Strip or tease?

Nick Collins makes a big play in practice, and the Packers need more of them from the leader of the secondary.

It was one play out of hundreds Nick Collins will participate in during this training camp. But this one stood out like none other.

Collins, who wasn't involved in a single turnover play in 15 games last season, stripped receiver James Jones of the ball during Wednesday morning's practice.

"It was nice, very nice," defensive coordinator Bob Sanders said Wednesday. "We need to get some more turnovers, and certainly, (assistant head coach/linebackers) Winston (Moss) does a great job emphasizing that with the whole team every single day. It's nice to see it happen."

Collins is one of the most talented players on the Packers' defense, but also one of its most enigmatic. In 45 regular-season starts in three seasons, Collins has four interceptions, three forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries. He's had one sublime game in his career — two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, on New Year's Eve 2006 at Chicago.

Reminded of how few big plays he's made in his career, Collins took it in stride after Wednesday morning's practice.

"That's your job to criticize us. I'm not worrying about what people say," he said. "I'm just out there doing my job, having fun, doing whatever I can do to lead this team."

Lead is a key word, because what often goes unnoticed is how Collins leads the secondary. A pass defense that gave up 13 pass plays of 40-plus yards (28th out of 32 teams) in 2006 yielded just six (tied for eighth) last season. It's one reason why a training-camp battle with Aaron Rouse — who picked off two passes in Collins' absence last season — may never develop.

"That's what people really want to say," Collins said in singling out the turnovers. "It's more than that. You've got to know what's going on at all times. That's my duty to make sure we have the right calls, the right alignment, so we can just go out there and play pass."

Coach Mike McCarthy has said several times that the Packers will be a team based on defense this season. That means a defense that will attack and, hopefully as a byproduct, create more turnovers.

"Every year, we come in here and we went more turnovers, more takeaways," Collins said. "We want to be on the plus side (of the turnover ratio). That's what we're trying to do this year."

"To be a Super Bowl team," he added, "the defense has to do what we can to be that No. 1 defense."

A few more big plays from Collins wouldn't hurt.

Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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