Nick Collins (neck) eyes comeback
Two days after posting that he was "ready for action" and that any team "who's looking for a top notch free safety this kid is ready to dominate," Collins confirmed that he would like to return to the field even though he hasn't played since he sustained a neck injury in Week 2 of the 2011 season.
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"I'm optimistic about it," Collins said in a telephone interview with ESPN.com on Wednesday. "My whole purpose for sending that tweet out is to just let teams know that if they're willing to take a chance, I'm open to it."
The Packers released Collins on April 25, 2012, after the team would not clear him following cervical fusion surgery in which New York-based surgeon Frank Cammisa repaired the herniated disk in Collins' neck by fusing together his C-3 and C-4 vertebrae.
"I'm 100 percent healed from the surgery, so if teams want to bring me in and get me evaluated by their doctors -- or whatever doctors they want me to go see -- then I'll do that for them," Collins said. "That was the whole purpose, to let them know I'm still out there and I'm still optimistic about playing."
Collins' agent, Alan Herman, did not return a message left on his cellphone.
Collins said he has not been examined by Cammisa or any other doctor in more than a year.
"The last time I talked to Dr. Cammisa, the only thing he told me was that I was 100 percent healed from the surgery," Collins said. "There's always going to be a risk, but I don't think my risk is any higher than a regular guy that's playing right now. It might be a little more, but it's pretty much the same."
At the time of his injury, Collins was 28 and in the prime of his career. He was coming off his third straight Pro Bowl appearance and was in the second year of a three-year, $23 million contract extension he signed shortly after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, a game in which he returned an interception for a touchdown.
When the Packers released him, general manager Ted Thompson said the team had sought multiple medical opinions before making a decision.
"In the end, we were not comfortable clearing him to play again," Thompson said at the time. "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."
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Collins has remained close to the organization since he was released. He returned to Lambeau Field last month for the Packers' wild-card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers and received a loud ovation when introduced.
He said he has maintained an active lifestyle in Florida and works out on a regular basis.
"I've stayed in shape because I still have the desire," said Collins, who will turn 31 on Aug. 16. "It's up and down, but I still have the desire. My kids come up to me and say, 'Daddy, you should be out there.' I think that's what pushes me even harder to try to get another chance out there and let them see me doing what I love to do the most, and that's play football."