25

July

Safety Charlie Peprah Released By The Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers released safety Charlie Peprah on Wednesday

In the first stunning move of training camp in 2012, the Green Bay Packers have released safety Charlie Peprah according to Jason Wilde of ESPN 540.

Peprah, who was the incumbent starter from 2011, reportedly had offseason arthroscopic surgery on his knee and didn’t participate in the offseason program. With the players just recently completing their physicals,  some speculation is surely going to be that Peprah failed his physical but no official word from the team has been given as of yet.

With Peprah gone, that leaves MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian to battle it out for the other safety spot should Charles Woodson remain in the cornerback decision.   Morgan Burnett is expected to be the other starting safety entering the preseason.

With Nick Collins out with a neck injury, Peprah ranked second on the team last season in interceptions and was first in interception return yardage.  However, thanks to his regression from 2010 when he played a key role in the Packers’ run to Super Bowl XLV,  Peprah’s starting spot was in danger entering training camp this summer.

Peprah, however, will not even get the chance to compete to keep his own job.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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3

July

Packers Rookie Jerron McMillian: Will Ted Thompson Strike Gold Again?

Jerron McMillian

Can Jerron McMillian fill the shoes of Nick Collins?

It was a formula that paid dividends for the Green Bay Packers the last time around so GM Ted Thompson figured it was worth trying again.

In his first draft as head of the Packers football operations in 2005, Thompson selected a player from a small school who in time had a big impact on the organization.   In the second round of the 2005 draft, Thompson selected safety Nick Collins from small Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida.  At the time, it was viewed as a reach taking a player from such a small school so early in the draft.  Many wondered what the then-rookie general manager was doing.

The “reach” paid off big time as Collins became the best safety the Packers have had since the retirement of Leroy Butler (no offense to Darren Sharper).  Collins will forever immortalized in Packers lore for his highlight reel pick-six of Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLV and the celebration following that was the cover image for the Green Bay Press Gazette following the Packers’ victory.

Fast forward to this past spring.  Thompson again found himself in need of safety, ironically because Collins suffered a likely career-ending neck injury in Week 2 last season.  Thompson found a diamond In the rough in Collins, so Thompson may have thought he could do it again.

Enter Jerron McMillian, the Packers’ fourth round pick in the 2012 draft.  Like Collins, McMillian hails from a small college—Maine.  Perhaps a state university isn’t necessarily “small” but since it’s Maine I doubt many people will consider his university a powerhouse.

The tale of the tape on McMillian from video and the scouting combine is that he’s a very physical player, a shutdown safety if there ever was one.  He plays the run well, but struggles with the pass.  McMillian rarely misses a tackle (music to Packer fans’ ears after the debacle of the 2011 unit) and is an effective blitzer.

Sound familiar?  While he may not be Pro Bowl-ready right out of the gate for the Packers, McMillian’s speed and physical play will fit in well on a Dom Capers-coached unit that prides itself on being aggressive and forcing turnovers.  He may not beat out Charlie Peprah or M.D. Jennings in training camp but Capers and his staff can take McMillian’s current skillset and mold him into a decent safety that can push Peprah or Jennings should either of them struggle.

30

June

Where In The World Is Nick Collins?

Former Packer Nick Collins

Former Packers safety Nick Collins after his touchdown in Super Bowl XLV

Just like that, it was over.

It was an abrupt and all too soon ending to the career of Nick Collins in Green Bay.  It was a career that gave fans a play in Super Bowl XLV that will be in their memory banks forever and Collins was arguably the best safety the Green Bay Packers have had since Leroy Butler retired.

Unfortunately, thanks to a poor hand dealt by the football gods, Collins’ days as a Packer (and perhaps even an NFL player) came to an end at a time of neither his nor the Packers’ choosing even though it was the Packers that released him.

Thanks to a frightening neck injury suffered in Week 2 last season against the Carolina Panthers, the Packers felt like playing Collins again would be too much of a health risk for the safety so they released him with Collins’ long-term health foremost in their minds.

