Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Spotlight: Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers

Julius Peppers, left, is not as dominant as he was in his early years but still a threat. Peppers, 35, has seven sacks this season, his second with Green Bay.
Julius Peppers, left, is not as dominant as he was in his early years but still a threat. Peppers, 35, has seven sacks this season, his second with Green Bay. AP

Height: 6-7 Weight: 287

Season: 14th College: North

Carolina

Strengths: Peppers created buzz in 2002 when he ran a 4.75 in the 40 and had a 36  1/2 -inch vertical jump at his Pro Day. The Panthers used the second overall choice on him, and he lived up to the part. In his eight seasons in Carolina, he became one of the most dominant defensive ends in football. He made 81 sacks, six interceptions, forced 30 fumbles, recovered seven fumbles and scored three touchdowns for the Panthers. He spent four years in Chicago and is in his second season with the Packers. Peppers ranks third among active players with 132.5 career sacks. He is tied with Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O’Neal for 12th in NFL history.

Weaknesses: Father Time seems to have caught Peppers, 35. He has not had a double-digit sack season since 2012 when he was with the Bears. Peppers made seven sacks in 2013, seven in 2014 and has seven this season. He is a shell of his former dominant self and likely close to retirement. Peppers, though, still has his moments. In his past 16 games, dating to last season, he has 11.5 sacks. Peppers and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt were the only players in the NFL last season to have at least one sack (seven), a forced fumble (four), a fumble recovery (three), an interception (two) and a defensive touchdown (two).

Last game: He made three tackles, a sack and forced a fumble in the Packers’ 27-23 victory over the Detroit Lions.

Who has to stop him? The Packers will play Peppers on both sides. That means left tackle Tyron Smith and right tackle Doug Free each will have turns trying to stop him. Smith, an All-Pro last season, has not had his best season. He has allowed seven sacks, according to STATS, and has two holding penalties. Free has allowed three sacks, with eight false starts and one hold.

Notable: Peppers is tied for No. 3 in the NFL in forced fumbles since 1994 with 48. … He has 11 career interceptions. … He is the first player in NFL history with 100 career sacks and four interception returns for touchdowns. … He has blocked 13 kicks in his career, including 12 field goals. … Peppers has been selected to eight Pro Bowls (2004-06, 2008-12). … Three times he has been a first-team All-Pro (2004, 2006, 2010). … He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s. … Peppers has played in 124 consecutive regular-season games, tied for the longest active streak among NFL linebackers.

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