles.

"It's different every week," Idonije said. "You just have to watch. Teams have guys they figure match up well."

Even though the sack figures are pedestrian, the pass defense has been solid. The Bears are tied for 20th in the NFL with 22 sacks, but opponents have a 78.0 passer rating, the seventh-lowest figure. Still, the pass rush has to improve if the Bears want to think about competing with the unbeaten Packers. This is a team that talked about its defensive line as one of the best in the league in preseason. Too often, Peppers is a one-man wrecking crew.

Marinelli said Idonije has been "a little bit up and down" but praised his work ethic. He said Okoye is improving on a weekly basis, and Melton has answered Smith's challenge. The third defensive end position, as usual, is unresolved. Chauncey Davis earned more playing time after he was solid against the run at Oakland in his first outing with the Bears.
 
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2005/11/07/sports/football/panthers-make-a-statement-by-routing-the-buccaneers.html
 

Peppers had only one sack coming into the game, but he controlled the line of scrimmage Sunday despite playing with a broken right hand. Peppers had 3 sacks.

 

During one Tampa Bay drive in the second quarter, Peppers induced guard Kenyatta Walker into moving before the snap three times in a four-play span. Walker knew that if he did not move quickly, he could not block Peppers.

"When you're going against arguably the best defensive lineman in the game, you're going to lose some sleep at night, especially when you're feeling that he's in a zone," Carolina defensive tackle Brentson Buckner said. "It's human nature. If you see me ball up my fist to hit you, you're going to move out the way, right? Just imagine that. When you start taking those punches, sooner or later you're going to jerk back."

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http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/panthers/2006-11-22-peppers-cover_x.htm
 
