Camp Preview: By Numbers at S

We look at one key player, one darkhorse, one new face and one player on the bubble, plus provide some numbers you might not know about the Packers' safeties.

One key player: Nick Collins is the anchor of the group and one of the top safeties in the NFL. The three-time Pro Bowler seems to constantly be battling aches and pains but he's missed just three of a possible 103 games during his career and hasn't missed a start since 2007.

One darkhorse: The Packers are high on Anthony Levine, who spent his rookie season on the practice squad. He picked off five passes in 24 career starts and ran the 60 meters on Tennessee State's track and field team. "I'm excited about how things turned out last year," Levine told Packer Report earlier this month. "They gave me an opportunity to be on the practice squad. Being on the practice squad helped me to prepare. I was still working, still working with the guys, getting better at practice and we won the Super Bowl. That's a great start coming into the NFL."

One on the bubble: None. Returning players Collins, Morgan Burnett and Charlie Peprah aren't going anywhere. If he re-signs, unrestricted free agent Anthony Smith would be the one on the bubble. After being reacquired at midseason, he played in four games before his season ended with an ankle injury. He had five tackles on special teams.

One new face: Actually, two: Delaware's Anthony Bratton and Arkansas State's M.D. Jennings were added as undrafted free agents. Physically, Bratton is the more NFL-ready player and he played in a scheme in which the free safety and strong safety roles were interchangeable. That's how the Packers treat their safeties. "There's no doubt in my mind that I can make it," Bratton told Packer Report after his pre-draft visit with the Packers. "I feel like I can play with the best."

21: Career interceptions by Collins. Of them, four came in his first three seasons and 17 in the last three seasons. He made the Pro Bowl each time.

Five: Career touchdowns on interception returns by Collins. He hadn't had one since Nov. 9, 2008, until his pick-six in the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh. Good timing!

17: Number of passes defensed by Collins, which trailed only Tramon Williams' 23 on the team pecking order. Peprah (seven) and Burnett (one) combined for eight.

48.6: Passer rating on passes in which Collins was targeted, according to Pro Football Focus. Quarterbacks completed 41.5 percent of their passes with two touchdowns and five interceptions.

77.6: Passer rating on passes in which Peprah was targeted, according to Pro Football Focus. Quarterbacks completed 62.0 percent of their passes with one touchdown and two interceptions.

2: Number of rookie safeties to start for the Packers since Chuck Cecil in 1988. Collins was one of them, in 2005, and Burnett joined him after being a third-round draft pick. Burnett and cornerback Sam Shields were the first rookie tandem to start in a Packers opener since the merger in 1970. Collins and cornerback Mike Hawkins started against Baltimore on Dec. 19, 2005.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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