GREEN BAY -- Consider the Green Bay Packers forewarned.

Like it or not, they now know they will be first up in the NFL's season-opening game, the night of Sept. 4, on the road against the defending champion Seattle Seahawks with the release of the league schedule Wednesday.

That gives Green Bay less than 4 1/2 months to get what already has been unfolding as a significant offseason of transition squared away, ironed out and in optimum condition for a challenging start to the 2014 season.

A roster that has been in flux the last two months is far from settled.

General manager Ted Thompson is focused on his favorite time of the offseason, the three-day draft May 8-10. Currently armed with nine selections, Thompson is fond of ending the seven-round proceedings with many more picks than those with which he started.

Yet, for all that the process yields potential and promise in Thompson's draft-and-develop scheme, he has been moved to reshape the roster of the three-time reigning NFC North titlists in other unconventional ways.

The defense has long been a sore spot in Green Bay and the primary target of addressing in the last two drafts, but Thompson made a rare splash in the open waters for a quick fix. A few days after the rival Chicago Bears released him in a cost-cutting move, the Packers signed 13-year veteran and eight-time Pro Bowl player Julius Peppers to a three-year contract worth upward of $30 million.

"Julius Peppers obviously is an excellent acquisition for our football team, and just the thought and design of bringing Julius into our defense, he'll be a multiple-position player," head coach Mike McCarthy said.

In fact, McCarthy hinted the Packers could be employing the pass-rushing standout at outside linebacker opposite All-Pro Clay Matthews as much as, if not more than, Peppers' long-dominant position of defensive end in their 3-4 front. The "elephant" designation for Peppers in the hybrid role will enable veteran coordinator Dom Capers to get creative with a line that will be anchored by nose tackle B.J. Raji, the former first-round pick who re-signed with the club for only a year as he tries to bounce back from an underwhelming 2013 season.

"We want more personnel groups, less schematically," McCarthy said. "The scheme is there. We're not putting a whole new scheme in. If anything, we're taking things out."

One player who can expect to be included a lot in the tweaks being made on defense is second-year defensive back Micah Hyde. After holding his own in the slot-cover role last season, Hyde's versatility will be utilized to try to augment a suspect secondary that does return top cornerback Sam Shields, who received a lucrative four-year, $39 million contract before reaching free agency in early March.

"Micah Hyde deserves the opportunity to be an every-down player on our defense," McCarthy said. "As we go into (next season), that's our responsibility as a coaching staff to create those competitive opportunities for him to get that done. It got to a point in the season where Micah was standing on the sidelines too much. He's a good football player, and I thought he deserved the opportunity to compete to play.

"We're going to give Micah the opportunity to play on all three downs, whether that's (at) corner, nickel, dime, safety."

If Thompson, McCarthy and Capers are high enough on Hyde, a natural cornerback but with good size (6-foot-0, 197 pounds) and range to play any position on the back end, to pair often with Morgan Burnett at safety, then the Packers may not be inclined to go that route early in the draft.

Inside linebacker could be a prime position to hit on the first two days of the draft, particularly with a few intriguing prospects who might be available at Green Bay's current spot of No. 21 in Round 1.

Thompson also has to be thinking hard about bolstering what has been a potent offense led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers now with some question marks.

Green Bay's losses thus far in free agency have included productive top-three receiver James Jones (Oakland) and starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith (Tampa Bay).

That has left the Packers with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and capable, but unproven Jarrett Boykin as the top receivers on the roster and a big void at center, where Green Bay plans to give converted tackle JC Tretter the first opportunity after his injury-riddled rookie season.

Also unclear is whether Rodgers will have a dependable pass catcher to stretch the field at tight end. Green Bay has resisted bringing back seventh-year pro Jermichael Finley, an unrestricted free agent who hasn't been cleared medically after undergoing surgery for a bruised spinal cord last November.

"He's in great shape," McCarthy said of Finley at the league meetings in Orlando, Fla., in late March. "(But) I think the excitement and the way he feels are in contrast to the reality -- the man had a serious injury. He's still being evaluated."