CHARLOTTE — Julius Peppers cannot fly. He cannot save the polar ice caps from melting or end conflict in the Middle East.
But when he's on a football field, he certainly seems capable of the impossible.
Ask those who see him daily about his amazing exploits, and their voices acquire the tone of a child describing a first roller-coaster ride. They rave about his size (6-7, 283 pounds) and his speed — he has run down Atlanta's Warrick Dunn. They gush so much about his greatness — and his agility, his flexibility, his work ethic, his energy — that the effusive praise almost seems cloying.
Peppers, the Carolina Panthers' Pro Bowl defensive end, is a great football player. The question is: How great?
"Because we see him every day, I don't think we realize how lucky we are," Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme says.
"Before our eyes," Carolina defensive end Al Wallace says, "we're seeing the maturation of a Hall of Fame-caliber player."
After watching Peppers notch three sacks, bat down a pass and recover a fumble in a 24-10 win against Tampa Bay, ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Joe Theismann put Peppers in rarefied air, comparing him to Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
"This is the best way to put in perspective the way we viewed Lawrence, and I think this is the way people should view Julius," Theismann says. "When coaches draw up defenses, they use letters to denote defensive players: 'C' for corner, 'S' for safety, so on. In Washington, we would use letters until it came to Lawrence. For him, we used No. 56, and it was always bigger than everything else. That visually put everything into context, saying, 'This guy is better than anybody else on that board.' "
Tall defensive ends are nothing new to the NFL. But Peppers, 26, stands out because he possesses the speed, quickness and agility of a basketball player.
"He's changing the sport," Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker says. "A defensive end, 280, 290, with his speed? You don't see that. You might get an end who is 290 pounds, but he's not moving that fast."
At the University of North Carolina, one of the nation's premier hoops programs, Peppers helped the Tar Heels to the 2000 Final Four. He once scored 21 points in an NCAA tournament game. As a sophomore he led UNC in field goal percentage (.643).
Playing basketball meant Peppers missed the offseason football weightlifting program and portions of spring practice, which "had a significant effect" on his football development, according to John Bunting, Peppers' coach at North Carolina. "But it also helped develop his competitive nature and his athleticism."
In Peppers' three seasons in Chapel Hill, he started 33 of 34 games and notched 30½ sacks, one short of the school record. "Now ordinarily that wouldn't mean much," Panthers coach John Fox says, "but the guy who had the record was Lawrence Taylor. And Julius played one less year."
Peppers' gridiron potential was obvious to his coaches. "We knew we were seeing just a glimpse of what he was capable of," says Bunting, who even considered using Peppers at tailback. "I knew once he became totally focused on football alone, the sky was the limit."
Peppers entered the draft after his junior season, and the Panthers chose him with the second overall pick. "No disrespect to anybody else available, but to take him No. 2 was a no-brainer," Fox says. "I count my blessings daily that we did that."
Peppers is notorious for his reticence. "I understand it comes with the territory," he says of the media interviews that he rarely grants. "I can deal with it. If I could have it my way, it would be another way. But it is what it is."
Peppers keeps a tight inner circle of confidants. It includes his high school coach, Brian Foster; a female friend who chooses to remain anonymous; a couple of teammates; and his academic adviser at UNC, Carl Carey.
Because they worked together year-round, Peppers came to trust Carey; he would allow nobody else to tutor him. Peppers remained close to Carey after leaving college and hired him to be his agent after Carey became certified in 2005.
"Julius has had to deal with a lot of people trying to surround him for the wrong reasons — rap groups, friends and others," Carey says. "I really believe the success everybody is seeing on the field now is Julius eliminating clutter from his life — people who meant him no good."
Peppers hasn't forgotten the experience of his rookie year when a trusted friend suggested he use a supplement. What Peppers didn't know was the supplement contained ephedra, a banned substance that resulted in a four-game suspension for Peppers.
"A lot of people want to be close to him, so he's careful," Rucker says. "He grew up in North Carolina, played high school ball here, two-sport star at the University of North Carolina, and now he plays professionally in his home state. Very rarely do you see that. So more people have followed him all the way through, and a lot of people in this state want to be his friend. So he's cautious of people wanting to get inside his circle."
Peppers, the youngest of three children, grew up in Bailey, N.C., a small town in the eastern part of the state. His father left the family when Julius was 8. His mother, Faye Brinkley, is a quiet woman — a trait she passed on to her son.
"I'm not exaggerating when I say that his freshman year of college, Julius gave one- and two-word answers to almost every question," Carey says. "If he gave a three-word answer, it was, 'I don't know.' I'm literally not kidding. His mother is very quiet, and I think he grew up only speaking when it was necessary."
While his teammates call him "J.P." or "Pepp," Peppers prefers to be called Julius. He was named after basketball star Dr. J — Julius Erving. Peppers' middle name, Frazier, honors former New York Knicks star Walt Frazier.
A few more details from Peppers' closely guarded personal life: He drives a black Range Rover; he enjoys reading Donald Goings, John Grisham and John Maxwell; he lives in an uptown Charlotte condominium, where he lounges in baggy sweat pants and often listens to classical music. In his spare time, he says, "I just like to hang out. I like to chill out at home alone. I watch some TV and surf the Internet."
Peppers helped a Raleigh, N.C., church rebuild after a flood destroyed its chapel in the late 1990s. He also gives money to Charlotte-area church programs to feed the homeless.
"He's not one of those guys you're going to see out at a club," Wallace says. "The same guy you see shy and reserved in here is the same way off the field. He'd never come off like, 'Hey, I'm Julius, and you guys are my sidekicks.' "
While Peppers does relish his privacy, he's not a hermit. The PlayStation and Xbox sessions with his teammates can get lively. "We're big fans of Madden Football," Wallace says. "So when we're not playing football we're. ... playing football. He's very competitive at that."
Peppers is a bit of a jokester and uses his quiet reputation to his advantage. "Little things, like tapping someone's shoulder then ducking away," Rucker says. "If two of us are standing there, Julius isn't going to be the first suspect.
"He gets away with a lot of stuff. Three or four of us might be in a crowd, and he'll call someone's name then duck back into the crowd. There are always some jokers in the bunch, so automatically you think they did it, while he's over there laughing."
Because of his size and speed, Peppers presents an unusual challenge to NFL coaches. He can line up anywhere on the field; he can rush the passer; he can drop into coverage. "You can't block him with one person," Theismann says. "You can say, 'Well, we'll just run at him.' But he's big enough to handle that. So then you say, 'I don't want to go at him; let's go away from him.' But then with his speed and motor he'll chase everything down."
When asked how much time he'd spent game-planning for Peppers before the Rams' 15-0 Week 11 loss to the Panthers, St. Louis coach Scott Linehan said, "I'm not sure we have enough time to talk about all the problems he presents. Between him and that whole front and that secondary, it's hard to focus on him. But you must because he can wreck the game before you get the fifth step on a drop-back pass. And now he's starting to blow up the running game."
Peppers has played at a high level since he entered the league in 2002, but he's having his finest year, leading the NFL with 11 sacks.
"This year, and what I haven't seen in the past, is his desire not just to be the best defensive lineman, but to be the best, undisputed defensive player in the league," Wallace says. "When he decides to get a sack, it's impossible to stop him."
Case in point: Before Tampa Bay's last possession in the Nov. 13 MNF game, Peppers turned to his teammates and said without a hint of arrogance, "I'm gonna go steal me a sack." Rucker blinked, and Peppers said: "Watch me."
His 9-yard sack of Buccaneers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on fourth down sealed the win.
"Afterwards I'm thinking, that was kind of like Babe Ruth, pointing to the outfield and then hitting a home run," Rucker says. "To be able to go out and back your words up is absolutely scary."
Perhaps because they both attended North Carolina, the Peppers-Lawrence Taylor comparisons are inevitable. Of all the players in today's game, Theismann says Peppers is "the one I liken to Lawrence. The thing that separates them from a lot of players is instinct. A lot of coaches have to teach guys to take angles. But he's the kind of guy who can weave through traffic and be at the point of impact before everyone else."
Panthers safety Mike Minter often sits with Peppers in team meetings, and the two are close. Last year Minter told his friend, "Pepp, you have the ability to be like Lawrence Taylor. That guy had the mentality 'I don't stop. No matter where the ball is, I'm going to get to it. No matter how many people they send at me, I'm going to get to it.' "
This year, Minter says, Peppers has taken on that kind of mind-set. He has refused to let the double- and triple-teams frustrate him; he rarely gives up on any play, no matter where the ball is on the field.
"With that kind of attitude, what can you do?" Minter says. "You can't do nothing except hope he don't play that week."
Rucker says: "To be honest with you, if he keeps playing like this, I see the career sack record going down. I see a lot of numbers going down in a lot of categories. Forced fumbles, fumble recoveries. ... The longer he plays, those records are just going to fall."
All of which presents a question: Is it possible to over-hype Peppers?
"You know what? I don't think so, especially when it's coming from his peers," Wallace says. "You'll never hear him over-hype himself; you probably won't even hear him say much at all."
But Wallace thinks his teammate will ultimately validate the Taylor comparisons and carve his own path to Canton: "To be in this locker room with him, to see the things he's capable of ... most of us realize now we're in a very rare moment in time when we get to play with a guy who, one day, is going to own one of those nice yellow (Hall of Fame) jackets."
 
