Notebook: Collins, Martin at Safety

This will be the Packers' third tandem at safety in three weeks; Raji tweaks ankle; plus much more from Friday.

Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins was asked on Friday whether the chest injury sustained last week is painful.

"When I'm out there, I don't really think about it," Collins said. "I'm just out there trying to get into shape, just in case they call my name and say, ‘OK, you can play this week.'"

Nick, you can play this week.

The Packers are going with Nick Collins and Derrick Martin as their starting safeties for Sunday's game at St. Louis, coach Mike McCarthy confirmed after practice.

Collins will be paired with the third different starter in as many weeks. Atari Bigby went down with a knee injury in Week 1 and Aaron Rouse was released after his performance in Week 2. Getting the call this time will be Martin, who was acquired in a trade with Baltimore during the final roster cuts about three weeks ago.

Martin is a relative newcomer to the defense, so Collins likely will have to play a bigger role in communicating adjustments to his teammates. It's a role in which safeties coach Darren Perry said Collins excels. Collins, however, downplayed that factor, and said his teammates have complete faith in Martin.

"I don't have a problem with that role, but every guy in here knows how to play football," Collins said. "He wouldn't be in the NFL if he didn't know how to play football. He came from a team that runs a 3-4, so he pretty much should know the basics of things. He knows how to play football and he'll be ready."

While Martin never has started at safety, he started three games at cornerback for the Ravens in 2007.

"He's come in and he's been a very quick learner," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "We thought that he picked things up well last week. He's done a nice job this week of making all the calls."

Packers injury report

Out — Safety Atari Bigby (knee); tackle Chad Clifton (ankle); running back Brandon Jackson (ankle). Questionable — Fullback Korey Hall (concussion/shoulder); linebacker Jeremy Thompson (knee); defensive lineman B.J. Raji (ankle). Probable — Defensive back Jarrett Bush (ankle); safety Nick Collins (chest); kicker Mason Crosby (abdomen); linebacker Aaron Kampman (hand).

Of the players who are not listed as out, all were listed as full participation with the exception of Hall, who was limited. Hall will be a game-time decision, McCarthy said, so rookie Quinn Johnson might make his NFL debut.

"He's ready to play all the normal down-and-distance stuff," McCarthy said of Johnson. "Third down, I don't foresee him being in there. But we expect him to go and contribute in the base offense and some of the situation offense, and also play some of the special teams segments."

With Jackson out again, fullback John Kuhn would be the emergency halfback.

(Note: The Packers listed Thompson as probable on Friday afternoon and downgraded him to questionable on Friday evening.)

Rams injury report

Doubtful — Tackle Jason Smith (knee). Probable — Center Jason Brown (knee).

Smith, the second overall pick of the draft and the starter at right tackle, is not expected to play. Adam Goldberg will get the start in his place.

Raji tweaks ankle

On Thursday, first-round pick B.J. Raji tweaked the sprained ankle that had kept him out for the first two games. Nonetheless, Raji was listed as full participation on Friday but again is listed as questionable, meaning there's a 50-50 chance he plays.

"He told me he felt better," Capers said. "I was a little concerned (Thursday) because you saw his cleats slipped on the grass. After he did that, we took him out and didn't play him the rest of practice. I was anxious to see him out there (Friday), and he came out and — it's going to be great, according to him, because he wants to play. It's been great for the last couple of weeks. I think he's moving significantly better than he was last week at this time."

Moving forward

When a team loses, fans and reporters tend to scrutinize every minute detail. It's the same for a football team, and McCarthy pulled no punches with his players early in the week.

"I think it matters on how you feel and how you think the pulse of your football team is," McCarthy said. "I don't prescribe to a book, I don't look at an outline to follow. I conduct my meetings. I do my most vocal and direct communication in the team meeting room. I feel that's the most productive for myself. I have everybody's complete attention in there. And I trust my gut and I trust how I view the pulse of the team. How it played out this week, they know exactly how I felt right after the game, and carried that message through Monday, and went through specifically what needed to change."

While fans and reporters tend to continue the nitpicking throughout the week, the team has to change its focus by Wednesday, when work begins on the next opponent.

"Wednesday, I felt it was more important to get back to talk about us," McCarthy continued. "I think a lot of times, particularly coming into these type of settings dealing with the media, everybody wants answers to their questions, and there's an attempt to ride a roller coaster. That's not the view of the football team, regardless of how it's written or perceived outside of the building. I hope I am communicating that properly without any emotion because I'm not disagreeing with you here. I just have a different view than yours. It's important for a football team to stay on track. We did some things last week that we feel we can do a lot better, I think that's very obvious. It's important for them to have clear communication, simple communication, because I think it's like anything in life. You get too many opinions, you overanalyze things, it eliminates progress, and we're all about progress."

Four-point stance

— The Packers practiced Friday inside the Don Hutson Center, in part because of the FieldTurf to simulate the conditions in St. Louis' dome.

Ryan Pickett, on whether he has any fond memories of his five years in St. Louis, which drafted him in the first round in 2001: "I got drafted by them. Went to the Super Bowl. Had a couple kids. That's about it."

— Green Bay tops the league with a plus-5 turnover ratio.

— The Packers have won their first road game of the season 50 times, tops in NFL history.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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