Edwards: 'It starts here for me'

Any comparisons between fourth-year Packers safety Antuan Edwards and the recently-retired LeRoy Butler won't get very far – at least not with Edwards.<p>

"To compare me to LeRoy, no, don't," Edwards said. "I've still long way to go.

"LeRoy was here 13 years. That was his trade mark," said Edwards, Butler's former understudy. "It starts here for me."

Edwards is the heir apparent to the starting strong safety position. The opportunity marks a fresh start for the versatile DB who saw his 2001 campaign cut short by a devastating knee injury.

"I see myself there," said Edwards of the starting role. "Whater the defense allows me to do, I'll get it done."

Edwards' confidence is echoed by his head coach. Mike Sherman made Edwards the Packers' primary nickel back, and tabbed the former Clemson star as the secondary's top backup after Edwards put up an impressive battle with Butler for the starting SS spot during last summer's camp.

"He's been hanging in the wings," says Bob Slowik, the Packers' assistant head coach/defensive backs. "He's got all the ability and physical tools. He also brings those tools to the practice field and game field and has just been waiting for the chance to really show what he can do when he solidifies a role with the defense."

Edwards suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at Carolina in week 3 last season. The long road through surgery and diligent rehab has taken the fourth-year player exactly where he hoped to go – right into a highly competitive training camp.

"He's progressing extremely well," Slowik said. "His attitude is fantastic. He's not letting that affect him at all as far as his optimism, his excitement, his wanting to get out there. In fact he's probably working harder now than he's ever worked in his life here as a Packer to get a back on the field."

Edwards will battle rookie Marques Anderson for the start at strong safety. Anderson is the Packers' third-round draft pick out of UCLA.

At Sunday's practice, Sherman addressed what qualities he's looking for in his "new" starting strong safety.

"I expect a tough, hard-nosed football player who can cover anyone we put him on," Sherman said. "I expect a hungry football player."

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