 
 WHAT MAKES 'PEPP' SPECIAL?  clear.gif
"Julius Peppers is the best defensive player in football today."
That's according to ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Joe Theismann, who witnessed Peppers' three-sack performance in the Carolina Panthers' 24-10 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 13.
Peppers' size, speed and strength are evident. Here are some other factors that make Peppers outstanding in the words of the people who see him on a daily basis:
Instinct
In a 20-12 win against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 8, Peppers made a play they're still talking about in Charlotte. Browns fullback Lawrence Vickers took a handoff right but pulled up to pass the ball. Peppers, playing left end, read the play before it began to develop, sprinted downfield and tipped the ball away from tight end Kellen Winslow II. And he wasn't in a zone blitz.
"No, no," Carolina coach John Fox says. "We were running a combo stunt where the tackle comes out and (Peppers) goes in. That week I was sitting in my office and (a member of the) defensive staff came in and said, 'Foxy, have you seen this yet?' I went back in and watched the tape, and we just shook our heads."
Agility
"It must have been his first or second year," Carolina defensive end Al Wallace says. "Julius was down at the goal line and a running back tried to chop-block him. Julius tried to jump (over) him, but he got caught and the back flips him over, a 360.
"Well, any mere mortal would probably fall down, and that would be the end of that play. But he lands on his feet, keeps his bearings and gets a solid hit on the quarterback. In the film room we rewound that tape, and nobody could say anything. We were thinking, 'Did someone edit that tape?' I mean, how is that possible?"
Flexibility
"His flexibility is his best attribute, no doubt," Carolina safety Mike Minter says. "Thing is, he doesn't stretch! He's got that natural flexibility, and that's what makes him so scary, because it's so natural. This guy could get out of bed, drive over here and go straight to practice."
Work ethic
"He's got unbelievable talent, but the most impressive thing is the way he practices," Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme says. "I was lucky enough to play with Willie Roaf, one of the best offensive linemen ever. And let me tell you, Willie Roaf practiced hard. In his ninth or 10th year, he could easily miss a day of training camp.
"One day he was sore and I asked him, 'Willie, why don't you take an afternoon off?' " Delhomme remembers. "He said, 'Jake, I can't do that to the other guys. They'd be taking more reps. It's not fair to them.' And that's the way Peppers is." 

http://www.basketballforum.com/#/topics/197844

The standards are simply different for Julius Peppers.
When discussing the preternatural brilliance of the Carolina Panthersdefensive end, the normal compliments don't seem sufficient.

Because he's so singular an athlete -- by alarming degrees sometimes, even in a pro locker room -- it's often hard for those who watch him play to quantify just how good he is and how good he might become.

The only explanation, it seems, is that the 6-foot-6, 290-pound behemoth simply started out ahead of most and has continued to progress.

"It's like Mother Nature just decided to scratch her chin and say 'I'm going to create me something special right here,'" Panthers radio announcer Mick Mixon said of Peppers, whom he covered at the University of North Carolina.

If you want to get people talking, ask them the most amazing thing they've ever seen the fourth-year defensive end do. In most cases it will be one of those highlight reel plays, something involving jumping high or running fast or getting away from extremely large men who attack him in multiples.

