Catching Up With: Charlie Peprah

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Charlie Peprah is used to the pressure of playing on a big stage after finishing his collegiate career with the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2005.

Known for his big-play ability, the four-year collegiate starter looks to have the same impact for the Green and Gold heading into 2007 after largely contributing on special teams for the Pack last season.

Like CB Frank Walker, Peprah began his professional career with the New York Giants but now dreams of one day leaping into the stands at Lambeau Field.

Packers.com recently sat down with the ball-hawking safety to cover his offseason progress.

Packers.com: What have you been doing this offseason?

Peprah: I went back to Dallas. My former college teammate Shaud Williams (Buffalo Bills) met me down there. I stayed with him at my Mom's house, and we worked out, relaxed, refocused and helped my mom out with a couple things.

What kind of training did you do before coming back to Green Bay?

I didn't do anything hardcore. I just did some non-football related stuff such as basketball to kind of keep my conditioning up. I didn't want to get too burned out before coming back for our offseason conditioning program. The best advice I got about training in the offseason was to let your body relax, but keep yourself in shape at the same time so you can begin conditioning with fresh legs.

Being a former player for the Crimson Tide, what are your thoughts about Nick Saban now being the new head coach at the University of Alabama?

I don't know him too well, but from the things I've heard about him, I think he'll get that program turned around. I hear he runs a pretty tight ship, so that will be good for Tuscaloosa. Believe it or not, I think he can make a good push this year. Coach Shula recruited a lot of talented players before he left, and I know Coach Saban hit the recruiting trail right away, so I think he'll make fast improvements.

What is the craziest thing a fan has ever said to you?

There was this married couple I met once that are big Alabama fans, and they told me they named their dog after me! I think they live in Texas now, but he told me that he was such a big fan of me that he named his dog Peprah! That was definitely, the craziest thing I ever heard.

Charles Barkley once said that 'I am not a role model.' Do you agree or disagree with that statement about athletes?

Disagree. I believe that no matter what type of athlete you are, you're a role model. That's just the bottom line - what you choose to do with that position is on you but you have to know that as a pro athlete a lot of people have their eyes on you, and kids want to be like you. Your status as a player affects a lot of people.

When preparing for the upcoming season, what is tougher - preparing yourself mentally or physically?

This is actually my first NFL offseason, so I'm learning as I go but for me, it's more mental. If you're in the NFL, you're already in great physical shape, and if for some reason you get out of shape, it doesn't take long to get back in playing conditions. Mentally though, you have to be ready to step in, know you're stuff, make no mistakes, be consistent and know that the smartest football players play the longest. That is what I'm trying to focus on going into this training camp.

What is different about playing in Green Bay as opposed to other venues you've played in?

Playing in Lambeau Field is the closest thing you get to playing in a college atmosphere professionally. Other places it seems too much like a business; here the fans make it fun, the community makes it fun, and you feel like you're in high school or college again. It's still fun other places, but being fresh out of college, I still have that rah-rah college mentality, so I really enjoy it here.

When did you really know you could play football at a high level?

When I made a play against Georgia my redshirt freshman year. I was a little kid going up against Fred Gibson, who was probably one of the top receivers in the country at the time, and I made a big play late in the game. He ran an out route and bobbled the ball, and instead of just hitting him and breaking the pass up, my instincts took over and I snatched the ball out of his hands and ran it in for a touchdown. It put us up by a couple points with three minutes left in the game. That's when I felt like I could play at that level in college and at the next level as long as I could stay confident, consistent and healthy.

Was that game in Tuscaloosa?

It was. We lost on a last second field goal because we had something like an eight yard punt that put them in field goal range in the final stages of the game.

How does playing in the Southeastern Conference prepare you for the NFL?

I think that the quality of competition week in and week out is the biggest thing. Every conference is solid, but the SEC is most like the NFL because every week you don't have any idea what's going to happen. In other conferences, you have a good idea if you're going to win or lose because there are only a handful of teams that are quality opponents, but in the SEC you can lose any week. You have to go hard every game and every practice because of the type of opponents you play. The SEC has the greatest coaches, venues and the greatest competition, so it's a lot of fun.

What makes a great touchdown celebration?

I think it has to be original; you don't want to have it too planned out where you've been practicing it. You have to add some style to it to make it your own but it has to be in good fun with good sportsmanship.

Are you looking forward to that first Lambeau Leap?

I can't wait to do that! I've been watching the Lambeau Leap since I was a little kid, so I hope and pray that's something I can do before my career is over here.

What is something you can't go without on a daily basis?

Music! I love music. I'm always listening to my iPod and stuff on my computer. That and TV.

Who is the best player you've ever played against?

There is a bunch, in no particular order: Michael Clayton, Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams and Dwayne Bowe. I'd say that Michael Clayton gave me the toughest time when I was covering him. I also played against Eli Manning, David Greene, Jason Campbell and Reggie Brown.

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