Secondary is hurting

Roman, Collins latest to go down in practice

Green Bay's depleted training camp secondary took another blow Sunday evening when safety Mark Roman was injured in a collision with rookie Nick Collins at Clarke Hinkle Field. Roman appeared to suffer the brunt of the blow, and left practice with an ice pack on the back of his neck.

The Packers began practice without defensive backs Al Harris (quad), Joey Thomas (calf), Chris Johnson (shin) and Jason Horton (chest). Neither of those four players took part in last Thursday or Friday's scrimmage against the Buffalo Bills. Collins and Roman both were on the ground for about five minutes after the collision. Collins was shaken up, but appeared to be OK. The severity of Roman's injury was not immediately known.

The Packers practiced in shorts and with no pads.

Coach Mike Sherman is hoping to get one or two of the defensive backs back in time for Green Bay's preseason opener Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers at Lambeau Field. Johnson and Horton have yet to practice during the camp. Thomas was injured last Sunday and hasn't practiced since.

The Packers signed rookie free agent Charles Byrd today to fill depth at the position.

The injuries to the secondary have slowed the progress of the team's nickel and dime passing defenses.

"We're throwing guys in there to get through practice, to get through the (scrimmage) the other night," defensive coordinator Jim Bates said. "It's hard because it's a position that takes repetition seeing a lot of different plays, seeing a lot of different formations. Right now we're struggling because of all of the injuries more than anything else."

During the team's scrimmage Friday against Buffalo, Bates used rookie free agents Patrick Dendy and Leigh Torrence as the extra defensive backs in the team's dime defense. If all was well, Ahmad Carroll and Mike Hawkins would probably be the first off the bench to join Harris and Thomas in the dime.

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