But perhaps the most impressive thing is that with his profile rising and millions in the bank, Peppersseems unaffected by it all.

Quiet and humble -- yet of a steely resolve -- Peppers shrugs off expectations as easily as single blocks, setting a career course none may be able to match.

"I'm doing well," Peppers said. "I'm still working on things to get better. I'm not where I want to be. I'll never get where I want to be. But I'm satisfied with where I am so far."

That he acknowledges room for improvement puts him ahead of most. He's already widely regarded as one of the top two or three defensive players in the NFL, but sees more to accomplish.

"I don't think you ever get to the point where you're as good as you want to be," he said. "Or at least I don't feel like you can do that, because I'm always trying to do anything I can to get better.

"The top is perfection and perfection is something that normally we don't reach. So that's why I say that."

Peppers has always been pushing toward that standard.

Brian Foster remembered seeing Peppers for the first time as a tall, lanky, graceful seventh grader. They put him at running back when he got to Southern Nash High.

He ran for 3,501 yards and 46 touchdowns in three years on the varsity, one of the early signs of what was to come.

"It didn't take a genius to figure out what he had athletically," said Foster, now the Firebirds head football coach. "He was just about to do so many different things. You just don't see a 6-6 kid doing spin moves the way he did. You could just put him in the basketball gym and let him go, because he was just that good.

"But to Julius, he was just playing, because he didn't realize how special he was."

Foster, like many other who have crossed his path, talks at length about Peppers' gentle personality. He mentioned that Peppers led the Southern Nash basketball team in assists, even though he was by far the best player. He recalled Peppers being a little surprised when besieged by autograph requests when he went home for a football playoff game against Kinston two years ago.

"As many people as want to talk to me about what kind of player he is, I tell them he's a better person," Foster said. "He's just so unselfish, works so hard, does so many things for so many people. I just can't say enough about him."

Though tucked away at a small rural high school, he was a Parade All-American as a an all-purpose football talent and recruited by nearly every significant Division I program.

But nearly every player who makes it to the NFL was the best player at his own high school. It was when Peppers arrived at UNC that it became clear he was something different -- and not just on the football field.

Mixon, who called Tar Heels basketball and football before joining the Panthers, said his most vivid memory of Peppers in college came from Dec. 7, 1999, his freshman year, when he joined the basketball team a few games into the season.

The Tar Heels were playing in Buffalo, and as expected, the game got out of hand early, giving the freshman forward the opportunity to get on the court. It didn't take long for him to introduce himself as a player.

"There's a breakaway and he comes running down the court," Mixon said, voice rising with the re-telling. "Somebody pitches it ahead, and Pep gets it, and it looked like he jumped four feet in the air. And he's got the ball in his left hand, and he's got it way back here, and he slammed it in.

"I mean, the sound in that gym, even the Buffalo players on their own bench. I remember thinking several of them looked like a spider when you whack it with the heel of your shoe, the way its legs will fly up all at once. That's the way the Buffalo players looked, they were going 'Oh my gosh.' They were high-fiving each other, the Carolina guys were high-fiving each other.

"Just to see Pep get that weight -- I knew him when he was just a baby, just 275 pounds -- and that girth up so easily and so quickly off the ground. I still get chills thinking about it."

Then-UNC coach Bill Guthridge often felt the same way, marveling at how good Peppers could be with so little time invested in basketball. Peppers quickly became more than a novelty, playing a key role as the Tar Heels made a Final Four run.

Guthridge recalled key rebounds in the upset over No. 1-seed Stanford, the way Peppers became the center of the interior defense when starter Brendan Haywood ended up in foul trouble the next game against Tennessee. Peppersplayed most of the final eight minutes of that game, playing physically but intelligently after picking up his fourth foul with six minutes left.

"He had to be our guy in the post, play the middle of our point zone, none of which he had done much of," Guthridge said. "That's where his savvy came in. He had all the tools, but he became a pretty good basketball player in time."

Comparisons are difficult to make with Peppers.

Guthridge said despite Peppers' hulking frame, it was his soft hands that stood out, hands that reminded him of basketball greats Bobby Jones and Adrian Dantley. Combined with his strength inside, that had some thinking his professional future could have been in basketball.

Ryan Blake, the NBA's assistant director of scouting, wasn't sure where Peppers would have been drafted with only two years of college hoops experience, "but he was definitely a prospect in our minds."

Blake said that while Peppersclearly lacked polish, many of the same things said about him as a basketball player were once said about Ben Wallace, the 6-foot-9, 240-pound power forward who helped lead Detroit to the 2003-04 NBA title with defense and rebounding.

"It's a good analogy," Blake said of the Peppers-Wallace comparison. "Both are undersized for the power forward spot, but they make up for it by being strong and athletic. Like Ben, Julius played above his height."