Since that day, little has been heard from Collins regarding his future in the NFL.  A comeback with the Packers won’t happen given the selection of Jerron McMillan in the fourth round of this spring’s NFL draft.

So what is to become of Collins? There are a few theories.

The one that seems to be the most popular is that Collins will, or more accurately should, call it a career and not risk further injury.   A neck injury is not something that should be messed around with and that it takes only one more hit to have severe long-term repercussions including the possibility of some form of paralysis.   While Collins may be able to get back into playing shape, it is unclear if he will ever be able to return to his All Pro form before the injury occurred.

Even if Collins does want to play, will any of the other 31 teams want to take a risk on him? With such an increased focus in NFL circles about head and neck injuries (including a lawsuit by a collection of former players), can they pay Collins even just the veteran minimum and maintain a clean conscience about what they are potentially exposing him too?

25

April

Green Bay Packers Release Safety Nick Collins

Nick Collins has been released by the Packers

The Green Bay Packers have released free safety Nick Collins today according to a report from Jason Wilde at ESPN-Milwaukee.  This decision has been hanging around us all since Collins saw his season end just two games in after suffering a severe neck injury against the Carolina Panthers.

Collins was one of the most beloved Packers on the entire roster, and his overall performance on the field is what caused so many fans to fall in love with him as a player.  Collins was voted to three straight Pro Bowls heading into the 2011 season, and was also a member of three straight All-Pro Teams.

No one will ever forget his interception that was returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It was that play that was the catalyst for the Packers to bring the Lombardi Trophy home after so many years.

Now the Packers need to figure out what to do without Collins, and it’ll all start tomorrow with the 2012 NFL draft.  Instead of being able to focus on outside linebacker and defensive line early in the draft, Ted Thompson and the Packers will now need to add safety to their positions of greatest need for the 2012 season.

Some names to keep an eye on in the first or second round for Green Bay are Harrison Smith, George Iloka and Brandon Taylor.  Each of these prospects could eventually replace the production that fans were used to seeing from Collins.

Whatever happens in the upcoming days, there are two things that we can be assured of.  One is that the Packers will figure out how to survive without Collins.  They went 15-1 without him last year, and now they’ll be prepared.

Secondly, we can be assured that Collins will always be remembered as one of the greatest defensive players in Packers history, despite only playing a few seasons for the team.  He was simply that talented, and he’ll be missed by all.

 

 

22

April

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

 

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With no Packers Football

If you missed the three-hour ESPN special unveiling the NFL schedule, congratulations. I was open minded enough to give it a shot, but only managed to last about five minutes before trying to leap through my living-room window.

 

Three hours to unveil the NFL schedule?! I allow the NFL and the Green Bay Packers to monopolize my life from September through January. I can’t let them do the same in April.

 

Besides, why watch an ESPN anchor read off a cue card and a bumbling former player or two unveil the schedule in Bristol, CT, when you could just visit ALLGBP.com and find out all you need to know? Here’s a link to the NFL schedule, and below are some random thoughts on the portion of the schedule that involves the greatest franchise in the history of sports, the Packers.

 

  • I was hoping the Packers would play the Giants in the NFL’s Wednesday kickoff game. I didn’t care about exacting revenge for the playoff loss, but it would’ve been nice for the Packers to get 10 days off after the season opener. It turns out the Packers will get 10 days off early in the season, but it comes after playing the Bears on Thursday night in week two.
  • I’m mad that the Packers don’t have an early October home game. Those first three weeks in October are perfect for football at Lambeau.
  • The Packers should be shooting for 7-2 by the bye week. That’s assuming they’ll go 2-2 against San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and Houston. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go into the bye 9-0 or 8-1 (I think San Francisco comes back down to earth a little), but 7-2 would be fine.
  • The Packers generally have at least one December clunker where they lose to a bad team. The Vikings might be the bad team that beats the Packers this season. Minnesota will have two chances, the first on Dec. 2 at Lambeau and in the finale on Dec. 30. Perhaps it’ll come on Dec. 30 when the Packers are resting starters (how’s that for confidence?).
  • Speaking of that Dec. 30 game, what if it’s the Vikings’ final game in Minnesota? Do Packers and Vikings fans hug after the game and wish each other well? Do Vikings fans become Packers fans? Do Packers fans allow Vikings fans to become Packers fans? Do Packers fans continue to hate the Vikings even if they’re in Los Angeles? So many questions…
15

April

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

I’m sitting in the press box at Target Field in Minneapolis right now, getting ready to cover the Rangers vs. Twins game and Yu Darvish’s second career start.

