At cornerback, Charles Woodson is one of the NFL’s best players.
But Woodson said he is willing to move to safety if that’s in the Green Bay Packers’ best interests.
“You know, I think it comes down to what the other guys are going to be able to do as far as the cornerback position is concerned,” Woodson told Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee’s “Green & Gold Today.”
“If one of those guys could take over that role and make the plays needed to be made at corner, and with us having (released) Nick Collins and there being a need for me to play safety, I’m not opposed to that. But we have to make sure that our cornerback position is going to be solidified and we’re going to be comfortable with who’s going to be out there at the corner.”
As Woodson said, Part 1 of the equation is how the Packers would fare without him at cornerback. On paper, it could be a position of strength.
Tramon Williams and Sam Shields are the front-line players, though both are coming off of disappointing seasons. Green Bay added a potential standout in second-round pick Casey Hayward. Veteran Jarrett Bush played 321 snaps on defense last season, and cornerbacks coach Joe Whit has high hopes for last year’s fourth-round pick, Davon House. Plus, Brandian Ross, an undrafted free agent last year who spent the season on the practice squad, flashed some potential last summer.
Part 2 of the equation is the play of the Packers’ regular safeties. Burnett returns after a solid first full season in the lineup, as does Charlie Peprah, who replaced Collins in the lineup last year and Burnett after tearing an ACL in 2010. A fourth-round pick was used on Maine’s Jerron McMillian, and he’ll be joined by three undrafted rookies: Anthony Levine in 2010, M.D. Jennings in 2011 and Sean Richardson in 2012.
Woodson played safety on a semiregular basis last year in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ “Corner Okie” package — the base 3-4 alignment up front, with Williams and Shields at cornerback and Woodson joining Burnett at safety.
Collins, who had played alongside Woodson since 2006, was released by the Packers on April 26.
“That one hurt,” Woodson said. “Nick is like a little brother to me. I care about the guy. For one, for him to sustain that injury, it was hard enough. And now he’s faced with the decision of, does he come back to play after being released by the only team he’s known in the NFL? It’s hard for a young man who’s only 28 years old to be sitting here figuring out what he’s going to do with the rest of his life, when all of his life he’s been a football player.”
Collins hasn’t made a decision on whether he’ll play again. While the Packers weren’t comfortable with the risk, Collins’ agent, Alan Herman, has said he’s fielded calls from teams that are interested in bringing in the three-time Pro Bowler.
“I don’t know what to think about whether he should try to play or not,” Woodson said. “Because I know how serious that injury was, I think about him like a brother, and I don’t want anything to happen down the road where it’s more serious than it was before. That’s something Nick is going to have to have long, long thoughts and probably sleepless nights thinking about, but I know he’ll come up with the best decision.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.