Peprah looks forward to first start

With Atari Bigby and Aaron Rouse banged up, third-year pro Charlie Peprah will join Nick Collins in the latest safety tandem.

Talk about a safety dance.

In Week 1, Nick Collins and Atari Bigby started at safety against Minnesota.

In Week 2, it was Collins and Bigby again, but Bigby injured a hamstring late in the first half at Detroit. In the second half, Collins and Aaron Rouse were the safeties.

In Week 3, Collins and Rouse started against Dallas. Collins injured his back, making the pairing for much of the second half Rouse and Charlie Peprah.

In Week 4, Collins and Rouse started against Tampa Bay. Both aggravated injuries in the second half, so Peprah and Jarrett Bush took over.

In Week 5, with Atlanta visiting Green Bay on Sunday, Collins and Peprah will start with Bigby still bothered by the hamstring and Rouse plagued by a knee injury.

"I've been waiting for this about three years," Peprah said of making his first NFL start.

The third-year pro from Alabama was a fifth-round draft pick by the New York Giants in 2006 but failed to make the roster. He landed in Green Bay, where he played eight games in 2006 and all 16 in 2007.

Peprah was one of the standouts of the first week of training camp before a pulled hamstring derailed his challenge at a starting position and threatened his place on the roster. But that one week was good enough. After being relegated to special-teams duty for his first two seasons in Green Bay, Peprah gets his chance with the No. 1 defense on Sunday.

"I knew eventually I would get a chance," Peprah said. "I was hoping it would come sooner rather than later. I've had a position coach with the Giants tell one of our players when we first played them (in Week 2 last season), he said, if I was still there, I'd probably be starting for them. But, I'm glad I'm here and getting ready to play this weekend."

With the Collins-Bigby pairing broken up for the past two-and-a-half games, the defense has yielded a number of big plays. Generally, the defense attributes those to communication breakdowns, and those kind of gaffes must be eliminated with the explosive Michael Turner leading Atlanta's top-ranked running attack.

Peprah said he lacks a "true chemistry" with Collins because they haven't had the benefit of starting together for a season, but said the communication was "fine" this week.

"He's had a good week of practice," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's been here three years now, so he has a complete understanding of the system."

During his strong week of training camp, Peprah showed surprising power from his 5-foot-11, 203-pound frame. So, he's hoping to provide the type of physicality that marked Bigby's game.

"I think anybody who plays defense likes the physical aspect of it," Peprah said. "They'd rather hit people than be hit. I was just showing the coaches that I can be physical. I didn't have many opportunities in years past to show my skills because the number that we had here."

He'll get that chance on Sunday, and he'll likely be targeted by the Falcons' offense.

"I hope they do, because that would give me a chance to make some plays," Peprah said. "They've got a young guy at quarterback. I don't think they're worried about who's going to be starting at safety. They've got other problems to worry about, I'm sure."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and E-mail him at

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