I guess now is as good a time as any to bring Packers fans up to speed on the stadium fight happening across the border in Minnesota.

Target Field is a beautiful stadium. It’s quaint, it’s comfortable, the sightlines are excellent and there are very few silly gimmicks. Like most stadiums, Target Field received a sizeable public subsidy in order to get built.

This made people angry. Why should the billionaire owner of a sports franchise get public money to build a stadium for his millionaire players?

Of course, once it was built, you didn’t hear much complaining. It’s tough to complain when you’re watching outdoor baseball in a beautiful stadium while sipping on a cold beverage. Or maybe everyone who was mad at first realized their anger didn’t stop the stadium from being built so they might as well try and enjoy it.

I don’t know where I stand on public funding for sports stadiums. Deep down, I know it’s wrong, and I should be outraged. But I never really am.

Maybe it’s because I love sports too much and I’m biased. Maybe it’s because I understand that we don’t live in a utopia, and sometimes the American process of making major projects a reality is ugly and unfair. Or maybe I truly am anti-sports stadium subsidies, but realize I’m powerless to do anything about it so I’ve become indifferent.

Either way, we’re in the middle of the another such debate here in Minnesota. It’s the Vikings turn for a new stadium, and owner Zygi Wilf wants the public to pick up the tab for a sizable portion of a new $975 million Vikings palace.

As a Packers fan, I’d rather stab myself in the groin with a fork than pay for a Vikings stadium. As a taxpayer, I become nauseous just thinking about giving Wilf, a billionaire, some of my hard-earned money. As a Minnesotan, I don’t like everyone’s attention focused on paying for a new Vikings stadium when this state has other issues to deal with.

But in the end, it comes down to this: As a Packers fan, taxpayer and Minnesotan, would I be fine with the Vikings moving to another state? Because that’s what will probably happen if a new stadium isn’t built.

12

April

If Nick Collins Wants to Play, Let Him Play

Nick Collins left the Panthers game on a stretcher after suffering a neck injury in the 4th quarter.

Nick Collins after suffering a neck injury versus the Panthers

Tom Silverstein of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote yesterday about how Green Bay Packers’ safety Nick Collins hopes that he’ll be able to return for the 2012 season.  While the ultimate decision will be made by Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson regarding Collins’ future, the basic fact still remains that Collins wants to play, if he can.

And if Collins wants to play, then let him play.  One look at the defensive unit from the 2011 season and it’s pretty clear to see that the Packers could use Collin’s playmaking ability back on the field.

Not only was Collins a leader for the defense, he was also one of the most consistent performers and a perennial Pro Bowl player.  That type of talent isn’t replaced overnight.  Heck, that type of talent isn’t replaced over a year, or even two years.

If Collins isn’t 100 percent healthy and ready to go, then he shouldn’t play.  No one would criticize him for that decision.  No one would consider him less of a man, or less of a football player.  We’re talking about a man’s life and health and that trumps football every single time.

However, if Collins is completely healthy, gets the go-ahead from numerous doctors and the Packers won’t let him return, that is an entirely different matter.  Not allowing someone to do what they want takes away free will.  Without free will, we have nothing.

We’re all familiar with how McCarthy feels about the return of Collins.  Jason Wilde from ESPN wrote back in March on how McCarthy wouldn’t let him play if he was his son.  Collins clearly isn’t McCarthy’s son, but the statement still gave great insight as to how McCarthy might lean when making his decision on Collins’ future.

If Collins was my son, and the doctors said he was at full strength, and he told me he wanted to play, I’d let him play in a heartbeat. Hopefully Thompson and McCarthy, when the ultimate decision needs to be made, have the same fatherly instincts.