NFL Nation: Charlie Peprah

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
6:30
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Exactly three years ago -- on Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, much has happened to the 53 players who were on the roster for that 31-25 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas.

Free agency, injuries, retirement and declining performance cause roster turnover.

Still, it’s eye-opening that from the group that suited up for the Packers’ last championship, only 12 players (just 22.6 percent) remain under contract with the team for 2014. Another 11 are still officially members of the Packers, but have contracts that expire next month. There are 13 players with other NFL teams, and 17 are out of football -- perhaps for good.

Here’s a look at the status of every player who was on the active roster three years ago today at Super Bowl XLV:

Under contract for 2014

  • [+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThree years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Packers.
    QB Aaron Rodgers: Threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to winning the Super Bowl XLV MVP, then won the NFL MVP award the next season. Signed a five-year, $110 million contract extension last April.
  • G Josh Sitton: Started Super Bowl XLV at right guard, but moved to left guard in 2013 and was a second-team, All-Pro selection. Signed a five-year contract extension on Sept. 2, 2011 that averages $6.75 million per season.
  • T Bryan Bulaga: Started at right tackle, but moved to left tackle last offseason. A training camp knee injury ended his 2013 season, and he now enters the final year of his rookie contract.
  • G: T.J. Lang: Served as a backup, but became the starting left guard the next season. Signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 14, 2012 that averages $5.2 million per season. Moved to right guard last season.
  • WR Jordy Nelson: Caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and went on to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons in two of the next three years. Entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
  • OLB Clay Matthews: Forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that the Packers recovered and turned into a touchdown to pad the lead. Four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension last April.
  • LB A.J. Hawk: Started and made seven tackles in the Super Bowl. Was released two months later, only to re-sign a more salary-cap friendly deal. Is under contract through 2015.
  • CB Tramon Williams: Broke up three passes in the Super Bowl, including the one that sealed the game on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 33-yard line in the final minute. Entering the final year of his contract. Scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2014, and could be a candidate to be released or restructured despite a strong finish to last season.
  • K Mason Crosby: Made a 23-yard field goal in the game and signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract on July 29, 2011. Struggled in 2012, but bounced back last year to post his best season.
  • P Tim Masthay: Capped his first season with the Packers by averaging 40.5 yards and allowing the Steelers just 5 yards on punt returns in the game. Signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract extension on July 26, 2012.
  • LS Brett Goode: Has been the long snapper since 2008 and signed a three-year, $2.715 million contract extension on Oct. 13, 2012.
  • CB Jarrett Bush: Special teams player who was pressed into defensive duty in the game after injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the second quarter. Signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 26, 2012.
Headed for free agency next month

  • RB James Starks: Started the Super Bowl and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Battled injuries most of his career, and might not be re-signed.
  • WR James Jones: Caught five passes for 50 yards in the game, and signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract on Aug. 2, 2011. Caught 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards in 2013, and could be a re-signed despite his age (will turn 30 next month).
  • DT Ryan Pickett: Started the game, made two tackles and was in on the play in which Matthews forced Rashard Mendehall's fourth-quarter fumble. Played in all 16 games last season with a base salary of $5.4 million, but might be at the age (34) where the Packers let him walk.
  • DT B.J. Raji: Capped a strong 2010 postseason with a pair of tackles in the game. Finished his rookie contract in 2013, and reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer last season.
  • DE C.J. Wilson: Started the game, but played only 14 snaps. Biggest impact came the night before the game, when he kept things loose in the team hotel by playing piano and leading a team sign-along. Finished his rookie contract in 2013.
  • FB John Kuhn: Played on both offense and special teams in the game. Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract on Aug. 1, 2011.
  • CB Sam Shields: Suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game. Had his best season in 2013 while playing under the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million. Will command a big contract either from the Packers or another team in free agency.
  • LB Robert Francois: Went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster throughout the 2010 season, and played on special teams in the game. Played last season under a one-year, $725,000 deal, but tore his Achilles tendon on Oct. 6.
  • TE Andrew Quarless: Caught one pass for 5 yards in the game. Suffered a major knee injury the next season and missed all of 2012. Returned last season to catch 32 passes for 312 yards (both career highs) in the final year of his rookie deal.
  • QB Matt Flynn: Served as Rodgers’ backup but did not play in the Super Bowl. Left after the 2011 season as a free agent, and after stints with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, he returned to the Packers last season for a one-year minimum deal and played in five games after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was inactive for the Super Bowl. Became a starter late in 2012 and for all of 2013, when he played under the restricted free agent tender of $1.323 million deal.
With other teams

  • [+] EnlargeMcCarthy
    Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike McCarthy and the Packers have seen a lot of roster turnover since winning Super Bowl XLV.
    WR Greg Jennings: Started and became just the third player in team history to catch multiple touchdowns in a Super Bowl by recording touchdowns of 21 and 8 yards. Signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings last March.
  • G Daryn Colledge: Started at left guard, but left in free agency a few months later to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Cardinals. Has started every game for the Cardinals since.
  • C Scott Wells: Started at center and remained with the Packers through the 2011 season before signing a four-year, $24 million contract with the Rams. Has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
  • LB Desmond Bishop: Became a starter earlier in 2010 after Nick Barnett's wrist injury and made nine tackles in the Super Bowl. Also recovered the fumble that Matthews forced. Signed a four-year, $19 million contract in 2011, but was released after missing the entire 2012 season because of a hamstring injury. Signed with the Vikings last offseason, but appeared in only four games.
  • OLB Frank Zombo: Started the game and had the Packers’ only sack of Roethlisberger but battled injuries the next two years and was released. Signed with the Chiefs last year and appeared in all 16 games.
  • CB Charles Woodson: Started at cornerback, but broke his collarbone late in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Played two more seasons with the Packers, who released him last year. Returned to his old team, the Raiders, and played in all 16 games last season.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins: Played 36 snaps and had a pair of quarterback pressures. Left in free agency the following year and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles, who released him after two years. Signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Giants last season.
  • TE Tom Crabtree: Played on both offense and special teams in the Super Bowl, catching one pass. Left last year to sign with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, but was limited to seven games because of injuries.
  • CB Josh Gordy: Was inactive for the game, and the next season was signed off the practice squad the by the Rams. Spent the past two seasons with the Colts.
  • G Nick McDonald: Was inactive for the game, like he was for every game that season. Was released in training camp the next year, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the Patriots. Did not play in 2013, but was recently signed by the Chargers.
  • OLB Erik Walden: Was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game. Played the next two seasons before signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Colts last year.
  • DE: Jarius Wynn: Was active but did not play. Played in Green Bay through 2011, and with the Titans and Chargers before landing with the Cowboys last season.
  • FB Quinn Johnson: Inactive for the game. Was traded to the Titans in 2011. Has played in 24 games for the Titans over the past three years.
Out of football

