No one could blame Nick Collins for not being anywhere close to Green Bay for the start of the Packers' organized team activities.
Amid recent scuttlebutt that the Pro Bowl safety had missed most of the team's offseason workout program since mid-March as a way to protest not getting a new contract, Collins buried his father May 23 — three days before teammates reported for the OTAs.
"What he's going through, no one would be here," fellow safety Atari Bigby said after the team's second OTA practice on Thursday. "If anybody else was in his situation, they'd be home, too. He needs to be with his family. It's something that he needs to deal with."
Collins cited family issues as the crux of his prolonged absence in the offseason when he was part of the Packers' Tailgate Tour through Wisconsin in mid-May. He didn't elaborate at the time on what the issues were that compelled him to stay put at his home in Gainesville, Fla., and not participate in most of the voluntary offseason program.
News of the death of Collins' father, Willie, came to light this week. The 56-year-old succumbed to cancer May 16, and the funeral was held a week later.
Collins' agent, Dave Butz Jr., accepted condolences from Packer Report but did not answer questions about when or if Collins would be appearing later during OTAs. Collins is entering the final year of his five-year rookie contract and coming off a breakthrough season, in which he tied teammate Charles Woodson for the NFC lead with seven interceptions and the NFL with three touchdown returns. Because of incentives, he'll make $3.045 million this season.
During the Tailgate Tour, Collins said he feels he is deserving of a new contract from the Packers but didn't let on how much dissatisfaction he has, if any, with the organization.
"I've got other things to worry about than the contract," Collins said. "I've been talking to the coaches, (defensive coordinator Dom) Capers. We have an understanding. So, hopefully, everything will work out for the best."
During the Tailgate Tour, Collins said he spent his time between stops learning the new playbook. He said he was excited by the new scheme, calling it a scheme any safety would want to play. Coach Mike McCarthy on Thursday didn't address Collins' absence. There's no indication whether Collins will report in the remaining three weeks of those voluntary sessions or for the mandatory minicamp June 22-24.
At practice this week, Anthony Smith — a third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006 — took Collins' place in the lineup. Smith is well-versed in the Packers' new defensive scheme.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.