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Packers 60-second rant: Safety thoughts first

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Sept. 20, 2011 @ 4:29 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Here we go again.

The dreaded injury bug that stung the Packers so severely last season made its presence felt in a significant way last Sunday, taking down Pro Bowl FS Nick Collins for the rest of the season with a neck injury we can only hope at this writing isn't career-threatening.

Can a pass defense that has already been shredded to pieces by Drew Brees and rookie Cam Newton in the first two games (combined 800 yards allowed) survive the loss of one of the league's fastest and best all-around safeties?

If we use last year as an example, the answer is an emphatic "yes." Week after week, replacement part after replacement part came through with flying colors, including Charlie Peprah, who figures to become the new starting free safety replacing Collins.

Peprah did an extremely commendable job stepping in at strong safety last season in place of Morgan Burnett, who went down for the count with a torn ACL in Week Four. Will history repeat itself?

We'll find out soon enough, as the Packers' shaky secondary strives to get its act together against a Bears offense that last week consisted of Matt Forté and nothing else. If the Bears' rather ordinary receivers suddenly "find" themselves against the Packers, it could be time to really start worrying.

And really start seriously considering the possibility of moving Charles Woodson to Collins' safety spot, which would assure that the Packers' stellar CB trio (Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields) would be on the field most of the time.

I must say, though, that neither Williams, who perhaps because he was so perfect last season, nor Shields has played that great up to now. I can see Williams coming back strong this Sunday from the shoulder injury that forced him to miss the first pro game of his career. I'm not so sure about Shields, who has been more down than up.

Switching gears to the Bears specifically, so far they've been just like most of the 18 other 1-1 teams in the league: very inconsistent. In Week One, they looked like world-beaters against Atlanta. In Week Two, they looked flat out terrible.

How will they look this Sunday? Madder than hell, I suspect, matched up against the team Lovie Smith loves to beat more than any other. Last year's Packers-Bears bashes, including the NFC title game, were flat-out wars.

My prediction for this game will come later in the week. For the time being, let's just say another down-to-the-wire war seems like a pretty good bet.

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