  • T Chad Clifton: Started at left tackle, but his long career with the Packers ended when they released him after he played in only six games in 2011. Was never signed by another team.
  • WR Donald Driver: Started the game and caught two passes for 28 yards before leaving with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Retired after the 2012 season as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
  • S Nick Collins: Started and made a key early play when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of 2011 and hasn’t played since.
  • DT Howard Green: Claimed off waivers earlier that season and started the game. His hit on Roethlisberger led to Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. Returned in 2011 and played in all 16 games, but has not played since.
  • WR Brett Swain: Posted a team-high four special teams tackles. Was released the following season and played briefly with the 49ers. Was cut in training camp last season by the Seahawks.
  • S Atari Bigby: Played on special teams. Signed with the Seahawks the following season and played in 15 games. Played in eight games with the Chargers in 2012, but did not play in 2013.
  • CB Pat Lee: Special teams player who saw action on defense after injuries to Woodson and Shields. Played one more season in Green Bay before splitting time in 2012 between the Lions and Raiders. Did not play in 2013.
  • RB Brandon Jackson: Played as the third-down back, but did not have any carries in the game. Caught one pass for 14 yards. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Browns in 2011, but missed all of that season and played in only two games in 2012.
  • FB Korey Hall: Caught one pass for 2 yards and made one special teams tackle in the game. He played in 13 games with the Saints in 2011, and retired after going to camp with the Cardinals in 2012.
  • S Charlie Peprah: Led the Packers with 10 tackles (including nine solo stops). Returned as a starter in 2011, when he had five interceptions, but was released shortly before training camp in 2012. Played in five games for the Cowboys in 2012.
  • LB Diyral Briggs: Made one special teams tackle in the game, but never played in another NFL game.
  • LB Matt Wilhelm: Made two special teams tackles, but seven-year career ended after that game.
  • G Jason Spitz: Played on special teams. Left in free agency the next year and signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract with the Jaguars, who released him in training camp last summer. He signed with the Seahawks, but was released on Oct. 12.
  • TE Donald Lee: Played in the game, but did not have a catch and was released two months later. Played in nine games for the Bengals in 2001.
  • QB Graham Harrell: Inactive for the game. Remained with the Packers until he was released in training camp last summer. Also spent time briefly with the Jets before being released.
  • RB Dimitri Nance: Inactive for the game. Was released by the Packers the following summer and never played in another NFL game.
  • CB Brandon Underwood: Inactive for the game. Was released in 2011. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2012 and Cowboys in 2013, but did not make either team.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- We've discussed the whys and the wherefores surrounding the shift of Charles Woodson's duties in the Green Bay Packers' defense. And already this summer, we've spent some time discussing the domino effect of Woodson's move to a safety/slot cornerback role, noting the Packers are rolling through a number of candidates for Woodson's old job on the outside.

We've been so distracted, however, that we might have missed what the Packers consider the biggest revelation in their secondary during training camp. Third-year safety Morgan Burnett has emerged as a cornerstone of the defense, one who could splash onto the national scene if his development continues at its current pace.

[+] EnlargeMatt Forte
Rob Grabowski/US PresswireThe Packers believe third-year safety Morgan Burnett has the potential to make the Pro Bowl.
"I think he'll definitely be somebody that they'll be talking about throughout the league," coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday after Burnett had a particularly active practice. "I think he's ready for that type of season."

Cornerback Tramon Williams was more blunt: "I believe personally that he has a rare skill set, and I believe he'll be a Pro Bowler, a multiple Pro Bowler, one day. Might be this year. You never know. The guy has that type of skill set and that type of energy."

The Packers have had high hopes for Burnett since trading up and making him a third-round draft choice in 2010, but a torn ACL scuttled most of his rookie season, and he struggled at times in 2011 while playing with a broken thumb. Regardless, the release of veterans Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah has catapulted Burnett into a cornerstone role.

Tuesday's practice suggested Burnett could live up to that expectation. In the span of a few plays in one drill, Burnett:

  • Tipped away a deep pass down the right sideline from quarterback Aaron Rodgers while defending receiver Jordy Nelson.
  • Aggressively ran at tight end Jermichael Finley on a crossing route, making legal contact as the ball arrived and contributing to an incompletion.
  • Intercepted a Rodgers pass after receiver Donald Driver fell.

At 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, Burnett has the size to support the run and defend larger receivers or tight ends. The Packers also think he has exceptional ball skills for a safety, and have entrusted to him many of the defensive calls once made by Collins.

"I feel I'm still in a growing process," Burnett said. "I'm always trying to find ways to get better, and right now I still feel I've got room for improvement. Our communication is good, but I can still do better with it."

The Packers appropriately looked outside their incumbent roster to improve their pass defense during the offseason. But they also needed some internal development as well. We haven't yet seen the consistency required from Burnett to declare him the next big-time safety in the NFL, but Tuesday's practice gave us a glimpse of what is possible.

"I personally feel that Morgan has a rare skill set just like Collins had," Williams said before repeating his Pro Bowl prediction. "You can mark it down," Williams said, laughing. "Mark that down."
The opening day of training camp for the Green Bay Packers played out Thursday the way we outlined last month for one of their key players. The Packers' base defense featured Charles Woodson in a safety-like position, and Woodson shifted to the slot cornerback role when they were in nickel.

