Roman's release comes back to haunt Packers

The young Green Bay Packers just got a little younger. With Marviel Underwood out for the season due to a knee injury, the Packers now face the reality of two rookie safeties as backups. Somewhere in the San Francisco Bay area, Mark Roman is snickering.

Roman, a favorite whipping boy among critics over the past two seasons while he was with the Packers, was the incumbent starting strong safety until his release a day before the start of training camp. Roman was quickly signed by the 49ers and the Packers are suddenly without an experienced safety in the event that current starters Marquand Manuel or Nick Collins are injured.

Considering Manuel has yet to practice with the Packers in training camp after straining his calf muscle, that's a very good possibility. Manuel is expected to return to practice today, though, you've got to wonder how low he will hold up before he's on the sideline again. He missed most of Green Bay's off-season mini-camps and Organized Team Activities practices due to a groin injury that he sustained in Super Bowl XL.

The Packers handed him a $10 million contract early in free agency, and now will have their fingers crossed that he stays healthy.

Underwood, drafted in the fourth round last year, filled the void nicely the first two weeks of camp, intercepting five passes. He was on his way to becoming the Packers' No. 3 safety but now can only rehab in right knee, which has two torn ligaments as a result of trying to sidestep a low block in the open field on a screen pass Saturday night in Green Bay's 17-3 preseason loss to San Diego.

After Underwood went out Saturday, rookie Tyrone Culver was summoned to work with the No. 1 unit. Culver, a sixth-round pick out of Fresno State, has a nose for the football and wraps up well. He posted a game-high nine tackles, so there is hope that he will take over where Underwood left off.

Rookie free agent Tra Boger, who seemingly had a slim chance of making the 53-man roster when camp opened, now is in great position unless the Packers sign a veteran free agent safety to take Underwood's spot.

Still, the Packers would have been covered by retaining Roman instead of releasing him. He still had two seasons left on his contract and though his salary of $800,000 would have been steep, he still would have served as a solid backup and starter in the event of injury to Manuel or Collins. But Roman wanted out as soon as Manuel was signed and he got his wish. Now the Packers paper-thin with depth at safety.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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