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Mel Kiper Jr. is right: the Green Bay Packers should address their pass rush in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.

It’s why the ESPN draft analyst has the Packers taking defensive end Marcus Davenport of UT-San Antonio with their first-round pick, No. 14 overall, in his first mock draft of 2018.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder who had 21.5 career sacks in college was the second pure pass rusher to come off Kiper’s board. The other, N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb, went No. 3 to the Colts. Kiper also had a linebacker — Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, who’s a potential pass rusher — at No. 12 to the Bengals.

Either way, the Packers would be getting one of the top pass rushers in the draft.

But they shouldn’t stop there. Not with how bereft they were of edge rushers this past season. They had only two players with more than five sacks, and none even came close to double digits. Clay Matthews led the team with 7.5, and Nick Perry had 7.

Matthews will turn 32 this offseason and is entering the final season of his contract. He underwent knee surgery already this offseason and missed two games in 2017 because of other injuries.

Perry, who signed a five-year, $60 million deal, couldn’t follow up his career-best season in 2016 (when he had 11 sacks). He reverted to his oft-injured ways, missing four games.

It’s why new general manager Brian Gutekunst might have to go all-in on pass rushers early in the draft, unless he’s able to find at least one impact rusher in free agency. His predecessor, Ted Thompson, ignored the position in free agency last year until he signed Ahmad Brooks (who had 1.5 sacks all season) at the end of the preseason. He waited until the fourth round of the draft to take an edge rusher, Wisconsin outside linebacker Vince Biegel, whose foot surgery last May all but ruined his rookie year.

It wouldn’t be an upset if Gutekunst drafted multiple pass rushers in this draft. He watched his old boss, Thompson, take defensive backs with his first two picks last year (cornerback Kevin King and safety Josh Jones).

For what it’s worth, Kiper had the Packers taking running back Christian McCaffrey a year ago at this time in his first mock draft of 2017. McCaffrey ended up going much higher, at No. 8 overall to Carolina, and Kiper’s mocks will surely change as draft season progresses.

Fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay’s first 2018 mock draft had the Packers taking a pass rusher, Boston College outside linebacker Harold Landry. Kiper had Landry at No. 25 to the Titans in his first mock.

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The Green Bay Packers released defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois — again.It’s the second time this season they’ve let the ninth-year veteran go.

The first time came after he played just six snaps in the regular-season opener. They brought him back in Week 3.

On Wednesday, they released him again. Although they didn’t immediately replace him on the roster, they’re likely to fill his spot with rookie fourth-round outside linebacker Vince Biegel, who appears ready to come off the physically unable to perform list.

Biegel returned to practice on Oct. 18, the earliest possible date he could have taken the field after starting the season on PUP. It was the first time he was on the field since Packers rookie camp in May, when a recurring foot problem forced him to undergo a second surgery in less than year. Biegel first had surgery in the fall of 2016 during his senior season at Wisconsin.

The Packers hope Biegel can boost their pass rush, which has only seven sacks from their outside linebacker group (3.5 from Nick Perry, 2.5 from Clay Matthews and 1 from Ahmad Brooks).

Biegel would have to be activated or placed on injured reserve by the end of this week, when his three-week window to practice without counting against the roster ends.

“It’s like any player coming off whether it’s IR or PUP, there’s thresholds you have to jump over,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said this week. “I thought he did a nice job practicing going into the New Orleans game. He’s going to have an opportunity to compete, and then we’ll make the decision whether to bring him up to the 53, and then from that you make the decision on the 46.”

Francois signed a one-year, $2 million contract that included a $250,000 signing bonus during free agency this past offseason. When the Packers re-signed him, they gave him nearly the exact same contract minus the signing bonus. As a vested veteran, he’s eligible to claim the rest of his $1.25 million base salary as termination pay. Players are allowed to do that just once in their careers.

In all, Francois appeared in six games for the Packers and made just two tackles.

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Now we know why Jordy Nelson was not on the field for the last drive of Sunday’s comeback win in Dallas.

Nelson had a back injury.

He showed up on Wednesday’s injury report. But it didn’t keep the Green Bay Packers receiver off the practice field, and he doesn’t think it will be an issue Sunday at Minnesota.

Nelson did everything during the portion of practice that was open the media and was listed as a full participant on the post-practice report.

“I went through everything like normal [and] feel good,” Nelson said. “It’s nothing serious. Everything is good. Like I said, practicing all week and playing on Sunday.”

The NFL’s leader in touchdown catches (six) did not play after he landed awkwardly after failing to come down with a two-point conversion pass in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys. Nelson appeared to wince after he landed. He stood on the sideline with his helmet on during the last drive but never got back in the game.

Running back Ty Montgomery also was listed as a full participant in Wednesday’s practice — the first time he’s had designation since he broke multiple ribs in Week 4 against the Bears. However, the Packers’ only full-pads practice of the week comes on Thursday. If Montgomery makes it through that as a full participant, then perhaps he has a legitimate chance to return against the Vikings.

However, after the way rookie Aaron Jones played against the Cowboys (19 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown), coach Mike McCarthy might have to think about going with Jones as his No. 1 running back regardless of Montgomery’s status.

“I’m not sure really what Ty’s availability is going to be No. 1,” McCarthy said before Wednesday’s practice. “No. 2 we got to get Aaron ready. We’ve got to get Jamaal [Williams] ready.”

The only players who did not practice Wednesday all were on defense: outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (back), safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring), cornerback Kevin King (concussion) and inside linebacker Joe Thomas (ankle).

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga was limited after he made his return to the lineup against the Cowboys. So was left tackle David Bakhtiari, who shas not played since the regular-season opener because of a hamstring injury.

The full injury report can be found here.

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For the second straight year, Nick Perry will need hand surgery.

The Green Bay Packers outside linebacker will undergo the operation this week, coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday. Last year, Perry missed two games in December after he underwent surgery to have multiple screws placed into several broken fingers on his left hand.

McCarthy wouldn’t say whether it was the same hand this time, but a source said the injury was much less severe and was only to treat one finger. Perry finished Sunday night’s game at Atlanta with no apparent problem, playing 53 of 58 defensive snaps, including the final one of the game, but he showed up on the injury report Wednesday.

When Perry returned last season, he played with a large club cast on his surgically repaired hand and was still effective. He had two sacks in his Week 16 return and another in the regular-season finale to post a career-high 11 sacks.

“Until we get through the surgery, I don’t really have a timeline for you,” McCarthy said.

The Packers gave Perry a five-year, $60 million contract this offseason in a move that was viewed as an injury risk given his history. If Perry misses Sunday’s game against the Bengals, it will ensure that he fails to play in all 16 games for the sixth straight season since the Packers drafted him No. 28 overall in 2012.

“He’s a violent football player,” McCarthy said. “He’s physical. He plays the game the right way. If you look at his play style, I mean that’s really part of his game, the violence that he plays with, with his hands.”

Perry was one of 13 players listed on the Packers’ injury report after Wednesday’s practice.

The Packers expect to get back outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who missed the Atlanta game after he sustained a concussion in the regular-season opener. Brooks, who signed with the Packers the week of the opener, cleared the protocol and was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.

“Great to have him back,” McCarthy said. “I think he’s a great fit for what we’re doing. … So his role will definitely be bigger this week.”