“I have some bad news to report on the injury front,” coach Mike McCarthy began, uttering a similar statement on more than a few occasions last season.
“Nick Collins,” he continued, “will be lost for the season with his neck injury suffered in yesterday’s game at Carolina. It’s tough. We’ve been through the injury stuff before, but it’s something you never get used to as a head coach.”
Collins was carted off the field on a stretcher after sustaining a neck injury when Jonathan Stewart attempted to hurdle him but collided with Collins during the fourth quarter of Green Bay's victory at Carolina on Sunday. Collins spent the night in a hospital in Charlotte, N.C., and returned to Green Bay on Monday afternoon to meet with the team's medical staff.
McCarthy said Collins was present for a team meeting Monday, wearing a neck brace but otherwise in good spirits.
“He’s walking around now,” McCarthy said. “You would never know he has a serious injury.”
Neither McCarthy nor a spokesman would disclose anything specific about the injury — including whether surgery would be required or if it would threaten the three-time Pro Bowler’s career.
“You never take it lightly, that’s for sure,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s really too early in the evaluation process to make those kind of statements.”
Collins, a second-round pick in 2005, has missed only three games in his career — all in November 2007 with a knee injury. Since then, he’s started 62 consecutive games. From 2008 through 2010, he intercepted 17 passes. Only Baltimore’s Ed Reed, with 20, had more among safeties during that span.
Moreover, his 439 yards on interception returns ranked second among all players and he had six career touchdowns — including his pick-six in the Super Bowl.
“He’s probably handling it better than a lot of us,” McCarthy said. “Nick’s a heck of a football player. He’s a true team guy. Just to see 36 flying around the whole time I’ve been here in Green Bay, there’s so many little things … he’s really, the first half of his career, he’s on pace to potentially have a Hall of Fame career here. Hopefully, this is just a bump in the road. We’re going to miss him.”
In Collins' place, Charlie Peprah will move into the starting lineup, beginning on Sunday at Chicago. Peprah was the full-time safety opposite Collins for the final 16 games last season (including playoffs) after Morgan Burnett's season-ending knee injury.
"He’s had experience with this," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "Our safeties are somewhat interchangeable so they both have to know the same assignments. Charlie’s done all the things that we’ll ask him to do. Same thing with Morgan."
Burnett is coming off back-to-back big games, with 14 tackles against New Orleans and an interception and forced fumble against Carolina.
"I couldn’t be happier with the two games that he’s played," Capers said.
Also, Ryan Pickett has a foot bruise, which he doesn’t think will hold him out on Sunday. Plus, McCarthy is hopeful Tramon Williams can practice on Wednesday.
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