Perry on Peprah: 'We View Charlie as Starter'

Second-year pro Morgan Burnett taking snaps at safety with the No. 1 unit is a pretty good indication that he will be the starter ahead of Charlie Peprah when the regular season begins. But that doesn't mean the Packers look at Peprah any differently.

Only one starter from the Green Bay Packers' base defense in the Super Bowl — not counting those replaced because injury or by free agency — figures to lose his spot when they open the regular season against the New Orleans Saints in two weeks.

Safety Charlie Peprah, who took over alongside Nick Collins in Week 5 last year, has been practicing with the second unit in training camp even after putting together a solid season in his first look as a long-term starter in 2010.

In his place, Morgan Burnett has been taking the snaps with the first unit and, in the process, has made some notable plays in the Packers' first two preseason games, including a breakup of a long pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald on Friday night against the Cardinals.

It was Burnett, of course, who began his rookie season in 2010 as a starter before an ACL injury in Week 4 vs. the Lions ended his season abruptly, thereby giving Peprah his shot.

But despite going with a more proven commodity in Peprah, who helped lead the Packers down the stretch to a Super Bowl and was re-signed to a two-year deal in March, the job has been given back to the younger Burnett. And at least publicly, that seems to be OK with Peprah.

"Whatever's going to happen is going to happen. I can say what I want or act a certain way, but it's not going to change anything," said Peprah, who is in his sixth NFL season. "I'm not making the (personnel) decisions. All I can do is control my actions, and when they call on me, perform at the highest level I can and let everything else figure itself out."

Nothing Peprah has done this camp has warranted a "demotion." By all accounts, he has been his same old reliable self. Take the word of his position coach, Darren Perry.

"Charlie's been a pro. I wouldn't expect him to handle it any differently than he's acted from day one," Perry said. "Charlie goes out there and goes about his business. Things you can control you worry about and fix, and things that you can't, you don't. You just roll with it and go out there and perform your best when you get a shot and let things happen the way they're going to happen.

"Charlie is consistent. You know what you're going to get. Charlie can be as productive as any player we've got back there. There's a real comfort level there knowing that you've got that guy that you can insert into your starting lineup and not worry about him being up to par with the rest of the guys."

Perhaps the Packers are counting on the promise they saw in Burnett at the beginning of last season because Perry speaks of Peprah as the guy that never left the field last season.

One week after being inactive because of a quadriceps injury, Peprah made his first start (the second of his career) on Oct. 10 at Washington and played 80 snaps. He had other games in the 60-play category, not to mention continuing to contribute on special teams, which he was known for in his first three years (2006-08) in Green Bay.

In 14 regular-season games (11 starts) plus four playoff games (two starts) last season, Peprah posted 90 tackles, seven passes defended, two interceptions and hardly made a mental mistake. In the Super Bowl, he led the team with 10 tackles while helping hold together a secondary without Charles Woodson and Sam Shields for basically the entire second half.

While the Packers frequently use backups — especially defensive linemen and cornerbacks — like starters in their sub packages, the same might not apply to Peprah because Pro Bowler Nick Collins and Burnett, if healthy, will most likely take all the snaps at safety.

That will be a big change for Peprah, who adjusted smoothly and looked natural in a starting role last season. And despite what looks like a limited role on defense at this point, the Packers feel strongly about Peprah.

"We view Charlie as a starter," said Perry. "He's a proven starter in this league and has proven that he can be highly productive. That being said, it's a luxury to have both of those guys. So I don't know if there was a whole lot of thought that went into who's going to run with the ones and who's going to run with the twos because both of those guys have great value for us."

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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at

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