But it didn't take long for most to realize football was where Pepperswould make his biggest impact, even if it wasn't always clear how.

When he got to Carolina, he was given uniform number 49, partly because they didn't know exactly where to put him.

Tar Heels football coach John Bunting has little doubt Pepperscould be "a dominant tight end, an All-Pro tight end like Tony Gonzalez. Heck, he might be able to play safety."

But that would be taking away from the things Peppers does best, and Bunting had a front-row seat for one of the early entries into the lexicon of Peppers highlights.

On Oct. 20, 2001, Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler (then considered a Michael Vick-type talent) was trying to throw a screen pass, but threw it with plenty of steam. Peppers got off a cut-block, jumped straight into the air to tip it, then intercepted the ball several yards downfield.

"He's simply the most unique athlete I've ever seen on the football field, and I had (linebacker) Derrick Thomas in Kansas City," Bunting said. "Julius just has every tool you want in a football player."

Bunting suggested Peppers could change positions easily.

"He could trim down to 250 or 260 pounds and be a dominant outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense," said Bunting, who coached in the NFL for eight years before taking over the Tar Heels prior to Peppers' last college season.

As intriguing as that seems, there's one major flaw.

"Where's he going to lose 35 pounds?" Panthers defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac said. "There's not a lot of extra on him at 288."

That size made him the prototype NFL defensive end before he took his first snap. But there was much refinement that needed to occur -- which has in his first three years in the league.

"When he first came here, he wasn't exactly a run-stuffer," Panthers coach John Fox said. "He's become very good at that. He's not a one-dimensional guy."

Which is why the lore of Peppers' skill is filled with many different plays.

Sacks seem pedestrian. Tackles are limiting and don't begin to reflect the complexity of what he can do. Even plays such as his one-handed recovery of a Vick fumble which he returned 60 yards for a touchdown last December don't seem to capture his ability.

Trgovac could seemingly talk all day about a play at Denver last year, and not the 101-yard interception return most recall.

On the play before, a third-and-goal from the Panthers 3, Peppers was blocked away from Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer's roll-out. And though Plummer's one of the more athletic passers in the league, Peppers rolled his hips, got back to his feet, turned and chased Plummer out of bounds a yard shy of the goal line.

"There's not another defensive end that can make that play," said Trgovac, a man not given to brash pronouncements. "Nobody else could get fooled and recover like that. It should have been a touchdown, and then there wouldn't have been the big interception return."

Quarterback Jake Delhomme recalled laughing when he saw Peppers chase down Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman from behind -- from the other side of the field.

"It's not supposed to happen," Delhomme said. "I remember watching it on the screen because I normally don't get to watch our defense during a game, and thinking, 'That just doesn't happen.'"

Men who approach 300 pounds aren't supposed to run like that. But when the defensive backs and running backs and receivers were picking fantasy track teams last year, they all seemed to want Peppers on their 4x100 relay team.

He said the fastest he's ever been timed in the 40-yard dash was 4.55 seconds.

"But I've raced guys who ran 4.3s and beat them," he said, a slight grin creeping over his face. "I think speed is different. Game speed is different. Some guys can run 4.3s and they get on the field and they're slow. It's a different type speed you can have."

It's also a different kind of agility.

Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins recalled a play from Peppers' rookie year, when he was turned upside down and landed in a back bend.

"He had his hands on the ground and his feet on the ground at the same time," Jenkins said. "I remember saying, 'If that was me, my career would be over.' But he just walked off the field and I was like 'Is he serious?' ... If I did that, I'd probably tear every ligament I had in my knees and shoulders and probably pop a couple discs out of my spinal cord.

"We call him the next evolution of man. Some of the things he does, it just doesn't make sense."

The scary part? He can get better.

With a straight face, veteran safety Mike Minter suggested earlier this year that Peppers could break the NFL's single-season sack record of 22.5.

Fox says Peppers can become more proficient at other things, because of the way Peppersworks.

"He expects it; that's what you want in a player," Fox said. "It's how he practices every day -- he comes to work and brings his lunch pail. I think he has developed his game more each year. He understands the game faster. This game is about playing fast. The more you see it, the faster you get. When you match that with the fact you are fast, that's when you get great players.

"That attitude is the thing that's awesome. When you think you've kind of got it figured out, that's when you get bit. He's still continuing to try to learn. He's become a student of the game. Each opponent brings a new challenge. Each style of offense is a new challenge, and he thrives on it."

Peppers is aware that with each year, he's going to see new wrinkles, new ways opponents will try to slow him down.

"Everybody knows I'm a good player, and everybody's going to prepare to stop me," he said, without a trace of arrogance.

As talented as he is, he is just as cognizant of what he can do. And that may ultimately be the thing that separates him.