Here's what we didn't anticipate: The identity of the players who replaced Woodson at cornerback in the base scheme and at safety in nickel. Those roles went to Jarrett Bush and M.D. Jennings, respectively.

During the Packers' June minicamp, it seemed reasonable to expect Sam Shields -- the No. 3 cornerback for the past two seasons -- to slide into Woodson's base cornerback job. Likewise, we figured veteran Charlie Peprah would hold down the other safety spot in nickel, at least initially.

But the Packers appear determined to give Bush a true opportunity to prove himself as a cornerback in his seventh NFL season, even if it is merely a way to nudge the more-talented Shields to even out his game. Peprah, meanwhile, was released Wednesday. The Packers made that decision in part because of an ongoing knee problem, but clearly it also reflected elevated confidence in Jennings and rookie Jerron McMillian.

I'm fine with Jennings and/or McMillian fighting it out for the right to be what amounts to a nickel safety. I don't fully understand the Packers' ongoing fascination with Bush, who is an excellent special teams player, but has struggled to find a home as a defensive player in his career. So it goes.

Here's what Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters, via the Green Bay Press-Gazette, about the decision to elevate Bush over Shields, however temporary it might be: "The thing about Jarrett that's always been the case, he’s the same man every day. He just competes to get better. He makes plays out here on the practice field all the time. He had a good day again today. Sam's a very talented man that frankly needs experience. The offseason really helped him. He's stronger. You can see he's made progress in the weight room. To me it's not really about Sam versus Jarrett. We don't look at it that way. We need as many playmakers, as many DBs as possible. I anticipate they'll both be major contributors to our secondary."

One thing is certain: The Packers did not stand pat after giving up more passing yards last season than any team in NFL history. We've already discussed efforts to invigorate their front line, and now they are at least toying with a rearranged secondary as well. Different isn't always better, but in this case, the Packers owe it to themselves to take a look at every reasonable possibility.

Packers' hidden treasure: Safety

June, 27, 2012
6/27/12
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AFC hidden treasures: West | North | South | East NFC: West | North | South | East

Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

The Green Bay Packers bid farewell this spring to one of this generation's best safeties, Nick Collins, because of a neck injury. Collins' absence was at least part of the reason the Packers allowed more passing yards in 2011 than any team in NFL history, but some intriguing options were brewing this spring.

First, the Packers won't be afraid to use veteran Charles Woodson in a safety-like position alongside Morgan Burnett in their base defense. In the nickel and dime schemes, the Packers have a better balance than outsiders might realize.

Rookie Jerron McMillian will challenge for a starting job at some point, but the Packers don't have to rush him onto the field right away. Veteran Charlie Peprah has gotten starter playing time in each of the past two seasons, and is a solid insurance plan. And the offseason emergence of second-year player M.D. Jennings gives the Packers a sense of competition they might not have had otherwise.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- One of our most frequent offseason activities has been discussing whether Charles Woodson will line up at cornerback or safety in 2012. I'm starting to think we've been asking the wrong question.

What if it's neither?

That option seems a distinct possibility based on what I saw and heard on the opening day of the Green Bay Packers' three-day minicamp. Woodson worked only in the Packers' nickel package Tuesday, strictly covering the slot receiver. Tramon Williams, Jarrett Bush and Sam Shields handled the outside work at cornerback with the first team, and even with presumptive safeties Charlie Peprah and Morgan Burnett sidelined by minor injuries, Woodson did not take a single snap as a traditional safety that I saw.

[+] EnlargeCharles Woodson
Benny Sieu/US PresswirePackers coach Mike McCarthy has a word with Charles Woodson during the team's mandatory minicamp at Ray Nitschke Field on Monday.
By all accounts, that arrangement did not signify the end of Woodson's time as a full-time player. Coach Mike McCarthy said he "absolutely" still views him as a starter, and Woodson said he was easing into football activities after training away from the team for a portion of the offseason.

What it does indicate, however, is a new level of positional line-blurring from Packers defensive wizard Dom Capers. If I had to guess, I would say a large portion of the season could go by without Woodson lining up as a traditional cornerback -- especially given the expected prevalence of three-receiver sets in the NFC North. That transition began years ago and might accelerate in 2012, but to say Woodson will be a safety in 2012 would oversimplify Capers' unconventional schemes.

McCarthy estimated that Woodson's role "may change somewhere between six and eight percent from what he's played in a past," a line I originally thought was sarcasm but now believe was an honest projection. McCarthy added: "We're not re-creating the wheel with him. I would define him as a playmaker in our defense and it's our responsibility to see him line up in positions where he can make plays."

Here's the way Woodson described his anticipated role: "I play a little bit here and a little bit there, where I'm needed each week," Woodson said.

Some of you might wonder why there has been so much teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing over this issue. To me, it's simple. Woodson is arguably the best cornerback of his generation and a seeming lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Any change in his skills, his role or performance is worthy of intense scrutiny.

At this point, at least, I like how the Packers are approaching the twilight of Woodson's career. They're looking for ways to maximize his unique skills, not just hide or protect him.

In 2012, Capers acknowledged, that could mean more use of what the Packers call "corner Okie," a version of their "Okie" base defense that in 2011 typically included Woodson, safety Morgan Burnett and cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Sam Shields.

You could call that a three-cornerback set. Or, as Capers said, "All 'corner Okie' is is [Woodson] going in and playing safety. And when you look at the different teams we played, 'corner Okie' took the place of 'Okie.'"

A lot of this is inside football, but the way I interpreted what everyone said Tuesday is that Woodson will play in a role similar to safety when the Packers are in their base defense. In Capers' tenure with the Packers, the use of base has been rare -- about 25 percent. In the nickel, dime and other looks, you can count on Woodson lining up across from an inside/slot receiver.

