Breaking down the Packers' safety options

September, 23, 2009
9/23/09
5:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


Here’s how Green Bay’s safety situation stacked up after the dust settled Wednesday:
  • Nick Collins participated in a portion of practice, providing some hope that he’ll overcome a chest injury and start Sunday’s game at St. Louis. “I anticipate Nick will play,” coach Mike McCarthy said, “but the week [of practice] will answer that question.”
  • The surprising release of Aaron Rouse left two candidates to start in place of the injured Atari Bigby: Derrick Martin and Jarrett Bush. Newcomer Matt Giordano, signed Tuesday evening, is likely to be in uniform but wouldn’t be a candidate to start -- yet. Of course, Martin is only two weeks ahead of Giordano on the experience tree, having been acquired Sept. 5 from Baltimore. Regardless, there’s some thought that Martin is the likeliest candidate to start.

Here’s what McCarthy said about the release of Rouse: “I just felt that his ability to be consistent and the growth part of it is one of the reasons that we made the change. But there are other factors involved based on availability, without getting into all of that.”

It’s true, Rouse has been injury-prone throughout his career and there’s no doubt he was sub-par in coverage. But no matter what you think of him, it’s really unusual for a team to release a player who started three days earlier.

Either way you look at it, there’s a comment to be made here about the Packers’ personnel evaluation. It’s one thing to swap out starters after a disappointing loss. But something clearly has gone wrong when, in a span of three days, a player goes from being good enough to start to being unworthy of a roster spot. Either the Packers erred by keeping Rouse on their 53-man roster in the first place, leaving themselves with inadequate depth, or they reacted too harshly to his poor performance against Cincinnati.

The decision leaves the Packers pretty thin heading into the Rams game. Even if Collins starts, he would be one awkward hit from being sidelined again. Should Collins have a setback or otherwise leave the game, the Packers would be left with only one safety -- Bush -- who spent time with them during training camp. Was Rouse really so bad that he couldn’t have provided better emergency depth in St. Louis?

A few of you have wondered if the Packers made him an example after the embarrassment of losing at home to the Bengals -- a reminder to players that similar performances won’t be tolerated this season. I suppose that’s possible, but everything I know about Rouse suggests he was well-liked on a personal level within the organization. It would have been an awfully cold move to single him out. I don’t think that’s the case.

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