Not surprisingly, the Packers’ beat-up corps of safeties got a reinforcement on Wednesday. The surprise was how that addition was made.
The Packers added former Colts safety Matt Giordano, and to make room, they released fellow safety Aaron Rouse. Rouse, who had two interceptions as a rookie in 2007 and again in 2008, started in place of Atari Bigby last week.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Rouse’s release was due to “a number of different factors,” none of which he would detail. Clearly, though, two of the knocks against Rouse from his first two seasons — consistency and the ability to stay healthy — came into play.
“In our conversation with him, I just felt that his ability to be consistent and the growth part of it is one of the reasons that we made the change,” McCarthy said. “But there are other factors involved based on availability, without getting into all of that. That’s really the landscape of personnel in the National Football League, timing and things like that, special teams. That was all part of our decision.”
With Bigby out for at least the next few games and with Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins a question mark after sustaining a sprained clavicle against Cincinnati — though McCarthy said he “anticipate(s)” Collins will play — the starters on Sunday at St. Louis could be Jarrett Bush and Derrick Martin, who was obtained in a roster-cutdown-day trade with Baltimore.
With Bigby and Collins injured, with Rouse's release on Wednesday and with Anthony Smith released during the final cuts, the Packers are down their top four safeties from training camp. Even though Smith’s tendency to gamble was a concern, his release was a surprise at the time, and it’s even more surprising now since Rouse suddenly was deemed not qualified to play in the Packers’ battered secondary.
Asked if the 180-degree reversal on Rouse was a black mark against the personnel department, McCarthy said: “I don’t really think it’s as clean as you just stated. I know there are a lot more elements involved. This was not about Aaron Rouse vs. Anthony Smith or Derrick Martin. There are a number of different factors that go into that. Timing is also part of those things. This was not we choose one guy over another and now we are going back on that. That would not be accurate. Whether that’s your opinion or not, I’m just telling you what the facts are. Things do happen. Where we were a couple of weeks ago and a number of new elements that enter into this discussion, part of the people that we worked out on Tuesday. That’s just the way our personnel department has always operated. There are some moving targets that you are always looking at in the personnel side of this. Once again, I think timing was also a big part of this decision.”
Speaking of timing, the Packers will face Smith on Sunday at St. Louis.
“I saw an active guy, very physical football player that ran real well,” Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said of Smith in a conference call with Packers beat writers on Wednesday. “He’s aggressive. I like the edge he’s got to him. I just think he’s a football player.”
Giordano was a fourth-round pick in 2005 out of California, where he was a teammate with Aaron Rodgers and Desmond Bishop. He played in 55 games with the Colts, including six starts, before being released before the Week 1 game against Jacksonville. He has three career interceptions, including two in 2007, when he started four games. One of those interceptions was for an 83-yard touchdown in the opener against Drew Brees, which hints at his athleticism.
“I think he gives you flexibility, the ability to play both free and strong safety, just based on his past,” McCarthy said. “I was impressed with his resume on special teams. He runs better than I thought he would when we brought him in here for his workout. He had two interceptions today, so he is off to a good start. Just a lot of positive feedback based on his experience in Indianapolis.”
Since being released, Giordano said he had worked out for the Houston Texans. He called Green Bay a team that “every kid dreams of playing for” because of the tradition and history.
“The thing that I’ve got to do right now is retain as much information to know the defense as quickly as possible,” he said. “It’s kind of like learning a new language. I’ve learned and played with a language for four years with Indianapolis. This one, I’ve got to learn in about four days. I’ll be cooking the books, but I’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, the Packers added offensive tackle Dane Randolph to the practice squad. The Packers lost rookie fifth-round tackle Jamon Meredith to the Bills' active roster on Tuesday. Randolph, an undrafted rookie out of Maryland, was among the Packers’ final cuts.
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