In reality, that's the way the Packers played both the Lions and Bears last season. Capers said "you can count on one hand" the times Woodson played outside as a cornerback in those games. Given the way most NFL teams are focusing on either three-receiver sets or using tight ends in the slot, there is every reason to believe Woodson will spend most of his time as an inside defender in 2012.

Woodson gamely addressed a large group of reporters who surrounded his locker after practice. He noted "I've played a great deal of safety already since I've been here" and predicted "I don't think it will be different than in the past."

What Woodson knows, and what you hopefully now realize also, is that we've been asking the wrong question. You can call him a safety if you want. If it makes you feel better to consider him a nickel cornerback, go ahead. The title means a lot more to us than it does to Woodson or the Packers.

In truth, Charles Woodson will be the Packers' weekly hired gun, a player experienced enough to shift through the various machinations of Capers' scheme based on where he can make the biggest impact against a given opponent. I guess that means he is now a hybrid player, which by definition means he has no position. Now wrap your mind around that one ...
Thursday's Big Question series was intended mostly as a post-draft gathering point than an attempt to break new ground, but many of you were left with further questions about the Green Bay Packers' open safety position after reading the post. Lance of Beloit, Wis., writes:
Are Charlie Peprah and Jerron McMillian the only to viable options to replace Nick Collins? I have read reports that Charles Woodson may be moved to safety. Casey Hayward would be moved into Woodson's starting role. This was talked about on the Packers' website. I see this being an option also replace Collins and prolong Woodson career like Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott.
[+] EnlargeDane Sanzenbacher
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Packers believe Charles Woodson is versatile enough to play any position in the secondary.
Yes, Packers.com guru Vic Ketchman wrote: "[C]onsensus opinion is that a move from cornerback could do for Woodson’s career what it did for Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson, which is to have lengthened its greatness." And defensive coordinator Dom Capers didn't exactly reject the idea last week after the Packers not only drafted McMillian, but also cornerback Casey Hayward.

"Charles is a bright guy," Capers said. "It's not like it would be a radical move because of the way we've used him in the last three years, basically. We feel he can play any one of those positions. That's one of the things he brings to the table is the flexibility that he gives you that he can."

Capers uses one of the more creative schemes in the game, and in some of his more elaborate formations, it's difficult to tell who is playing what position. Technically, Woodson has lined up as a cornerback, a slot nickel man and as a linebacker at various times over the past three years. The only way to tell if Woodson is a full-time safety is if he lines up there in the rare occasions when the Packers use their standard 3-4 base formation.

We've hit this topic often both in the blog and our weekly SportsNation chats. My take remains the same. Cornerback is a more important position and more difficult position than safety. Moving Woodson to safety only makes sense if the Packers have a strong option to replace him at cornerback.

Is that the case? Last year at this time, we might have thought Sam Shields was ready for that role. Shields took a step back last season. Could Hayward be that player? That might be a lot to ask a rookie. In February, at least, coach Mike McCarthy strongly implied that Woodson primarily will be a cornerback in 2012.

McCarthy could change his mind, of course, but at this point I wonder if he's more willing to take a chance with an unproven player at safety than he is at cornerback.

Packers: One big question

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
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How will the Green Bay Packers replace safety Nick Collins?

There was a noticeable drop-off in the play of the Packers' secondary last season after Collins suffered a neck injury that ultimately led to his release last month. Veteran Charlie Peprah replaced him, but his struggles were one of numerous reasons the Packers set an NFL record in passing yards allowed in 2011.

The Packers didn't sign a replacement via veteran free agency but did draft Maine safety Jerron McMillian in the fourth round of last week's draft. Are they prepared to put a rookie alongside third-year player Morgan Burnett? Or will Peprah get another chance?

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers told reporters last week that he thinks Peprah is better for the experience of replacing Collins in the lineup last season and Burnett in 2010. That suggests he'll get the first opportunity, at least, to win Collins' old job. But it's worth keeping an eye on McMillian, and it's fair to say this position will be the most wide-open spot on the Packers' depth chart when training camp opens.
News of the Green Bay Packers' decision to release safety Nick Collins was sad, sobering and inevitable. From my experience, Collins is a quiet and humble family man who was on his way to becoming one of the best and most consistent safeties of this generation before suffering a serious neck injury last September. (Agent Alan Herman confirmed the news to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.)

Collins
But I've suspected this moment was coming from the moment Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last month that he wouldn't let Collins return if he were his son. Collins had cervical fusion surgery to repair his injury, a procedure some NFL players have returned from, but McCarthy seemed scarred by seeing Collins immobilized and removed from the field on a stretcher, and the Packers' medical staff must not have offered enough supporting evidence to suggest it was completely safe for Collins to return.

I won't pretend to understand all of the medical details involved in this decision, and your first reaction might be to criticize the Packers for disposing Collins the minute they decided he could be of no use to them. That would be shortsighted, however. The Packers can't prevent Collins from playing again with another team, but it's clear they didn't want the burden of a possible re-injury to fall on their watch. Directly or indirectly, they're trying to help him walk away from the game under his own power.

Think about it. Collins is 28 and a three-time Pro Bowl player. The Packers' pass defense collapsed after his injury last season, and thus they have every reason to want him back on the field. If they were unconcerned about his well being, they would have brought him to training camp regardless of the medical risks and let him play for as long as he could. If he were re-injured, they would release him then. For once, an NFL team appears to have acted with some empathy even if it hurts on the field.

*UPDATE: General manager Ted Thompson indicated as much in a statement released as part of the team's official announcement: "From the beginning of this process, we have taken our time and sought numerous medical opinions while maintaining consistent dialogue with Nick. In the end, we were not comfortable clearing him to play again. As with all of our players, Nick is a member of our family and we thought of him that way as we came to this conclusion. Nick is a part of our core, and this is a very difficult day for all Packers. Making this kind of decision is never easy, especially when it involves someone like Nick Collins. He has meant so much to the community, his teammates and the organization. He is a good man and will always be part of the Packers family."

