GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There he was, Julius Peppers -- the Green Bay Packers prized off-season acquisition -- taking runs at the quarterback and dropping back in coverage in a No. 56 jersey that looked a bit snug. It was just an off-season workout in late May, but boy did the addition of the 6-foot-7 Peppers look good to coach Mike McCarthy. "Just the way he moves -- he looks awesome in 56," McCarthy said. "Were a little worried about finding a shirt to fit him." Should be able to sew something together by September. Its not often that a team gets to add a 287-pound pass rusher whose 118 1/2 sacks rank him second in the NFL since entering the league in 2002. Making Peppers move from the NFC North rival Bears even more noteworthy is that he signed with a team that typically doesnt make splash in free agency. "I was a little shocked," linebacker Clay Matthews said. "But obviously ... Im happy to have him on this side of the ball." Green Bay won a third straight NFC North title last season despite a slew of injuries. The defence missed Matthews the most after the linebacker was sidelined much of the year with a broken right thumb. The Packers defence sagged in the second half, about the same time that quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a collarbone injury. So part of coach McCarthys plan for the off-season was to look for more impact players on defence, whether through moving pieces around and developing players or adding fresh bodies from free agency and the draft. Enter Peppers, a salary cap hit by Chicago in the off-season. The eight-time Pro Bowler, 34, signed a three-year deal with Green Bay after finishing with just seven sacks in 2013, his lowest total in four seasons with Chicago and the fewest for him since he had a career-low 2 1/2 with Carolina in 2007. Linebacker A.J. Hawk didnt think Peppers lost a step after watching him fly around on a warm spring day in Green Bay. "He runs like hes 18. If theres ever a genetic freak that was put on the planet, its Julius. Hes just a specimen," Hawk said. So what was it about the subpar 2013 season then? "I felt fine last year," Peppers said. "Circumstances around me and the team, you know, led to certain things. But as far as me and how my body feels, I feel great." Getting a chance to play with Matthews, who is one of the leagues most dangerous pass rushers when healthy, was part of the appeal for Peppers in picking the Packers. Matthews -- who was flexing his right hand with a black armband during practice -- said his recovery is coming along fine, and that for now he "didnt see there being any hindrance toward beginning the season, toward camp." The ideal scenario for the Packers might be Matthews and Peppers bookending the line as pass rushers, with Peppers making what he indicated would be a smooth transition to more of an outside linebacker in the Packers 3-4 set. "Theyre not asking me to do very much different except for drop back a little bit," Peppers said. "Other than that, its pretty much almost the same as playing defensive end." As a newcomer, he might benefit from McCarthys emphasis this off-season to seemingly simplifying the defence a little. The mantra seems to be "more personnel, less scheme" to make more people available and add flexibility, following the injury-riddle 2013 season. The addition of Peppers, in effect, could fit well into that philosophy given his history as a hybrid defensive end-linebacker. The Packers also transitioned Mike Neal into a similar role last season with some success. "Weve learned some hard lessons here of late, the last couple years of maybe playing some players that probably werent quite ready because of the scheme of were playing of utilizing your best players, and thats a trap you just dont want to fall into as a coach," McCarthy said. "Everybody prepares this way. 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The winning league, which gets home-field advantage in the World Series, has won five consecutive championships. ------ American League: First Base -- Coming off consecutive MVP awards, Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera gets the start even though Chicago rookie Jose Abreu and Torontos Edwin Encarnacion have more homers at this power-packed position. Encarnacion is listed as a designated hitter on the fan ballot, but hes played the vast majority of games at first base. Oakland bopper Brandon Moss was the toughest player to leave off the squad. Second Base -- The surprise starter is pint-sized Houston dynamo Jose Altuve. Seattles Robinson Cano and Detroits Ian Kinsler, both producing with new teams, are on the bench. Shortstop -- Yankees captain Derek Jeter takes a bow in his final season, though he hasnt done much damage at the plate. Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox beats out Kansas Citys Alcides Escobar for the backup role. Third Base -- Adrian Beltre has been a bright spot in a miserable year for banged-up Texas. He earns the starting job. Kyle Seager is enjoying a breakout season in Seattle, and Oaklands Josh Donaldson also makes it after getting snubbed a year ago. At last check, Donaldson had a big lead in fan balloting. Catcher -- Salvador Perez makes his second straight All-Star squad for Kansas City, and this time hes the starter. Kurt Suzuki represents the hometown team in his first season with the Twins. It was very difficult to deny Derek Norris of the Athletics, who has been so productive in limited at-bats. Outfield -- Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels starts in centre, with Baltimore newcomer Nelson Cruz in left and Torontos Jose Bautista in right. Cruz had a comfortable lead at DH in fan voting, but hes actually spent more time in the outfield. The reserves are Clevelands Michael Brantley, Baltimore centre fielder Adam Jones and Oaklands Yoenis Cespedes. Designated Hitter -- Victor Martinez of the Tigers has nearly as many home runs as strikeouts. Amazing. Those numbers help put him in the starting lineup over Boston stalwart David Ortiz, last years World Series MVP. Starting Pitchers -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez gets his first All-Star start. Hes joined on the staff by Japanese right-handers Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees and Yu Darvish of the Rangers, along with Angels first-timer Garrett Richards, reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Tigers teammate Rick Porcello.dddddddddddd The left-handers are Torontos Mark Buehrle, Oaklands Scott Kazmir, Chicagos Chris Sale and Tampa Bays David Price. ... Ortiz and Price arent exactly chummy. Could make for an interesting clubhouse. Relievers -- Now that Mariano Rivera has retired, someone else gets a chance to anchor the bullpen. Red Sox closer Koji Uehara, Kansas Citys Greg Holland and As lefty Sean Doolittle all have what it takes. ------ National League: First Base -- Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt is the starter at a spot loaded with splendid hitters. Behind him are Atlantas Freddie Freeman, Chicagos Anthony Rizzo and Washingtons Adam LaRoche. Rejuvenated in Colorado, Justin Morneau serves as the DH -- giving Minnesota fans a former Twins star to cheer. Second Base -- Dodgers speedster Dee Gordon gets the nod thanks to all those stolen bases. Chase Utley returns for Philadelphia following knee problems, and steady bat Daniel Murphy represents the Mets. Shortstop -- Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies is the runaway choice, backed up by Hanley Ramirez from Los Angeles. Third Base -- Its a pair of unexpected first-timers at the hot corner in Todd Frazier from Cincinnati and reserve Anthony Rendon from Washington. Catcher -- Another surprise behind the plate, where Milwaukees Jonathan Lucroy starts over two established stars: Buster Posey of the Giants and Yadier Molina of the Cardinals. They both make the roster, but Miguel Montero of the Diamondbacks barely gets squeezed out. His numbers deserve recognition. Outfield -- NL MVP Andrew McCutchen from Pittsburgh is in centre, flanked by Miami strongman Giancarlo Stanton in left and Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers in right. The second-string unit is comprised of Brewers centre fielder Carlos Gomez, Braves slugger Justin Upton and San Franciscos Hunter Pence. Starting Pitchers -- Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright also warrants his first start in an All-Star game. The rest of the group includes Reds teammates Johnny Cueto and Alfredo Simon, Zack Greinke and Josh Beckett from the Dodgers, veteran Tim Hudson of the Giants and youngster Julio Teheran of the Braves. The left-handers are two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) and Madison Bumgarner (Giants). Kyle Lohse from the Brewers was the hardest omission of all. Relievers -- Francisco Rodriguez, closing again in Milwaukee, punctuates a renaissance season with his first All-Star selection in five years. Rounding out the bullpen are Atlantas Craig Kimbrel, San Diegos Huston Street and Washingtons Rafael Soriano. ' ' '