Packers release Freeman

In a surprise move, the Green Bay Packers released veteran safety Arturo Freeman on Sunday. Along with Freeman's release, the Packers activated cornerback Chris Johnson.

Freeman was expected to contend for a starting job in the Packers' shaky secondary. The five-year veteran was well-versed in new defensive coordinator Jim Bates' scheme. Bates was the coordinator and interim coach in Miami, where Freeman played from 2001-2004.

Last season, he started the final seven games, when Miami won three of its four games. He finished the season with a career- and team-high four interceptions. One of those interceptions sealed the upset victory over Super Bowl-champion New England.

The move no doubt surprised Freeman. Last week, he told reporters: "I know the system better than any of the other guys, because I've played in it before. I came here expecting to start, and I still expect that."

His release bodes well for second-round pick Nick Collins. If the Packers thought Collins wasn't able to play a significant role — maybe even a starting role — then the Packers likely would have held on to the veteran.

The Packers thought it was fair to Freeman to release him early in camp so he had time to land with another team.

"We just felt like it was an opportunity for him to go find work somewhere else, and in fairness to him we felt we were in a position to do that," Packers coach Mike Sherman said. "It's just the way we've done business in the past if we have a veteran player. We feel like we wanted to get Marviel and some other guys some more work, and we didn't want him to be unable to find work somewhere else."

Although another veteran acquisition, Earl Little, remains in the mix, the odds of Collins winning the starting job have dramatically increased. Collins started Thursday's preseason game against San Diego and remained with the No. 1 defense during Sunday's practice.

There's no doubt about Collins' athleticism. The mental part of the game, however, was expected to be Collins' biggest challenge. Collins played at Bethune-Cookman, hardly a college power. His 12 interceptions in two seasons as a starter showed his nose for the football, but he was an academic nonqualifier as a freshman, and his 14 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence exam made some teams think Collins couldn't handle the mental rigors of the pro game.

In another move, the Packers activated cornerback Chris Johnson. The seventh-round pick in 2003 was having an impressive rookie training camp until suffering a season-ending injury. He was on the comeback trail last year, even participating some in the minicamp, until suffering a stress fracture in his shin.

Johnson saw some action as a defensive back during Sunday's practice, but wasn't really tested. He was the fastest player in the draft, though he wasn't a full-time starter at Louisville.

"It has been a long time," Johnson said. "But even though I haven't been able to play, I've still been really focused on the playbook, so when I finally got healthy, I'd be able to come out and help the team."

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