My guess is the Packers have been planning for this eventuality all offseason. They didn't sign a free agent safety, but it's fair to assume that position is among their priorities in this week's draft. Veteran safety Charlie Peprah had a better year in 2010 when he replaced fellow safety Morgan Burnett than when he stepped into Collins' role last season.

With the NFL's attention mostly on the draft, the Packers have now released two franchise cornerstones this week. Chad Clifton, their starting left tackle since 2000, departed Monday. The two moves cleared about $9 million in salary-cap space. But from a big-picture perspective, the Packers have undergone some monumental changes this week -- and the draft hasn't even begun.
Previewing some of the big decisions facing NFC North teams early in the 2012 offseason:

Ever since the Green Bay Packers temporarily shifted him to safety in 2008, the question has followed cornerback Charles Woodson: When would the move become permanent? After all, you don't often see players in their mid-30s locking down one of the most difficult positions in the NFL.

[+] EnlargeCharles Woodson
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireCharles Woodson is expected to play both safety and cornerback for Green Bay this season.
Subsequently, Woodson has received the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award (2009) and three consecutive All-Pro honors. At the end of his 14th season, at the age of 35, Woodson was arguably the best cornerback on the Packers' roster. It's more difficult to find a cornerback than a safety, but would moving Woodson help make the Packers' defense better overall next season?

The Packers will at least consider that question as they await word on the status of Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, who is two months away from finding out if doctors will clear him to play or recommend retirement because of a serious neck injury suffered in September. If Collins returns, he could team with strong safety Morgan Burnett in 2012. If not, Woodson might be the Packers' best option if they want to improve their tackling at the position.

Coach Mike McCarthy termed the discussion "very premature" during a news conference Wednesday but did not rule it out. "We're not making any position changes today," he said.

Collins' replacement, Charlie Peprah, didn't play well in Sunday's divisional playoff game to the New York Giants, missing a tackle on Hakeem Nicks' 66-yard touchdown catch and, like Woodson, failing to break up a Hail Mary pass to Nicks at the end of the first half. The sure-tackling Woodson would presumably be an upgrade over Peprah, but as we've discussed many times, the move doesn't make sense unless the Packers have a credible cornerback to take his place.

A few months ago, it would have been reasonable to think Tramon Williams and Sam Shields could hold down the two primary cornerback positions moving forward. The Packers also invested a 2011 fourth-round draft pick in cornerback Davon House, a potential nickelback with a year of development. But while they each intercepted four passes, neither Williams nor Shields played as well in 2011 as they did in 2010. House, meanwhile, was deactivated for 14 of 16 games.

That makes the Woodson issue complicated. If you're going to have a hole on defense, it makes more sense for it to be at safety than cornerback. But would the Packers be better off with a foursome of Williams, Shields, Woodson and Burnett than Woodson, Williams, Burnett and Peprah?

I think you could make that argument. But in the end, Woodson's status probably will be contingent on a number of outside factors: Collins' health, whether the Packers can find instant reinforcements at safety or cornerback in the draft and whether Williams or Shields can use the offseason to restore themselves to 2010 levels.

Theories on the Packers' breakdown

January, 17, 2012
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RodgersJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThere are a lot of theories on why Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers aren't playing this weekend in the NFC Championship Game.
As you read this, Green Bay Packers players are scattering around the country, having vacated Lambeau Field weeks earlier than anyone expected. Instead of game-planning for the NFC Championship Game, coaches are reviewing the season and in some cases interviewing for jobs elsewhere. Rather than finalizing plans for an early-February trip to Indianapolis and Super Bowl XLVI, fans are canceling hotel reservations and blocking off training camp dates on their long-term calendars.

How did we get here? How did the Packers become the first 15-win team in NFL history to lose their opening playoff game? Why won't the best team of the 2011 regular season get a sniff of defending its Super Bowl title?

We came down pretty hard on a series of mistakes by the Packers offense Sunday. With a few days to reflect, let's acknowledge some additional factors that sparked a 37-20 loss to the New York Giants.

Theory: Rust



Quarterback Aaron Rodgers scoffed at the notion last week. "Not worried about it," he said. "Still not worried about it. Don't believe in it."

But here are the facts: Rodgers hadn't played in a game in 21 days, which was also the last time the Packers had a game with future implications. Receiver Greg Jennings hadn't played in five weeks. Overall, the Packers dropped six passes, tied for the most by any team in any game this season, and committed a season-high four turnovers.

To be sure, Rodgers was not at his sharpest Sunday. Through three quarters, he had barely completed 50 percent of his passes. Obviously the drops hurt his percentage, but he also missed two throws -- a first-quarter pass to a wide-open Jennings, and a fourth-quarter pass to tight end Jermichael Finley on third down -- that he routinely makes.

As the chart shows, five No. 1 seeds have rested their quarterbacks in Week 17 since the current postseason structure was implemented in 2002. Only one of them, the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees, won the Super Bowl.

With that said, I think it would be too convenient to say simply that Rodgers should have played in the Packers' Week 17 game against the Detroit Lions. I wonder if the missing element is not the act of playing but the weekly urgency of a playoff chase. Rodgers and the rest of the Packers offense wouldn't have benefited from that vibe even if he had been in the lineup.

Rodgers had an exceptional game as a scrambler, converting five of his six runs into first downs. But as a passer, it was his lowest-rated game of the season (78.5).

Conclusion: Reasonable people can disagree on this issue. But whether you attribute it to inactivity or unfortunate coincidence, the Packers were sloppy with the ball, less precise and in many cases a step slower than the Giants on Sunday. If they weren't rusty, they sure weren't sharp.

Theory: Ineffective pass rush

The Packers finished the season with more interceptions (31) than sacks (29), a sign of year-long pass rushing issues. So in one sense, it's difficult to blame an aspect the Packers had overcome for 15 victories this season.

On closer inspection, however, we see that the Giants made most of their big plays when the Packers either played back in coverage or were otherwise unable to pressure quarterback Eli Manning.