When asked which of his moments best sums up his ability, he pauses and thinks, scratching the back of his head.

"There's not really one play," he said. "I think a lot of different plays illustrate the range of abilities I have on the field.

"I think the best is yet to come."

https://boxden.com/showthread.php?t=786596

Last weekend, Brian Foster, the football coach at Southern Nash High in Bailey, received a text message on his phone.

It has been a tough year for Foster, whose brother died during the summer, and the message arrived at one of those moments when the sadness was creeping in again.

The message was short. It said, in essence, I love you and your family and thank you for all you've done for me.

It was from Julius Peppers.

"He's not going to say a lot," Foster said, "but when he says it, he means it."

Julius Peppers is just trying to get by being quiet and shy in a world full of pushing and shoving.

On the football field where he plays a violent game, Peppers plays with a transcendent grace. He is blessed with the uncommon combination of speed, size and power, allowing him to redefine the defensive end position he plays for the Carolina Panthers. He leads the NFL with eight sacks.

Like smoke, Peppers can seemingly be everywhere. Like Batman, he can come swooping in from nowhere.

"It's rare when you have the opportunity to see a player who is ahead of his time," said Howie Long, a Hall of Fame defensive end and Fox Sports NFL analyst. "Lawrence Taylor was ahead of his time. Kellen Winslow was ahead of his time. They gave you a snapshot glimpse of what you could see in the future. Julius Peppers is that way."

What does Peppers think when he hears the hosannas?

"It's like they're talking about somebody else," he says in a voice deep as distant thunder.

Julius Peppers has always heard voices.

He heard the men who drank beer and idled their lives away near the trailer where he lived in the tiny eastern North Carolina town of Bailey without his father.

He heard his mother, Faye Brinkley, who is almost as reticent as her 26-year-old son, when she gave him direction.

He heard Foster, who was an a.ssistant football coach when he befriended Peppers long before the athletic world knew about the big kid who dunked in junior high basketball games and could anchor the boys' 4x400 relay team in the high school state championship.

He heard Carl Carey, the academic advisor to the North Carolina football team when Peppers was in Chapel Hill, who saw the potential in Peppers the person the way scouts and coaches saw his potential as an athlete.

He heard the disappointment when he was suspended four games as a rookie for unknowingly using a banned supplement.

He heard the recruiters and the salesmen, the friends and the vultures, the good and the bad.

Peppers has heard it all.

And never said much about it.

"I'd just rather listen than talk," he says.

But like quietly falling snow, there is accumulation. There is a depth to Peppers that reaches beyond his closing speed chasing down a tailback or his ability to physically dominate blockers the size of boulders.

Ask one of the few people closest to him and she will tell you, "When he talks you want to listen. Whatever he says will be well thought out. A lot of people mistake his shyness for arrogance. It's the opposite. It's how humble he is."

Video game monster

In the prime of his football life, Peppers has found a peace and comfort that cloaks him like the oversized sweat pants and hooded sweatshirts he favors in the cold. The word "discipline" is tattooed on one of Peppers' wrists. On his hand, it's never far away.To say Peppers is not who you think he is would be inaccurate, because few people know who Peppers is when he takes off his shoulder pads and helmet.

His teammate Mike Minter makes a point of checking out the books Peppers has with him on flights to road games. He's seen best-sellers, motivational books, history books. But always books.

At home in his uptown condominium, Peppers occasionally plays classical music, appreciating the way it soothes him. He doesn't know the name of the pieces he hears, but he knows what he likes.

He likes chicken tenders, a well-done filet and he loves what he calls Thanksgiving turkey, the one dish he might ask his mother to cook for him.

He loves leaving the stadium in his black Range Rover and going home by himself to watch television, play video games or read.

It's where he can be Julius.

Not Pep. Not J.P. Not the guy thousands watch on Sunday, hundreds of them wearing his No. 90 jersey.

Just Julius, which is what he likes to be called.

When he's at work, Peppers is surrounded by teammates and he has gradually dropped his guard, showing more of the personality he says he often intentionally hides.

It's like the dimples in his cheeks. He has them. They're just hard to see under his thick black beard.

Lock Peppers into a video-game battle in Madden football like the ones that occasionally flare up in the dorms at training camp or at DeShaun Foster's place and Peppers' gets chatty.

"If he's beating you, he turns from a quiet guy into a monster," teammate Mike Rucker said. "He has this little rhythm he gets into when he starts talking."

Small circle of friends

When Peppers leaves the stadium, he walks into the world where he's a reluctant celebrity. He understands the trappings of fame, but he prefers a simpler life.

On a normal day, Peppers said, he will talk to only two or three people away from the stadium. One is Carey. Another is a female friend in Charlotte. Not a girlfriend, Peppers said, just a special friend.

