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Safety position on Packers' center stage

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

On the subject of Packers position battles with the offseason slowly but surely starting to heat up, you’d probably have to mention safety first.

The previously predicted battles at the OLB spot opposite Clay Matthews and at right end seemingly have ended before they really started, with rookies Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy, respectively, taking charge right away at those positions. As a result, the glaring void at safety following Nick Collins’ injury-induced release has become the top-ranking position of interest.

As it now stands, the starting safeties shape up as being the same as during most of last season after Collins went down with a season-ending neck injury in Week Two — Morgan Burnett, who had been starting at strong safety before Collins got hurt, at free safety, and Charlie Peprah at strong safety. Peprah, in particular, could get pushed hard by a host of candidates, despite the belief of some close observers that he has maybe gotten an unfair rap for his performance last season in a unit overflowing with underachievers.

Fourth-round rookie Jerron McMillian, who can play both safety positions and has a knack for always being around the ball, is being mentioned most frequently as a challenger to Peprah, who, in his defense, was the secondary’s best tackler and toughest performer in 2011. But we hear that both M.D. Jennings, the No. 3 safety much of last season, and Anthony Levine, who fell off the map after suffering a concussion last August, might actually have better shots than McMillian at overtaking Peprah, which is far from a given.

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