All three of Manning's touchdown passes came on plays the Packers sent four or fewer pass rushers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. All told, Manning was under duress -- defined as a play where the quarterback has to move or alter his throw because of pressure -- on only 10 of his 33 passes.

On two of the three touchdowns, the Packers compounded their lack of pass rush by poor play in the secondary. Safety Charlie Peprah missed a tackle on Hakeem Nicks' 66-yard touchdown, and neither Peprah nor cornerback Charles Woodson were able to knock down the Hail Mary pass Nicks pulled in just before halftime.

The Packers had hoped to beat Manning with coverage, but he picked them apart every time they gave him an opportunity.

"When you're only rushing three [or four], and you have eight guys in coverage, you'd like to think you're pretty good on that," defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. "That wasn't the case."

Conclusion: This was a rare game when the Packers offense couldn't compensate for the defense's shortcomings. That places a portion of the blame with the defense.

Theory: The Packers are a different team in winter weather

As we discussed during the 2010 playoffs, the Packers excel and in many ways favor the fast track afforded by indoor stadiums at this time of year. They managed to grind out a victory at Philadelphia in the wild-card round (21 points) and another over the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game (21), but by far their best offensive performances came in the Georgia Dome (48) and at Cowboys Stadium in Super Bowl XLV (31 points).

During the 2011 regular season, the Packers played three games indoors. Rodgers averaged 10.1 yards per attempt in those games and 9.0 yards per attempt in the 13 outdoor games. That's not exactly a smoking gun, and the it's only fair to point out the Packers scored 80 points in their final two regular season home games.

The temperature Sunday at kickoff was 31 degrees and there hadn't been precipitation for more than 24 hours.

Conclusion: It's tough to blame the weather for the Packers' offensive problems. That said, history tells us they would have been better off playing indoors.

And a few more quick hitters:

Theory: Finding motivation as a defending champion is tough

Via Twitter, @unwantedopinion wrote: "I think a major problem was recreating the motivation they had last season. When you're SB Champs & 15-1, what drives you?"

Conclusion: You would think motivation is more likely to be an issue during the regular season. But there is no doubt the Giants had a bounce in their step the Packers never demonstrated. Does it take a year or two of disappointment to build the fire necessary to mount a playoff run? I might buy that.

Theory: The Packers were distracted and/or sapped by the impact of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's family tragedy.

Conclusion: There is little doubt the Packers struggled mid-week with the death of Philbin's son. Did it take some of their edge away? Too convenient, in my opinion. Even if it did, shouldn't they also have received a bounce from Joe Philbin's return to the team?

Theory: The Packers, their fans and much of the media came to expect a level of precision that isn’t sustainable.

Conclusion: We all shook our heads at some of the passes Rodgers completed this season to receivers who appeared blanketed. It stands to reason that a playoff opponent might be better equipped to defend such passes. Perhaps everyone, including the Packers, came to assume they could keep making plays that no one else could.

Theory: The Giants presented a unique matchup.

Conclusion: The most sustainable defensive model in 2011 is to field four strong pass rushers up front and devote everyone else to coverage. The Giants did that Sunday better than any Packers opponent this season. The Packers were forced to work underneath, eliminating their chances for an easy touchdown and increasing the opportunities for mistakes.

Your thoughts? I'm sure they're coming….

NFC North Stock Watch

November, 8, 2011
11/08/11
1:00
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Communication in the Green Bay Packers' secondary: It's true that Packers defensive backs made three of the most critical plays in Sunday's victory over the San Diego Chargers. Safety Charlie Peprah and cornerback Tramon Williams each returned interceptions for touchdowns, and Peprah added a second interception to clinch the game with 14 seconds remaining. But anyone who has watched the Packers' pass defense has seen a number of blown coverages in recent weeks, be it on Michael Jenkins' 72-yard reception for the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7 or Vincent Jackson's 38-yard play Sunday for the Chargers. With each instance, we learn more about the value of injured safety Nick Collins, who has made most of the positioning calls for the Packers in recent seasons.

2. Clarity in the Detroit Lions' backfield: On several occasions, the Lions have downplayed their modest running game totals by noting how explosive they've been via the air. It's a fair point, and it's not worth obsessing over their running game as we move into the second half of the season. With that said, Monday's return of tailback Kevin Smith makes you wonder exactly what is in store for the backfield moving forward. Was it a sign that starter Jahvid Best's return is far from guaranteed? Is Smith just extra insurance for the people ahead of him, a list that includes Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams? Or are the Lions like the rest of us -- unsure where this is all headed -- and making sure they are fortified for each contingency?

3. High-mindedness in Minnesota: Sure, it sounded like a tough plan in theory for the Minnesota Vikings to release cornerback Chris Cook. He has been charged with a particularly infuriating crime, felony strangulation of his girlfriend, and the Vikings would have gotten a public relations boost in some areas had they cut their losses. But let's get real for a moment. Rare is the NFL team that will justify releasing a 24-year-old cornerback who was making substantial progress this season because of an untried legal issue. Cook's next court date isn't until Nov. 22. In the meantime, the Vikings have given Cook a paid vacation to get himself straight. I can't blame them.

RISING

[+] EnlargeBrian Urlacher
AP Photo/Michael PerezBrian Urlacher made plays all over the field Monday night, collecting 10 tackles.
1. Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears linebacker: There were plenty of heroes in the effort to limit Philadelphia Eagles stars Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson in Monday night's victory. Linebacker Lance Briggs, for one, played an inspired game. But Urlacher seemed to be running all over the field all night, collecting 10 solo tackles and tipping two passes. Vick managed 33 rushing yards and McCoy only 71 -- of which 33 came on one play. What you saw Monday night was a 33-year-old Urlacher playing the way he did when he was 23. An impressive effort, not to mention a lot of 33's.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers quarterback: Rodgers could be a staple in this feature, but we try to save him for special occasions. In this case, Rodgers capped his MVP first half with a number of accomplishments worth noting. First, his 64-yard pass Sunday to receiver Jordy Nelson was one of the best throws I've seen him make. Rolling to his right, Rodgers didn't have time to set his feet and simply flung the ball about 55 yards in the air. Second, that pass helped elevate Rodgers' completion percentage on throws of 20 or more yards downfield to 65.2 percent this season. That's a better completion percentage than all but three NFL quarterbacks have on all of their throws. Amazing.