"People are different," Peppers said, sitting in a small room tucked just outside the Panthers' locker room. "Everybody has their own way of doing things. Keyshawn (Johnson) would embrace (the attention). It's his personality. It's how he is.

"There's nothing wrong with me being quiet. It's who I am."

Peppers goes out occasionally, to restaurants or clubs or shopping.

"He's definitely not a club guy. He's a wallflower," Peppers' female friend (who asked not to be identified) said.

For all that's great about being an All-Pro defensive end with a contract worth up to $50 million, there is a darker, more threatening side. Almost everybody wants to be your friend, but not for the same reasons.

It's why Peppers' circle of close friends is small enough to fit around a kitchen table.

`I'm complex but simple'

In Bailey, Foster became his friend and his coach. On Sunday afternoons, Foster would take Peppers to the high school gym, where they would play basketball, often saying little, just to take Peppers where he wanted to be.He would take him to his house, where his wife would help Peppers with his school work. In the summers, when the heat was merciless, Foster would see Peppers running down the road, chasing what he now has.

Sometimes, when Foster would drive Peppers home, the coach would point out the guys with nowhere to go.

"You could be one of those guys," Foster told Peppers more than once. "All it takes is one bad decision and 20 years later you'll be sitting there with them."

Peppers listened.

It hasn't saved him from mistakes, but being young and wealthy and famous doesn't come with a how-to manual.

"That's been the hardest adjustment for me -- who is real and who is not," Peppers said. "That's trial and error.

"I've been burned a few times -- once in a relationship and other times when people were trying to get what they could get. There have been a lot of people who just want to hang around because of the person they see on Sunday. They aren't my true friends. People are clever that way."

Peppers said he learned a valuable lesson his rookie season when he drew a four-game suspension for taking a diet supplement that included ephedra, a banned substance. Peppers, who trusted a friend who suggested the supplement, paid a penalty that reached beyond the $1.5-million he estimated the suspension cost him.

It hurt his reputation. When reports surfaced recently that San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman would be suspended for violating the league policy, Peppers' mind raced back to the end of the 2002 season.

Since then, Peppers has been more careful in everything he does. With Carey handling his business affairs, Peppers has found a balance in enjoying his life today while planning for the future.

Blessed with wealth, Peppers has shared it. Though he has never publicized it, Peppers has made significant financial donations to churches in Charlotte, Bailey and around the area to help feed the homeless and counsel young people.

He has hosted events called "Rites of Passage," that focus on providing direction for young African-American males and plans to do more in the future.

He does little things and big things but, like everything but his football, Peppers prefers it low profile.

"I'm really a simple guy," he said. "I'm complex but simple. That's because I want my privacy."

A few years ago, he bought a house for his mother in Durham, his way of saying thank you.

She had an idea it was coming.

When Peppers was in college, he was at home on the Saturday night before Mother's Day. After his mother went to bed, Peppers slipped a handwritten note under her door for her to find the next morning.

In the three-page letter written on notebook paper, Peppers told his mother how much he loved her and all he would do for her when he turned pro.

Faye Brinkley still has that letter in the bedroom of her Durham house. Every so often, she re-reads the letter.

Because Julius Peppers doesn't say a lot. But when he says it, he means it.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.yahoo.com/amphtml/news/nfls-next-big-thing-051200184--nfl.html

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – He's 300 pounds now. Or something darn close. That is what they all keep saying/marveling about Julius Peppers.

He's 6-foot-7 and up 12 or so pounds from last year to pack more muscle for more run stopping, but he's certainly not one of those obesity candidates everyone is talking about. We are talking a ripped-up, revved-up three bills.

Didn't you see him in the preseason nearly tear off Eli Manning's arm, scoop up the ball, dance 29 yards into the end zone and promptly dunk it over the goal post?

Did he look 300 pounds to you?

"He looks about 250 and running a 4.5, 4.6," said teammate Mike Minter, whose daily bird's-eye view of Peppers on the Carolina Panthers' practice field never ceases to delight. "That is amazing when you look at it.

"You are looking at a guy who athletically is probably the best 300-pounder that has ever walked."

"I'm just filling out," offered Peppers.

Combine that freak of nature athletic ability, a work ethic that has added bulk without losing balance and a surging understanding of the game and you have a season where the potential may be on the verge of meeting performance.

Ask players, coaches and personnel directors around the NFL about who the next big thing is – the next guy capable of dominating, the next defensive megastar in the mold of Butkus, Singletary, L.T., Smith, White and Lewis – and the name invariably mentioned first is Peppers, the Panthers' fourth-year defensive end who made his first Pro Bowl last season.

That is one reason why Carolina has emerged as the chic pick to win the NFC. This could be the year Peppers, 25, becomes the best player in football.

