Grading the Packers: Safeties

Two starters at safety fell short of expectations in 2006

Marquand Manuel: It is no secret that Manuel underperformed in his first season with the Packers. The veteran safety was handed a four-year, $10 million contract last March, including a $2 million bonus, and struggled in Bob Sanders' defensive scheme.

Manuel was fourth on the team with 103 tackles, four passes defensed and one 29-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions in September. All too often he was out of position to make tackles or cover receivers, and the Packers often were burned by opponents for big plays. Lack of communication between him and other defensive backs haunted the Packers for most of the season.

What to do? The Packers can either hope that Manuel steps up his play in training camp this summer, or cut their losses now and release him. That's up to general manager Ted Thompson, but the Packers are probably better off with a wait-and-see approach on Manuel. The team has plenty of cap space, and it appeared as if Manuel adjusted better to the scheme late in the season.
Grade: D

Nick Collins: He saved his best for last, making two interceptions in Green Bay's victory over Chicago on Dec. 31, but he often was nowhere to be found for most of the season. Collins was beaten in coverage many times, especially early in the season, and simply lacked making any big plays.

He finished fifth on the team in tackles with 102, one behind Manuel, and had 16 passes defensed, third on the team behind Charles Woodson and Al Harris. But after an impressive rookie season, the Packers expected a little more out of Collins and he didn't always deliver.
Grade: C-

Tyrone Culver: The rookie caught a break in training camp when Marviel Underwood tore ligaments in his knee and was lost for the season. Culver, a sixth-round draft pick, made the team but didn't make the most of his opportunities. He played mainly on special teams in the first 12 games, but was inactive for two of the last four games. Reading between the lines, he was inactive for two of those games because he wasn't doing his job on special teams.

Culver had three special teams tackles and six total tackles on defense.
Grade: C-

Charlie Peprah: The rookie played in eight games, mainly on special teams, after he was claimed on waivers from the New York Giants on Sept. 3. He had two special teams tackles.
Grade: C-

Marviel Underwood: Don't forget about this guy. Underwood was on his way to possibly breaking into the starting lineup in training camp last season when he tore ligaments in his right knee in the preseason opener at San Diego. He was placed on injured reserve.

If he can regain his form this off-season and in training camp, he may have a chance to start ahead of either Manuel or Collins in 2007.
Grade: Incomplete


Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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