3. Earl Bennett, Bears receiver: How much different did the Bears' offense look with Bennett back after a near two-month absence? He caught all five of the passes quarterback Jay Cutler threw him Monday night, totaling 95 yards and what amounted to the game-winning touchdown. It's long been established that Cutler loves throwing to him, but Monday you saw why: Bennett is tough, sure-handed and reliable in clutch situations. Other than tailback Matt Forte, you really couldn't say that about any other Bears skill position player this season.

Packers: 8-0 and wanting much more

November, 6, 2011
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Aaron RodgersJake Roth/US PresswireAaron Rodgers was 21-of-26 and threw four TDs as he led the Packers over the Chargers.
SAN DIEGO -- The Green Bay Packers returned two interceptions for touchdowns Sunday. Their quarterback produced his most efficient game of a marvelous season, throwing almost as many touchdown passes (four) as he did incompletions (five). And yet their matchup against the San Diego Chargers was in doubt until the final minute.

That dichotomy left the Packers something short of jubilant after a 45-38 victory at Qualcomm Stadium, one that elevated their record to 8-0 but exposed new concerns about their defense.

On the one hand, the Packers were thrilled to have handed Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers the first three-interception game of his career. And most everyone was out of superlatives for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. (All except nose tackle B.J. Raji, who said: "I don't want to say anything crazy. I just think if he keeps doing what he's doing, he'll be the one they'll be talking about as long as this game is around.")

And if the Packers fall short of their Super Bowl hopes this season? I imagine we'll be talking about their pass defense as a primary cause. Most players were cautious in their assessment of Sunday's game. But perhaps the most important one, cornerback Charles Woodson, bluntly laid it out after Rivers rolled for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make this game closer than it should have been.

Speaking steadily and with a steel gaze in his eyes, Woodson said the Packers played "a lot of bad football" Sunday. He termed the defense "the liability on this team" and said the Packers must get linebacker Clay Matthews in better position "to be the Claymaker."

Most important, Woodson acknowledged the Packers can't expect elite play from Rodgers to carry them every week from now until Super Bowl XLVI.

"We can't ask our offense to do anything more than what they’ve done," Woodson said. "For those guys to just go up and down the field and score points, I mean, we have to understand that it's not going to always be that way. There's going to be some time when we're going to have to come up bigger than the offense. That's just the reality. We're very fortunate to have the guys we have on the offensive side of the ball. But we have to carry our weight as well."

Although he passed for a season-low 247 yards, Rodgers scrambled for 51 yards and finished with his highest passer rating (145.8) of the year. In the Packers' perfect eight-game start, Rodgers has completed 72.5 percent of his passes, thrown 24 touchdowns, limited himself to three interceptions and produced a passer rating of at least 110 in each game, an NFL record.

For his part, Rodgers said that "I'd like to think I can keep it up" in the second half of the season. And tight end Jermichael Finley expressed confidence that the offense can continue its elite play. "It doesn't matter what [the defense] does," Finley said. "That's a long story short."

At the same time, I trust and heed what Woodson says. He is not prone to post-game outbursts, and if he publicly identifies a point of concern, I take it seriously. Two years ago, for example, he accurately noted the Packers' mistake in releasing safety Anthony Smith and smartly questioned the Packers' strategy of sitting back in coverage as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre carved them up.

[+] EnlargeTramon Williams
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireTramon Williams returned an interception 40 yards for a critical touchdown.
So we find ourselves at a bit of a crossroads in our regard for the Packers. They are without question the best team in the NFL midway through the season. But two years ago, we learned the danger of entering the playoffs with a shaky pass defense.

Should we be concerned about a defense that is allowing nearly 300 passing yards per game? Or, after eight victories, should we accept it as part of the Packers' winning formula? After all, the Packers have now gone six consecutive games with at least two interceptions. Sunday, safety Charlie Peprah and cornerback Tramon Williams accounted for a third of the Packers' scoring by returning their interceptions for touchdowns, and Peprah sealed the game on a second interception with 14 seconds remaining.

In all fairness, however, no team that returns two interceptions for scores, and has a quarterback dealing like Rodgers, should be sweating out a game in the final minute.

"We like to think that we have a lot of playmakers on our defense, especially in the back end," Woodson said. "We feel like if the ball is in the air, we'll come up with our fair share certainly. But how many times are you going to have two interceptions for a touchdown? … Yeah, today it played out big for us. But we have to be more sound as a defense throughout the whole game."

I don't want to rain on the Packers' parade based simply on Woodson's comments and on yardage totals. As we've noted several times this season, the Packers have limited opposing quarterbacks to one of the lowest passer ratings (79.3) in the NFL. Oftentimes, passer rating is more illustrative of total pass defense than yards allowed.

In fact, according to Raji, Packers coaches presented an even more obscure stat -- passer rating differential -- to players this week as an assurance of what they're doing well this season. The Packers have led the NFL all season in that statistic, which measures the difference between your quarterback's passer rating and that of opponents in your games. It's generally considered a key indicator of a team's success potential.

"It's a huge deal," Raji said. "I don't know how it will sit after today, but ultimately we are 8-0 with work to do. That sets the ceiling pretty high for our football team."

Yes, the Packers are undefeated and have room for demonstrable improvement. Atop that list, according to Woodson, is creating a better environment for Matthews, who had one quarterback hit Sunday and has only three sacks this season. Woodson's advice for defensive coordinator Dom Capers was direct.

"We have to find ways to get Clay to the quarterback, whatever that may be," Woodson said. "Draw some things up for him and let him do his thing. Because we can't continue to allow him to be stuck on a side and double teamed every time he gets upfield. I think for us, finding ways to get him to be the 'Claymaker' which he is, we have to find ways to get him to the quarterback."