"The guy has played what, [three] seasons?" Minter said. "He is still a baby. You don't really start to understand this game until Year 7, 8, 9. That is why you see these guys break out at those years. Reggie White at [Year] 7, 8, 9, he was killing. Michael Strahan did the same type thing. Ray Lewis started coming along around that time.

"That is when the great ones become great ones. That is why you can still talk about his potential. The Pro Bowl? That's peanuts compared to what he is going to be able to do when he starts to understand what is going on."

The physical part of the game has never been a question. Growing up in Bailey, N.C. (population 530) – "Don't close your eyes," he said, "you might miss it" – Peppers was a prep All-American in both football and basketball. He was so light on his feet he was a sprinter and triple jumper on the high school track team.

At the University of North Carolina, he not only terrorized ACC quarterbacks but also played power forward on the Tar Heels' 2000 Final Four team.

His speed and athletic ability led the Panthers to select him second overall in the 2002 draft. The only questions centered on his ability to bulk up – playing hoops in the offseason had kept his girth down – and his ability to gain the mental capacity to be more than just a physically gifted player.

"I had a lot to learn," Peppers said.

A player of Peppers' incredible natural talent can go one of two ways: One, he can rest on that ability and become a heck of a player, even a Pro Bowler. (After all, this is a player who, without having a clue as a rookie, went out and recorded 12 sacks in 12 games.) Or two, he can apply himself to be one of the truly great ones.

There really wasn't a way to know on draft day which way Peppers would go. Carolina thinks it knows now.

"He is a guy who takes a lot of pride in what he does," Panthers coach John Fox said. "He has put in a lot of time this offseason and I have said it many times – he is a guy who just continues to get better."

The progress has been steady.

"He has gotten a lot better because he is starting to realize things before they happen to him," defensive tackle Brentson Buckner said. "Being a young guy [who was] not playing much football, there is a lot of stuff that can surprise you. Now you starting to recognize stuff and it is helping."

Peppers is now a fixture not only in the weight room, where things come easy, but also in the film room, where they don't.

"It is getting a little easier to recognize things," said Peppers, who had 11 sacks last season. "A big part of this game is mental preparation. Over the course of the last three years, I think that is where I have made big strides, watching tape and knowing opponents. Getting better from the tape. That is the best tool to learn from – watching tape in the meeting room.

"I am feeling good. It's my fourth year so I have been doing it for a little while."

There was the time in 2003 when then-Cowboys wideout Joey Galloway got loose in the secondary and appeared headed for pay dirt when he got run down from behind by Peppers.

"He chased him down like a 5-year-old child," then-teammate Omari Jordan said at the time. "It was like one of those cowboys with the bull. He just tied him up. I saw that and I said, Oh man. He just chased down Joey Galloway, one of the fastest players in the league.' "

There was the time last year when he grabbed a Michael Vick fumble with one hand and ran 60 yards for a touchdown. There was the time at Denver when he not only intercepted a pass but returned it 97 yards.

There was the game against Tampa Bay last season when he blocked a field goal, recorded a sack and returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown and all anyone wanted to talk about was how he saved a TD by running down Bucs back Michael Pittman on a 68-yard screen play.

One day, all of these highlights are going to make a great NFL Films show because, of all the amazing athletes the NFL has seen, Julius Peppers can hang with any of them.

Those exceptional skills have made Peppers the matchup problem/headache for every opponent.

"In the first preseason game, [Washington] game-planned him," Minter said. "They double- and triple-[teamed] him. Who game-plans someone the first preseason game? That is how good they think he is."

"Every time we play him," Atlanta's Michael Vick said, "I look for him [coming] off that edge, and I have to worry about protecting my back side or front side or whatever side he's on because he's going to pose a threat."

But none of that will make Peppers the best defensive player in the league, just the most exciting. That's why Fox isn't prone to gushing about his budding megastar.

He wants to take Peppers from good to great, from crazed to consistent, from highlight-reel player to someone who also excels at mundane chores such as stuffing the run.

"He'll determine that," Fox said.

Peppers just smiles at this notion. He's heard it. He's understood it. He's worked on it. It is why he is pushing 300 pounds. The extra weight will help him jam rushing lanes, deal with double teams and live up to the potential he has been hearing since his days back in Bailey.

"I feel like I am getting closer," he said. "The key is just [forgetting] about what you did yesterday or last year. I did some things last year – my first Pro Bowl, a few awards – but you have to throw those things out the door and start over.

"I feel all the tools are there. All the moves are there. Everything I need on the field is there. I just feel like I need to be a little more consistent and start fast at the beginning of the year. Individually, I didn't start fast. It has always been the middle of the season and the end of the season when I think my game starts picking up.

"But this year I want to come out of the blocks fast."

He looked like he meant it.

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