Matthews spoke only generally about the situation, saying: "Not to take anything from this victory today, or the performance we had at the end, but we also gave up too many [yards] and it seems to be a constant theme that we need to address."

Getting Matthews more involved would take some pressure off Woodson and his mates in the defensive backfield. As it is now, Capers is blitzing more than he ever has in three seasons with the Packers, leaving defensive backs in less favorable positions. Sunday, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Capers blitzed on 54.2 percent of Rivers' dropbacks. Blitzes led to all three interceptions, and Rivers threw all four touchdowns when the Packers limited their rushes to four men.

The way Rodgers is playing, it's quite possible the Packers could run away with the Super Bowl regardless of how their defense plays. It's worked so far. Is it reasonable to expect elite play from their quarterback and multiple interceptions from their defense every week? We'll find out soon enough.

Packers' Peprah and Williams house it

November, 6, 2011
11/06/11
4:58
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SAN DIEGO -- Form held here in the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Green Bay Packers, who entered this game against the San Diego Chargers one off the NFL high with 13 interceptions, have already returned two for touchdowns against the San Diego Chargers. They were the 12th and 13th interceptions of the season for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Safety Charlie Peprah had the first, a 40-yard return in which he broke four tackles along the way, at least by my count. The second was a bit smoother: Cornerback Tramon Williams anticipated a Rivers pass to receiver Patrick Crayton and took it back 43 yards untouched for the touchdown.

It's 21-7 here as the second quarter begins. The Packers have given up 107 passing yards, but their interceptions have more than compensated. The Packers offense has had only one possession. It ended with Aaron Rodgers' 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermichael Finley.

Rapid Reaction: Packers 27, Bears 17

September, 25, 2011
9/25/11
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CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the 183rd edition of the NFL’s oldest rivalry:

What it means: The Green Bay Packers are now 3-0 and tied for the NFC North lead with the upstart Detroit Lions. In the process, the Packers have put some distance between them and the Chicago Bears, who fell to 1-2 amid another disjointed performance by their offense.

What I liked: The Packers once again didn’t try to force anything downfield against the Bears’ defense, which has historically limited their big plays. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected on three touchdown passes to tight end Jermichael Finley and finished with 297 yards passing, but his longest gain was 25 yards. There’s nothing wrong with that. Look at it this way: The Packers dinked and dunked their way to 27 points. Rodgers is now 6-2 against the Bears all-time, including postseason.

What I didn’t like: Maybe they didn’t think they could run against the Packers' defense, but the Bears didn’t generate enough of a pass-run balance for my liking. Quarterback Jay Cutler threw on 17 of their first 23 plays and Bears tailback Matt Forte finished with two net yards on nine carries. They obviously identified some matchups they liked, especially against new Packers safety Charlie Peprah. But the Bears will win very few, if any games, under those circumstances.

What I didn’t like II: The Packers can’t be happy about the way they finished this game. They held a 27-10 lead early in the fourth quarter but allowed Bears tight end Kellen Davis to rumble through their secondary for a 32-yard touchdown play midway through the quarter. Later, their punt coverage team was faked out by a smart Bears return that seemed to get Johnny Knox a touchdown with about a minute left. A holding penalty by the Bears’ Corey Graham nullified the play and prevented the Bears from pulling within a field goal.

GrantWatch: Packers tailback Ryan Grant had by far his best game of the season, finishing with 89 yards on 15 carries while James Starks struggled to five yards on 11 carries and also lost a fumble. Grant did leave the game in the fourth quarter after taking a hit in the face, but he put some important production on tape regardless.

Injury report: Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) did not return after injuring his knee in the first quarter. Marshall Newhouse went the rest of the way. And we’ve already discussed Grant’s injury.

What’s next: The Bears will host the Carolina Panthers next Sunday. The Packers will host the Denver Broncos.

News that Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins will miss the season is enough to take your breath away. For no other reason, it takes us back to the chaotic first half of the Packers' 2010 campaign, the one where they were literally losing prominent players on a weekly basis. The Packers persevered to win Super Bowl XLV, but I don't think anyone thought they would find themselves in such a familiar karmic situation so early in 2011.

[+] EnlargeNick Collins
AP Photo/Bob LeveroneNick Collins is carted off the field after being injured during the fourth quarter of the Packers' 30-23 win against Carolina.
Collins suffered an undisclosed neck injury during in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 30-23 victory against the Carolina Panthers. Medical officials wheeled him off the field as a precautionary measure, but as of Sunday night the Packers reported he had "normal feeling and complete movement" in his extremities during an overnight stay in a North Carolina hospital.

Collins returned Monday to Lambeau Field wearing a neck brace, coach Mike McCarthy said. A consultation with team doctors led to the decision to shut him down for the season. McCarthy said it is "too early in the evaluation process" to make a long-term prognosis, and surgical options haven't been determined. Hopefully, McCarthy said, the injury is just "a bump in the road" on the way to a Hall of Fame career.

"It's tough," a subdued McCarthy told Wisconsin reporters Monday afternoon. "We've been through the injury stuff before, but it's something that you never get used to as a head coach."

Charlie Peprah will replace Collins in the starting lineup, just as he stepped in for the injured Morgan Burnett for the final 12 games of last season. In this case, however, Peprah will be lined up next to Burnett and won't have the luxury of a Pro Bowl player next to him. McCarthy said "we have all the confidence in the world in Charlie," but I think we can all recognize it is a much different situation when you lose one of the NFL's top safeties so early in the season.

As they prepare for Sunday's NFC North clash against the Chicago Bears, the Packers are now dealing with two significant injuries in their defensive secondary. Pro Bowl cornerback Tramon Williams was inactive Sunday because of a bruised shoulder, and his status for the Bears game is uncertain. It's worth pointing out that with Williams playing most of Week 1 and Collins playing three quarters of Week 2, the Packers have still given up an NFL-high 800 passing yards this season.

The Packers proved to have the depth and mental toughness to push through last season's injury debacle. The 2011 season is only two weeks old, and already they've taken their first punch in the mouth.

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